November 04, 2015

Gem-Filled Warrior's Tomb Discovered in Ancient Greek City


Archaeologists who thought they were excavating the site of an ancient house in Greece recently uncovered something much more rare: a wealthy Bronze Age warrior's tomb, chock-full of precious metals and colorful gemstones.

The tomb, which dates back some 3,500 years to 1500 B.C., was found by an international group of researchers led by archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati. Among the items found in the ancient tomb is a bronze sword with an ivory hilt covered in gold. Gold cups and jewelry, as well as hundreds of beads made from precious stones like amethyst and jasper, also surrounded the remains of the deceased Mycenaean warrior, who once lived near what is now the city of Pylos, on the southwest coast of Greece.

Archaeologists were excavating a previously unexplored field when they made the discovery. For decades, University of Cincinnati researchers have been digging around the city of Pylos as part of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project, which seeks to uncover the history of the Bronze Age center known as the Palace of Nestor, an extensive complex that is mentioned in Homeric legend. [The 7 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth




When they started digging up this particular field last May, archaeologists thought they were about to uncover the remains of a perfectly ordinary Bronze Age house, said Jack Davis, a professor of Greek archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and one of the researchers who helped unearth the ancient tomb.

"We put a trench in this one spot because three stones were visible on the surface," Davis said in a statement. "At first, we expected to find the remains of a house. We expected that this was the corner of a room of a house but quickly realized that it was the tops of the walls of a stone-lined grave shaft."

Mycenaean grave shafts, or shaft tombs, are rectangular burial structures buried fairly deep underground. The warrior's grave shaft measured about 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep, 4 feet (1.2 m) wide and 8 feet (2.4 m) long. Archaeologists dug for two weeks, to a depth of about 3.3 feet (1 m) before uncovering any of the treasures that had been buried alongside the body in the grave.

But eventually, the treasures came to the surface (and kept coming). In addition to the golden weapons and precious beads, the warrior was laid to rest with a host of other treasures, including carved ivory sculptures depicting griffons and lions midfight. The tomb also held dozens of seal stones, or gemstones, likely produced on the island of Crete and engraved with images of goddesses and animals.

The fact that all of these treasures were left untouched for thousands of years is a source of celebration for Davis and his colleagues.

"It's almost as if the occupant [of the grave] wants his story to be told," Davis said.

Ancient mystery

The researchers are still trying to figure out just who this ancient warrior may have been. The warrior's remains predate the rule of King Nestor, who once resided at the nearby Palace of Nestor, by about 200 to 300 years, said Shari Stocker, a senior research associate in the University of Cincinnati's Department of Classics.

"This latest find is not the grave of the legendary King Nestor, who headed a contingent of Greek forces at Troy in Homer's 'Iliad.' Nor is it the grave of his father, Neleus. That means he was likely an important figure at a time when this part of Greece was being indelibly shaped by close contact with Crete, Europe's first advanced civilization," Stocker said in a statement.


The many seal stones found in the grave, as well as several of the other artifacts, suggest that whoever this ancient warrior was, he had some kind of association with the Greek island of Crete, home to the Minoan civilization. Whether he fought there or traded with the people of the island remains unclear, Davis said.

The treasure-filled tomb could help researchers answer other important questions about the history of this area of Greece during the Bronze Age. The rulers at the Palace of Nestor once governed an area encompassing all of modern Messenia in western Greece, which supported more than 50,000 inhabitants at the time. But the warrior's tomb predates this rule, suggesting that the area began to flourish before King Nestor came along, according to the researchers. Whether the area (and the warriors buried beneath its fields) gained their wealth through raiding or trading is one of the mysteries that Davis and Stocker hope to solve.

By Elizabeth Palermo @techEpalermo. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+

Original article at Live Science.

Some other posts on archeology:
Stonehenge: A Breakthrough In An Age-old Mystery?
Chauvet Cave Paintings: Cave Women Left Their Artistic Mark
Colossal Pharaoh Statues of Amenhotep III Found in Egypt’s Temple City Luxor
Lost City of Heracleion Gives Up Its Secrets
Shilling Discovery 'Could' Rewrite Canadian History
Fake Pharaoh: Tutankhamun Replica To Safeguard Original Tomb
10,000-year-old House Uncovered Outside Of Jerusalem
Great Zimbabwe
Rock-hewn Tombs From Ancient Egypt Discovered In Aswan
Europe's Oldest Human Footprints Found: 900,000 Year-old Norfolk Footprints 'Definitely Human”
First Pharaoh Ruled Ancient Egypt Earlier Than First Thought  
The Antikythera Mechanism - The World's Oldest Known Computer
Archaeologists Digging Up Cecile B DeMille's Movie Treasures
The Lost Technology of Ancient Egyptians
The Elgin Marbles - A Continuing Controversy
Zeugma: 2,000-Year-Old Mosaics Uncovered In Turkey
Five Lost Cities
China's Lost Civilization: The Mystery Of Sanxingdui
Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh
Ancient Tomb in Amphipolis Revealed
Easter Island: Scientists Are Closer To Understanding What Wiped Out Its Society
The World’s Priceless Treasures
Relief of Queen Nefertiti
Gold Treasures Discovered in Ming Dynasty Tomb
Unique Mosaic Images Uncovered in Fifth-Century Synagogue 
 Philip of Macedonia, Greece’s Ancient King, Found 
Queen Nefertiti: Was She Hidden In King Tutankhamun’s Tomb?
The Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain

The Antikythera Mechanism: Second Expedition Seeks More Mechanism Remains 
 Discovery Of Ancient Cave Paintings In Petra
Scientists Find ‘Superhenge’ That Could Be Five Times The Area Of Stonehenge
Rome Reborn – An Amazing Digital Model of Ancient Rome
A Day in Pompeii
The Holigost: 600 Year Old Pride of Henry V’s Fleet May Have Been Found
Ippolito Rosellini: The Monuments of Egypt And Nubia
Amenhotep’s Fragmented Book Of The Dead Found 
Acra: Ancient Citadel Unearthed In Jerusalem 
Glastonbury Legends, King Arthur’s ‘Grave’, Made Up For Cash By Monks 
Is Queen Nefertiti Buried In King Tutankhaman’s Tomb? - Latest News
King Hezekiah's Seal Impression Found
Spanish Galleon San Jose Discovered Laden With Treasure Off Colombia 
Has The Lost Island Of Kane Been Found?
'Britain's Pompeii' Found at Bronze Age Settlement 
Babylonians Tracked Jupiter with Fancy Math, Tablet Reveals 
New Clues to Ancient Roman Art Discovered in Egyptian Mummy Portraits
Hidden Rooms In King Tut’s Tomb May Contain Organic Material 
Ancestral Puebloans Were Hit By Boom and Bust
 Bible Breakthrough Found In Israel
Queen Hatshepsut's Building Blocks Discovered