Category Archives: GREECE

New findings from the 3,500-year-old tomb of a bronze age warrior

New findings from the 3,500-year-old tomb of a bronze age warrior

The discovery, in the words of one of the archaeologists who uncovered it, was “the find of a lifetime.” The tomb of a Bronze Age warrior left untouched for more than 3,500 years and packed to the brim with precious jewellery, weapons and riches has been unearthed in southwestern Greece, according to researchers at the University of Cincinnati.

University of Cincinnati researcher Sharon Stocker stands in the shaft tomb of a wealthy Bronze Age warrior.

The shaft tomb, about 5 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long, was uncovered in May by a husband-and-wife team from the university. But the find was kept under wraps until an announcement Monday by Greek authorities.

Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis began excavating the site near the modern-day city of Pylos, Greece, in May. They were working near the Palace of Nestor, a noted destination in Homer’s “Odyssey.” That site was uncovered by famed University of Cincinnati archaeologist Carl Blegen in 1939.

Stocker and Davis initially thought they might have stumbled upon a Bronze Age home just outside the palace, but as they continued digging, they uncovered one bronze piece after another.

“That’s when we knew,” Stocker told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview from Greece, where she is still working.

What she and a team of dozens of researchers uncovered were incredible riches in a rare solo grave of a Mycenaean warrior who was buried several centuries before the rise of classical Greek culture.

Here’s a sampling of what they uncovered:

Solid gold jewelry and precious stones on his right

This picture provided by Greece’s Culture Ministry shows a gold signet ring decorated with two acrobats vaulting over a bull, found in the tomb.

Four solid gold rings, carved with intricate designs, were found in the tomb near the warrior’s remains. The researchers say this is more than has been found in any other single burial in all of Greece.

A unique solid-gold necklace, unearthed in the warrior’s tomb.
The necklace is more than 30 inches long and features two gold pendants on each end, decorated with ivy leaves.

More than 1,000 precious stone beads were also uncovered, many of them with holes drilled in the centre for stringing together. The beads were made of carnelian, amethyst, jasper, agate and gold, researchers say. Some may have even been sewn to a burial shroud of woven fabric, a tiny square of which survived 35 centuries in the grave.

A solid-gold chain necklace, more than 2 feet long with pendants on either end, was also found near his neck.

Weapons on his left

A 3-foot sword with a handle made of ivory and overlaid in gold lay at the warrior’s left chest. Underneath it was a dagger that was decorated with gold using an intricate technique that resembles embroidery.

Other weapons, made of bronze, including a slashing sword and spearhead, were found at his legs and feet, and the remnants of a bronze suit of armour were found on top.

Stone seals with intricate designs and carvings

One of more than four dozen seal stones with intricate Minoan designs found in the warrior’s tomb. Long-horned bulls and human bull jumpers soaring over their horns are common motifs in Minoan designs.

Dozens of seal stones, which were decorated with detailed etchings in the Minoan style, were found to the left and right of the warrior’s skeleton. About the size of a quarter, the seal stones depicted goddesses, lions and bulls, and men jumping over a bull’s horns, a common sport in the Minoan civilization.

Beauty essentials: combs and a mirror

warrior grave
A bronze mirror with an ivory handle was among the more than 1,400 objects found in the grave.
One of six ivory combs found in the warrior’s tomb.

Six fine-toothed ivory combs, mostly intact and about 6 inches long, were uncovered in the grave. They were intricately decorated and accompanied by a bronze mirror with an ivory handle. Stocker says it’s significant that the warrior was buried alone, and that jewels, combs, and a mirror accompanied him.

It was extremely rare for a person to be buried alone, Stocker says, and archaeologists uncovering group graves in the past have had trouble determining which objects are associated with which remains, male or female. “In the past, people have wondered if you could divide finds along gender lines. Did the beads go with women? Did the combs go with women and the swords with the men?” Stocker told The Times.

“Since it’s only one burial, we know that all these objects went with this man.”

A rich person’s cups, bowls and jugs – made with bronze

Most graves from this era were packed with ceramics and another stoneware, Stocker says. But piled on top of the jewels and weapons were vessels, bowls and basins made strictly of bronze, some ringed with gold and silver trim.

Some of the bronze vessels, once round, had been flattened by centuries of earth weighing down on them.

READ ALSO: RARE 20-MILLION-YEAR-OLD PETRIFIED TREE MEASURING 62 FEET TALL DISCOVERED IN GREECE

“This guy was really, really rich,” Stocker says. His bones indicate he was “strong, robust … well-fed,” she says. He may have been royalty or even the founder of a new dynasty at the Palace of Nestor. (A conqueror may not have wanted to be buried in a communal grave with generations of the previous dynasty, Stocker says).

The man, who was 30 to 35 years old when he died, could have been a warrior who led a raiding party to the nearby island of Crete and whose loot was buried with him. Or even a trader who acquired the goods through commerce.

“We don’t know his name, and we don’t really know anything else about him,” she says.

Bronze Age Swords Unearthed in Greece

Bronze Age swords and sets of bounties Unearthed in Greece

The first period of this year’s excavation in the Trapeza plateau, eight kilometres southwest of Aegio, was completed, bringing to light, among other things, valuable sets of gifts and bronze swords. The place is identified with Rypes, a city that flourished in early historical times and participated in colonization, founding Croton in great Greece.

Excavation in the prehistoric settlement

The excavation focused on the research of the Mycenaean necropolis, which develops on the southwestern slope of the plateau and is located on the ancient road that led to the citadel of historical times. 

The tombs are chambered, carved into the soft sandy subsoil. Their use was long-lasting and intensive, already during the first palace period of the Mycenaean world, in parallel with the prosperity of the great centres of Mycenae, Tiryns and Pylos

Significant reuse of the tombs dates back to the 12th century BC, when the tombs were reopened and repeatedly while being a place of burial customs and complex ritual practices until the end of the Bronze Age, during the 11th century BC.

The excavation at the necropolis yielded valuable sets of gifts consisting of vases, a number of seal stones and all kinds of beads and voices from various materials – glass, faience, gold, corneol, mountain crystal – composing necklaces and ornate jewellery in the shape of jewels, in trade relations with the eastern Aegean and Cyprus.

The chamber of tomb 8, in the shape of a rectangle, which was investigated this year, presented a complex stratigraphy. In the first layer of tombs of the 12th c. BC, three burials were investigated by country, decorated with pseudo-mouthed amphorae. 

The bones of the older tombs had been removed and placed with respect and great care in two superimposed piles at the back of the chamber in contact with the walls of the tomb. At the top of these excavations, three written clay alabasters and an amphora date these first burials to the early palace period (14th century BC).

Among the bones and offerings that accompanied these ancient burials, glass beads and cornaline, a clay horse figurine, was placed an exceptionally preserved bronze sword. 

Bronze Age Swords Unearthed in Greece
The big sword between the bones of the recovery

At the base of the pile of bones, two more intact bronze swords were also found, which also save part of their wooden handles. The three swords belong to different types, Sandars D and E, and date back to the heyday of the Mycenaean palace period. 

The presence of these weapons, as well as the long spears of the same chronological period found during the excavation in neighbouring tombs in the necropolis of the Bank, is particularly important. It is distinguished from the other necropolises of Achaia by emphasizing the direct dependence of the local community on the powerful palace centres. 

The weapons are products of the palace workshops, perhaps of Mycenae, thus in line with the Epic and the mythological tradition handed down to us. 

According to it, Achaia belonged to the kingdom of Agamemnon and the conqueror of Mycenae gathered in neighbouring Aigio the most valuable men in order to discuss how the campaign against the Priam state should be carried out.

The location of the Mycenaean settlement of Trapeza is still not clear enough. 

Probably, during the early cycle of use of the necropolis, the settlement was located on a hill, about 100 meters south of the Bank. 

This year, in parallel with the research in the Mycenaean necropolis, the excavation of part of the settlement, revealed part of a building, perhaps a mansion. It is a wide rectangular room with a hearth in the centre and typical pottery that dates back to the 17th century. e.g.

READ ALSO: ARCHAEOLOGISTS DISCOVER “UNIQUE” CEREMONIAL BRONZE AGE SWORD IN DENMARK

The systematic excavation at Trapeza Aigio, ancient Pollutants, is led by Dr. Andreas G. Vordos, archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Achaia. 

Elisabetta Borgna, Professor of Aegean Archeology at the University of Udine, participates in the interdisciplinary research program of the Mycenaean necropolis and the prehistoric settlement with a group of students from the Universities of Udine, Trieste and Venice, as well as postgraduate students.

The main sponsor of the excavation at the Bank of Egialia, ancient Pollutants, is the AG Foundation. Leventis. The excavation work is also supported by Olympia Odos SA.

Marble Source for Greek Archaic Sculpture Identified

Marble Source for Greek Archaic Sculpture Identified

The source of marble for a statue of Apollo on the Greek island of Delos has been a mystery to art historians and archaeologists for decades. The stone’s chemistry pointed geochemists to the southern end of the nearby island of Naxos, but no one thought there were ancient marble quarries there. A geoarchaeologist believes he found the source.

“We had actually been told that we were not going to find what we were looking for,” says geoarchaeologist Scott Pike of Willamette University. But after two field seasons traipsing across Mediterranean shrublands, Pike believes he has found the source.

He is presenting his findings on Monday, 11 October 2021 at the Geological Society of America’s GSA Connects 2021 annual meeting in Portland, Ore.

The Greek Archaic period (approximately 800 to 480 B.C.E.) is known in part for its “larger-than-life” kouros statues, which depicted young men. Together, the massive Apollo kouros on Delos would stand around ten meters (33 feet) high, although today it is broken into several parts.

The massive marble chunks are white and worn; at a glance, some of the pieces hardly resemble parts of a human figure. But the statue has drawn researchers all the same. Searching for its source was sparked in part by an ambiguous inscription at its base, roughly translated as, “I am of the same stone, statue and plinth,” with a later addition stating that the kouros was “from the Naxians, to Apollo,” according to Pike.

Marble Source for Greek Archaic Sculpture Identified

It was not clear whether the inscription referred to the statue’s structure, being hewn from a single piece of marble, or the origin of its stone. Pike sampled various parts from the statue — a hand, the upper and lower torso, a bit of leg — and analyzed its carbon and oxygen isotopic composition. That composition can be used to trace the marble source by comparing it against other analyzed marbles, like finding a fingerprint match in a database.

“The analyses showed the marble came from Naxos, but from a region where there hasn’t been any evidence of ancient quarrying. We know that there are two quarries in the northern part of the island, where there are still large kouroi in place in the quarries. But we didn’t know of any ancient quarries in the south,” says Pike.

Pike headed to the southern side of Naxos, despite locals assuring him his efforts were in vain. He relied on local knowledge of other archaeological sites and geologic maps to guide him as he “scoured the landscape” looking for, essentially, outcrops of white marble and possible small pits. Remnants of Archaic quarries bear little resemblance to the vast open-pit mines humans create today and were difficult for Pike to find.

After a couple of weeks of searching, Pike began finding small bands of white marble that were not marked on the geologic maps. Some were close to archaeological sites, giving Pike some confidence that these small quarries could be the source.

“Finding what we were looking for was exciting because being told several times that you’re not going to find anything is discouraging, but we knew,” Pike says. “The evidence pointed to the south. I felt the most Indiana Jones I’ll ever be.”

Back in the lab, Pike analyzed his marble samples and found that two of the newly-uncovered southern white marbles were good matches for the Apollo kouros at Delos. Knowing that these early marble quarries exist in the south of the island will be helpful for tracing the source for other ancient marble artefacts, such as older Bronze Age Cycladic figurines that have puzzled geoarchaeologists. It also has implications for knowledge of commerce at the time.

“Knowing now that there is a marble source on Naxos for these Bronze Age statues and figurines will place the region more in the centre of commerce, trade and influence than had been previously understood,” Pike says.

Gigantic Hand of Hercules could be From the Tallest Marble Statue Ever Made

Gigantic Hand of Hercules could be From the Tallest Marble Statue Ever Made

One glance at the giant hand is enough to recognize it was once part of a true masterpiece created by ancient builders. The hand belonged most likely to a massive statue of Hercules himself.

How and why the giant statue of Hercules was destroyed is unclear, but we can assume it was due to the region’s periodic catastrophic earthquakes.

There are many stories of Hercules, the Greek hero who was the son of Zeus. Whether he existed or not is unknown, but since he was worshipped in many temples all over Greece and Rome, one can suspect he was a real being.

Gigantic Hand of Hercules could be From the Tallest Marble Statue Ever Made
Partial view of the giant hand of Herkules.

The Temple Of Hercules, situated in the Forum Boarium on the eastern bank of the Tiber, is one of the oldest extant buildings in Rome, Italy.

Constructed between 162-166 CE during Marcus Aurelius’ Roman occupation of Amman’s Citadel, the temple is purported to be the work of the Greek architect Hermodoros of Salamina, who engineered a circular layout of 20 Corinthian columns orbiting around a central cylindrical stone block.

In ancient times, it was a huge place of worship. The great temple is larger than any in Rome itself.

Its portico faces east and is surrounded by six 33-foot-tall columns. Measuring 100-feet-long by 85-feet-wide with an outer sanctum of 400-by-236-feet, the fact that the rest of the temple remained unadorned by columns suggests to scholars that the structure was never completed, for reasons history has yet to reveal.

When archaeologists excavated the site, they discovered very few clues that could shed more light on why the mysterious and giant Temple of Hercules and the massive statue were destroyed. This abandoned place was once of great importance, but very little is known about its past.

Ruins of the Temple of Hercules in Amman

The three gigantic fingers, one elbow, and some scattered coins have led archaeologists to conclude that these marble body parts belonged to Hercules himself a massive statue of Hercules himself. It is, therefore, logical to assume that the temple was also dedicated to him.

If the remarkable statue had survived, it would have measured upwards of 40-feet high, which would have placed it among the largest known marble statues to have ever existed.

The mighty statue of Hercules is gone, but the marble components of the Temple of Hercules have endured considerable deterioration over the two millennia.

A model of the temple of Hercules.

In 1996, the Temple of Hercules was placed on the World Monuments Watch.

Tragic Loss: 2,500-Year-Old Olive Tree Burned to Ashes in Greek Fires

Tragic Loss: 2,500-Year-Old Olive Tree Burned to Ashes in Greek Fires

A 2,500-year-old ancient olive tree on the island of Evia was destroyed today in the ongoing wildfires consuming the region. The ancient tree was located in the olive grove of Rovia and was such an enduring symbol of the landscape that the ancient geographer and philosopher Strabo featured it in his writings.

The tree was large, with a trunk so wide ten people could fit along its diameter. The tree was fertile with olives all the way until it fell victim to the wildfire.

The tragic loss of the Evian tree was posted to Twitter by Apostolis Panagiotou, and the evocative image quickly gained over a thousand likes, with many Greeks leaving responses mourning the impact of the fires.

A historic olive tree on the island of Evia was destroyed by the ongoing wildfires.

The ancient olive tree in Evia is one amongst many losses of the wildfires

The destruction of the treasured tree is just one of many losses experienced by the Greek people in Evia during the course of the wildfires.

In a statement that showcases the desperation and pain of the people of northern Evia, Giannis Kontzias, the mayor of Istiaia – Aidipsos, said that what the people are seeing now is ”the completion of a holocaust.”

”Truth be told, we could have saved much more,” he says. ”I’ve been up on the mountain from Wednesday at 2:30 PM making dramatic calls for more aircraft in the front that we managed to keep back for 30 hours.”

Kontzias described the dramatic turn of events when the wind changed direction and brought the fire to the northwest of Evia.

Evia before the devastation

”The wind turned the fire towards the Municipality of Istiaia Aidipsos, multiplying the fronts,” he explains.

‘”We need more aircraft”

”I’m making a dramatic appeal (to the Greek authorities) to bring aircraft.”

”Very few of them arrived yesterday, but they were inadequate. Today, only seven of them are operating particularly near Artemisio,” the devastated mayor explains.

”One after the other our villages fall. One municipal unit after the other is being destroyed completely. What’s saved has been saved by volunteers and the soul of the residents of this land,” Kontizas noted.

”They remained the last ones to save something from their homes, something from which we’ll be able to hold onto in order to stay and live in this land.”

The day after

“Our children will never see the environment and our land in the same way we saw it,” the mayor stated. The mayor of northern Evia made a grim prediction. He stated that in order for this area of Greece to return to its former status, it will take decades.

”We’ll be struggling for decades to bring northern Evia back to what it used to be,” he says, adding that they owe it to this land to do the best they can.

”The day after will have both financial and environmentally disastrous consequences,” Kontizas notes.

The mayor thanked everybody for their love and assistance and made a pledge for anyone who can assist in any way to do so.

Archaeologists discover a 6th-century coin hoard in ancient Phanagoria

Archaeologists discover a 6th-century coin hoard in ancient Phanagoria

“Treasures are not often found,” explains Vladimir Kuznetsov, head of the Phanagoria archaeological expedition of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “As a rule, they are evidence of catastrophic events in people’s lives, as a result of which the one who hid money or valuable items was unable to return and use their savings.

A rare find made by archaeologists in July this year is associated with a dramatic and mysterious page in the history of medieval Phanagoria – the capital of one of the earliest Christian dioceses in Russia.”

This was the third season of the Phanagoria expedition of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The archaeologists are examining when the city was destroyed in a fire, which may have taken place as the result of an attack by Huns or Turks. Residential buildings, wineries, public buildings perished in the fire, and a large amount of ash, soot, fragments of burnt wooden floors of buildings, broken dishes and the remains of burnt grain in amphoras speak of a significant scale of the disaster. Finds associated with this event include a broken marble countertop and a baptismal font, which bear witness to the destruction of an early Christian basilica nearby.

In previous years, a gold coin of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (527 – 565) was found in the layer of fire. It made it possible to establish the date of the catastrophe: the second or third decades of the 6th century. Not far from this find, in a layer of conflagration, the treasure of copper coins of the 2021 season was found.

“The very context of his find speaks of the extraordinary circumstances under which he was hidden, of the sudden attack of enemies,” said Vladimir Kuznetsov. “In a hurry, a resident of Phanagoria hid a bundle with 80 coins in the throat of an old broken amphora that had turned up under his arm and covered the hole with earth.

Copper staters found in 2021.

Similar events took place elsewhere. For example, in the neighbouring town of Kepy, the owner of one of the houses managed to hide the treasure in the hearth, but he himself was killed by an arrow near it. And at the settlement “Volna1” the treasure of gold was wrapped in a rag and thrown into a utility pit, its owner managed to put part of the coins under a stone, and spilled the other on the floor of the house. In the city of Kitey, on the opposite side of the Kerch Strait, the stater treasure was hidden in a home stove.”

Phanagoria was part of the Bosporan Kingdom, a Greco-Scythian state located in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula in the Black Sea region. The kingdom lasted for about 800 years before declining at the end of the fourth century AD.

As the researchers explained, according to the composition of the treasure, one can determine what money was in use in the internal market of the Bosporus in the 6th century.

These are copper staters of the Bosporan kings of the late III – first half of the fourth century. The last issue of the Bosporan coin was carried out in 341; later, no money was minted in the Bosporan. However, a huge mass of staters made of cheap copper-lead alloy continued to circulate in the Bosporus for several centuries. The role of “expensive” money was played by Byzantine gold: that is why the treasure of copper coins and the solidus of Justinian were found almost nearby.

Expansion of the Bosporan Kingdom from the 5th century BC to the 1st century AD.

Researchers believe that the unique finds are associated with turbulent historical events in the Bosporus in the sixth century when the Bosporus cities voluntarily became part of the Byzantine Empire.

The transition of the Bosporus from the rule of the nomadic Huns to the rule of Byzantium took place during the reign of Emperor Justin I in 518-527. Perhaps the first mention of the episcopal see in Phanagoria in 519 is connected with this event: the Phanagorian bishop John put his signature on the documents of the Patriarchal Synod in Constantinople, to which the Phanagorian diocese was directly subordinate.

The Byzantine writer Procopius of Caesarea noted that Kepa and Phanagoria were “taken and destroyed to the ground by the barbarians who lived in neighbouring lands.” It is customary to associate these events with one of the two fires of the 6th century, traces of which archaeologists have identified in Phanagoria.

Who and when destroyed Phanagoria in the 6th century? Some researchers associate the events described by Procopius of Caesarea with the nomadic Huns.

They defeated the Byzantine garrison in the city and killed the military leader (tribune). At the turn of the 520s and 530s, Emperor Justinian I dispatched a mercenary army, reinforced by the Goths. The city of Bosporus (Kerch) was returned to the rule of Byzantium. Perhaps at the same time, Kep and Phanagoria returned under the rule of Byzantium.

According to another version, the destruction of the cities of Kepa and Phanagoria, as reported by Procopius of Caesarea, took place already in the middle of the 6th century, when the Avars who fled under the pressure of the Turks approached the Bosporan Kingdom: a message about this event is found in Evagrius Scholastica’s “Church History”. The Turks themselves appeared in the region in the 570s.

In Phanagoria, as in other nearby cities, archaeologists have discovered two layers of 6th-century fires. The first, early layer of the conflagration, in which shells from throwing machines were found, testifies that in the first half of the 6th century Phanagoria was devastated and destroyed. These events are associated with the revolt against Byzantium of its vassal – the Hunnic leader Gord (Grod) in 528 or 534.

The second layer of the fire in Phanagoria dates back to the end of the 6th century and is associated with the events of 576 – the campaign of the Turks against the Bosporan Kingdom when most of the fortresses and small towns of the Kerch and Taman peninsulas were damaged.

“The gold coin of Justinian I found two years ago in Phanagoria serves as proof that the new treasure is associated with the second, late fire of the 6th century. But who exactly – the Avars or the Turks – destroyed the capital of the Phanagorian diocese remains unknown so far. The new treasure from Phanagoria is invaluable evidence of historical events and the economy of the early Middle Ages” added Kuznetsov.

A Greek Farmer Stumbled on a 3,400-Year-Old Tomb in His Olive Grove While Parking His Car

A Greek Farmer Stumbled on a 3,400-Year-Old Tomb in His Olive Grove While Parking His Car

The Crete local was trying to park his vehicle when he accidentally unearthed the ancient Minoan grave. Sometime between 1400 and 1200 B.C., two Minoan men were laid to rest in an underground enclosure carved out of the soft limestone native to southeast Crete.

Both were entombed within larnakes—intricately embossed clay coffins popular in Bronze Age Minoan society—and surrounded by colorful funerary vases that hinted at their owners’ high status.

Eventually, the burial site was sealed with stone masonry and forgotten, leaving the deceased undisturbed for roughly 3,400 years.

Earlier this summer, a local farmer accidentally brought the pair’s millenia-long rest to an abrupt end, George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo. The farmer was attempting to park his vehicle beneath a shaded olive grove on his property when the ground gave way, forcing him to find a new parking spot.

As he started to drive off, the unidentified local noticed a four-foot-wide hole that had emerged in the patch of land he’d just vacated. Perched on the edge of the gaping space, the man realized he’d unintentionally unearthed “a wonderful thing.”

An ancient Minoan tomb was discovered in this hole in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.
An ancient Minoan tomb was discovered in this hole in Crete.

According to a statement, archaeologists from the local heritage ministry, Lassithi Ephorate of Antiquities, launched excavations below the farmer’s olive grove at Rousses, a small village just northeast of Kentri, Ierapetra, in southeast Crete.

They identified the Minoan tomb, nearly perfectly preserved despite its advanced age, in a pit measuring roughly four feet across and eight feet deep. Space’s interior was divided into three carved niches accessible by a vertical trench.

The eight-foot deep pit contained two ancient coffins and an array of funerary vases

In the northernmost niche, archaeologists found a coffin and an array of vessels scattered across the ground. The southernmost niche yielded a second sealed coffin, as well as 14 ritual Greek jars called amphorae and a bowl.

A Greek Farmer Stumbled on a 3,400-Year-Old Tomb in His Olive Grove While Parking His Car
Two Minoan men were buried in the Crete tomb roughly 3,400 years ago

Forbes’ Kristina Kilgrove writes that the high quality of the pottery left in the tomb indicates the individuals buried were relatively affluent. She notes, however, that other burial sites dating to the same Late Minoan period feature more elaborate beehive-style tombs.

“These [men] could be wealthy,” Kilgrove states, “but not the wealthiest.”

Unlike many ancient tombs, the Kentri grave was never discovered by thieves, Argyris Pantazis, deputy mayor of Local Communities, Agrarian and Tourism of Ierapetra, tells local news outlet Cretapost.

In fact, the site likely would have remained sealed in perpetuity if not for the chance intervention of a broken irrigation pipe, which watered down the soil surrounding the farmer’s olive grove and led to his unexpected parking debacle.

“We are particularly pleased with this great archaeological discovery as it is expected to further enhance our culture and history,” Pantazis added in his interview with Cretapost. “Indeed, this is also a response to all those who doubt that there were Minoans in Ierapetra.”

According to Archaeology News Network, most Minoan settlements found on Crete are located in the lowlands and plains rather than the mountainous regions of Ierapetra. Still, a 2012 excavation in Anatoli, Ierapetra, revealed a Minoan mansion dating to between 1600 and 1400 B.C., roughly the same time period as the Kentri tomb.

This latest find offers further proof of the ancient civilization’s presence—as Mark Cartwright notes for Ancient History Encyclopedia, the Minoans are most renowned for their labyrinthine palace complexes, which likely inspired the classic Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

According to legend, Queen Pasiphae of Crete gave birth to the Minotaur, a fierce half-man, half-bull hybrid, after falling for a bull sent to Earth by the Greek god Zeus.

The Minotaur, doomed to an eternity spent wandering the halls of an underground labyrinth and killing anyone it encountered, was eventually defeated by the demigod Theseus, who relied on an enchanted ball of thread provided by the king’s daughter, Ariadne, to escape the maze.

Much of the Minoans’ history remains unclear, but Forbes’ Kilgrove reports that natural disasters, including the eruption of the Thera volcano, an earthquake and a tsunami, contributed to the group’s downfall, enabling enemies such as the Mycenaeans to easily invade.

Analysis of the excavated Kentri tomb may offer further insights into the Minoan-Mycenaean rivalry, as well as the Cretan civilization’s eventual demise.

Ancient Greek Pyramids: A Unique Phenomenon and an Archaeological Mystery

Ancient Greek Pyramids: A Unique Phenomenon and an Archaeological Mystery

The so-called Greek Pyramids, also called the Pyramids of Argolis, are several frusta or truncated pyramidal shaped structures and “blockhouses”, located on the eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula in present-day Greece.

Ancient Greek Pyramids: A Unique Phenomenon and an Archaeological Mystery

Although the structures are distinct in form and shape from typical Ancient Greek architecture, mention of the monuments in antiquity is scarce, with only the geographer Pausanias (AD 110-180) observing a single pyramidal monument (although associating Pausanias’s text with the Pyramids of Argolis is contested) in his Corinthiaka that states:

“Traveling from Argus to the region of Epidaurus, there is a building to the right that resembles very much a pyramid and bears relief carved shields of the shape of the Argolic shields.

In this place, Proetus had battled with Acrisius for the throne and they say that the battle ended without a winner; for this reason, they were later reconciled, as none could achieve a decisive victory.

It is said that this was the first time that men and armies equipped with shields clashed; for those that fell in this battle from both armies, since they were compatriots and even relatives, a common tomb was built in that place.”

Groups of possible pyramidal structures have been identified at Ligourio (Argolida), Kambia (Argolida), Viglafia (Lakonia), and Elliniko (Argolida), with the pyramid of Hellinikon at Elliniko being the best preserved and studied.

Dating of the monuments has been troublesome due to the lack of archaeological material, with previously disputed studies of ceramics from the Protohelladic II period dated to 2800–2500 BC, early thermoluminescence dating giving a range of 2500–2000 BC, but many proponents support the proposed construction during the Late Classical Hellenistic period, centred on the later 4th century BC.

Historical theories for the structures function have tried to establish an “Egyptian connection”, suggesting guard houses for Egyptian mercenaries, or burial practices that paralleled with the Ancient Egyptians, but these theories lack all credibility and without evidence.

The more likely theory looks at the structures’ presence of internal walls, small rooms, cisterns, the provision of a water supply, and internally fastened doors within the monuments, that Young (1957) and Fracchia (1985) proposed was for an agricultural function, possibly with a secondary function of providing a refuge in turbulent times.