The excavators exploring a small stone shaft on a rocky promontory in southern Greece had found an unusual tomb of an ancient warrior. The burial may hold important clues to the origin of Greek civilization some 3,500 years ago.
Along with the well-preserved skeleton of a man in his early thirties, the grave contains more than 1,400 objects arrayed on and around the body, including gold rings, silver cups, and an elaborate bronze sword with an ivory hilt.
More surprising were 50 stone seals intricately carved with goddesses, lions, and bulls, as well as a half-dozen delicate ivory combs, a bronze mirror, and some 1,000 carnelian, amethyst, and jasper beads once strung together as necklaces. Between the man’s legs lay an ivory plaque carved with a griffin.
“Not since Schliemann have complete burials of this type been found in Greece,” says John Bennet, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield in Britain and director of theBritish School at Athens, who is not involved with the dig. In the late 19th century, archaeological pioneer Heinrich Schliemann excavated Troy and Mycenae, the major Greek center from about 1600 B.C. to 1100 B.C.