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Mask of Agamemnon

Assignment for Week 10 Discussion (Discussion #9)


This week we are going to do something a little different.

For class this week you have about the Trojan War and the Iliad, in which Agamemnon plays a major role. You have learned about the Bronze Age site of Mycenae, from where Homer tells us Agamemnon hails. You have learned about the exploits of the Archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, who was the first person to dig at Mycenae and whose work has greatly influenced our understanding of culture in the Aegean Bronze Age.

As part of Schliemann’s work, he pointed to a finely-made gold death mask as belonging to, and therefore proving the existence of, Agamemnon as a historical figure and the Homeric epics as fact. However questionable this particular assumption is, there is even some question about whether Schliemann FAKED the mask itself. The questionable authenticity of the Mask of Agamemnon has proven to be one of the major mysteries of Greek archaeology.


Before you can participate in discussion for this week, READ the opinions about the authenticity of the mask put forth by the 5 scholars in Archaeology Magazine ( (Spencer P.M. Harrington, William M. Calder, III, David A. Traill, Katie Demakopoulou, Kenneth D.S. Lapatin).*


Then you will weigh in on the Mystery of the Mask


The discussion should follow these criteria:

Answer the following questions:

  1. What are five (5) arguments the scholars in “Behind the Mask of Agamemnon” used to argue that the mask is a HOAX? You should choose the arguments you find most compelling. (You can use bullet points here if you like)
  2. What are five (5) arguments the scholars in “Behind the Mask of Agamemnon” used to argue that the mask is AUTHENTIC? You should choose the arguments you find most compelling. (You can use bullet points here if you like)

Now, discuss whether, using the evidence you listed above, you think the mask is AUTHENTIC or is a FORGERY.  Be sure to explain WHY you find the evidence on one side or the other more compelling


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