Archaeology Student Helps Uncover Rich Grave of Bronze Age Warrior

A UT student was on a team that recently uncovered the rich grave of a warrior dating back to the late Bronze Age.

Abby Durick, a junior classical archaeology student and Haslam Scholar, joined the University of Cincinnati dig team in Pylos, Greece, for the 2015 Pylos Excavations during the summer. She participated in excavating the tomb and worked in the shaft grave until it was restricted to everyone except conservators and trench supervisors.

Durick1

“The opportunity to get inside a shaft grave was both thrilling and daunting, especially since this was my first excavation experience,” said Durick. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with an international team of specialists and students on this remarkable discovery.”

Durick2As a member of the team working on the Lower Town excavations, Durick spent her time at the dig in a test trench looking for pre-Mycenaean remains that could provide guidance for future excavations. She was on site on the day the team struck the bronze objects and spent the day carefully scraping away dirt from the then-unidentifiable treasures.

The tomb, dating back to about 1500 BC, contained a skeleton of an adult male who died at thirty to thirty-five years old. His body was surrounded by weapons on his left side and jewelry on his right. The burial site is near the area where the Palace of Nestor was constructed many years later.

“This new discovery is very exciting because it is the first grave of its type–a shaft grave–to have been found in western Greece and is also the first shaft grave discovered to still be intact outside of Mycenae,” said Aleydis Van de Moortel, professor of classical archaeology at UT. “The amount of information that we will be able to get from this grave with our modern analytical methods and techniques will be astounding.”

The skeleton was found with a yard-long bronze sword and a collection of gold rings, precious jewels, and carved seals. Archaeologists believe the tomb held a powerful king or warrior who seems to have been celebrated by the Mycenaean people, as evidenced by the wealth surrounding his body in his tomb.

C O N T A C T:

Aleydis Van de Moortel (865-974-8279, avdm@utk.edu)

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)