Grave Hints at New Clues to Mycenaean Mystery

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October 26, 2015

Archaeologists have found the grave of a warrior that could shed new light on the famed Mycenaean and Minoan civilizations.

The man was bured about 1500 B.C. at Pylos, a city on the southwest coast of Greece that was populated in ancient times. The grave was found near remains of the palace of Nestor, a large Mycenaean settlement that was sacked about the same time as the fabled city of Troy.

Greek tradition, mainly through the stories of Homer, tells of a war between Troy and the Mycenaean civilizations in the 12th Century B.C. Such familiar names as Agamemnon, Achilles, and Odysseus come from the poems the Iliad and the Odyssey.

The grave was 5 feet deep, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long. The wooden coffin was crushed by a large stone that fallen on the grave, but the bones were intact enough for scientists to determine that the man was 30-35 years old when he died and that he had been buried on hit back.

In the grave with the body are gold rings, large jewels, seal stones, ivory combs, a bronze mirror, a gold-hilted dagger, and a very long bronze sword with a hilt made of ivory. Most other graves found from this time period have contained nowhere near that kind of wealth.

Discovering the grave were Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker, archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati who had been excavating at Pylos for more than two decades. The grave predates the remains of the Nestor palace, and so scientists are hoping to find clues in the grave goods as to how Mycenaeaen culture developed from the culture of the Minoans, who began on the island of Crete. The rings and seal stones found in the grave have carvings of bull jumpers and other symbols known to have belonged to the Minoan culture.

Some images are of the fabled griffin, a mythical beast that is said to have the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle; and so the warrior has been dubbed the “griffin warrior.”

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