palace, built in the 14th century B.C. atop the hill of Epano Englianos
. Its ruins are located near the modern Greek city of Pylos
. The palace is believed to have been the home of Nestor
, a Mycenaean king who is known foremost as Agamemnon
’s wise counselor in Homer’s Iliad
Greek legend tells of Neleus
, an ancient king, who ruled the area of Pylos with his twelve sons, around 1300 B.C. Some undocumented disaster, probably an earthquake, destroyed their settlement. Neleus and his son Nestor were among the only survivors, and he and his father built their palace over the ruins
links Nestor with Pylos many times. For example, in the third book of The Odyssey
, he describes the visit of Odysseus
’ son Telemachus
to Pylos to seek Nestor’s direction, and how he found it to be a classy place:
Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Nestor left his couch and took his seat on the benches of white and polished marble that stood in front of his great house. Here aforetime sat Neleus, peer of gods in counsel, but he was now dead, and had gone to the house of Hades; so Nestor sat in his seat, sceptre in hand, as guardian of the public weal.
The site sits high on a flat plateau on the Englianos ridge, with a domineering command of the valley below. It was originally a fortified town, settled as early as the Middle Helladic
Period. The palace complex, built near the end of the Late Helladic Period, postdates this earlier settlement, and seems to have replaced it. In size and complexity the ruins on Epano Englianos are comparable with The Palace of Mycenae
. The site consists of four two-story structures, most remarkable being "The Main Building", which in it's prime was a marvel of Mycenaean art and architecture, with a colorfully fresco
ed throne room with lions arranged heraldically behind the throne, a frieze
of pink griffins
in the grand megaron
hall, painted stucco floors and possibly a cultivated garden. Also discovered on the site: an archive, workshops, tombs, single story private chambers and, curiously, a shrine to the minor goddess Potnia Hippeia
, "Mistress of Horses". Excavations at the site, the most notable being Professor Carl Blegen's 1952 dig, have not revealed any evidence of the palace having fortifications.
Archeologically, this is the most important Mycenaean palace yet discovered, as it holds hundreds of Linear B
clay tablets. These tablets are invaluable to scholars studying Helladic Period religion, as their content has an even broader range of information than those found at Knossos
. Ironically, the tablets are so well preserved because they were baked solid by the fire that destroyed the palace.
The destruction of the palace likely came shortly after the Trojan War
, in the generation after Nestor, around 1200 B.C., when Dorian
raiders arrived from the north and put it to the torch.