Rare archaeological find discovered in Pylos

Rare archaeological find discovered in Pylos

Athens, October 27, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Haris Stefanatos

An important discovery was brought to light by the excavations of Jack L. Davis and Sharon P. Stoker, from the University of Cincinnati, in the Peloponnese.

The international team of archaeologists near the Mycenaean palace of Nestor, in Upper Englianos in the capital of the municipality of Pylos-Nestor, discovered in the summer an intact rich in funeral gifts, pit tomb.

With a statement, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced that the tomb belonged to a warrior, around 1500 BC (Late Helladic II period), and is the most impressive display case of prehistoric wealth funerary monuments of the mainland which has come to light in the last 65 years.

Beside the warrior had been deposited: a bronze sword with gilded ivory handle, a gold signet rings and cups, a rare gold chain, silver bowls – some with golden brims, bronze vases and bowls, bronze amphora, copper jugs and bronze basins, more than fifty seals pieces of ivory with engraved scenes and more than a thousand pieces of gemstones. Many of these objects are the works of the Minoan style.

According to the excavators, who have been working for over 25 years in the region, the discovery of an intact pit grave in which a young man was burried, 30-35 year-old, accompanied by more than 1,400 unique items, is especially important since the high quality objects proves that Pylos, like Mycenae in the northeastern Peloponnese, was strongly influenced by the Minoan art around 1500 BC. Noteworthy is also the fact that no Mycenaean or Minoan pottery was found in the tomb.

The palace of Nestor at the hill of Upper Englianos, which was destroyed by fire around 1200 BC, was discovered in 1939 by Konstantinos Kourouniotis, director of the National Archaeological Museum, and was excavated by Carl Blegen, professor at the University of Cincinnati.

The excavation of Blegen focused mainly on the latter stage of the Palace of Nestor and as such, data relating to its early stage – ie before 1300 BC – are relatively few.

Focused primarily in this early, relatively unknown period, Davis and Stoker resumed the excavation in Upper Englianos in May 2015 and found one of the four sides of the tomb on the first day of the excavation. The cleaning and maintenance of the findings was made by the restorer Alexandros Zokos.

According to the Communication of the Ministry of Culture, at the floor of the tomb, which had dimensions of 2.44 m. length, 1.52 m. depth and 1.22 m. width, was found the skeleton of an adult man lying face up, placed in a wooden coffin. Weapons were found on his left side and at the height of the feet, jewelry on the right side, while, near the neck was a unique and wonderfully preserved gold chain.

The excavation program of the University of Cincinnati (Ohio, USA) was conducted by the American School of Classical Studies with permission of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports. All works were carried out under the direct supervision of the Antiquities Ephorate of Messinia. In the program took part 45 archaeologists, specialised scientists and students of various nationalities from many universities abroad.

The research program of the University of Cincinnati in Upper Englianos of Pylos was supported by the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology of the Louise Taft Semple Fund of the Department of Classical Studies of the University of Cincinnati and individual sponsors.