Wildfire at Ancient Mycenae did not Damage Antiquities, Says Ministry

Despite blackening the famed Lion Gate, antiquities of the 3,600-year-old citadel were spared significant damages from the fire.

The wildfire that burnt areas in and around the archaeological site of Ancient Mycenae does not appear to have caused significant damages to antiquities on first inspection, the Ministry of Culture said in an announcement, despite images emerging of the famous Lion Gate of the citadel having been blackened by soot.

The fire broke out on Sunday at around 1:30 p.m. in an area of low vegetation outside the site and spread quickly. Visitors to the site were evacuated, and more than fifty firefighters, as well as four planes and two helicopters, were mobilized to control and extinguish the fire.

According to the ministry, the areas within the archaeological site that were affected by the fire were the East Wing of the Palace, the Northern Storehouses, the area of the ancient temple at the top of the hill, the upper western hillside of the Acropolis, the Northwestern District, and the area of the Religious Center of the Mycenaeans.

The fire did not directly impact the Archaeological Museum which houses some of the most famous artifacts from the site, the central entrance to the archaeological site (the ticket office), the central entrance to the Mycenaean citadel (Lion Gate), Grave Circle A, the monuments on the northern side of the hill, or the cyclopean walls.

Speaking during a site visit on Monday, the Culture Minister Lina Mendoni credited fire prevention works such as the removal of dry grasses, together with the swift action of the Fire Service as having protected the site from major damages, according to the AP.

The ministry’s announcement states that a team from the Ephorate of Antiquities is expected to conduct a more detailed assessment of the damages caused by the fire.

The announcement also noted that the safety systems, lighting and watering systems are fully functioning throughout the site, and that the water tanks in place to combat fires are full.

The archaeological site will remain shut for safety reasons and staff will be in place to guard against any resurgence of the fire.

Mycenae is considered one of the major centers of Greek civilization of the second millennium BC. At its peak, around 1300 BC, it dominated southern Greece, including Crete, the Cyclades as well as parts of Anatolia.

A version of this article was first published at ekathimerini.com.

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