Sites & cities that bear the name of Griffin Warrior Tomb

Griffin Warrior Tomb

Today in : Greece
First trace of activity : ca. 15th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 14th century B.C.E

Description : The Griffin Warrior Tomb is a Bronze Age shaft tomb dating to around 1450 BC, near the ancient city of Pylos in Greece. The grave was discovered by a research team sponsored by the University of Cincinnati and led by husband-and-wife archaeologists Jack L. Davis and Sharon Stocker. The tomb site was excavated from May to October 2015. During the initial six month excavation, the research team uncovered an intact adult male skeleton and excavated 1400 objects including weapons, jewels, armour and silver and gold artifacts. Since 2015, the number of artifacts recovered from the grave has reached over 3500 items, including a historically significant Minoan sealstone called the Pylos Combat Agate and four signet gold rings with detailed images from Minoan mythology. The "most completely preserved of all Bronze Age palaces on the Greek mainland" is the so-called "Palace of Nestor", located near the city of Pylos. In 1939, archaeologist Carl Blegen, a professor of classical archaeology at the University of Cincinnati, with the cooperation of Greek archaeologist Konstantinos Kourouniotis, led an excavation to locate the palace of the famous king of Homer's Iliad. Blegen selected a hilltop site in Messenia, called Epano Englianos, as a possible location of the ancient ruins. The excavation uncovered the remains of a number of structures, tombs and the first examples of Greek writing in Linear B. The excavation continued from 1952 to 1966, with Blegen retiring in 1957. With questions still to be answered about the Mycenaean civilization prior to the 13th century BC, the University of Cincinnati renewed excavations at the "Palace of Nestor" in 2015, with the support of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the permission of the Greek Ministry of Culture. Blegen's work at Pylos is continued by Davis and Stocker, who have both worked in this area of Greece for the past 25 years. Initially, the research team found it difficult to determine the date of burial of the tomb's inhabitant. Pottery remnants are typically used for dating purposes, but the warrior's grave contained no pottery. In the summer of 2016, further excavations in the area surrounding the gravesite unearthed pottery fragments that enabled Davis and Stocker to date the site to 1500–1450 BC. With that information, they were able to determine that the warrior lived during the end of the shaft grave period before the construction of the palatial centres in Mycenaean Greece, including the Palace of Nestor. Researchers are currently studying the artifacts in detail, with all excavation objects remaining in Greece and their final placement to be determined by the Greek Archaeological Service. Former University of Cincinnati anthropologist Lynne Schepartz, now of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, is studying the skeletal remains. DNA tests and isotope analyses are also underway in the hope of learning more about the warrior's ethnic and geographic origins.

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