Mycenaean (or Achaean) Civilization a Bronze Age culture of Greece and the Aegean region. It began after an Indo-European people called the Achaeans, who spoke the Greek language, migrated into Greece sometime between 2000 B.C. and 1700 B.C. The Mycenaean era ended when a related people, the Dorians, overran the area beginning about 1100 B.C. The period of the Trojan War (1194–1184) is the Heroic Age of Greece and marks the high point of Mycenaean civilization. The civilization is named for its principal city, Mycenae.
When the Achaeans came from the north into Greece, they found it under the cultural influence of the Minoans from Crete. The Achaeans absorbed Minoan culture and blended it with their own traditions. The result, after a few centuries, was an aggressive and highly developed civilization. In the 1400's Minoan civilization disappeared, perhaps as a result of an invasion by the Achaeans. The Greeks took over Cretan commerce in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean seas, and established settlements in Asia Minor and as far away as Cyprus and Phoenicia.
Greece at this time was divided into a number of kingdoms. The major export was olive oil. Pottery was produced in large quantities, and great skill was shown in metal working and architecture. When the major part of Greece was destroyed by the Dorians, Mycenaean culture was preserved in the Athens area, which escaped invasion, and on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, to which many Greeks fled. In these places, 500 years later, Greek culture of the Classic Age had its first development.
Excavations begun in the 1870's by Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae, nearby Tiryns, and Orchomenus in Boeotia provided many facts about Mycenaean Greece. In 1939 C. W. Blegen discovered Pylos, the second most important Mycenaean city, in western Messenia. It contained hundreds of clay tablets inscribed in the Minoan script called Linear B, which was deciphered in 1952 by Michael Ventris, and proved to be Greek. A third major Mycenaean site is beneath modern Thebes, where ruins of two great palaces were discovered in the 1960's. Many lesser sites are known also.