In 2015, archaeologists discovered a 3,500-year old undisturbed shaft grave near the Palace of Nestor at Pylos in southwestern Greece. Excavators Dr. Shari Stocker and Professor Jack Davis describe spectacular weapons, ivory combs, seal stones, and Minoan-style gold rings, which afford unparalleled insights into art and ritual at the dawn of Mycenaean civilization. The University of Cincinnati archaeological excavations at the Palace of Nestor, Pylos resumed on May 18, 2015 for the first time since 1969. During the course of the campaign, the so-called grave of the “Griffin Warrior” was discovered a few hundred meters from the Palace.
The warrior was probably a very handsome man with long black hair, we have reconstituted his face based on a depiction of a warrior found on a seal inside the grave which will be presented next year, said to ANA-MPA Dr. Stocker. The reconstitution of the warrior’s face was conducted by Lynne Schepartz and Tobias Houlton of the University of Witwatersrand of Johannesburg.
The so-called Griffin Warrior of Pylos aged between 30 and 35 was named after a griffin depicted on two objects found in the grave which indicate that the man in the grave was very important “the griffin reflects a very well known authority system that existed in Pylos and the Minoan Crete,” said Stocker.
This remarkable grave and the four gold rings found therein. The discovery of so many gold rings was unexpected and unusual. The iconography of these rings is extraordinary and of great significance for the study of Minoan and Mycenaean ideology in the early Late Bronze Age. This undisturbed burial affords an excellent opportunity to examine aspects of Early Mycenaean funerary ritual, gender association with grave goods, and burial structure that cannot be obtained through more standard multi-individual burial contexts. “Particularly, the depictions on the largest golden ring are unique. The scene with the women on this ring are repeated and in other known seals from Crete, but Pylos’ ring reunited smaller known representations into a larger and more complex ceremonial scene” said Stocker to ANA.
The Greek Culture Ministry has characterised this find the “most remarkable demonstration of prehistoric wealth in grave monuments found in the last 65 years in the country’s mainland”.
Dr. Stocker and and her husband professor Davis will continue the excavations in Pylos for three more years at least.