Archeologists in Greece have discovered a trove of gold rings, jewels and weapons inside the tomb of a warrior dating back to 1,500 B.C. Authorities say the grave is the most spectacular find of its kind in decades.
An international team led by US researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC) found the wooden coffin of the unknown soldier near the ancient palace of Pylos on southern Greece's Peloponnese peninsula.
The warrior had been laid to rest with a remarkable store of more than 1,000 artifacts, including gold and silver goblets, gold signet rings, necklaces, engraved gemstones and an ornate ivory-and gilt-hilted sword.
In a statement, the Greek Culture Ministry said the Mycenaean-era grave was the "most important to have been discovered in 65 years."
Plunderers had looted a monumental beehive tomb that was uncovered several decades ago in the same area, near Pylos' Palace of Nestor, but the newly discovered grave has remained untouched.
The archeology team, led by UC scientists Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis, said the 3,500-year-old tomb belonged to a male who died between the ages of 30 and 35. The riches are believed to have been deposited in the grave at the time of his death.
According to Stocker, he was probably a "wealthy Mycenaean warrior," who was "likely an important figure at a time when this part of Greece was being indelibly shaped by close contact with Crete, Europe's first advanced civilization."
The researchers said that the discovery of so much jewelry with a male challenges the commonly held belief that such adornments accompanied only wealthy women to their graves.
"Whoever he was, he seems to have been celebrated for his trading or fighting...and for his appreciation of the more sophisticated and delicate art of the Minoan civilization, with which he was buried," said Davis.
Minoan society flourished on the island of Crete from around 2,000 B.C., and served as a strong influence on the Myceneans.
The Mycenean civilization later spread from the Peloponnese across the whole of the eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd century B.C.
nm/gsw (Reuters, AP, AFP)