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Identification and date of the palace

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The palace, as it has now been revealed, with its five chief buildings, is a work of the 13th century, and its history falls between 1300 and 1200 B.C. The complex is spread out over a fairly extensive area as large as, if not larger than, that occupied by other palaces of the same period on the Greek mainland. In its size and arrangement the central building takes its place alongside the contemporary establishments at Mycenae and Tiryns. It exhibits the same general plan in its entrance gateway, court, portico, vestibule, and throne room, with interior columns arranged around a central hearth. It is obvious that it was built by a ruler of great wealth and political power.
No king is definitely identified in the inscribed tablets that have been found in this palace, but Greek tradition tells of a Mycenaean royal dynasty in western Messenia,the Neleids. According to myth Neleus, a royal prince from Thessaly, came and acquired the site, and his son Nestor succeeded him and ruled through three generations of men. Nestor, who took part in the expedition against Troy provided and equipped ninety vessels, second only to the one hundred ships of the expedition leader, Agamemnon himself. Nestor returned in safety from Troy and survived a good many years. voroulia_traganas

He was succeeded by a son and grandson, perhaps even by a great-grandson. The palace was captured and put to the torch by the Dorians and was totally destroyed. The inhabitants fled. Some of the Neleids took refuge in Athens, where they founded some of the leading Athenian families; others went to Asia Minor and settled in Ionia. Whatever its later history, the site of Pylos never again reached the same level of culture. Indeed, in the Classical period no one knew exactly where Pylos had stood. But all the Greek writers who mention Nestor regarded him as a Messenian. The name Pylos survived into Classical times and later, attached to the fortress and region on the north side of the Bay of Navarino.
In the past fifty years archaeology has done much to confirm the historical reality of some of the personali¬ties recorded by the epics and Greek folk memory as dominating the great Mycenaean centers. If there ever was a Nestor, surely he lived here in the palace at Englianos, which flourished in the 13th century. Even the name of "Pylos" fits: forty-six tablets from the site contain this place name, sometimes written in large signs as a heading. The exact date when the palace was destroyed is not easily fixed to a year, but it occurred when Mycenaean pottery of the style called Late Helladic IIIB was reaching its end, and a few pieces of the succeeding style, Late Helladic IIIC, were beginning to appear. This was a time of great disturbance and destruction. Mycenae and Tiryns too were burned at the end of the pottery style LH IIIB, around 1200 B.C. Many other Mycenaean sites came to their end at the same time, such as Berbati, the Argive Heraeum, Zygouries, Thebes, and Gla, to mention only a few.
The cause of the destructions and abandonments re¬mains a mystery though there is increasing evidence that earthquakes hit some sites hard at this time, especially in the Argolid. At Pylos, however, there are signs of trouble well before the destruction took place. The palace complex un¬derwent several alterations during the course of its history The late addition of the Northeastern Building is just one of these. Storerooms were added also, both by new construction (27, 60, perhaps the wine magazine 104-105) and probably by conversion of existing rooms (32). Before the Northeastern Building was built, the creation of courts 42 and 47 had already blocked off access to the palace by an earlier entrance through gateway 41. Similarly, the con¬struction of rooms 60-62 restricted access to the south¬western side of the complex, and corridor 18 was walled off at both ends so that pantries 19 and 20 no longer communicated with the rest of the Main Building. These increases in storage and workshop space, and the restric¬tion of access to and circulation within the palace, indi¬cate an increasingly centralized palace administration, and the anticipation of trouble either locally or from further afield. The violent burning destruction suggests that these concerns were justified.
(CWB andMRJLD and CWS)