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Underground cistern of Mycenae, Peloponnese

Categories/Tags: Water management.

Historical context: Dating back to the Late Bronze Age, around the XIII century BCE, the underground cistern of Mycenae emerged during the zenith of the Mycenaean civilization. This period was characterized by remarkable advancements in architecture, engineering, and military prowess. The construction of the cistern reflects the Mycenaeans’ innovative approach to water management, highlighting their dependence on sophisticated infrastructural solutions for sustaining life in their urban centers.

Joy of Museums. (n.d.). Underground Cistern of the Mycenae Citadel.

Form – main architectural features: The entrance to the underground cistern is a feat of ancient engineering, featuring a narrow stone staircase meticulously carved into the bedrock. Massive stone walls flank the entrance, serving both structural and defensive purposes. These architectural elements showcase the Mycenaeans’ mastery in creating robust and strategically designed structures to withstand the test of time.

Function – main architectural features: Primarily designed to collect and store rainwater, the underground cistern ensured a reliable water supply for the inhabitants of Mycenae, especially during times of peace and siege. The entrance played a pivotal role in regulating the flow of water into the cistern, preventing flooding and enabling efficient water management practices essential for sustaining the city’s population.

Lessons for sustainability: The underground cistern of Mycenae offers valuable lessons in sustainable water management practices. Despite its ancient origins, the principles of controlled water collection and conservation exemplified by the cistern remain relevant today. By studying and understanding the techniques employed by the Mycenaeans, modern societies can glean insights into developing sustainable water infrastructure solutions suited to contemporary challenges.

Cultural heritage and tourism: As a significant archaeological site, the entrance to the underground cistern of Mycenae attracts visitors from around the world, drawn by its historical significance and architectural grandeur. Guided tours and educational programs provide insights into the rich cultural heritage of the Mycenaean civilization and its innovative approach to urban planning and infrastructure development. Preservation efforts ensure that future generations can continue to explore and appreciate this ancient marvel, fostering a deeper connection to humanity’s collective past.

George E. Koronaios (2019). The staircase leading to the lower levels of the underground cistern of Mycenae.

Location: Peloponnese region – Greece


Show Caves. (n.d.). Μυκηνεσ Cistern of Ancient Mycenae – Mikinai – Mikines – Mykenai. Retrieved March 3rd, 2024, from