An American husband-and-wife team working in Greece has uncovered the 3,500-year-old remains of a prominent ancient warrior who was buried alongside an assortment of riches. It’s being called the most important discovery made in continental Greece in over 65 years.

The undisturbed tomb, found in southwestern Greece by University of Cincinnati archaeologists Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis, was discovered back in May of this year. News of the discovery was kept under wraps until yesterday when the announcement was made by the Greek authorities.

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Stocker and Davis made the discovery while working near the Palace of Nestor, a site initially discovered back in 1939.

Four solid gold rings were uncovered, which is more than has been found in any other single burial in all of Greece (Credit: Greek Culture Ministry)

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The team’s excavation revealed a single Mycenaean-era burial pit measuring 5 feet deep, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long. The skeletal remains of a single individual—an unknown male between the age of 30 to 35 years—was found buried alongside an astounding assortment of riches, a strong indication that he was likely a warrior of significant importance.

Analysis of his remains suggests he was, in the words of the archaeologists, “strong, robust...well-fed.” The unnamed warrior may have been royalty, the founder of a new dynasty, or even a trader who acquired his riches through commerce.

A stunning solid-gold necklace, measuring more than 30 inches long. It features two gold pendants on each end, decorated with ivy leaves. (Credit: Greek Culture Ministry)

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The warrior was laid to rest with his many belongings, including fine gold jewellery, an ornate string of pearls, signet rings, silver vases, ivory combs, and a bronze sword with a gold and ivory handle. The fact that he was buried alone and not in a common pit with others is yet another indication of his social importance.

A bronze mirror featuring an ivory handle. (Credit: University of Cincinnati)

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The jewellery, adorned with figures of deities, animals, and floral motifs, was crafted in the style of the Minoans, a civilization that lived on the island of Crete from around 2,000 BC.

One of nearly 50 seal stones discovered. In all, some 1,400 objects were recovered from the grave. (Credit: Greek Culture Ministry)

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The Mycenaean people spread from the Peloponnese across the eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd millennium BC, and represent the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece. Mycenaean Greece came to end with the collapse of Bronze-Age culture around 1,100 BC, and inspired ancient Greek society, literature and mythology.

[ AFP | LA Times | ABC News ]


Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him at @dvorsky. Top image of ivory comb via Greek Culture Ministry