Gold interspersed with earth…

When it comes to bioarchaeology, there is a tendency to ignore the grave goods and go straight for the bones, which represent an academically juicy arena of study. However, in this case, the bones are definitely the sideshow.

A 7th century BC grave on the isle of Crete was recently excavated by Stampolidis from the University of Crete. He is quoted as saying “We were literally digging up gold interspersed with earth, not earth with some gold in it.”

The whole length of the grave is coated with gold foil, and literally thousands of small golden ornaments, ranging in size from 1 to 4 cm, were also found within. Stampolidis argues that it is likely that these golden pieces were once part of a lavish robe that the individual was either wearing or wrapped in. The identification of the individual has so far only discerned that it is an adult woman. She was found also with a number of artifacts, including a golden necklace, perfume bottles from Africa, and a number of pottery pieces. However, no lavish grave would be complete with another big surprise. Behind a false wall was another skeleton found within a ceramic container. The entire grave had been covered with a large rock slab.

Interpretations of this grave have not yet begun, but given the other work of Stampolidis it is likely that this grave will be compared against those of the “Dynasty of Priestesses”. Last year, Stampolidis found the burials of a dozen women on Crete who had also been buried lavishly. It was argued that these women were from a dynasty of priestesses during the Golden Age of the Dorian culture. Information on the site beyond these news reels is limited, although further information on the project can be taken from Archaeology Magazine.

Works Cited

Bonn-Muller. 2010. Dynasty of Priestesses.

Paphitis. 2010. Archaeologists on Crete find skeleton covered with gold foil in 2,700-year-old grave. Canadian Press.

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