Ano Englianos

The “Palace of Nestor” at Ano Englianos, also called the “Homeric Pylos” hardly needs any explanation. Excavated from 1952 by Carl Blegen, the site shows us a Mycenaean palace that is not inferior in luxury and richness to the palace of Mykene, and the thousands of clay tablets that have been found have given us a good idea of ​​the complete palace administration. Homer’s Iliad tells of the Neleid dynasty in “Messenic Pylos”, of which Nestor (who ruled for three generations and sent 90 warships to Troy, where Agamemnon himself could not bring more than 100) was the most important. The Odyssey depicts in book 3 how the son of Odysseus is received hospitably in the palace of Nestor, how he stays there and is bathed (!) by female slaves.


Above: the megaron of Pylos, with the centrally located (partly ceremonial) hearth, and the warehouses. The entire protective construction has since been renewed.

Telemachus in Pylos

There they sat in rows on beautiful thrones and seats. And the old man prepared the wine for his guests in a delicious cup. Good and ripe was the wine, poured from a pitcher, where it had been kept for ten years. Now the maid broke the seal.
After the pking had mixed this wine, he poured it in honor of Zeus’ daughter, whose shield shines like lightning silver, and to whom he prayed again with fervent urge.

Odyssey, book 3, translation F. van Oldenburg Ermke

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The main building of the last palace complex consisted of two floors in three larger building units, partly subdivided again. Complex A belongs to an earlier construction phase of the palace. The main complex is divided on the map into a number of smaller units, B the throne room (megaron) with the central hearth, C the court, D the entrance gate (propylon), E warehouses. The third complex (without a letter) was probably a workshop for the manufacture of cars, weapons and the like.

The columns, ceilings and roof construction were all made of wood, the outer walls of sandstone blocks, the inner walls of clay and stones. The whole was plastered and painted in the most beautiful frescoes. The walls have generally been preserved to a height of about 1 meter, while the fire that ended the palace wiped out the entire upper floor, leaving only non-combustible objects. In fact, the palace itself is much more impressive and informative than the much more touristy Mycenae, but in particular the lack of impressive Cyclopean walls that do adorn Mycenae means that few tourists find their way. Incidentally, modern measurements with ground radar have shown that those fortifications have been there, while a large lower town has also been shown near the palace.
Impressive are the many details that have been preserved of the palace construction, the terracotta bath with the remains of storage vessels (for hot water?), The pantry with dozens of bottles and barrels in situ, with an adjoining waiting room with a stucco bench, the stairs to the top floor, the great hall, where the king sat in state (complete with a channel for the libations he had to offer), with the clearly recognizable pillars for the four massive columns that once supported the roof and the enormous plastered and painted fireplace. The room was painted with murals, with a scene of griffins and lions directly behind the throne. Impressive (but far behind at Mycenae) is the restored dome tomb.
On the first day of the excavations, the excavator Blegen was lucky enough to come across a room with 600 tables in Linear B, an early form of Greek.


Photo’s: left to right: a reconstruction of the courtyard and a reconstruction of the throneroom in Pylos, on the right the painted hearth.

Below: three frescoes (reconstructions P. De Jong) from the palace.