"They found something perhaps of even greater importance: the tomb of one of the powerful men who laid foundations for the Mycenaean civilization, the earliest in Europe.

S. Stocker, J. Davis

GRAVE OF THE

GRIFFIN WARRIOR FOUND AT THE

PALACE OF NESTOR, Pylos, GREECE

 

Centuries before the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces, a warrior died and was buried alone near the site of the later “Palace of Nestor at Pylos.”  His burial was accompanied by one of the most magnificent displays of wealth discovered in Greece in recent decades.  The character of the objects that followed him to the afterlife prove that this part of Greece, like Mycenae, was being indelibly shaped by close contact with Crete.  This was the time of the very birth of European civilization.

 

The warrior’s tomb was discovered and excavated in summer 2015 by a team sponsored by the University of Cincinnati: students, professors, and professional archaeologists from a dozen different universities, representing as many different nationalities.  Project co-directors Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis of the University of Cincinnati note:  “The team did not discover the grave of the legendary King Nestor, who headed a contingent in the Greek forces at Troy.  Nor did it find the grave of his father, Neleus.  They found something perhaps of even greater importance: the tomb of one of the powerful men who laid foundations for the Mycenaean civilization, the earliest in Europe.”

 

Overlooking the bay of Navarino, high above the sea on the ridge of Englianos, sits the “Palace of Nestor at Pylos,” the most completely preserved of all Bronze Age palaces on the Greek mainland.

Jonida Martini and Sharon Stocker excavating the upper layer of artifacts immediately after bronze was discovered.

Destroyed by fire, the remains of this palace slumbered in an olive grove until first discovered and excavated in 1939 by Konstantinos Kourouniotis, director of the National Archaeological Museum, and Carl Blegen, professor at the University of Cincinnati.

 

Blegen continued the excavations alone from 1952, discovering the name Pylos preserved on several clay tablets, inscribed in Greek in the Linear B script. It is clear from more than a thousand such tablets that the king (wanax) whose throne graced the central megaron of the palace ca. 1200 B.C. ruled an area encompassing all of modern Messenia and supporting more than 50,000 individuals.

 

From his excavations at the “Palace of Nestor” Blegen learned little about the Mycenaean civilization prior to the 13th century B.C.  How had the palace achieved dominion over such a large territory and when had this happened?

 

Focused precisely on these questions, the University of Cincinnati renewed excavations at the “Palace of Nestor” in 2015, under the aegis of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, with the permission of the Ministry of Culture of Greece.

 

In a previously unexplored field near the palace, on the very first day of excavation, the tops of the walls of a stone-lined shaft were revealed.  On the floor of the grave lay the skeleton of a single adult male.  He had been surrounded with a fabulous hoard of wealth, deposited at the time of his funeral.

Some of the finds discovered at the bottom levels of the tomb amongst which blade, “horns,” and part of hilt of Minoan type sword, lying on top of a bronze short sword with a similar gold handle.

"It is truly amazing that no ceramic vessels were included among the grave gifts.  All of the cups, pitchers, and basins we found were of metal: bronze, silver, and gold.

S. Stocker, J. Davis

The dead man lay on his back on the floor of the tomb, weapons to his left, jewelry to his right. Stocker and Davis remark: “It is truly amazing that no ceramic vessels were included among the grave gifts.  All of the cups, pitchers, and basins we found were of metal: bronze, silver, and gold.  He clearly could afford to hold regular pots in disdain.”

 

Near the head and chest of the dead man was a meter-long sword, its hilt coated with 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.  By his right side were hundreds of carnelian, amethyst, amber, and gold beads, a gold chain and a pendent, dozens of seal-stones carved with intricate designs, and four gold rings.  A plaque of ivory with a representation of a griffon in a rocky landscape lay between the man’s legs.  Nearby was a bronze mirror with an ivory handle.

Conservator Alexander Zokos removing a bronze mirror with an ivory handle.

"The warrior buried in the tomb was certainly a prominent, perhaps the most prominent, local leader of his generation.

S. Stocker, J. Davis

Other grave gifts had originally rested above the man, but later spilled onto the body, crushing it and all beneath.  These included bronze jugs, a basin, many perforated wild boar’s teeth from the warrior’s helmet, and thin bands of bronze, probably from his suit of body armor.

 

The warrior buried in the tomb was certainly a prominent, perhaps the most prominent, local leader of his generation.  He ruled at the time of very beginning of Mycenaean civilization, when the magnificent shaft graves excavated by Heinrich Schliemann were being used for the burial of Mycenae’s elite.

 

He would have lived on the acropolis of Englianos at a time when mansions were being first built with walls of cut-stone blocks, in the so-called Minoan ashlar style, their walls decorated with wall-paintings.  It is no surprise that the majority of the 1500 or more objects with which he was buried are of Minoan style or Cretan manufacture.

 

Blegen and Kourouniotis excavated several examples of the well-known Mycenaean tholos (or beehive) tomb nearby, as did Spyridon Marinatos, prior to undertaking his excavations at Akrotiri on Thera. Looters had in most instances reached the burials before them.

 

In the case of the new warrior burial at Pylos we can be certain that all finds in the grave are associated with the single male burial.

The gold box-weave chain with “sacral ivy” finials.

Credit: Jennifer Stephens.

 

 

The discovery of so much jewelry with a male burial challenges the commonly held belief that apparently “female” offerings only accompanied deceased women to the hereafter.

 

Directors Stocker and Davis comment on their discoveries: “The last thing we expected to find was a Mycenaean shaft grave.  It was good luck to discover it, almost as if its occupant wanted his story to be told.  We thought at first that we had discovered the corner of a room of a house.  Graves of this sort are rare, and it is unlikely that more await discovery.”

 

The project also uncovered the remains of houses, the early Mycenaean fortification wall around the acropolis of the settlement, and garbage deposits of the Middle and Late Bronze Age.

 

Finds from the excavation are safeguarded in museums in the area. The archaeological site is located nearby but is currently closed to the public while improvements are made to infrastructure.  It will reopen to the public in 2016.

 

Research at Pylos by the University of Cincinnati in 2015 was supported by the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Louise Taft Semple Fund of the University of Cincinnati, and private donors, including Phokion Potamianos, Dina and Robert McCabe, and Mary and Jim Ottaway.

"The last thing we expected to find was a Mycenaean shaft grave.  It was good luck to discover it, almost as if its occupant wanted his story to be told.

S. Stocker, J. Davis

Photo: Jennifer Stephens

Contact

 

Project Directors:

Sharon Stocker: sharon.stocker@uc.edu

Jack Davis: jack.davis@uc.edu

The Griffin Warrior needs your help!

Webdesign: Takin.solutions Ltd. 2016 | All Rights Reserved |  Web content: Palace of Nestor Excavation Project (PONEP)

"They found something perhaps of even greater importance: the tomb of one of the powerful men who laid foundations for the Mycenaean civilization, the earliest in Europe.

S. Stocker, J. Davis

GRAVE OF THE

GRIFFIN WARRIOR FOUND AT THE

PALACE OF NESTOR, Pylos, GREECE

 

 

Centuries before the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces, a warrior died and was buried alone near the site of the later “Palace of Nestor at Pylos.”  His burial was accompanied by one of the most magnificent displays of wealth discovered in Greece in recent decades.  The character of the objects that followed him to the afterlife prove that this part of Greece, like Mycenae, was being indelibly shaped by close contact with Crete.  This was the time of the very birth of European civilization.

 

The warrior’s tomb was discovered and excavated in summer 2015 by a team sponsored by the University of Cincinnati: students, professors, and professional archaeologists from a dozen different universities, representing as many different nationalities.  Project co-directors Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis of the University of Cincinnati note:  “The team did not discover the grave of the legendary King Nestor, who headed a contingent in the Greek forces at Troy.  Nor did it find the grave of his father, Neleus.  They found something perhaps of even greater importance: the tomb of one of the powerful men who laid foundations for the Mycenaean civilization, the earliest in Europe.”

 

Overlooking the bay of Navarino, high above the sea on the ridge of Englianos, sits the “Palace of Nestor at Pylos,” the most completely preserved of all Bronze Age palaces on the Greek mainland.

Jonida Martini and Sharon Stocker excavating the upper layer of artifacts immediately after bronze was discovered.

Destroyed by fire, the remains of this palace slumbered in an olive grove until first discovered and excavated in 1939 by Konstantinos Kourouniotis, director of the National Archaeological Museum, and Carl Blegen, professor at the University of Cincinnati.

 

Blegen continued the excavations alone from 1952, discovering the name Pylos preserved on several clay tablets, inscribed in Greek in the Linear B script. It is clear from more than a thousand such tablets that the king (wanax) whose throne graced the central megaron of the palace ca. 1200 B.C. ruled an area encompassing all of modern Messenia and supporting more than 50,000 individuals.

 

From his excavations at the “Palace of Nestor” Blegen learned little about the Mycenaean civilization prior to the 13th century B.C.  How had the palace achieved dominion over such a large territory and when had this happened?

 

Focused precisely on these questions, the University of Cincinnati renewed excavations at the “Palace of Nestor” in 2015, under the aegis of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, with the permission of the Ministry of Culture of Greece.

 

In a previously unexplored field near the palace, on the very first day of excavation, the tops of the walls of a stone-lined shaft were revealed.  On the floor of the grave lay the skeleton of a single adult male.  He had been surrounded with a fabulous hoard of wealth, deposited at the time of his funeral.

Some of the finds discovered at the bottom levels of the tomb amongst which blade, “horns,” and part of hilt of Minoan type sword, lying on top of a bronze short sword with a similar gold handle.

"It is truly amazing that no ceramic vessels were included among the grave gifts.  All of the cups, pitchers, and basins we found were of metal: bronze, silver, and gold.

S. Stocker, J. Davis

 

The dead man lay on his back on the floor of the tomb, weapons to his left, jewelry to his right. Stocker and Davis remark: “It is truly amazing that no ceramic vessels were included among the grave gifts.  All of the cups, pitchers, and basins we found were of metal: bronze, silver, and gold.  He clearly could afford to hold regular pots in disdain.”

 

Near the head and chest of the dead man was a meter-long sword, its hilt coated with 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.  By his right side were hundreds of carnelian, amethyst, amber, and gold beads, a gold chain and a pendent, dozens of seal-stones carved with intricate designs, and four gold rings.  A plaque of ivory with a representation of a griffon in a rocky landscape lay between the man’s legs.  Nearby was a bronze mirror with an ivory handle.

Conservator Alexander Zokos removing a bronze mirror with an ivory handle.

"The warrior buried in the tomb was certainly a prominent, perhaps the most prominent, local leader of his generation.

S. Stocker, J. Davis

Other grave gifts had originally rested above the man, but later spilled onto the body, crushing it and all beneath.  These included bronze jugs, a basin, many perforated wild boar’s teeth from the warrior’s helmet, and thin bands of bronze, probably from his suit of body armor.

 

The warrior buried in the tomb was certainly a prominent, perhaps the most prominent, local leader of his generation.  He ruled at the time of very beginning of Mycenaean civilization, when the magnificent shaft graves excavated by Heinrich Schliemann were being used for the burial of Mycenae’s elite.

 

He would have lived on the acropolis of Englianos at a time when mansions were being first built with walls of cut-stone blocks, in the so-called Minoan ashlar style, their walls decorated with wall-paintings.  It is no surprise that the majority of the 1500 or more objects with which he was buried are of Minoan style or Cretan manufacture.

 

Blegen and Kourouniotis excavated several examples of the well-known Mycenaean tholos (or beehive) tomb nearby, as did Spyridon Marinatos, prior to undertaking his excavations at Akrotiri on Thera. Looters had in most instances reached the burials before them.

 

In the case of the new warrior burial at Pylos we can be certain that all finds in the grave are associated with the single male burial.

The gold box-weave chain with “sacral ivy” finials.

Credit: Jennifer Stephens.

 

 

"The last thing we expected to find was a Mycenaean shaft grave.  It was good luck to discover it, almost as if its occupant wanted his story to be told.

S. Stocker, J. Davis

The discovery of so much jewelry with a male burial challenges the commonly held belief that apparently “female” offerings only accompanied deceased women to the hereafter.

 

Directors Stocker and Davis comment on their discoveries: “The last thing we expected to find was a Mycenaean shaft grave.  It was good luck to discover it, almost as if its occupant wanted his story to be told.  We thought at first that we had discovered the corner of a room of a house.  Graves of this sort are rare, and it is unlikely that more await discovery.”

 

The project also uncovered the remains of houses, the early Mycenaean fortification wall around the acropolis of the settlement, and garbage deposits of the Middle and Late Bronze Age.

 

Finds from the excavation are safeguarded in museums in the area. The archaeological site is located nearby but is currently closed to the public while improvements are made to infrastructure.  It will reopen to the public in 2016.

 

Research at Pylos by the University of Cincinnati in 2015 was supported by the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Louise Taft Semple Fund of the University of Cincinnati, and private donors, including Phokion Potamianos, Dina and Robert McCabe, and Mary and Jim Ottaway.

Photo: Jennifer Stephens

Contact

 

Project Directors:

Sharon Stocker: sharon.stocker@uc.edu

Jack Davis: jack.davis@uc.edu

The Griffin Warrior needs your help!

Webdesign: Takin.solutions Ltd. 2016 | All Rights Reserved |  Web content: University of Cincinnati Excavations at the Palace of Nestor (UCEPON)

GRAVE OF THE

GRIFFIN WARRIOR FOUND AT THE

PALACE OF NESTOR

Pylos, GREECE

 

Centuries before the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces, a warrior died and was buried alone near the site of the later “Palace of Nestor at Pylos.”  His burial was accompanied by one of the most magnificent displays of wealth discovered in Greece in recent decades.  The character of the objects that followed him to the afterlife prove that this part of Greece, like Mycenae, was being indelibly shaped by close contact with Crete.  This was the time of the very birth of European civilization.

 

The warrior’s tomb was discovered and excavated in summer 2015 by a team sponsored by the University of Cincinnati: students, professors, and professional archaeologists from a dozen different universities, representing as many different nationalities.  Project co-directors Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis of the University of Cincinnati note:  “The team did not discover the grave of the legendary King Nestor, who headed a contingent in the Greek forces at Troy.  Nor did it find the grave of his father, Neleus.  They found something perhaps of even greater importance: the tomb of one of the powerful men who laid foundations for the Mycenaean civilization, the earliest in Europe.”

 

Overlooking the bay of Navarino, high above the sea on the ridge of Englianos, sits the “Palace of Nestor at Pylos,” the most completely preserved of all Bronze Age palaces on the Greek mainland.

Jonida Martini and Sharon Stocker excavating the upper layer of artifacts immediately after bronze was discovered.

Destroyed by fire, the remains of this palace slumbered in an olive grove until first discovered and excavated in 1939 by Konstantinos Kourouniotis, director of the National Archaeological Museum, and Carl Blegen, professor at the University of Cincinnati.

 

Blegen continued the excavations alone from 1952, discovering the name Pylos preserved on several clay tablets, inscribed in Greek in the Linear B script. It is clear from more than a thousand such tablets that the king (wanax) whose throne graced the central megaron of the palace ca. 1200 B.C. ruled an area encompassing all of modern Messenia and supporting more than 50,000 individuals.

 

From his excavations at the “Palace of Nestor” Blegen learned little about the Mycenaean civilization prior to the 13th century B.C.  How had the palace achieved dominion over such a large territory and when had this happened?

 

Focused precisely on these questions, the University of Cincinnati renewed excavations at the “Palace of Nestor” in 2015, under the aegis of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, with the permission of the Ministry of Culture of Greece.

 

In a previously unexplored field near the palace, on the very first day of excavation, the tops of the walls of a stone-lined shaft were revealed.  On the floor of the grave lay the skeleton of a single adult male.  He had been surrounded with a fabulous hoard of wealth, deposited at the time of his funeral.

Some of the finds discovered at the bottom levels of the tomb amongst which blade, “horns,” and part of hilt of Minoan type sword, lying on top of a bronze short sword with a similar gold handle.

The dead man lay on his back on the floor of the tomb, weapons to his left, jewelry to his right. Stocker and Davis remark: “It is truly amazing that no ceramic vessels were included among the grave gifts.  All of the cups, pitchers, and basins we found were of metal: bronze, silver, and gold.  He clearly could afford to hold regular pots in disdain.”

 

Near the head and chest of the dead man was a meter-long sword, its hilt coated with 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.  By his right side were hundreds of carnelian, amethyst, amber, and gold beads, a gold chain and a pendent, dozens of seal-stones carved with intricate designs, and four gold rings.  A plaque of ivory with a representation of a griffon in a rocky landscape lay between the man’s legs.  Nearby was a bronze mirror with an ivory handle.

Conservator Alexander Zokos removing a bronze mirror with an ivory handle.

Other grave gifts had originally rested above the man, but later spilled onto the body, crushing it and all beneath.  These included bronze jugs, a basin, many perforated wild boar’s teeth from the warrior’s helmet, and thin bands of bronze, probably from his suit of body armor.

 

The warrior buried in the tomb was certainly a prominent, perhaps the most prominent, local leader of his generation.  He ruled at the time of very beginning of Mycenaean civilization, when the magnificent shaft graves excavated by Heinrich Schliemann were being used for the burial of Mycenae’s elite.

 

He would have lived on the acropolis of Englianos at a time when mansions were being first built with walls of cut-stone blocks, in the so-called Minoan ashlar style, their walls decorated with wall-paintings.  It is no surprise that the majority of the 1500 or more objects with which he was buried are of Minoan style or Cretan manufacture.

 

Blegen and Kourouniotis excavated several examples of the well-known Mycenaean tholos (or beehive) tomb nearby, as did Spyridon Marinatos, prior to undertaking his excavations at Akrotiri on Thera. Looters had in most instances reached the burials before them.

 

In the case of the new warrior burial at Pylos we can be certain that all finds in the grave are associated with the single male burial.

The gold box-weave chain with “sacral ivy” finials.

Credit: Jennifer Stephens.

 

 

The discovery of so much jewelry with a male burial challenges the commonly held belief that apparently “female” offerings only accompanied deceased women to the hereafter.

 

Directors Stocker and Davis comment on their discoveries: “The last thing we expected to find was a Mycenaean shaft grave.  It was good luck to discover it, almost as if its occupant wanted his story to be told.  We thought at first that we had discovered the corner of a room of a house.  Graves of this sort are rare, and it is unlikely that more await discovery.”

 

The project also uncovered the remains of houses, the early Mycenaean fortification wall around the acropolis of the settlement, and garbage deposits of the Middle and Late Bronze Age.

 

Finds from the excavation are safeguarded in museums in the area. The archaeological site is located nearby but is currently closed to the public while improvements are made to infrastructure.  It will reopen to the public in 2016.

 

Research at Pylos by the University of Cincinnati in 2015 was supported by the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Louise Taft Semple Fund of the University of Cincinnati, and private donors, including Phokion Potamianos, Dina and Robert McCabe, and Mary and Jim Ottaway.

The Griffin Warrior needs your help!

Webdesign: Takin.solutions Ltd. 2016 | All Rights Reserved |  Web content: University of Cincinnati Excavations at the Palace of Nestor (UCEPON)