The megaron (//; Ancient Greek: μέγαρον, [mégaron]), plural megara //, was the great hall in ancient Greek palace complexes. Architecturally, it was a rectangular hall that was surrounded by four columns, fronted by an open, two-columned portico, and had a central, open hearth that vented though an oculus in the roof. The megaron also contained the throne-room of the wanax, or Mycenaean ruler, whose throne was located in the main room with the central hearth. Similar architecture is found in the Ancient Near East though the presence of the open portico, generally supported by columns, is particular to the Aegean. Megara are sometimes referred to as "long-rooms", as defined by their rectangular (non-square) shape and the position of their entrances, which are always along the shorter wall so that the depth of the space is larger than the width. There were often many rooms around the central megaron, such as archive rooms, offices, oil-press rooms, workshops, potteries, shrines, corridors, armories, and storerooms for such goods as wine, oil and wheat.
Rectilinear halls were a characteristic theme of ancient Greek architecture. The Mycenaean megaron originated and evolved from the megaroid, or large hall-centered rectangular building, of mainland Greece dating back to the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. Furthermore, it served as the architectural precursor to the Greek temples of the Archaic and Classical periods. With respect to its structural layout, the megaron includes a columned entrance, a pronaos and a central naos (cella) with early versions of it having one of many roof types (i.e., pitched, flat, barrel). The roof, specifically, was supported by wooden beams and since the aforesaid roof types are always destroyed in the remnants of the early megaron, the definite roof type is unknown. The floor was made of patterned concrete and covered in carpet. The walls, constructed out of mud brick, were decorated with fresco paintings. There were wood-ornamented metal doors, often two-leaved, and footbaths were also used in the megaron as attested in Homer's Odyssey where Odysseus's feet were washed by Eurycleia. The proportions involving a larger length than width are similar structurally to early Doric temples.
A famous megaron is in the large reception hall of the king in the palace of Tiryns, the main room of which had a raised throne placed against the right wall and a central hearth bordered by four Minoan-style wooden columns that served as supports for the roof. The Cretan elements in the Tiryns megaron were adopted by the Mycenaeans from the palace type found in Minoan architecture. Frescoes from Pylos show figures eating and drinking, which were important activities in Greek culture. Artistic portrayals of bulls, a common zoomorphic motif in Mycenaean vase painting, appear on Greek megaron frescoes such as the one in the Pylos megaron where a bull is depicted at the center of a Mycenaean procession. Other famous megara include the ones at the Mycenaean palaces of Thebes and Mycenae. Different Greek cultures had their own unique megara; for example, the people of the Greek mainland tended to separate their central megaron from the other rooms whereas the Cretans did not do this.
- Biers 1996, p. 69: "Perhaps the most conspicuous and distinctive feature of Mycenaean architecture is the central hall, or megaron, which is found not only in the palaces but in private houses as well. A typical mainland form, traceable at least to Early Helladic and perhaps to Neolithic predecessors [...]"
- Pullen 2008, p. 37.
- Kleiner 2016, "Chapter 4 The Prehistoric Aegean", p. 94; Neer 2012.
- "Megaron". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- Müller 1944, pp. 342−348.
- Pentreath 2006, "Pre-Classical Beginnings".
- Hitchcock 2010, pp. 200–209.
- Cartwright 2019.
- Werner 1993, p. 16; Rider 1916, pp. 179–180.
- Diehl 1893, p. 53.
- Werner 1993, p. 23.
- Rider 1916, p. 180.
- Rider 1916, p. 183; Homer. Odyssey, XIX.316.
- Rider 1916, p. 140.
- Wright 2004, pp. 161–162.
- Wright 2004, p. 160 (Footnote #116).
- Werner 1993.
- Rider 1916, p. 127.
- Biers, William R. (1996). The Archaeology of Greece: An Introduction. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-801-43173-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Cartwright, Mark (2019). "Mycenaean Civilization". Ancient History Encyclopedia.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Diehl, Charles (1893). Excursions in Greece to Recently Explored Sites of Classical Interest: Mycenae, Tiryns, Dodona, Delos, Athens, Olympia, Eleusis, Epidaurus, Tanagra. London: H. Grevel and Co.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Hitchcock, Louise A. (2010). "Chapter 15. Mycenaean Architecture". In Cline, Eric H. (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 200−209. ISBN 978-0-19-536550-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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- Müller, Valentine (1944). "Development of the "Megaron" in Prehistoric Greece". Archaeological Institute of America. 48 (4): 342–348. JSTOR 499900.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Neer, Richard T. (2012). Greek Art and Archaeology: A New History, c. 2500–c. 150 BCE. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-28877-1. OCLC 745332893.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Pentreath, Guy (2006). "ABCs of Greek Architecture". The New York Times: Travel. Fodors LLC. Retrieved 18 April 2020.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Pullen, Daniel (2008). "The Early Bronze Age in Greece". In Shelmerdine, Cynthia W. (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 19–46. ISBN 978-0-521-81444-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Rider, Bertha Carr (1916). The Greek House: Its History and Development from the Neolithic Period to Hellenistic Age. London: Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Werner, Kjell (1993). The Megaron during the Aegean and Anatolian Bronze Age: A Study of Occurrence, Shape, Architectural Adaptation, and Function. Jonsered: Paul Åströms Förlag. ISBN 978-9-17-081092-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Wright, James C. (2004). "A Survey of Evidence for Feasting in Mycenaean Society". Hesperia. 73 (2): 133–178. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.675.9036. doi:10.2972/hesp.2004.73.2.133. ProQuest 216525567.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Homer's Odyssey contains detailed references to the megaron of Odysseus.
- Hopkins, Clark (1968). "The Megaron of the Mycenaean Palace" (PDF). Studi Micenea ed Egeo-Anatolici. 6: 45−53.
- Konsolaki-Yannopoulou, Eleni (2004). "Mycenaean Religious Architecture: The Archaeological Evidence from Ayios Konstantinos, Methana". In Wedde, Michael (ed.). Celebrations: Sanctuaries and the Vestiges of Cult Activity (PDF). Papers from the Norwegian Institute at Athens 6. Athens. pp. 61–94.
- Vermeule, Emily (1972). Greece in the Bronze Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Lee, Stephanie (2007). "Megaron". JIAAW Workplace: Archaeologies of the Greek Past. Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World (Brown University).