Art History: Mask of Agamemnon

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  • Topic: Mycenae, Mycenaean Greece, Mask of Agamemnon
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  • Published : October 21, 2012
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ANCIENT ART 200
Was the Mask Of Agamemnon Edited by Schliemann and his Workers? 5/14/2011
Sandra.Baah
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Schliemann was a German archeologist who excavated the shaft graves of Mycenae. He found a mask which has been claimed to be the mask of Agamemnon. This has brought up endless debates about the authenticity of the mask. The mask is said to be one of Schliemann's forgeries. Some scholars claim the mask is too new or does not have any qualities that prove that it is Mycenaean. It is difficult to know whether the mask is authentic or fake. William A. Calder and David A. Traill are two archeologists who challenge the authenticity of the mask. They have come up with arguments that try to prove the mask is a forgery. Some scholars claim that their arguments are not valid and lack scholarly reasoning to support their arguments. Some scholars believe that the mask is a mixture of different styles from different places and times. No one can really tell if the mask is authentic or fake. I believe that the mask was edited by Schliemann and his men. The mask of Agamemnon is not authentic due to its lack of Mycenaean qualities that would prove its authenticity. The mask of Agamemnon is not authentic; therefore it was edited by Schliemann and his workers. The mask of Agamemnon was found in Shaft Grave V by Schliemann on the Treasury of Atreus it is one of the most famous artworks that have been found. The mask of Agamemnon is a gold funeral mask. It was made using the repoussé method. This technique makes it look like it was hammered. The hair on the mask looks like it was engraved. The mask is crooked. The ears are not in proportion, the moustache looks like it was put on wrong and everything on this mask looks wrong. The beard on the mask is V shaped. Most funerary masks are flat, but this one is not.. The mask is three dimensional and it looks like the ears were cut out rather than made together with the rest of the mask. The hair on the mask is very detailed; one can almost see every strand of his beard. The eyes on the mask appear to be open. The eyelids are made in a way that makes the eyes seem to be both open and closed at the same time.

Compared to the mask of Agamemnon, other objects found in the graves look Mycenaean and authentic. One example is image three, which is the inlaid dagger, was found in grave A Mycenae, Greece, 1600-1500 BCE. The dagger is about nine inches long. It is made of different metals such as gold, silver, and niello; niello is a chemical that is rubbed into the needle- like cut to make the texture of the dagger. The daggers were difficult to make, and are very detailed. One depicts a scene of a lion hunt; the lions look heraldic and symbolic, this explains why they were found in graves because only important officials were buried with expensive ornaments. The lions on the dagger are in the flying gallop pose, which is a convention started by the Minoans then adapted by the Mycenaean’s. The figures on the dagger are wearing shorts but not helmets and carrying a shield. I believe the figures represent the people buried in the graves, because they look heroic and important people were buried in the graves. It is possible that Schliemann made a similar assumption in finding the mask of Agamemnon since he was a Trojan soldier. The two artworks described beforehand are different even though they are claimed to be from the same civilization. Figure three shows more Mycenaean qualities than the mask of Agamemnon. Most of the Mycenaean metal works were not made of pure gold. Like the inlaid dagger, most of them were mixed with metals like silver. They are both inlaid but the dagger has signs of the Mycenaean convention of depicting animal scenes. It is believed that the funerary mask Schliemann found is a forgery. The funerary mask does not look like some of the other Mycenaean gold funerary mask. A local reporter of the Argolis News reported the “mask had no mustache”. Compared to figure two found...
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