A sleepy grove of olive trees extends next to the Acropolis where the Greek Bronze Age "Palace of Nestor" stood in the 13th century before Christ. The palace is the best preserved center of the Mycenaean civilization. Carl Blegen, the most famous American prehistorian to work in Greece in the 20th century, discovered the "Palace of Nestor" and continued to explore it and its surroundings until his death in 1971. In his final years Blegen dug several deep trenches through this olive grove but found little. And one of his final acts was to cover his excavations there and allow the grove once again to slumber in peace.
And there things stood until May of 2015 when a team from the University of Cincinnati discovered in the olive grove one of the richest graves of the Greek Bronze Age ever found, a find that has attracted the attention of mass media worldwide, including the New York Times.
This tomb of the so-called Griffon Warrior, a stone-lined shaft of modest dimensions, contained the body of a single man, 30–35 years of age, who died in the 15th century B.C. The warrior had been laid to rest in a wooden coffin, where he remained undisturbed until our day. He had died at a time when centers of military and political power were only just emerging in Mainland Greece.
More than 1500 objects surrounded the warrior's body: gold, silver, ivories, bronze vessels and weapons, gems, beads, and seals (manufactured from precious gemstones imported over great distances). Several grave goods bear designs of great iconographical importance for understanding Aegean religion. The 15th century was a critical period when a Mycenaean identity was being shaped through the importation and adoption of ritual practices borrowed from the much older civilization of Minoan Crete.
In our presentation we will summarize the work we have been conducting at and around the Palace of Nestor since the 1970s. We will concentrate on our most recent discoveries in summer 2015, describing the progress of the excavation. Among other important finds we will discuss the iconography of four gold signet rings that are of particular significance for understanding Mycenaean religion in its formative stages.
Both Stocker and Davis will speak, she about the excavation of the tomb, he about the finds from the tomb and their significance.
This event is being hosted by:
The Institute for Aegean Prehistory
The University of Pennsylvania Museum
The History of Art Department of the University of Pennsylvania
The Philadelphia Society of the Archaeological Institute of America