An extant 3,500 years old warrior grave is interesting as it is. But a 3,500 years old warrior grave filled with over 1,400 precious objects, seriously ascends the wow meter! This incredible tomb was found in Pylos, on the southwest coast of Greece – and has been judged (by the Greek ministry of culture) to be “the most important to have been discovered in 65 years in continental Greece.” As for the warrior in question, it was found to be the skeleton of an adult male, laid along its back. And he was surrounded by a bevy of Bronze Age artifacts, including weapons arranged on his left side and jewel items arrayed on his right side.
The range of weapons pertains to some opulent specimens, like an exquisite sword made of bronze with an ivory-engraved hilt draped in gold, being placed near the head. This is followed by a gold-hilted dagger, while more weapons are laid by the legs. The nature of these artifacts are not only rich in value but also in craftsmanship – as is evident from the etching of an intricate griffon on a plaque made of carved ivory (kept between the man’s legs). This is once again accompanied by a bronze mirror with an ivory handle and ivory combs.
And since we brought up the essence of richness, the 5 ft deep, 4 ft wide and 8 ft long tomb boasts various vessels made from metals like solid gold, silver and bronze. These are accompanied by gold pendants, necklaces and rings, along with beads of carnelian, amethyst, jasper and agate. But oddly enough, the archaeologists have not found any evidence of conventional ceramic vessels – almost as if the use of regular ceramic in the tomb decoration was beneath the said warrior’s status.
As for the scope of the discovery, the fascinating excavation project was undertaken by archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati. The researchers originally located the grave near the Palace of Nestor, with the site being known for its relation to Homeric legends and apparent sacrificial offerings on its beach. In Greek mythology, the legendary Nestor of Gerenia was the king of Pylos, an Argonaut, and also a senior member of the Achaean Greek force that invaded Troy. However, in this case, the archaeologists have confirmed that the tomb in question is not of Nestor.
In fact, in chronological terms, the tomb predates the (probable) lifetime of Nestor by almost 300 years. To that end, the timeline of this grave coincides more with a period when mainland Greece had closer contacts and trade relations with the island of Crete and its burgeoning populace. Incredibly enough, many of the ritzy artifacts and jewelry items were actually made in Crete, and thus showcase a distinct Minoan style of art that was relatively unknown in mainland Greece during 15th century BC. These objects are further complemented by around fifty seal-stones that depict Minoan goddesses and the renowned motif of bulls (which gave rise to the legend of the Minotaur).
These findings and their origins have led the archaeologist to believe that the warrior must have been an influential fighter or trader, who probably even helped the ‘primitive’ mainland Greeks to lay the foundations of the Mycenaean culture. Jack Davis, leader of the excavation team, said –
Whoever he was, he seems to have been celebrated for his trading or fighting in nearby island of Crete and for his appreciation of the more-sophisticated and delicate are of the Minoan civilization, found on Crete, with which he was buried.