‘On the floor of the grave lay the skeleton of an adult male, stretched out on his back. Weapons lay to his left, and jewelry to his right.
Near the head and chest was a bronze sword, its ivory hilt covered in gold. A gold-hilted dagger lay beneath it. Still more weapons were found by the man’s legs and feet.
Gold cups rested on his chest and stomach, and near his neck was a perfectly preserved gold necklace with two pendants. By his right side and spread around his head were over one thousand beads of carnelian, amethyst, jasper, agate and gold. Nearby were four gold rings, and silver cups as well as bronze bowls, cups, jugs and basins.
The above describes what a University of Cincinnati-led international research team found this summer when excavating what was initially thought to be a Bronze Age house.
Instead, the team made a rich and rare discovery of an intact, Bronze Age warrior’s tomb dating back to about 1500 B.C., and that discovery is featured in The New York Times, in an article titled: A Warrior’s Grave at Pylos, Greece, Could Be a Gateway to Civilizations.
The find is so extraordinary that UC’s Shari Stocker, senior research associate in the Department of Classics, McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, states: “This previously unopened shaft grave of a wealthy Mycenaean warrior, dating back 3,500 years, is one of the most magnificent displays of prehistoric wealth discovered in mainland Greece in the past 65 years.”
Stocker co-leads the team that unearthed the undisturbed shaft tomb, along with Jack Davis, UC’s Carl W. Blegen Chair in Greek Archaeology. Other team members include UC faculty, staff specialists and students, some of whom have worked in the area around the present-day city of Pylos on the southwest coast of Greece for the last quarter century as part of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project. That UC-based effort is dedicated to uncovering the pre-history and history of the Bronze Age center known as the Palace of Nestor, an extensive complex and a site linked to Homeric legend. Though the palace was destroyed by fire sometime around 1200 B.C., it is nevertheless the best-preserved Bronze Age palace on the Greek mainland.
It was UC archaeologist Carl Blegen, along with Konstantinos Kourouniotis, director of the National Archaeological Museum, who initially uncovered the remains of the famed Palace of Nestor in an olive grove in 1939. Located near the present-day city of Pylos, the palace was a destination in Homer’s “Odyssey,” where sacrifices were said to be offered on its beaches. The king who ruled at the Palace of Nestor controlled a vast territory that was divided into more than 20 districts with capital towns and numerous small settlements.
Explains Stocker, “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. This find may be even more important because the warrior pre-dates the time of Nestor and Neleus by, perhaps, 200 or 300 years. 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.”‘