2,800-Year-Old Zigzag Art Found in Greek Tomb
American School of Classical Studies
A 2,800-year-old tomb with the remains of a possibly wealthy individual inside, has been discovered in the ancient city of Corinth in Greece.
Italian archaeologists have unearthed a 2,600-year-old intact Etruscan tomb that promises to reveal new depths of one of the ancient world’s most fascinating and mysterious cultures.
The unique burial was found in Tarquinia, a hill town about 50 miles northwest of Rome famous for its Etruscan art treasures. The tomb was just a few feet away from the so-called Queen's Tomb, pictured here.
Blocked by a perfectly sealed stone slab, the rock-cut tomb in appeared promising even before opening it, just by dint of its location next to known royal tombs.
After 2,600 years, the heavy stone slab in front of the tomb was removed.
In the small vaulted chamber, the complete skeleton of an individual was resting on a stone bed on the left. A spear lay along the body, while brooches, on the chest indicated that the man was probably once dressed with a mantle.
At his feet stood a dish used during the funeral meal. Food remains were still there, after 2,600 years.
Near the dish with the food remains stood a large bronze basin, possibly used to wash the hands after the meal.
A stone table directly across from the man might contain the incinerated remains of another person.
Decorated with a red strip, the upper part of the wall featured, along with several nails, a small hanging vase, which might have contained some ointment.
A number of grave goods, which included large Greek Corinthian vases and precious ornaments, lay on the floor.
Archaeologists working at the ancient city of Corinth, Greece, have discovered a tomb dating back around 2,800 years that has pottery decorated with zigzagging designs.
The tomb was built sometime between 800 B.C. and 760 B.C., a time when Corinth was emerging as a major power and Greeks were colonizing the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
The tomb itself consists of a shaft and burial pit, the pit having a limestone sarcophagus that is about 5.8 feet (1.76 meters) long, 2.8 feet (0.86 m) wide and 2.1 feet (0.63 m) high. When researchers opened the sarcophagus, they found a single individual had been buried inside, with only fragments of bones surviving. [See Photos of Greek Tomb and Zigzag Pottery]
The scientists found several pottery vessels beside the sarcophagus, and the tomb also contained a niche, sealed with a limestone slab, which held 13 mostly complete vessels.
"The wealth of the occupant here is indicated by the sarcophagus and the large number of vessels," writes a team of researchers in a recent issue of the journal Hesperia. Except for two vessels imported from Athens all the pottery was made in Corinth, the researchers noted.
The vessels were decorated with a variety of designs, including wavy, zigzagging lines and meandering patterns that look like a maze. This style of pottery was popular at the time, and archaeologists often refer to this as Greece's "Geometric" period.
Several centuries later, in Roman times, the tomb would almost be destroyed after a wall was built beside it. When archaeologists excavated that wall, they found a limestone column that may have originally served as a grave marker for the tomb.
A group of rulers called the Bacchiadae came to power in Corinth in 747 B.C. (a few decades after the tomb was constructed), ancient records indicate. Those rulers built colonies in modern-day Sicily and Corfu, decisions that helped Corinth increase trade and grow wealthy.
"Once these colonies in the west and northwest had been established, Corinth, because of its favorable geographical location, became the most important trading center for commerce between them and mainland Greece," wrote Elke Stein-Hölkeskamp, an instructor at the University of Münster in Germany, in a paper published in the book "A Companion to Archaic Greece" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).
Corinthian goods, including the city's fine pottery, would be traded throughout the Mediterranean world.
The tomb was found in 2006 during excavations done by the American School of Classical Studies in a part of Corinth now called the Panayia Field. A report on the tomb was published recently in the journal Hesperia. Four other graves had been found close to this tomb before 2006.
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