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Mycenaean tombs discovered might be evidence of classless society

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posted on Apr, 1 2010 @ 05:11 PM
29 March 2010

A team of archaeologists have unearthed
five chamber tombs at Ayia Sotira, a cemetery in the Nemea Valley in Greece, just a few hours walk from the ancient city of Mycenae. The tombs date from 1350 – 1200 BC, the era in which Mycenae thrived as a major centre of Greek civilization.

They contain the remains of 21 individuals who probably came from Tsoungiza, an agricultural settlement close to the ancient city. Despite the significant human remains, however, the team have found no evidence of elite burials, prompting speculation that Tsoungiza may have been an egalitarian society without leaders.

The team excavated the five tombs between 2006 and 2008, containing the skeletal remains of 21 individuals, including what appears to be an extended family made up of two men, one woman and two young children. Detailed analysis of the remains will be difficult to carry out as they are generally poorly preserved. The team have been advised by scientists that DNA analysis will not be possible, but it is hoped that analysis will reveal further information about the diet of the individuals.

Photo courtesy Ayia Sotira Project. A shot of the burials in one of the tombs. The burial on the right is of an adult male in his 30's. The burial at top is of a teenage girl, age 16-17. To the left there are the skeletal remains of two men, put into a pit. The man at the top was in his 30's - the skull is placed above the skeleton on purpose.

Classless society or not, what is the point, still a great find the important part is the dating back to that period in our history.

posted on Apr, 1 2010 @ 06:17 PM
Mycenaean chamber tomb

The term chamber tomb is used to refer to a form of mortuary architecture in use in the Late Bronze Age of the areas under the cultural influence of the Aegean.

The tombs are rock cut and show a tripartite structure (chamber, stomion and dromos), often with additional niches and side chambers in which primary or secondary burial took place. Extensive cemeteries have been found in all parts of Greece having Mycenaean influences. For about 500 years from 1600 BC to 1100 BC they were the most widespread of mortuary structures.

A Mycenaean tholos tomb is: “a circular, subterranean burial chamber ... roofed by a corbelled vault and approached by an ... entrance passage that narrows abruptly at the doorway actually opening into the tomb chamber.

posted on Apr, 4 2010 @ 12:32 PM
Nice find!

Perhaps the settlement served as an agricultural "detachment" or outpost for Mycenae thus no special leader was found buried near there (assuming that such an important, for the settlement, figure would be buried, when dead, at Mycenae. Leaderless societies were not exactly the "norm" in ancient Greece, especially at that time (Democratic city-states, later on, could be referred to as leaderless but there were always some men that arose above the others as leader-figures).

Just a clarification for non-Greek speakers, the three parts of a tholos tomb, as mentioned above (chamber, stomion and dromos) mean, respectively:
Chamber (that one was explained already ;>)
"mouth" (stomion in Greek means an opening like a mouth or a cave entrance or even a gulf entrance)
"road" (dromos means road or path - path not in the "spiritual" or metaphorical sense, literally a road!)

In the posted photo, the stomion would be the entrance, where the two visitors are entering the tomb, and dromos is the way (road, in a sense) the followed just before that.

Hope this helps a bit

posted on Apr, 4 2010 @ 12:37 PM
reply to post by Maegnas

Maybe the tombs of the elite were somehow destroyed and will never be found. Maybe the elites' tombs have not yet been discovered. Maybe the society had social classes, but decided to treat everybody the same at death.

posted on Apr, 4 2010 @ 05:15 PM
reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint

Of course, all these "maybe's" are valid but with what we have at hand we need some other hypothesis, no?

If more tombs are revealed that bear some difference (or show some kind of "rank") then by all means it is not a leaderless society. If they chose to treat all dead the same way (such a "democratic trait", since we are all equal in the face of death and we all owe one) and there is some kind of verification somewhere, of course I will agree - and happily so. I am Greek myself and it would be nice to have in my homeland the only, as far as I know, case of total equality in tomb making.

Tombs of the elite may have been looted, if they were there to begin with, but totally destroyed? Seems unlikely, not impossible, just unlikely. I hope the team working there is still working (the economic crisis that plagued the world is hitting Greece hard this year, they may have stopped due to lack of funds) and whatever they uncover is brought to our attention, then we can say more

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