The palace at Pylos belonged to Nestor, the old king who told stories and gave unsolicited advice while the younger warriors fought at Troy. The palace was rediscovered in 1939 by the American archaeologist Carl Blegen, who had the good fortune of discovering the palace archives on his first day of work here. Blegen uncovered some 600 clay tablets written in a mysterious language initially called Linear B and later shown to be an early form of Greek, used mainly to catalogue holdings of the palace -- many tablets contain lists of containers of oil and so forth. The tablets and buildings found at Pylos are thought to date from the late 14th to 13th centuries B.C.; the fire that destroyed the palace around 1200 B.C. calcified and thus preserved the tablets. In 2010, yet another Linear B tablet was found, this one in an excavation at the nearby village of Iklaina. The little tablet seems to have been tossed into a rubbish heap. When the rubbish was burnt all those years ago, the tablet, like the ones at Pylos, was calcified and preserved. Its discovery seems to push the known use of writing on tablets back at least 100 years.
Unlike Mycenae and Tiryns, Pylos was not heavily fortified: You'll see a sentry box but no massive walls. The well-preserved royal apartments include a more-than-adequate bathroom with the tub still in place. Archaeologists have suggested that the small block beside the tub was a step, installed when the elderly King Nestor had trouble stepping into his bath. The palace, with its central courtyard, was originally two stories high and richly decorated with frescoes, some of which are on display at the small archaeological museum 1.5km (1 mile) away in the village of Hora.