Archaeologists have announced the discovery of a vaulted Mycenaean tomb near Amfissa, central Greece, containing human remains and a hoard of treasures. The 3,300-year-old tomb is the first of its kind to be found in the region, and one of only a few that have been found untouched. The finding is expected to provide valuable information regarding the habitation, burial customs, and possessions of the Mycenaeans in the 2nd millennium BC. According to the Greek Reporter, the ancient tomb was found during an irrigation project that required excavation in the area. A preliminary analysis of the monument revealed that grave robbers had tried to gain access to the interior of the tomb in the past, but had failed, allowing the precious grave goods to remain untouched over the millennia. The tomb is a tholos, or beehive tomb, characterized by a vaulted ceiling created by the superposition of successively smaller rings of mudbricks or, more often, stones. In Greece, the vaulted tholoi are a monumental Late Bronze Age development. After about 1500 BCE, tholoi became more widespread and are found in every part of the Mycenaean heartland. They are typically cut into the slope of a hillside so that only the upper third of the vaulted chamber was above ground level. This masonry was then concealed with a relatively small mound of earth. After a burial, the entrance to the tomb was filled in with soil, leaving a small mound with most of the tomb underground. One of the finest examples is the Treasury of Atreus in Mycenae. The Treasury of Atreus in Mycenae, Greece (public domain) Lamiastar.gr reports that the newly-discovered tomb is 9 meters (30ft) long with a circular burial chamber measuring 5.9 meters (19ft) in diameter. The vaulted ceiling had collapsed but the walls of the chamber are well-preserved and maintained a height of almost 3 meters (10ft). Within the burial chamber, archaeologists found a large number of human bones. The dead had been buried in the floor with their personal belongings until complete decomposition. Their bones had then been pushed near the walls of the tomb in order to create space for newer burials and a few of these were better preserved than the rest. The research team, led by chief archaeologist Athanasia Psalti, unearthed many unique and valuable artifacts inside the tomb, including more than forty pieces of painted pottery, bronze vases, small vessels for storing aromatic oils, gold and bronze rings, one of which had an engraved decoration, buttons made of semi-precious stones, two bronze daggers, spearheads, female and zoomorphic idols and a large number of seals with animal, floral and linear motives. . . .
Archaeologists in southern Greece have discovered the grave of a man and woman buried as they died some 5,800 years ago — still tightly embracing.
A senior member of the excavation team, Anastassia Papathanassiou, says the discovery — made in 2013 and publicized this week after DNA testing determined each skeleton’s sex — is the oldest of its kind in Greece. She says the couple most likely died holding each other.
Papathanassiou told The Associated Press on Friday that the remains of the couple, estimated to be in their 20s, were found near the Alepotrypa Cave, an important prehistoric site.
It’s unclear how they died and whether they were related, but Papathanassiou says further DNA testing should answer the latter question.
The Classic Greek mixing-bowl attributed to the artist Python (active ca. 350 – 325 BC) of Poseidonia (Paestan) on display in Gallery 161 of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City should be returned to Italy because it has no collecting history before 1989 and has been matched with photographs in the possession of a convicted art dealer, according to the work of University of Cambridge’s Christos Tsirogiannis. (You can see The Met’s description of the object online here ).
This terracotta bell-krater, described in detail in Dr. Tsirogiannis’ column “Nekyia” in the Spring 2014 issue ofThe Journal of Art Crime, appears with soil/salt encrustations in five photographs from the confiscated Medici archive – including one Polaroid image. Then, “The object was auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York in June 1989 and the same year appeared as part of The Met’s antiquities collection,” Dr. Tsirogiannis reports.
Art dealer Giacomo Medici was convicted in 2005 of participating in the sale of looted antiquities. The story of how illicit antiquities were sold to art galleries and museums in Europe and North America was told in the 2006 book by Peter Watson & Cecilia Todeschini, The Medici Conspiracy: the illicit journey of looted antiquities, from Italy’s tomb raiders to the world’s greatest museums(Public Affairs). The Medici archives (or “Medici Dossier”) were described as “thirty albums of Polaroids, fifteen envelopes with photographs, and twelve envelopes with rolls of film … [along with] 100 full rolls of exposed film … [for] a total of 3,600 images” found in Medici’s warehouse of antiquities in Geneva in 1995. . . . .