Tomb of the Griffin Warrior

An article I was reading this morning replaced at the last minute what I had planned for February’s ARCHAEO-Crush.  Yes, this Mycenaean treasure is super cool…

TOMB OF THE GRIFFIN WARRIOR

Type: burial (intact, no less!)
Civilisation: Ancient Greece, Mycenaean civilisation, circa 1600-1100 BCE
Date: circa 1450 BCE

ARCHAEO-Crush: The Tomb of the Griffin Warrior (so-named because of an ivory plaque featuring a griffon found between the man’s legs) was discovered at Pylos (Greece) in May 2015 and excavated during that summer by a team from the University of Cincinnati, led by archaeologists Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker.
Situated in an unexplored field near the Palace of Nestor (erected later), the tomb has remained undisturbed for 3,500 years, from the day the warrior was laid to rest until today. The discovery came as a surprise to the archaeologists, who were flabbergasted at the richness of the tomb’s contents.  Surprisingly amongst the numerous pots, cups, pitchers, and basins deposited into the grave, none are actually made of ceramic. They are all made of metal–bronze, silver or gold–speaking to the power and wealth of the man buried therein. There are several weapons, various pieces of jewellery, including hundreds of gold, carnelian, amethyst and amber beads, combs and mirrors as well as hundreds and hundreds of other objects. (More than 1500 artefacts were discovered in this tomb alone!) What most impressed me, however, were the perforated wild boar’s teeth that were part of the warrior’s helmet–just like the one given to Odysseus in Homer’s Iliad! (I don’t recall ever seeing one before, but there was a drawing that struck me in the article and you can actually find real examples in museums. A Google search led me to this one at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.)
Because of the early date of the burial (this is the beginning of Mycenaean civilisation), it is interesting to note that most objects are in the Minoan style, the previous Bronze Age civilisation of ancient Greece (circa 3650 BCE –1450 BCE). There are many other very interesting things to learn about this tomb and its fabulous contents, but it is too much to present here. I will leave the reading to you: you can find several articles here. The write-up I was reading this morning is this one.

Bucket list status: It’s a treasure I have yet to see with my own eyes. I have been discussing Mycenaean art with a colleague the last couple of weeks and when he sent me an article about the tomb this morning, I remembered that I had only glanced at the announcement of this discovery. As I actually read in depth the article, I thought it would make a great ARCHAEO-Crush post.
Additional information:  There is an official website entirely dedicated to the ‘Grave of the Griffin Warrior.‘  You can find out more about the discovery and the project, and find great shots of the excavations as well.

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Is archaeology a dangerous job?

Ah! A question about the dangers of archaeology.

Is archaeology a dangerous job?

Madaba5Yes and no. It depends on the country in which you work. Digging in a third world country where there is a civil war or harsh living conditions: yes, it is dangerous. Digging a First Nation site north of Toronto, barely half an hour away from your home: no, it is not. Still, like with any other job, you have to be careful and aware of your surroundings and take medical precautions to avoid illness.

Musing about film canisters

When I did laundry earlier this week, the ribbon from my pyjama bottom came out of the waistband. As I threaded it back on, using a safety pin, I mused about the little container I use to store all my safety pins: a photo film canister.

obsoleteDigital cameras having replaced the film ones, the little canister is now an obsolete object, a rare thing. Strangely enough, film canisters were rather useful archaeological digs back in the day. Team members would “collect” them during the year and bring them on the dig each season. We had tons! What were the film canisters used for, you ask? Well, they came in really handy to store the small tiny objects like beads and amulets, which were carefully placed inside with a label and cotton batting so they wouldn’t rattle around. Nowadays, small objects get placed in mini Ziploc bags, but they aren’t quite as protected as in the film canisters. Small objects now need to be placed in baskets separately from the big artefacts because the latter can crush the small items. In this day and age, there are probably very young archaeologists who have never used a film canister on a dig…. Heck, maybe some of them have never used film cameras!

A day on a dig in Jordan

After having reblogged two posts, I thought I should treat you to a little something original: a new adventure in the Day in the Life of an Archaeologist chronicle! You can now read about a day in my life… on my very first dig! Enjoy a day at Tell Madaba, Jordan; it’s available from the menu.

Tomb of an unknown queen

Yesterday’s archaeological discovery of the day was the tomb of an unknown queen–a woman named Khentkawes III–at Abusir in Egypt. The lady may have been the wife of King Neferefre of the Fifth Dynasty.  You can read more about it in the Washington Post or Art Daily (the articles have different photos).

Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes. Is there something on the dig that scares you?

Here’s a question about the life of an archaeologist that is fitting for Halloween:

Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes.  Is there something on the dig that scares you?

Hmm… this is a little embarrassing to admit: I hate ants. I really, really hate ants. I didn’t as a kid, but somehow I do now. Once, on a dig in Jordan, I dug right through an ant colony with one fell swoop of my hoe and suddenly there were millions of ants crawling everywhere at my feet… I shudder just thinking about it.

 

AUC-AERA Archaeological Field Training programme

Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA), in collaboration with the American University of Cairo (AUC), is accepting applications for the 2015 Giza Archaeological Field Training programme.

You can find further information here. The deadline is May 31, 2014.