The palace at Pylos was first excavated by Carl Blegen, also of the University of Cincinnati, who on his first day of digging in discovered a large cache of tablets written in the script known as Linear B, later deciphered as the earliest written form of Greek. Stocker started this season to excavate outside the palace in hope of hitting the dwellings that may have surrounded it and learning how ordinary citizens lived.
On their first day of digging, they struck two walls at right angles. First they assumed the structure was a house, then a room, and finally a grave.
Davis said, thinking that the grave was probably some medieval construction, or that even if it was prehistoric it would almost certainly have been robbed. What he and Dr. Stocker had stumbled on was a very rare shaft grave, 5 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 8 long.
Remarkably, the burial was intact apart from a one-ton stone, probably once the lid of the grave, which had fallen in and crushed the wooden coffin beneath. The coffin has long since decayed, but still remaining are the bones of a man about 30 to 35 years old and lying on his back.
Placed to his left were weapons, including a long bronze sword with an ivory hilt clad in gold and a gold-hilted dagger. On his right side were four gold rings with fine Minoan carvings and some 50 Minoan seal stones carved with imagery of goddesses and bull jumpers.
The grave contained gold, silver and bronze cups. The warrior seems to have been something of a dandy.
Among the objects accompanying him to the netherworld were a bronze mirror with an ivory handle and six ivory combs. Because of the griffins depicted in the grave, Dr. His vessels are made of silver or gold, not humble clay.
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From shards found above and below the grave, however, Dr. Davis believes it was dug in the period known as Late Helladic II, a pottery-related chronology that corresponds to B. If the earliest European civilization is that of Crete, the first on the European mainland is the Mycenaean culture to which the griffin warrior belongs.
Wiener, an investment manager and expert on Aegean prehistory. The Minoan culture on Crete exerted a strong influence on the people of southern Greece.
Copying and adapting Minoan technologies, they developed the palace cultures such as those of Pylos and Mycene. But as the Mycenaeans grew in strength and confidence, they were eventually able to invade the land of their tutors. Notably, they then adapted Linear A, the script in which the Cretans wrote their own language, into Linear B, a script for writing Greek. Linear B tablets, were preserved in the fiery destruction of palaces when the soft clay on which they were written was baked into permanent form, Caches of tablets have been found in Knossos, the main palace of Crete, and in Pylos and other mainland palaces.
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Linear B, a script in which each symbol stands for a syllable, was later succeeded by the familiar Greek alphabet in which each symbol represents a single vowel or consonant. The griffin warrior, whose grave objects are culturally Minoan but whose place of burial is Mycenaean, lies at the center of this cultural transfer. The palace of Pylos had yet to arise, and he could have been part of the cultural transition that made it possible.
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