Bronze Age Minoan Thera Mycenaean Greek Cycladic Crete Knossos Art Jewelry Masks For Sale

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Minoan And Mycenaean Art by Reynold Higgins.

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DESCRIPTION: Softcover: 216 pages. Publisher: Thames And Hudson; (1997). Size: 8½ x 6 inches x ¾ inches; 1¼ pounds. The magnificent works of art of ancient Crete, Mycenae and the Cycladic Islands are awe-inspiring in their richness, variety and vitality. Frescoes, jewelry, sculpture, gold funeral masks, ivories and countless other beautiful artifacts - all the significant works of art and architecture that are our legacy front those great Aegean civilizations of the third and second millennia BC - are described and illustrated in Dr. Higgins' distinguished and classic survey. What emerges is an impressive picture of flourishing Bronze Age cultures that should be viewed not simply in the shadow of classical Greek art but as major achievements in their own right. This updated edition incorporates greater coverage of the breathtaking frescoes from Akrotiri, on the island of Thera. Other recent discoveries and research are also included, such as the unique ivory figurine from Palaikastro, objects from the palace of Mallia and the intriguing presence of Minoan-style frescoes in Egypt.

CONDITION: NEW. New (albeit faintly shelfworn) oversized softcover. Thames & Hudson (2014 reprint of 1997 third edition) 216 Pages. New oversized softcover. From the inside the pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. From the outside the book is unblemished except for extremely faint (almost imperceptible) edge and corner shelf wear to the covers. Condition is entirely consistent with new stock from a traditional brick and mortar bookstore environment (such as Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, or Borders) wherein new books might show faint signs of handling/shelfwear, consequence of simply being shelved and re-shelved. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 30 days! #043.1a.

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PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS REVIEW:

REVIEW: This survey describes and illustrates in detail all the significant works of art and architecture of ancient Crete and Mycenae and of the Cycladic Islands. An important event in the history of archaeology was the discovery by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876, of the treasures in the citadel of Mycenae - the home of the legendary King Agamemnon. The excavations of Sir Arthur Evans in 1900, at the palace of King Minos of Knossos were equally important archaeologically. Such treasures that were found are frescoes and gold funeral masks from the third and second millennia B.C.

PROFESSIONAL REVIEW:

REVIEW: Every ancient culture needs a work to survey and catalogue its art, to provide a background against which more detailed studies can be done, and to provide a general base of knowledge for interested laypeople and beginning students of the culture. This comprehensive and richly illustrated book succeeds admirably in this mission. It is organized, thorough, does not assume much preliminary knowledge of these cultures, and has marvelous color pictures. This is an excellent book, one of the first I bought when I began stocking my personal library of archaeological books.

READER REVIEWS:

REVIEW: This is an excellent guide to the arts of Bronze Age Greece. The book is generously illustrated with good photographs. Higgins's text is densely written and conveys abundant information on the subject matter. The writing style of the accounts (based on areas, periods, and categories of art) is neither dry and technical nor shallow "purple prose," but simply states, usually objectively, what is known. The depth of information for a relatively small book is good. For example, we learn about the characteristic rough surface of Minoan Bronze artifacts and the possible reasons for this. Higgins allows subjective diversions now and then, which can be quite entertaining. One gets the impression that the Minoans were already master craftspeople when the Myceneans were still trying to fashion hats from mud and twigs. However, even the Minoans had their off-days. For example, a Minoan vase with applied ornamentation is described as an unusual lapse of taste (it is decidedly tacky). This is a fine book from which to gain a sound basic knowledge of Greek Bronze Age art, and certainly one to take to Greece if you intend to visit some of the archaeological sites and museums there.

REVIEW: This is a “must have” for any student or enthusiast of the history of the Ancient Mediterranean. Long before the capitals of mainland Greece arose in all there majesty, there were the ancient Minoans of Crete. This wonderfully illustrated book captures the both the glorious elegance and technical sophistication of this prototypical Bronze Age civilization which predated Classical Greece by 1,000 years. Long before Rome was even born; before Greece became great, even before the Phoenicians; the Minoans were the dominant civilization of the Mediterranean. Take a marvelous tour of the art and architecture of the Minoan World, and the world of their successors, the Mycenaeans – you’ll find yourself enormously enriched.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

THE BRONZE AGE:

Bronze Age Minoan Civilization: The Minoan civilization flourished in the Middle Bronze Age on the island of Crete located in the eastern Mediterranean from about 2000 BC until about 1500 BC. The Minoans made a significant contribution to the development of Western European civilization as it is known today. This was achieved through their unique art and architecture and the spread of their ideas through contact with other cultures across the Aegean. Labyrinth-like palace complexes, vivid frescoes depicting scenes such as bull-leaping and processions, fine gold jewelry, elegant stone vases, and pottery with vibrant decorations of marine life are all particular characteristics of Minoan Crete.

The archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans was first alerted to the possible presence of an ancient civilization on Crete by the fact that ancient carved seal stones were being worn as charms by native Cretans in the early 20th century. Excavating at Knossos from 1900 to 1905 Evans discovered extensive ruins which confirmed both literary and mythological the ancient accounts. Those ancient accounts recorded the prior existence of a sophisticated Cretan culture and possible site of the legendary labyrinth and palace of King Minos. It was Evans who coined the term Minoan in reference to this legendary Bronze Age king.

Evans seeing what he believed to be the growth and decline of a unified culture on Crete divided the island’s Bronze Age into three distinct phases largely based on different pottery styles. First stretching from about 3000 through 2100 BC was the Early Minoan Bronze Age. This was followed by the Minoan Middle Bronze Age which extended from about 2100 through 1600 BC. Last was the Late Minoan Bronze age of about 1600 through 1100 BC. These phases were subsequently refined by adding numbered sub-phases to each group, such as “MM II” (Middle Minoan Bronze Age II).

Radio-carbon dating and tree-ring calibration techniques have helped to further refine the dates. These refinements show that the Early Bronze Age began as early as about 3500 BC rather than 3000 BC. The refinements also indicate that the Late Bronze Age began around 1700 BC rather than 1600 BC. An alternative to this series of divisions instead focuses on the events occurring in and around the major Minoan “palaces”. This division has four periods. First is the Prepalatial Period which extended from about 3000 BC through somewhere between 2000 and 1900 BC. The Protopalatial Period then picks up around 2000 or 1900 BC and runs through 1700 BC. The Neopalatial Period runs from about 1700 BC through somewhere between 1470 and 1450 BC. Last the Postpalatial picks up where the Neopalatial Period left off, around 1470 or 1450 BC through 1100 BC.

Both of these schemes have since been challenged by more modern archaeology and approaches to history and anthropology in general. These all prefer a more multilinear development of culture on Crete. This entails a more complex developmental scenario involving conflicts and inequalities between settlements. It also takes into account their cultural differences as well as their obvious similarities. Minoan settlements, tombs, and cemeteries have been found all over Crete but the four principal palace sites in order of size were Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, and Zakros. Minoan palaces exerted some kind of localized control. This was particularly true in the gathering and storage of surplus commodities.

At each of these sites, large, complex palace structures seem to have acted as local administrative, trade, religious, and possibly political centers. The relationship between the palaces and the power structure within them or over the island as a whole is not clear. This is due to a lack of archaeological and literary evidence. However it is clear that at a minimum the palaces exerted some kind of localized control. This was particularly so with respect to the gathering and storage of surplus commodities. These included wine, oil, and grain, as well as precious metals and ceramics. Small towns, villages, and farms were spread around the territory and were seemingly controlled by a single palace. Roads connected these isolated settlements to each other, the main center, and the palace.

There is a general agreement among historians that the palaces were independent from each other up to around 1700 BC. Thereafter they all came under the sway of Knossos. This is evidenced in the records by a greater uniformity in architecture and the use of Linear A writing across various palace sites. The absence of fortifications in the settlements suggests a relatively peaceful co-existence between the different communities. However there was also a prominent presence of weapons such as swords, daggers, and arrowheads. As well equally prominent were defensive equipment such as armor and helmets. Together these suggest that peace may not have always been enjoyed. Minoan roads as well have evidence of regular guardhouses and watchtowers. These suggest that at a minimum banditry troubled the unprotected traveler.

The palaces themselves covered two periods. The first palaces were constructed around 2000 BC. Then following destructive earthquakes and fires they were rebuilt again around 1700 BC. These second palaces survived until their final destruction between 1500 BC and 1450 BC. It’s likely that they were destroyed once again by either earthquake and/or fire. However there is a possibility they may have been destroyed by a hostile invading military force. The palaces were well-appointed. They were monumental structures with large courts, colonnades, ceilings supported by tapered wooden columns. They possessed staircases, religious crypts, light-wells, extensive drainage systems, and large storage magazines. They even had ‘theater’ areas for public spectacles or religious processions.

The palaces reached up to four stories high. They spread over several thousand square meters (tens of thousands of square feet). The palaces were very complex in layout. There were frescoes depicting the sport of bull-leaping. The worship of bulls was prominently evidenced by the presence throughout the palace complexes of sacred bulls’ horns. These were accompanied by depictions of double axes, also known as “labrys” in stone and fresco. The combined effect of all of these elements may have given birth to the legend of Theseus and the labyrinth-dwelling Minotaur. This was one of the most popular tales in later classical Greek mythology.

The religion of the Minoans remains sketchy. However some details are revealed through art, architecture, and artifacts. These include depictions of religious ceremonies and rituals such as the pouring of libations, making food offerings, processions, feasts, and sporting events like bull-leaping. Natural forces and nature in general manifested in such artworks as a voluptuous female mother-earth goddess figure and male figure holding several animals. These figures seem to have been revered. Palaces contain open courtyards for mass gatherings and rooms often have wells and channels for the pouring of libations. Bulls are prominent in Minoan art and their horns are an architectural feature of palace walls. Bull horns were also a general decorative element in jewelry, frescoes, and pottery decoration. Dramatic rural sites such as hilltops and caves often show evidence of cult rituals being performed there.

The sophistication of the Minoan culture and its trading capacity is evidenced by the presence of writing. First from about roughly 2000 BC through 1700 BC was Cretan Hieroglyphic. This was followed by Linear A script, predominantly found on various types of administrative clay tablets. Both scripts are as yet undeciphered). Seal impressions on clay were another important form of record keeping. A further example of the culture’s high degree of development is the variety and quality of The art forms practiced by the Minoans. Pottery finds reveal a wide range of vessels from wafer-thin cups to large storage jars known as “pithoi”. Ceramics were initially hand-turned but then increasingly made on the potter’s wheel.

In decoration there was a progression from flowing geometric designs in Kamares ware to vibrant naturalistic depictions of flowers, plants, and sea life in the later Floral and Marine styles. Common pottery shapes include three-handled amphorae, tall beaked-jugs, squat round vessels with a false spout, beakers, small lidded boxes, and ritual vessels with figure-of-eight-shaped handles. Stone was also used to produce similar vessel types and rhyta. Rhyta were ritual vessels for pouring libations often in the shape of animal heads. Large-scale figure sculpture has not survived but there are many figurines in bronze and other materials. Early types in clay show the dress of the time with men who were colored red and depicted wearing belted loincloths. Women were colored white and depicted in long flowing dresses and open-fronted jackets. A leaping acrobat in ivory and the faience snake goddess are notable works which reveal the Minoan love of capturing figures in active striking poses.

There are also magnificent frescoes from the walls, ceilings, and floors of the palaces. These reveal the Minoans’ love of the sea and nature. They also give insights into religious, communal, and funeral practices. Fresco subjects range in scale from miniature to larger-than-life size. The Minoans were one of the earliest cultures to paint natural landscapes without any humans present in the scene. Perhaps this is the strongest indication of their admiration for the natural world. Animals too were often depicted in their natural habitat. For example depictions of monkeys, birds, dolphins, and fish are abundant. Minoan frescoes were often framed with decorative borders of geometric designs. However on occasion the principal fresco would go beyond conventional boundaries such as corners and covered several walls of a single room. Oftentimes the fresco would completely surround the viewer. Minoan artists took their skills to the royal palaces of Egypt and the Levant. This was especially so with respect to fresco painters.

As a seafaring culture the Minoans were also in contact with foreign peoples throughout the Aegean. This is evidenced by the Near Eastern and Egyptian influences in their early art. It is also evidenced in their later export trade. This was most notably true with respect to the exchange of pottery and foodstuffs such as oil and wine. The Minoans traded in return for precious objects and materials such as copper from Cyprus and Attica, also ivory from Egypt. Especially in the Cyclades several Aegean islands also display the characteristics of a palace-centered economy and political structure. Perhaps they were patterning their palace culture, economy, and politics on that of Crete.

The reasons for the demise of the Minoan civilization continue to be debated. Most palaces and settlements show evidence of fire and destruction dated to around 1450 BC. However Knossos was not destroyed until perhaps a century later. The rise of the Mycenaean civilization in the mid-second millennium BC on the Greek mainland and the subsequent evidence of their cultural influence on later Minoan art and trade make them the most likely cause. However other suggestions include earthquakes and volcanic activity with a consequent tsunami.

The eruption of nearby Thera, the present-day island of Santorini, may have been a particularly significant detrimental event. However the exact date of this cataclysmic eruption is disputed, and therefore its connection with the end of the Minoan period remains unclear. The most likely scenario was probably a fatal mix of natural environmental damage and competition for wealth weakening the structure of society. Ultimately this was then exploited by invading Mycenaeans. Whatever the cause, most of the Minoan sites were abandoned by 1200 BC. Crete would not return to the Mediterranean stage of history until the 8th century BC when it was colonized by Archaic Greeks [Ancient History Encyclopedia].

Bronze Age Mycenaean Civilization: The Mycenaean civilization existed in the Mediterranean from about 1700 to 1100 BC. It flourished in the Late Bronze Age, reaching its peak from the 15th to the 13th century BC. By that point in time it had extended its influence throughout the Peloponnese in Greece. Its influence even reached far across the Aegean, in particular to Crete and the Cycladic islands. The Mycenaeans were so named after their chief city of Mycenae in the Argolid of the northeast Peloponnese. The Mycenaeans were strongly influenced by the earlier Minoan civilization of 2000 to 1450 BC. The Minoans had spread from their origins at Knossos, Crete, to include the wider Aegean. Architecture, art and religious practices were assimilated and adapted to better express the perhaps more militaristic and austere Mycenaean culture.

The Mycenaeans came to eventually dominate most of mainland Greece and several islands. They managed to extend their trade relations to other Bronze Age cultures in such places as Cyprus, the Levant, and Egypt. The culture made a lasting impression on later Greeks in the Archaic and Classical periods. This is most tangibly demonstrated in their myths of Bronze Age heroes like Achilles and Odysseus and their exploits in the Trojan War. The Mycenaeans were indigenous Greeks who were likely stimulated by their contact with Minoan Crete and other Mediterranean cultures. As a result of those influences they developed a more sophisticated sociopolitical culture of their own.

Major Mycenaean centers included Mycenae, which at least in myth was the traditional home of Agamemnon. Perhaps the oldest center of population was Tiryns. The traditional home of Nestor was Pylos> Additional Mycenaean population centers included Thebes, Midea, Gla, Orchomenos, Argos, Sparta, Nichoria, and probably Athens. In time the Mycenaeans would even establish themselves on Crete and especially at Knossos. By the second half of the 15th century BC Mycenaeans had superseded the Minoans as the dominant culture in the southern Aegean. The largest Mycenaean city was Mycenae. Contrary to poplar contemporary belief, it was not the capital city of the Mycenaeans.

Mycenae was built on an impressive citadel and hill over 900 above sea level. There are to this day the remains of large ‘palace’ buildings and hundreds of tombs and shaft graves. These include including nine large stone tholos tombs dating to around 1600 to 1300 BC. Other impressive remains include sections of the fortification walls and the famous Lion Gate which dates to about 1250 BC. The famous Lion Gate’s most prominent characteristic is its heraldic pair of lions above the entrance. The Mycenaean Megaron was the precursor for the later Archaic and Classical temples of the Greek world.

Beyond trading relations the exact political relationship between the over 100 Mycenaean centers spread across Greece is not clear. It is not even clear what the relationship was between a single palace and its surrounding population. The palace seems to have specialized in the manufacture of luxury goods. The surrounding population specialized in the production of foodstuffs, some of which were then stored in the palace. The political relationship between a palace and its village or between different palaces is not known. Despite this lack of clarity there were many shared cultural features across sites which makes the term Mycenaean culture a useful one.

Such shared cultural features include architecture, frescoes, pottery, jewelry, and weaponry. It also included the Greek language and writing in the form of Linear B. Mycenaean Linear B writing was an adaptation of the Minoan Linear A. Another common cultural characteristic is the large palace complex that has been found at many of the Mycenaean centers. While they do display some site-unique developments these centers do display several important architecturalfeatures in common. The complexes were built around a large rectangular central hall or “Megaron”.

The Mycenaean Megaron was the precursor for the later Archaic and Classical temples of the Greek world. They consisted of an entrance porch, a vestibule, and the hall itself. This was the heart of the palace and contained a large circular hearth which typically exceeded 10 feet in diameter. The temple generally had four wooden columns supporting a holed ceiling or light well. It was also the throne room of the ruler or wanax. There is usually a second smaller hall often referred to as the “Queen’s Megaron”. This typically features many private apartments with additional areas set aside for administration, storage, and manufacturing.

Rooms within the “Queen’s Megaron” were richly decorated with fresco paintings on the walls and plaster-painted floors. Typically rooms in the palace were constructed with rubble fill and cross-beamed walls. They were then covered in plaster inside and limestone blocks outside. Columns and ceilings were usually of painted wood, sometimes with bronze embellishments. The fortifications of Mycenae, Tiryns, and Thebes are in stark contrast to the unprotected palaces of Minoan Crete.

The entirety of Mycenaean palace complexes were surrounded by a fortification wall of large unworked blocks. There are termed “Cyclopean” blocks as in the ancient Greek world it was believed that only the giant Cyclopes could have moved such massive stones. These walls could reach over 40 feet in height and be as much as 25 feet thick. Contemporarily they are seen best at Mycenae, Tiryns, and Thebes. Again these massive fortifications are in stark contrast to the unprotected palaces of Minoan Crete.

Corbel galleries were a common architectural these. These are arched corridors created by progressively overlapping stone blocks. Also commonly found at Mycenaean sites are circular stone tombs with corbelled roofs and monumental doorways with massive stone lintels with relieving triangles. Other Mycenaean architectural features include terraced agricultural lands. Also dams for flood management such as those particularly evident at Tiryns. Small bridges built from large roughly-hewn stone blocks are also common features. These small bridges are again constructed with huge stone blocks and thus to ancient perspectives were seemingly the work of the Cyclopes. In contrast to these labor-intensive structures the non-elite of Mycenaean society lived in modest mud-brick houses which had stone foundations.

The Mycenaean civilization had trading contact with a wide geographical variety of other Aegean cultures. This is evidenced by the presence of foreign goods in Mycenaean settlements such as gold, ivory, copper and glass. It is further evidenced by the discovery of Mycenaean goods such as pottery in places as far afield as Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Levant, Anatolia, Sicily, and Cyprus. No doubt perishable goods such as olive oil, perfumed oil, and wine were also significant Mycenaean exports. Unfortunately there is a severe paucity of surviving written records. These are for example limited to only around 70 Linear B clay tablets from a major site like Mycenae. This means that more details on inter-regional trade are at present lacking.

The Uluburun shipwreck is/was a 14th century BC vessel discovered off the coast of Turkey. It was carrying raw material trade goods such as copper and tin ingots, ivory, and glass disks. It was probably bound for workshops in Mycenaean Greece before it sank. Mycenaean Art is expressed in fresco, pottery, and jewelry. The Minoan love of natural forms and flowing design was likewise adopted by the Mycenaean artisans. However the Mycenaean tendency was toward more schematic and less life-like representation. This new style would become the dominant one throughout the Mediterranean. Geometric designs were popular, as were decorative motifs such as spirals and rosettes.

Pottery shapes are much like the Minoan with the notable additions of the goblet and the alabastron, which was a squat jar. The Mycenaeans had a definite preference for large jars. Terracotta figurines of animals and especially standing female figures were popular. Also popular were small sculptures in ivory, carved stone vessels, and intricate gold jewelry. Mycenaean frescoes depicted plants, griffins, lions, bull-leaping, battle scenes, warriors, chariots, figure-of-eight shields and boar hunts. Boar hunts were a particularly popular Mycenaean activity.

Little is known for certain regarding Mycenaean religious practices. It is known that there was a high degree of ceremonial importance attached to animal sacrifice, communal feasting, the pouring of libations, and the offerings of foodstuffs. The presence of double axe carvings and horns of consecration in art and architecture suggest strong links with the Minoan religion. However it is also possible that these symbols may have been adopted from the Minoan because of their political resonance. Architectural features such as sunken basins and fresco depictions of altars hint that the Megaron Temple may have had a religious function.

Many centers also had specific sanctuary sites for worship. These were usually located close to the palace complex. It is clear that burial was an important ritual to the ancient Mycenaeans. This is evidenced by the presence of monumental tholos tombs, prominent grave sites and the quantity of precious objects which were buried with the dead. These included golden masks, diadems, jewelry, and ceremonial swords and daggers.

The decline and demise of the Mycenaean civilization occurred in stages from about 1230 BC to about 1100 BC. The causes are much debated. Archaeologists have determined that several sites were destroyed between 1250 and 1200 BC. This ushered in the so-called “Post-Palatial Period” when the centralized system of palace control declined. There is evidence of a varying degrees of destruction across different sites. Some places escaped the chaos altogether. Some sites were then reinhabited after a period of decline or destruction. But these seems oftentimes to have been on a smaller scale and with less wealth than previously. On the other hand some sites actually became larger and more prosperous than ever. However by around 1100 BC most Mycenaean sites had been reduced to mere villages.

There are many suggestions and theories from scholars to explain the general collapse of the Mycenaean culture, as well as a wide-spread collapse of other contemporary Mediterranean cultures at about the same time. Various historians posit as the cause(s) natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic explosions, and/or tsunami. Other scholars suggest that the root cause(s) were overpopulation, internal social and political unrest, or invasion from foreign tribes such as the Sea Peoples. There’s also strong evidence pointing toward the consequences of a regional climate change and the consequential collapse of agriculture and maritime trading networks. Most scholars suggest that the causative factors may include a combination of some or all of these factors.

With the mysterious end of the Mycenaean civilization and the so-called “Bronze Age Collapse” in the ancient Aegean and wider Mediterranean, there came what historians have traditionally termed the ‘Dark Ages’. The label is to some degree inaccurate. Perhaps the era was “dark” in comparison to the preceding five centuries. But it was not in absolute terms “dark” or without its bright spots. However though some sites began to revive from the 10th century BC, it would take several more centuries before Greek culture would finally regain the heights of the Late Bronze Age.

The Mycenaean civilization would inspire the later Archaic and Classical Greeks from the 8th century BC onward The Bronze Age period came to be seen as a golden one when people respected the gods, warriors were braver and life was generally less complicated and more decent. Legendary names like Agamemnon, Menelaus, Achilles and Odysseus were all Mycenaean Greeks. They would be given immortal life in sculpture, on painted pottery and epic literature such as Homer’s Iliad. The Iliad of course is the timeless classic which related the story of the great Trojan War. The story is either myth or a myth based on a real conflict or series of conflicts between the Mycenaeans and Hittites [Ancient History Encyclopedia].

Bronze Age Sicily: The Bronze Age in Sicily is considered one of the most important periods of the island's prehistory. The Bronze Age in Sicily witnessed the establishment of a unitary and in some ways artistically vibrant culture. The three main phases of the period take their name from the most important centers at the time in question. The Early Bronze Age is known as the Castelluccio Period. The Middle Bronze Age is known as the Thapsos Period. The Late Bronze Age is known as the Pantalica Period. There was a marked increase in cultural and commercial trade between regions near and far. Sicily traded across the Atlantic coasts of France, Spain, Sardinia, the Tyrrhenian coast to the Strait of Messina, and from there to the Aegean-Anatolian area. Sicily’s trade was particularly significant with Cornwall. It was a world in great turmoil, that felt the need to interconnect to achieve a better future.

Europe was involved in a series of technological and social events around the end of the 3rd millennium BC involving developments in metallurgy and in the birth of hierarchical societies. The use of bronze spread throughout Europe during the period of 2300 to 1750 BC. Bronze proved to be a resistant metal alloy which was easily malleable and permitted the manufacture of a wide range of metal tools such as razors, axes, and blades. These products provided for improved living standards of tribal groups typically consisting of 20-30 people. These improved living standards in turn contributed to population growth. These bronze items brought the dawn of mobile and unalterable wealth.

Examination of the organization of the tomb areas found in the European necropoles of this era shows that societies began to evolve different socioeconomic classes within them. For instance singular tombs were used for eminent figures. Small groups of monumental tombs were employed as the eternal home of important families. During the Middle Bronze Age of about 1700 through 1350 BC human settlements became more and more permanent and populous. Human communities settled more permanently into a territory and dedicated themselves to the manufacture and distribution of metal artifacts. Metalworking took on continental dimensions, uniting the two shores of Europe.

The most common form of dwelling during the period was a circular or oval-shaped hut. Agricultural practices were greatly enhanced by amongst other innovations the introduction of the simple plow. Animal husbandry was no longer solely for meat production, but also for animal products, such as milk and wool. The dead continued to be buried in graves or inside caves. Combustion traces and animal bones have been found indicating the practice of funeral rites. The Recent Bronze Age (1320-1170 BCE) witnessed the strengthening of villages following patterns of precise and deliberate security planning. These included such defensive measures as the digging of ditches and erection of embankment fortifications.

The shapes of the metal objects produced during this period are very similar both in the south and the north of Europe. This symmetry emphasizes the wide circulation of products and models. This was the period in which economies were being standardized, thanks to the intense circulation of people, things and ideas. The Final Bronze Age which ran from 1170 through 770 BC witnessed the transition from tribal societies to aristocratic societies and craft developments aimed at producing goods for an emerging aristocracy. This is evidenced in the archaeological record by an increase in large bronze hoards.

In much of Europe the Urnfield culture developed. This was a phenomenon so extensive that one is led to think that this was an age of migrations. Common practices included funeral rites which provided for the cremation of corpses and the deposition of the ashes in urns buried in extensive fields, which is the source of the term “Urn-field” used to describe the culture. The burials also included small ceramic vessels, such as bowls and cups, which probably contained food offerings.

In Sicily the oldest phases of prehistory disappeared at the end of the 3rd millennium BC when Sicily was influenced by a new cultural wave most probably from the Middle East. The contemporary label used by scholars is the “Castelluccio Culture”, derived from the prehistoric site near the city of Noto. This culture was rather unusual compared to those of the preceding Copper Age. It extended into the south-east and south of the island and up to the provinces of Agrigento and Caltanissetta, which are to the west and in the middle of the island. The culture constitutes the “starting line” of the Sicilian Bronze Age. It certainly dated to around 2169 BC, give or take a century. The calculations are based on radiometric dating of coal samples which were used to smelt bronze. These provided the oldest dating of the culture. The coal samples were found at the archaeological site of "Muculufa", a few miles north-east of the town of Licata.

At this early stage of the Bronze Age Sicily was divided into four macro-regions, each one with their own culture. In northern Sicily was the Rodì-Tindari-Vallelunga culture. In western Sicily was the the Naro/Partanna culture. The culture in south-east Sicily was the Castelluccio. And finally the Capo Graziano culture was prevalent in the Aeolian Islands. Of these that ofCastelluccio seems to be the most homogeneous culture in this period. This might simply be due to the fact it spread over a larger area. Consequently it is much better known to history today than the others.

The prehistoric settlement of Castelluccio was built on a rather isolated but defensible rocky spur. Archaeologists who identified it and excavated between the late-19th and early-20th century CE found large quantities of ceramic fragments among the refuse. They also discovered and explored the artificial cave tombs. These tombs are oven-shaped and dug into the rocks. There are small oval-shaped rooms with a diameter of between 1.5-2.0 meters Sometimes the main room was preceded by an ante-cella. When they were first explored in the late 19th century they still contained grave goods. The Castelluccian villages were sometimes fortified. They demonstrated a rather unusual agricultural and pastoral reality.

Their ceramics have been classified as "matt-painted ware". They have close ties with an Anatolian culture of the end of the 3rd millennium BC known as "Cappadocia". The wares show a variety of pottery shapes and geometric designs. The designs are constituted by brown or black bands crossed on a yellow or red background. Forms include single or two-handled conical glasses and tall footed-vases known as "fruit bowls". Also prevalent were large amphorae, bowls on a tall conical foot, and globular pyxides or boxes on a small conical foot.

The graves dug in the rock were closed with dry-stone walls, also with tombstone doors, some decorated in relief with spiral-shaped motifs. In two of the graves there are carved images that could allude to sex and therefore might suggest the belief in the continuation of life of life after death. In some of these graves carved globule bones have been found that are reminiscent of examples elsewhere in the region. Similar carved globule bones have been founds in southeastern Italy, Malta, southern Greece, and in Troy.

The carved bones are animal bone segments and are between five and six inches in length. They are sometimes decorated with incisions on which successively, globules in relief have been made. Their use is not yet known, although some scholars have supposed that these artifacts could be small idols, while others think they could be dagger handles. There’s no doubt that the Castelluccio Civilization had dealings with Malta. This is evidenced by the find of a tomb which contained ceramic fragments in the Maltese "Tarxien Cemetery" style. The tomb was found in Manfria, a district of the city of Gela in south-eastern Sicily.

During the Middle Bronze Age from the end of 1500 to about 1200 BC important coastal settlements developed in Sicily. The island began to acquire strategic and commercial importance thanks to intense exchanges with Mycenaean Greece. The find of a large number of Aegean vases in the Sicilian tombs of this period establishes the establishment and existence of ancient world emporia. Intrinsic in this emporia was the existence of trans-marine trading practices, just as had happened in the Aeolian islands. This corresponded with the era that the Milazzese culture flourished in the Aeolian Islands. A culture closely related to the Aeolian arose within Sicily. It was called Thapsos.

The name is derived from the ancient name the Greeks gave to a peninsula situated between Augusta and Syracuse. Though presently known as Magnisi, its ancient Greek name became the name of the most famous Sicilian culture of the middle Bronze Age. The diminutive peninsula is only about 2 kilometers long and 700 meters wide (1.2 x 0.4 miles). The first archaeological excavations carried out around the end of the 19th century. About 300 artificial cave tombs were identified. Some of them were Tholos tombs with frontal entrances or through wells that open on the rocky floor. They are located in several points of the peninsula. In the central area of the peninsula another necropolis has been identified characterized by vase-burials, or “enchytrismòs”. This burial method involved placing corpses into large earthenware jars inserted in small natural cavities in the ground.

The prehistoric village was located near the isthmus of the peninsula. The occupation period can be split into three phases with three different dwelling types. The first phase dated to the 15th to 14th century BC. It consisted of circular, oval and horseshoe-shaped huts. There was no clear urban planning, except some such huts in the northern portion of the village were connected by a street network. The second phase dated to the 13th to 12th century BC. Houses consisting of several rectangular rooms made up the residential complexes within the village. They were arranged in a square configuration around a central paved court. The plan was reminiscent of Mycenaean-type urban planning. The third phase of occupation is dated to the 11th to 9th century BC. It is characterized by a series of quadrangular residential environments that have no relation with the previous "backyard" buildings.

Excavations of the peninsula have returned a rich quantity of ceramic material ranging from the 15th to the 9th century BC. The pottery has been of both imported and indigenous types. The local pottery unearthed by archaeologists consists of high-footed basins decorated with geometric patterns. Also found have been cups with "sigma" incisions on the upper edge of the vase with representations of birds and fawns on the body. The imported products have included Mycenaean three-handled small jars, alabastra, small cups, and small pitchers; Cypriot Base Ring jugs and White Shaved Ware juglets; and Maltese ceramics related to the first phase of the Borġ in-Nadur culture and Bahrija style. These imported products were from an age when Mycenaean sailors sailed up and down the Mediterranean. These sailors were the inspiration for the tales later narrated in Homer's Odyssey. In turn these tales incited the Greeks to seize Sicily centuries later.

In the Late Bronze Age during the 13th century BC everything suddenly changed. This period would seem to have been ruled by fear. The ancient coastal settlements were moved to higher sites. These were difficult to access but easily defensible. Example of such relocations included Pantalica, Montagna di Caltagirone, Dessueri, Sabucina and later, Cassibile. All of these settlements were located in areas between south-eastern and central Sicily. On the Aeolian Islands the Ausoni flourished. The Ausoni were a civilization which came from the Italian peninsula. In Sicily a civilization strongly influenced by the Mycenaeans still persisted.

The historical sources including Hellanicus of Mytilene and Fylistus of Syracuse assert this was a time when the Sicels' predominated Sicily. According to these historical sources the Sicels had migrated from the Italian peninsula between the 13th and 12th century BC. However the archaeological layers following the Thapsos age do not confirm the presence of an Italic civilization. On the contrary dating to this period is a monumental building made up of several rectangular rooms. This is the so-called Anaktoron or “prince's palace”. Built with megalithic techniques using gigantic stone blocks it is a smaller imitation of the Mycenaean palaces.

The palace also lacks the cremation of the deceased. This is contrary to the custom which was widespread in the Italian peninsula of that era. The ritual would remain unknown in Sicily for a few more centuries. The archaeological evidence makes it clear that it was a few centuries later than that reported by the ancient sources that the Sicels actually landed in eastern Sicily. However the archaeological record does support the fact that they then drove away the Sicanians to the western part of the island. Until that time the Sicanians had been the dominant population who had lived on most of the island since time immemorial.

Due to the great confusion of peoples scholars divide this period into four distinct phases. These phases are named after the most characteristic site of this age, Pantalica. Pantalica is a plateau a few kilometers northwest of Syracuse. It is surrounded by canyons and includes five large necropolis with "artificial cave tombs". The first phase ran from the 13th through the 11th century BC. It is known to historians as “Pantalica North”. The phase was characterized by the Anaktoron, or “Prince’s Palace” described above and by a pottery form shaped on the lathe. This was the first time a lathe had been utilized in Sicily. It produced a red and shiny pottery form on high tubular feet similar to those of Thapsos.

The personal items and jewelry excavated by archaeologists includes blades, pocket knives, swords, necklaces, and rings. These seemed to have a clear Mycenaean influence and suggest a well-established and substantial circulation of items fashioned from bronze. The most characteristic object of this age is the fibula, i.e. a “safety pin” for fastening garments. These were large produced either in a simple, unadorned style or in a violin arch shape. The second phase of Pantalica ran from the 11th to the first half of the 9th century BC. It was named the Cassibile phase after the village near Syracuse where typical tombs of this age are dominant.

These tombs were characterized by rounded or rectangular rooms arranged around a common entrance. The shiny, red pottery of the prior phase is replaced by another type of pottery painted with feather patterns. It is very similar to pottery produced on the Aeolian islands. The fibula evolved as well taking the shape of an elbow bent bow known as the fibula of Cassibile, after the name of a Syracuse hamlet. This style of fibula was also present in 11th century BCE Palestine, again an indication of the wide scope of maritime trade in the Late Bronze Age. An0other similar indication is in the Sicilian bronze objects of this period including fibulae, axes, and razors. They are very similar to those of Spain and the Atlantic coasts of France and England. A significant phenomenon of this phase is the reoccupation of coastal sites, which encouraged the resumption of maritime trade.

The third phase of this period was known as “Pantalica South” and ran from the second half of the 9th century BC through the second half of the 8th century BC. According to the artificial cave tombs populations moved back once again to the Pantalica massif. The artificial cave tombs are quite numerous, especially in the southern flanks of the hill. Pottery wares appeared imitating Greek decorations. Examples would include the trilobed oinochoai painted with Aegean geometric designs. “Feathered painting" of pottery was still used in combination with a "parallel furrows" decoration. Archaeological discoveries of rings, buttons and spirals from the phase are very frequent.

The last phase ran from the second half of the 8th century BC to the second half of the 7th century BC. It is known to archaeologists as the Finocchito phase. Finocchito is a hilly site a few kilometers southwest of the town of Avola. The Finocchito phase witnessed the foundation of Greek colonies in large parts of the island. The indigenous Sicilians were significantly affected by the Greek culture. The Sicilians now imitated Greek handicraft products both in form and in Decoration. No doubt the Sicilians produced beautiful ceramics, but they were decorated with Aegean late-geometric motifs. The fibula as well also assumed a typically Greek shape, small lozenge and arch-shaped. Jewelry was produced in mimicry of Greek forms, made of simple or double knitted chains with different shaped pendants.

It was about this time that iron made its appearance, with which were made knives, spear cusps and especially fibulae. Sicilian tombs became single-celled likely reflective of the birth of private, non-communal land ownership). Within the Sicilian tombs are items imported from Greece such as proto-Corinthian vases or ivory fibulae identical to those found in Greek archaic Syracuse tombs. With the conquest of Sicily by the Greeks in the late 8th century BC the island not only emerged from prehistory, but it also heralded the end of the previous civilizations. Even the culture of the Sicels who were subdued and blended together with the Greeks, finally disappeared from history in the 4th century BC [Ancient History Encyclopedia].

Mycenae Bronze Age City: Mycenae was a fortified late Bronze Age city located between two hills on the Argolid plain of the Greek Peloponnese. The acropolis today dates from between the 14th and 13th century BC when the Mycenaean civilization was at its peak of power, influence and artistic expression. Mycenae along with nearby Tiryns is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In Greek mythology the city was founded by Perseus. According to alternate myths Perseus gave the site its name after his sword scabbard (“mykes”) fell to the ground and was regarded as a good omen. The alternate version of the myth has Peseus finding a water spring near a mushroom (“mykes”).

Perseus was the first king of the Perseid Dynasty which ended with Eurytheus, the mythical instigator of Hercules' famous twelve labors. The succeeding dynasty was the Atreids. The first king of this dynasty is traditionally believed to have reigned around 1250 BC. Atreus’ son Agamemnon is believed to have been not only king of Mycenae but of all of the Archaean Greeks. He was also of course the leader of their expedition to Troy to recapture Helen. In Homer’s account of the Trojan War in the Iliad, Mycenae (or “Mykene”) is described as a ‘well-founded citadel’, as ‘wide-wayed’ and as ‘golden Mycenae’. The latter description is well supported by the recovery of over 15 kilograms of gold objects recovered from the shaft graves in the acropolis.

Situated on a rocky hill 145 to 165 feet high the site of Mycenae commanded the surrounding plain as far as the sea 10 miles away. Mycenae covered 300,000 square feet and has always been known throughout recorded history. The surprising lack of literary references to the site suggest it may have been at least partially covered and its location lost. First excavations were begun by the Archaeological Society of Athens in 1841 AD and then famously continued by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 AD. Schliemann of course discovered the magnificent treasures of Grave Circle A which he attributed to Agamemnon.

The archaeological excavations have shown that the city has a much older history than the Greek literary tradition described. Inhabited since Neolithic times it is not until around 2100 BC that the first walls, pit and shaft graves with higher quality grave goods appear. These would include pottery finds including imports from the Cycladic islands. All of these taken collectively suggest a greater importance and prosperity in the settlement. From around 1600 BC there is evidence of an elite presence on the acropolis. There was high-quality pottery, wall paintings, shaft graves, and the construction of large tholos tombs. There was an increase in the population of the surrounding settlement.

From the 14th century BC the first large-scale palace complex is built on three artificial terraces. The celebrated tholos tombs, also known as “beehive tombs” are constructed in dense quantities. The Treasury of Atreus was completed. This was a monumental circular building almost 50 feet in diameter with a corbelled roof reaching a height of 45 feet. The building was approached by a long walled and unroofed corridor 120 feet long and 20 feet wide. Fortification walls of large, roughly worked stone blocks surrounded the acropolis. The north wall of the acropolis remains intact until today.

The era is also marked by flood management structures such as dams. Roads were built. There was an increases in the production of Linear B tablets and an increase in pottery imports. The increase in pottery imports fits well with theories of contemporary Mycenaean expansion in the Aegean. All of these characteristics of the era illustrate a culture at its zenith. The large palace structure built around a central hall or Megaron is typical of Mycenaean palaces. Other features included a secondary hall, many private rooms and a workshop complex. Decorated stonework and frescoes and a monumental entrance included the Lion Gate. The Lion Gate is a 10 foot by 10 foot square doorway with an 18-ton lintel. The lintel is topped by two 10 foot high heraldic lions and a column altar.

The lion gate emphatically added to the overall splendor of the complex. The relationship between the palace and the surrounding settlement is uncertain. The relationship between Mycenae and other towns in the Peloponnese is also uncertain. The potential character and variables in these relationships is much discussed by scholars. However concrete archaeological evidence is lacking. Nonetheless it seems likely that the palace was a center of political, religious and commercial power. The palace also seems to have been at the very least the hub of a thriving trade network. This is supported by the archaeological finds of high-value grave goods, administrative tablets, and pottery imports. These are in addition to the presence of precious materials deposits such as bronze, gold and ivory.

The first palace was destroyed in the late 13th century, probably by earthquake. Subsequently it was rather poorly repaired. A monumental staircase, the North Gate, and a ramp were added to the acropolis. The walls were also extended to include the Perseia spring within the fortifications. The spring was named after the city’s mythological founder and was reached by an impressive corbelled tunnel (or “syrinx”) with 86 steps leading down 60 feet to the water source. It is argued by some scholars that these architectural additions and the inclusion of the city’s water supply within the fortifications are all evidence of a preoccupation with security and possible invasion.

This second palace was itself destroyed, this time the ruins contained evidence of fire. Some rebuilding did subsequently occur. Pottery finds suggest a degree of prosperity returned briefly before another fire ended occupation of the site. The site thereafter remained essentially unoccupied until a brief revival in Hellenistic times. With the decline of Mycenae Argos became the dominant power in the region. Reasons for the demise of Mycenae and the Mycenaean civilization are much debated amongst scholars. Suggestion causative factors include natural disaster, over-population, internal social and political unrest, or invasion by foreign forces.

Celebrated artifacts from Mycenae include five magnificent beaten gold burial masks. This of course includes that most famous example incorrectly attributed to Agamemnon by Schliemann, but still known as the “Mask of Agamemnon” Additional artifacts uncovered by archaeologists have included gold diadems, carved rings, cups and a lion head rhyton. In addition, less known but nonetheless remarkable, a magnificent bronze and gold rhyton in the form of a bull’s head. All of these forgoing plus other discoveries including large bronze swords and daggers with richly inlaid scenes on their blades as well as ivory sculpture and fragments of fresco all give testimony to the quality of craftsmanship and wealth of ‘Golden Mycenae’ [Ancient History Encyclopedia].

Argos Bronze Age City: Ancient Argos was a major Mycenaean settlement located in the Peloponnese in Greece in the Late Bronze Age, 1700 to 1100 BC. Argos remained important throughout the Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman periods until its destruction by the Visigoths in 395 AD. The site’s best-preserved example of ancient architecture is the theater, once the largest in Greece. In addition the remains of the 2nd century AD Roman baths would have to be included in this definition. Argos lies on the west side of the fertile Argolid Plain. The Argolid Plain measures some 95 square miles. It was well-watered thanks to rivers running down from the nearby western mountains. The Charadros River is today known as the Xerias. The river ran past two sides of Argos.

The site of Argos has been inhabited from prehistoric times, or about 3000 BC, up to the present day. Ancient Argos was built in the Late Bronze Age on two hills: Aspis and Larissa. The two hills are 262 feet and 948 feet in height, respectively. Argos prospered as a Mycenaean center. However it was at that time smaller than its neighbors Mycenae and Tiryns. Its cemetery includes tholos chamber-tombs and dates to this period. The city seems to have achieved its Bronze Age peak in the 14th to 13th century BC. The city perhaps reached its greatest dominance in the 7th century BCE under King Pheidon of Argos.

In ancient Greek mythology the city gained its name from Argos, also known as “Argus”. Argos was the son of Zeus and Niobe who reigned as the city’s king. He was famous in myth for being covered in eyes or being ‘all-seeing.’ Homer’s Iliad tells of Argos the city sending men to fight in the Trojan War. According to Homer Argos was ruled by Diomedes, who in turned was a vassal of King Agamemnon of Mycenae. Homer also described Argos as a locale celebrated in the ancient world for its horse rearing. Last, the city is described by Homer as being especially dear to the goddess Hera. Hera did indeed end up with a protective sanctuary some six miles distant from the city which hosted a major annual festival. This was the “Panhellenic Heraia”, and was held from the 7th century BC onward.

Argos declined after the fall of the Mycenaean civilization which occurred around 1100 BC. However it was still settled on and around the Larissa hill throughout the so-called Dark Ages of the 10th through 8th century BC. Argos then perhaps reached its greatest dominance in the 7th century BC under King Pheidon of Argos. King Pheidon is credited by some ancient writers with many innovations, including devising a standard system of measures and weights. He is also credited with introducing to mainland Greece such military innovations as Hoplite tactics and double grip shields. Some ancient accounts credit him with being the first ruler to mint silver coinage. However most scholars believe this innovation to have been introduced only in the 6th century BC.

King Pheidon is discredited by other ancient historians, notably Aristotle, for eventually turning himself into a tyrant. However Argos did become the most powerful city in Greece with Pheidon’s defeat of Sparta. King Pheidon celebrated his achievement by presiding over the Olympic Games. It is the city’s contribution of around 7,500 Hoplites to Greek armies, including knights, that hints at the city’s population size in this period. Argo possessed perhaps some 12,500 adult male citizens. The government of the city would undergo various stages over the next few centuries. Argos had the distinction of being at one time or another a democracy, oligarchy, monarchy, and/or tyranny.

From the 7th to 5th century BC the Argos polis or city-state dominated the surrounding valley and became a long-time rival to Sparta for dominance of the Argolid. Argos prospered largely thanks to agriculture and stock-breeding. Another reason for the city’s growth was a long-standing system of renting out land so that revenue could help pay for the city’s defenses and public buildings. The public buildings so funded included for instance a temple dedicated to Apollo, the city’s principal deity. Also the funding went for sanctuaries dedicated to Zeus and Athena, amongst others. Nevertheless Sparta usually had the upper hand in the region. Sparta took Thyrea from Argos around 545 BC, and was victorious over Argos at the battle of Sepeia around 494 BC. Thyrea was a town on the Peloponnese which is believed to be located near modern day Astros, Greece

The role of Argos during the Persian Wars of the 5th century BC is ambiguous and uncertain. The city refused an invitation to join the Hellenic League of Greek states in 481 BC. Thereafter Argos either remained neutral or even displayed pro-Persian sentiment. Nevertheless perhaps because of the turmoil in Greece it was during this period that Argos began to assimilate smaller surrounding states. These included Tiryns, Mycenae, and Nemea. In 451 BC a peace treaty was signed between Argos and Sparta which would endure for the next 30 years.

Argos’ more prominent position amongst the Greek city-states meant that it was an ideal candidate to take over as host of the biennial Panhellenic games. These games were originally held at Nemea first from around 415 BC to around 330 BC. They were then resumed at Nema again definitively from 271 BC. The city's mythical heritage meant that Argos enjoyed a certain prestige even in Roman times.

A famous figure from Argos in the 5th century BC was Telesilla of Argos. She was considered one of the greatest of ancient Greece’s lyric poets. The 2nd century AD Greek historian Pausanias even credits Telesilla with arming a group of women and then leading them to face down a Spartan force attacking the city around 494 BC. However there is no evidence of this actually having happened from earlier, more contemporary sources. Some of the poet’s works did perhaps have a martial theme, although only meager fragments of these poems survive today. However nonetheless these poems may have inspired fellow Argives in battle. This would be more believable than Pausanias’ claim that Telesilla actually led a group of women into battle against the Spartans.

Argos remained neutral during the wars of Philip II of Macedon, who ruled from 359 to 336 BC. Philip of Macedon was of course father to Alexander the Great. Though Argos remained neutral during the wars between Philip and his neighbors, they did again take advantage of the political upheaval to reclaim the former possession of the town of Thyrea. However in 272 BC Argos fell under the rule of pro-Macedonian tyrants. Argos abandoned its isolationist policy and became a member of the Achaean League from around 281 through 146 BC. The Achaean League was a confederation of city-states in the north and central Peloponnese. The League allowed its members to use a common justice system, coinage, and band together in case of a military threat.

However Argos’ membership in the league did not prevent Philip V of Macedon who ruled from 221 to 179 BCE from handing over Argos to Nabis. Nabis was the Spartan tyrant who ruled from 207 to 192 BCE). This occurred during the Second Macedonian War between Macedon and Rome. Fortunately in 196 BC the Romans were victorious and insisted Sparta return Argos to its status as an independent member of the Achaean League. Half a century later this independence would end when Rome took control of Greece from 146 BC onward. Argos came under the jurisdiction of Rome’s governor of Macedonia and eventually became a part of the Roman province of Achaea. One concolation Argos enjoyed under Rome’s rule was the city's mythical heritage. This meant that Argos enjoyed a certain prestige even in Roman times. In particular the Roman Emperor Hadrian who ruled from 117 to 138 AD was exceptionally generous to the city. Amongst other public investments Hadrian was responsible for building an aqueduct and baths.

Argos was sacked by the Visigoths as they rampaged through the region in 395 AD. However Argos continued to be inhabited in Late Antiquity and right through the medieval period. Notable Medieval additions to the city included a 10th-century AD castle and double fortification walls built on the Larissa hill above the town. The castle was first built by the Franks and was then added to by the Venetians and then the Ottoman Turks. The continuous inhabitation of Argos and the tendency to destroy and rebuild on the same spot has made archaeological excavations much more problematic. Other sites such as Mycenae and Tiryns which were abandoned are much easier excavations.

The major archaeological excavations in Argos have been conducted principally by the French School of Archaeology. Throughout Argos archaeological remains are visible today including Mycenaean, Greek and Roman structures. There are Mycenaean tombs which date from the 14th to 13th century BC. There’s a 5th century BC odeum for dramatic and musical performances. The sanctuary of Aphrodite which was build from 430 to 420 BC remains extant. The foundations and walls of the agora (the 5th century BC city center/marketplace) and a large stoa or colonnaded enclosure remain.

There’s an impressive theater which dates to the 4th or 3rd century BC, but also includes 2nd to 4th century AD modifications. Particularly well-preserved the theater it includes 81 rows of seats. This would have given the theater a capacity of 20,000 spectators and made it the largest of any theater in Greece. Greek theater There are also ruins of the Roman baths (or “thermae”) which date to the 2nd century AD. Last and throughout the city are parts of the ancient Cyclopean citadel walls which were eventually incorporated into the medieval fortress fortifications on the Larissa hill).

Many significant artifacts have been found at the site. These include terracotta figurines dating to the 13th century BC. Many superb examples of pottery in the geometric style dating from the 9th to 8th century BC were found in the excavation of graves. Several marble figures of Roman sculpture have been excavated, as well as two 4th or 5th century AD mosaic floors. One discovered mosaic floor depicted Dionysos in one. The other depicted the months of the year. The latter mosaic has figures holding items to represent a particular month such as a lamb for April and wheat for June. Another outstanding archaeological find was a bronze breastplate and crested helmet with cheek-plates. This was discovered in a tomb dating to the late 8th or early 7th century.

Most of these artifacts discovered in Argos now reside in the Archaeological Museum of Argos.Examples of Argos’ art output can be found across the Mediterranean. Argos was the home of one of ancient Greece’s most famous sculptors, Polykleitos. Polykleitos was active in the second half of the 5th century BC. He created globally-recognized bronze sculptures such as the “Doryphoros”, or the “Spear-bearer”. This sculpture was widely copied in Hellenistic and Roman times. At least 50 such copies survive today, with perhaps the best being in Naples.

Polykleitos he also wrote a treatise, the “Kanon”. The subject of the treatise was on techniques of sculpture wherein Polykleitos emphasized the importance of correct proportion. Another famous sculptor from Argos was Polymedes who created the two life-size kouroi of Kleobis and Biton. Outstanding examples of Archaic Greek sculpture they were created about 580 BC. They were dedicated at Delphi where they still reside in the site’s archaeological museum [Ancient History Encyclopedia].

Ancient Troy Bronze Age City: Troy is the name of the Bronze Age city attacked in the Trojan War. The account of he war provides a popular story in the mythology of ancient Greece. Troy is the name given to the archaeological site in the north-west of Asia Minor, or Anatolia, modern-day Turkey. Other names for Troy include Hisarlik (Turkish), Ilios (Homer), Ilion (Greek) and Ilium (Roman). Excavations have revealed a large and prosperous city occupied over millennia. There has been much scholarly debate as to whether mythical Troy actually existed and if so whether the archaeological site was the same city. However contemporary research has led to it being almost universally accepted that the archaeological excavations have revealed the city of Homer’s Iliad.

The archaeological site of Troy is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Troy is of course the setting for Homer’s Iliad in which he recounts the final year of the Trojan War sometime in the 13th century BC. The war was in fact a ten-year siege of the city by a coalition of Greek forces led by King Agamemnon of Mycenae. The purpose of the expedition was to reclaim Helen, wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta and brother of Agamemnon. Helen was abducted by the Trojan prince Paris and taken as his prize for choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess in a competition with Athena and Hera.

An account of Trojan War is also told in other sources such as the Epic Cycle poems, of which only fragments survive. The Trojan War is also briefly mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Troy and the Trojan War later became a staple myth of Classical Greek and Roman literature. In the Iliad Homer describes Troy as ‘well-founded’, ‘strong-built’ and ‘well-walled’. There are also several references to fine battlements, towers and ‘high’ and ‘steep’ walls. The walls must have been unusually strong in order to withstand a ten-year siege. In fact Troy fell through the trickery of the Trojan horse ruse rather than any defensive failing.

Indeed in Greek mythology the walls were so impressive that they were said to have been built by Poseidon and Apollo. According to myth after an act of impiety these two gods were compelled by Zeus to serve the Trojan king Laomedon for one year. However the fortifications did not help the king when Hercules sacked the city with an expedition of only six ships. The sacking was Hercules’ revenge for not being paid for his services to the king when he killed the sea-serpent sent by Poseidon. This mythical episode was traditionally placed one generation before the Trojan War, as according to the myth as the only male survivor was Laomedon’s youngest son Priam. Priam was the Trojan king in the later Trojan War.

Troy was inhabited from the Early Bronze Age around 3000 BC through to the 12th century AD. The archaeological site is three miles from the coast but was once next to the sea. The site was situated in a bay created by the mouth of the river Skamanda. It occupied a strategically important position between Aegean and Eastern civilizations. Troy’s location facilitated the control of the principal point of access to the Black Sea, Anatolia and the Balkans from both directions by land or by sea. In particular the difficulty in finding favorable winds to enter the Dardanelles may well have resulted in ancient sailing vessels standing by near Troy.

Consequently the site became the most important Bronze Age city in the North Aegean. Troy reached the height of its prosperity in the middle Bronze Age. This was a time contemporary with the Mycenaean civilization on the Greek mainland and the Hittite empire to the East. Troy was first excavated by Frank Calvert in 1863 AD and visited by Heinrich Schliemann. Schliemann continued excavations from 1870 AD until his death in 1890 AD. In particular Schliemann focused his efforts on the conspicuous 65 foot high artificial mound which had been left untouched since antiquity.

Initial finds by Schliemann of gold and silver jewelry and vessels seemed to vindicate his belief that the site was actually the Troy of Homer. However these artifacts have now been dated to more than a thousand years before a probable date for the Trojan War. The excavations and accompanying artifacts all indicate that the history of the site is much more complex than previously considered. Indeed perhaps unwittingly, Schliemann would add 2000 years to Western history. Prior to his discoveries this history had extended back only as far as the first Olympiad of 776 BC.

Excavations of Troy continued throughout the 20th century AD and continue to the present day. These excavations have revealed nine different cities and no less than 46 levels of inhabitation at the site. These have been labeled Troy I to Troy IX after the original classifications developed by Schliemann and his successor Dorpfeld. This has since been slightly adjusted to incorporate radio-carbon dating results from the early 21st century.

Troy I is attributed to roughly 3000 to 2550 BC. It was a small village settlement surrounded by stone walls. Pottery and metal finds match those on Lesbos and Lemnos in the Aegean and in northern Anatolia.

Troy II is dated to about 2550 through 2300 BC. Troy II displays larger buildings up to 130 feet long. Mud-brick and stone fortifications with monumental gates have been excavated. Schliemann’s “treasure” of objects in gold, silver, electrum, bronze, carnelian and lapis lazuli most likely come from this period. This “treasure” includes 60 earrings, six bracelets, two magnificent diadems and 8750 rings, all in solid gold. Once again, finds of foreign materials suggest trade with Asia.

Troy III through Troy V are dated to about 2300 through 1750 BC. These are the most difficult period for archaeologists to reconstruct. The inhabitation layers were hastily removed in early excavations in order to reach the lower levels. Generally speaking the period seems a less prosperous one. However foreign contact is further evidenced by the presence of Anatolian influenced dome ovens and Minoan pottery.

Troy VI is dated from about 1750 through 1300 BC. It is the period most visible today at the site. It is also the most likely candidate for the besieged city of Homer’s Trojan War. The archaeological site has impressive fortification walls 17 feet thick and up to 27 feet high. They were constructed from large limestone blocks. This includes several towers with a rectangular plan as in Hittite fortifications). All of the forgoing demonstrates prosperity but also a concern for defense. The walls would have once been topped by a mud brick and wood superstructure and with closely fitting stonework sloping inwards as the walls rise.

The walls certainly fit the Homeric description of ‘strong-built Troy’. In addition sections of the walls are slightly offset every 35 feet. This was done so that the walls curved around the city without the necessity for corners. Corners were a weak point in a wall defense. This feature is unique to Troy and displays an independence from both Mycenaean and Hittite influence. The walls included five gateways allowing entrance to the inner city. The inner city was composed of large structures of one and two stories with central courts and colonnaded halls. There were similar to those of contemporary Mycenaean cities such as Tiryns, Pylos and Mycenae itself.

Outside the fortified citadel the lower town covers an impressive 70 acres (270,000 square meters) protected by an encircling rock-cut ditch. The size of the site is now revealed to be much larger than first thought when Schliemann excavated. The site’s size suggests a population of as high as 10,000, much more in keeping with Homer’s grand city-state. Archaeological finds at the site point to the existence of a thriving wool industry and the first use of horses. These recall Homer’s oft-used epithet ‘horse-taming Trojans’. Pottery very similar to that on the Greek mainland has been discovered. These pottery finds have been principally the Grey Minyan ware which imitates metal vessels. There are also imported ceramics from Crete, Cyprus and the Levant. In marked contrast to Mycenaean palaces, there is no evidence of sculpture or fresco-painted walls.

Troy VI was partially destroyed but the exact cause is not known beyond some evidence of fire. Intriguingly bronze arrow heads, spear tips and sling shots have been found on the site. Some have even been found embedded in the fortification walls, suggesting some sort of conflict. These artifacts date to about 1250 BC. Those and the site destruction correlate with Herodotus’ dates for the Trojan War. Conflicts over the centuries between Mycenaeans and Hittites are more than probable and may well have been the origin of the epic Trojan War in Greek mythology.

There is very little evidence supporting the occurrence of any large-scale war. However the possibility of smaller conflicts is evidenced in Hittite texts. Scholars point specifically to textual accounts where ‘Ahhiyawa’ is recognized as referring to Mycenaean Greeks, and ‘Wilusa’ as the region of which Ilios was the capital. These documents tell of local unrest and Mycenaean support of local rebellion against Hittite control in the area of Troy. These documents suggest a possible motive for regional rivalry between the two civilizations. Intriguingly there is also a bronze Mycenaean sword taken as war booty and found in Hattusa the Hittite capital.

Troy VIIa dates to around 1300 through 1180 BC, and Troy VIIb to about 1180 through 950 BC. Both display an increase in the size of the lower town and some reconstruction of the fortifications. However both also evidence a marked decline in architectural and artistic quality in comparison with Troy VI. For example, there is a return to handmade pottery after centuries of wares made on the wheel. Once again this correlates well with the Greek tradition that following the Trojan War the city was sacked and abandoned, at least for a time. Both Troy VIIa and Troy VIIb were destroyed by fires.

Troy VIII and Troy IX date from about 950 BC through 550 AD. These are the sites of Greek Ilion and Roman Ilium, respectively. There is evidence that the site was populated throughout the so-called Dark Ages. However the settlement did not return to a level of significant development until the 8th century BC. Ancient Troy was never forgotten though. The Persian King Xerxes is said by Herodotus to have sacrificed over a thousand oxen at the site prior to his invasion of Greece. Alexander the Great also reputedly visited the site before his expedition in the opposite direction in order to conquer Asia.

A Doric temple to Athena was constructed in the early 3rd century BC along with new fortifications under Lysimachus around 301 to 280 BC. Lysimachus was one of Alexander’s Generals and successor king of Thrace, Asia Minor, and Macedon. The Romans also held Troy in high regard and even referred to the city as ‘Sacred Ilium’. In Roman mythology the Trojan hero Aeneas, son of Venus, had fled Troy. Aeneas had subsequently settled in Italy, thus giving the Romans a divine ancestry.

Julius Caesar in 48 BC and his successor Emperor Octavian Augustus later in the 1st century BC rebuilt much of the city. During Hadrian’s reign of 117-138 AD Rome instituted a building program which added an odeion, gymnasium and baths. Emperor Constantine who reigned from 324-337 AD even planned to build his new capital at Troy and some construction work began until Constantinople was chosen instead.

Over time the site of Troy declined. Most probably this occurred as the harbor had silted up. The once great city of Troy was finally abandoned, not to be rediscovered for another 1500 years [Ancient History Encyclopedia].

Bronze Age Archaeology in Cyprus: An excavation in Cyprus’ ancient harbor town of Hala Sultan Tekke has uncovered a late Bronze Age tomb and an associated pit filled with precious artifacts imported from Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, and Anatolia. Led by Peter Fischer of the University of Gothenburg, the excavators from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition recovered the remains of eight infants and nine adults who may have been family members. The researchers think the pit may have served as a way to present objects, such as a diadem, pearls, earrings, gold scarabs, and pottery decorated with religious symbols, to the deceased without reopening the tomb. “In the late Bronze age period in Cyprus, people tended to be buried inside their houses rather than in cemeteries. No cemeteries from the period have been found so far, so this could be quite an exciting find in that respect,” Fischer said in an International Business Times report. [Archaeological Institute of America].

Bronze Age Cycladic Sculpture: The Cycladic islands of the Aegean were first inhabited by voyagers from Asia Minor around 3000 B.C. and a certain prosperity was achieved thanks to the wealth of natural resources on the islands such as gold, silver, copper, obsidian and marble. This prosperity allowed for a flourishing of the arts and the uniqueness of Cycladic art is perhaps best illustrated by their clean-lined and minimalistic sculpture which is amongst the most distinctive art produced throughout the Bronze Age Aegean. These figurines were produced from 3000 B.C. until around 2000 B.C. when the islands became increasingly influenced by the Minoan civilization based on Crete.

Small statuettes were sculpted from local coarse-grained marble and although different forms were produced, all share the same characteristics of being highly stylized with only the most general and prominent body features represented. The earliest examples were produced in the Neolithic period and were made until around 2500 B.C. Looking like violins they are in fact representations of a naked squatting woman. A later form, and perhaps influenced by contact with Asia, was the standing figure, most commonly female. Once again, these elegant figures are highly stylized with few details added and they continued to be produced until around 2000 B.C. They are naked, with arms folded across the chest (always with the right arm under the left) and the oval-shaped head tilted back with the only sculpted feature being the nose.

Breasts, pubic area, fingers and toes are the only other features evidenced by simple inscribed lines. Over time the figures evolve slightly with a deeper line incised to demarcate the legs, the top of the head becomes more curved, knees are less bent, shoulders more angular and the arms are less fully crossed. The figures are most often around 30cm in height but miniature examples survive, as do life-size versions. The feet of the figures always point downwards and therefore they cannot stand upright on their own, leading to suggestions that they were either laid down or carried. Despite these general similarities it is, however, important to note that no two figurines are exactly alike, even when evidence suggests they come from the same workshop.

Other figures include harp players seated on a throne or, more usually, a simple stool (of which there are fewer than a dozen surviving examples) and a standing pipe or aulos player from Keros circa 2500 B.C. In the same style as other Cycladic figures they are the first representations of musicians in sculpture from the Aegean. Most of the figures were sculpted from slim rectangular pieces of marble using an abrasive such as emery which is almost as hard as diamond and was available from the island of Naxos.

Without doubt an extremely laborious process was involved but the end result was a piece with a finely polished sheen. There are on occasion surviving traces of color on some statues which was used to highlight details such as hair in red and black and facial features were also painted onto the sculpture such as eyes. Representations of the mouth, however, are very rare on Cycladic sculpture. A well-preserved figure now in the British Museum still has traces of eyes, a necklace and a diadem painted with small dots on the face and there are even some patterns over the body, hinting at a more colorful representation than most surviving figures suggest.

Not only have figures been found all over the Cycladic islands but they were clearly also popular further afield on Crete, the Greek mainland and at Cnidus and Miletus in Anatolia. Both imported figurines and local copies have been discovered, some of the latter employing material not used by the original manufacturers such as ivory. The use of such a hard material and consequently the time needed to produce these pieces would suggest that they were of great significance in Cycladic culture (and not mere toys as some have suggested) but their exact purpose is unknown.

Their most likely function is as some sort of religious idol and the predominance of female figures, sometimes pregnant, suggests a fertility deity. Supporting this view is the fact that figurines have been found outside of a burial context at settlements on Melos, Kea and Thera. Alternatively, precisely because the majority of figures have been found in graves, perhaps they were guardians to or representations of the deceased. Indeed, there have been some finds of painting materials along with figures in graves which would suggest that the painting process may have been a part of the burial ceremony.

However, some of the larger figures are simply too large to fit into a grave and also puzzling is their variation in distribution. Although figurines are present across the Cycladic islands, some graves have contained as many as fourteen figures whilst on Syros for example, only six were found in 540 graves. Intriguingly, at the site of Dhaskalio Kavos on Keros there is evidence of a large quantity of figures deliberately broken. Were these smashed as part of a ritual or were they simply no longer seen as significant objects?

Despite much scholarly endeavor then, there is still great mystery surrounding these statues and perhaps this is part of their appeal. One of the problems with Cycladic art is that it is very much a victim of its own success. Appreciated by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore in the 20th century A.D., a vogue for anything Cycladic arose which unfortunately resulted in the illegal traffic of looted goods from the Cyclades.

The result is that many of the Cycladic art objects now in western museums have no provenance of any description, compounding the difficulties for scholars to ascertain their function in Cycladic culture. These objects are, nevertheless, part of the few tangible remains of a culture which no longer exists and without a form of writing the members of that culture are unable to explain for themselves the true significance of these objects and we are left to imagine the function and faces behind these enigmatic sculptures which continue to fascinate more than three millennia after their original manufacture. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].

The Mycenaean “Griffin Warrior” I: The Incredible Treasures Found Inside the ‘Griffin Warrior’ Tomb. Why was a Mycenaean soldier buried with so many riches? Every archaeologist dreams of uncovering a trove of historically significant objects. Last spring, that dream became a reality for a team led by two University of Cincinnati scholars, who discovered the grave of a Bronze Age warrior in southwestern Greece. Now, as Nicholas Wade writes for the New York Times, the find has yielded intriguing treasures—and plenty of excitement from archaeologists. The gravesite was found within the ancient city of Pylos.

It’s being called the richest tomb found in the region since the 1950s, Wade reports, for “the richness of its find and its potential for shedding light on the emergence of the Mycenaean civilization.” In a release, the University of Cincinnati lays out the wealth within the grave: bronze jugs; basins of bronze, silver and gold; four solid-gold rings; a bronze sword with an ivory hilt covered in gold; more than 1,000 beads of different gems; a gold-hilted dagger and much more. The entombed skeleton even has a nickname—the “Griffin Warrior”—in reference to an ivory plaque inscribed with a griffin found nearby.

Though the burial objects suggest the Griffin Warrior was an important person, they also raise intriguing questions. “The discovery of so much jewelry with a male burial challenges the commonly held belief that these apparently ‘feminine’ adornments and offerings accompanied only wealthy women to the hereafter,” the excavation team says in the release. The find raises questions about the warrior’s culture, too. He was buried near a Mycenaean palace, but the artifacts within the grave are primarily Minoan.

Mycenaeans lived in the region between the 15th and 13th centuries B.C., dominating the area with military might. Scholars believe the Mycenaeans borrowed greatly from Minoan culture—so much so that some studies of Mycenaean religion even lump the two together. Does the Griffin Warrior suggest a complex cultural interchange between the two civilizations? Archaeologists and historians will work to find answers, Wade writes, by piecing together evidence collected from the grave. And that’s a task researchers will gladly undertake. [Smithsonian.com].

The Mycenaean “Griffin Warrior” II: Gold Rings Found in Warrior’s Tomb Connect Two Ancient Greek Cultures. The Minoan Civilization flourished on the Island of Crete from around 2600 to 1200 B.C., building the foundation for classical Greek culture. The ancient Greece of ancient Greece, if you will, the people developed religious concepts, art and architecture that would go on to influence the whole of Western civilization. But their reign was believed to fall when the Mycenaean civilization, which developed on the Peloponnese Peninsula (and gave rise to the heroes of The Iliad), plundered the Minoans and absorbed some aspects of their civilization into their own culture.

But the grave of a Mycenaean warrior uncovered last year in Pylos in the southwest of Greece may tell a different tale, reports Nicholas Wade at The New York Times. In May 2015, archaeologists Shari Stocker and Jack Davis from the University of Cincinnati uncovered the pristine warrior’s grave near the Palace of Nestor in Pylos. The body was that of a warrior in his mid-30s who died around 1500 B.C., Rachel Richardson writes for UC Magazine. Buried with him were some 2,000 objects, including silver cups, beads made of precious stones, ivory combs, a sword and four intricately decorated solid gold rings.

The discovery of the man, dubbed the “Griffin Warrior” because of an ivory plaque decorated with the mythical beast found with him, offers evidence that Mycenaean culture recognized and appreciated Minoan culture more than previously believed, researchers outline in an article soon to be published in the journal Hesperia. Of particular interest are the man’s rings. They are made of multiple sheets of gold and depict very detailed scenes and iconography straight out of Minoan mythology. The rings probably come from Crete where they were used to place seals on documents or objects.

The bull, a sacred symbol for Minoans, appears in two of the rings and the Griffin Warrior was buried with a bronze bull’s head staff. After a year of examining the treasures, Stocker and Davis believe the Mycenaeans, or at least the ones who buried the Griffin warrior, weren’t just pillaging the Minoans for their pretty jewelry. They were exchanging ideas and directly adopting aspects of Minoan culture. They also argue that the Minoan goods and iconography were treated like symbols of political power.

“People have suggested that the findings in the grave are treasure, like Blackbeard’s treasure, that was just buried along with the dead as impressive contraband,” Davis tells Richardson. “We think that already in this period the people on the mainland already understood much of the religious iconography on these rings, and they were already buying into religious concepts on the island of Crete.” He believes the society that buried the Griffin Warrior was knee-deep in Minoan culture.

“Whoever they are, they are the people introducing Minoan ways to the mainland and forging Mycenaean culture. They were probably dressing like Minoans and building their houses according to styles used on Crete, using Minoan building techniques,” he says. Cynthia W. Shelmerdine of the University of Texas, an expert on the Bronze Age in the Aegean, tells Wade that she agrees that the Minoan rings and other objects found in the grave represent political power in the Griffin Warrior’s culture.

“These things clearly have a power connection…[and] fits with other evidence that the elites on the mainland are increasingly closely connected to the elites on Crete whether or not the rings were used in the Minoan way for sealing objects.” Wade says while the Mycenaean culture adapted many aspects of the Minoans, their direct connection to and memory of that society faded over time and mainly survived in some of the myths they collected from Crete.

The researchers will publicly debut the rings and other objects from the excavation during a lecture this upcoming Thursday. [Smithsonian.com].

The Mycenaean “Griffin Warrior” III: Rare Unlooted Grave of Wealthy Warrior Uncovered in Greece. Archaeologists hail the burial, untouched for 3,500 years, as the biggest discovery on mainland Greece in decades. Archaeologists discovered more than 1,400 artifacts in the grave, including a gold necklace more than 30 inches long. The warrior was buried with an array of gold jewelry, including four gold rings. Archaeologists believe most of the precious objects came from Crete.

Archaeologists were surprised to discover artifacts usually associated with women, including a hand mirror and six ivory combs. A carnelian seal stone about the size of a quarter is one of four dozen seal stones buried with the warrior. The bull motif testifies to the influence of the Minoans, who revered bulls, on the later Mycenaeans. Bronze weapons found within the tomb included a three-foot-long sword with an ivory handle covered in gold.

A text message from the trench supervisor to archaeologists Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker was succinct: “Better come. Hit bronze.” 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 the British 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. The grave is located at the southwest end of the Peloponnese peninsula at Pylos, a place mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey as the site of King Nestor’s palace with its “lofty halls.” Excavations before and after World War II revealed remnants of a large Mycenaean palace dating to about 1300 B.C., as well as hundreds of clay tablets written in the Linear B script developed on Crete, an island about 100 miles offshore. Those texts led to the translation of Linear B, and confirmed the identity of Pylos.

But little is known about the earlier period around 1500 B.C., when Mycenaean society was taking shape. Archaeologists have long debated the influence of Minoan civilization, which began to flourish in Crete around 2500 B.C., on the rise of Mycenaean society a thousand years later. Linear B tablets, bull horn symbols, and goddess figurines found at Mycenaean sites like Pylos attest to the impact of Minoan culture. Based on archaeological evidence of destruction, many scholars believe that the Mycenaeans invaded and conquered Crete around 1450 B.C.

In May, Davis and Stocker, a husband-and-wife team from the University of Cincinnati, assembled 35 experts from 10 nations to begin a five-year project aimed at uncovering Pylos’ beginnings. They hit pay dirt on the first day, when workers clearing a field spotted a rectangle of stones that proved to be the top of a four-foot by eight-foot shaft. Three feet down, the excavators spotted the first bronze artifacts. Based on their style, Davis and Stocker are confident that the remains date to about 1500 B.C.

“To find an unrobbed and rich Mycenaean tomb is very rare,” says Cynthia Shelmerdine, a classics professor at the University of Texas at Austin who visited the site during the summer’s excavations. “This one shows us some things we would not have anticipated.” What’s peculiar about the tomb is that it contains only a single person and includes a remarkable wealth of mostly foreign objects, as well as artifacts typically associated with women.

Resting places for the Mycenaean elite usually include many individuals. Just 100 yards from the new find, archaeologists excavated such a group tomb in the 1950s. Davis and Stocker estimate that three-quarters of the finished grave goods in the warrior’s shaft come from Crete—a two-day’s sail to the south—rather than from local sources. There are also amber beads from the Baltic, amethyst from the Middle East, and carnelian that may originate in Egypt that might have been brought to Crete by Minoan traders. “The range and number of Minoan or Minoan-style artifacts in this tomb should greatly deepen our knowledge about the extent of this relationship,” says Shelmerdine.

The presence of beads, combs, and a mirror in a warrior’s tomb poses a puzzle. “The discovery of so much precious jewelry with a male warrior-leader challenges the commonly-held belief that jewelry was buried only with wealthy females,” says Stocker. She adds that Spartan warriors ritually combed their hair before battle, while Davis suggests that the jewelry may have been offerings to the goddess from the dead man on his journey to the underworld.

Who Was This Wealthy Warrior? The unusual nature of the Pylos tomb could mean that he was a Minoan warrior or leader, rather than a native Mycenaean. Alternatively, he may have fought in Crete and brought back plunder or developed a taste for Minoan goods. Or he may have been a Mycenaean leader who wanted to establish a new tradition. What’s clear, the archaeologists say, is that he didn’t want to be associated with the group tombs that were the norm for locals both before and after his death.

Skeletal analysis that may help the team pinpoint his identity will soon get under way, says Stocker. The well-preserved teeth could reveal his genetic background, while examination of the pelvis area may tell researchers about his diet. Studying the bones also may help determine the cause of death. Stocker and Davis will close up the tomb in coming weeks to concentrate on analyzing their many finds. [National Geographic (2015)].

SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: We always ship books domestically (within the USA) via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). Most international orders cost an additional $19.99 to $53.99 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer. There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Our postage charges are as reasonable as USPS rates allow. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs.

Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through stamps.com, Shipsaver.com, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost.

We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. Please note for international purchasers we will do everything we can to minimize your liability for VAT and/or duties. But we cannot assume any responsibility or liability for whatever taxes or duties may be levied on your purchase by the country of your residence. If you don’t like the tax and duty schemes your government imposes, please complain to them. We have no ability to influence or moderate your country’s tax/duty schemes.

If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less any non-refundable fees imposed by Please note that though they generally do, may not always refund payment processing fees on returns beyond a 30-day purchase window. So except for shipping costs and any payment processing fees not refunded by , we will refund all proceeds from the sale of a return item. Obviously we have no ability to influence, modify or waive policies.

ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Eastern Europe and Central Asia several times a year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and goes to support worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient/antique jewelry and gemstones, a reflection of our academic backgrounds.

Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia antique gemstones are commonly dismounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them originally crafted a century or more ago. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting.

Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or message, so please feel free to write.



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