Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km southwest of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km to the south; Corinth, 48 km to the north. From the hill on which the palace was located one can see across the Argolid to the Saronic Gulf.
In the second millennium BC Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae.
Only scattered sherds from disturbed debris have been found datable to the Neolithic (prior to 3500 BC). The site was inhabited but the stratigraphy has been destroyed by later construction.
Early Bronze Age
It is believed that Mycenae was settled close to 2000 BC by Indo-Europeans who practiced farming and herding. Scattered sherds dating to 2100-1700 BC have been found, when Mycenae interacted with Minoan Crete. Other theories suggest the settling of Mycenae a thousand years earlier.
Middle Bronze Age
The first burials in pits or cist graves began at about 1800-1700 BCE to the west of the Acropolis, which was at least partially enclosed by the earliest circuit wall.
Much of the Mycenaean religion survived into classical Greece in their Pantheon of Greek deities, but it is not known to what extent Greek religious belief is Mycenaean, nor how much is a product of the Greek Dark Ages or later. Finley detected only few authentic Mycenean beliefs in the eighth-century Homeric World, but Nilsson suggested that the Mycenean religion was the mother of the Greek religion.
Through the oral tradition Homer transferred the beliefs during the Dark-Ages, but he kept in memory the confederacy of the Greeks under the powerful king of Mycenae. when gods walked along friendly with men, and the "heroic-age" when great heroes dominated the scene. The belief in gods as embodiments of power, the heroic outlook inherited from a distant past together with the local chthonic cults, were later fitted into the frame of the City-states and his demands into an elastic system.
The people of Mycenae had received advice from an oracle that they should choose a new king from among the Pelopids. The two contenders were Atreus and his brother, Thyestes. The latter was chosen at first. At this moment nature intervened. The sun appeared to reverse direction and set in the east.
Atreus argued that because the sun had reversed its path, the election of Thyestes should be reversed. The argument was heeded, and Atreus became king. His first move was to pursue Thyestes and all his family - that is, his own kin - but Thyestes managed to escape from Mycenae.