Greek Farmer Stumbles Upon Ancient Minoan Tomb Revealing Concealed Chamber
Sometimes you stumble upon remarkable pieces of long-forgotten history when you live in an area that was home to ancient civilizations. According to Smithsonianmag, that is what happened to one Greek farmer living in Crete, not far from the town of Ierapetra.
The farmer was parking his truck on his property under some olive trees when the ground underneath him began to give way.
He saw that a four-foot-wide hole had opened up in the ground after the farmer moved his vehicle to a safer location. He realised this was no ordinary hole when he peered inside.
The farmer informed Archaeologists from the local heritage ministry to investigate the site, and they started to excavate what turned out to be an ancient Minoan tomb, cut into the soft limestone that had been concealed for about 1,000 years.
Two adult Minoan men were positioned in highly embossed clay coffins called “larnakes,” popular in the Minoan culture of the Bronze Age.
These, in turn, were surrounded by funeral vases which shows that the men were of high status.
The length of the tomb was about 13 feet and 8 feet deep. the tomb was divided into three chambers that were accessible by a vertical tunnel that was sealed with clay after the tomb’s occupants were laid to rest.
In the northernmost chamber, one larnax was found, with a collection of burial vessels scattered around it.
The chamber at the southern end of the tomb contained the other larnax coffin, along with 14 amphorae and a bowl.
The tomb was believed to be about 3,400 years old and was preserved in almost perfect condition, making it a valuable discovery.
Bioarchaeologist, Kristina Killgrove said in a statement that the ornamentation on the artefacts found in the tomb suggests that its occupants seemed to be wealthy men.
The fanciest tombs of the same era, however, had huge beehive-style domed walls that this tomb doesn’t have, so they probably weren’t among the wealthiest.
According to Killgrove, the discovery dates from the Late Minoan Period, also called the Late Palace Period.
Minoan civilization was very rich in the earlier part of that era, with amazing ceramics and art, but by the later part of the period, there is an apparent decline in wealth and prestige.
A combination of natural disasters, including a tsunami caused by an earthquake and the eruption of a nearby volcano, is believed to have weakened civilization.
For foreigners, this made it easier to come in and destroy the palaces.
Locals do not expect any more tombs of this type to be discovered, but the area is known to be the origin of a number of antiques, and as with this discovery, a great deal of them have been found by mistake.
Agrarian and tourism of Ierapetra, the Deputy Mayor of Local Councils, pointed out that the tomb had never been found by thieves, and went on to say that it possibly would have stayed uncovered forever, except for the broken irrigation pipe that was responsible for the softened and deteriorated soil in the olive grove of the farmer.
He went on to say how excited they were to have the tomb to further enrich their understanding of their ancient culture and history, and that the tomb was confirmation for those historians who did not believe that in that part of Crete there were Minoans.
It was previously believed that the Minoans only settled in the plains of the island and lowlands, not in the mountains surrounding Ierapetra, although there was an excavation in 2012 in the same area that uncovered a Minoan mansion.
To see what more data can be gleaned from them, Killgrove will examine the skeletons. As a Bioarchaeology, she said, “I routinely pore over the skeletons of ancient populations so that I can learn about their diet, health, and lifestyles.” It is also hoped that investigation on Minoan and Mycenaean origins, would provide more information into the research.