Mycenean-era tomb with grave goods unearthed in Salamis main town

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Mycenean-era tomb with grave goods unearthed in Salamis main townThe tomb was unearthed during works to link a home with the central sewage network

A few weeks after the Greek Ministry of Culture announced that the location of the historic sea battle of Salamis has been discovered,  a Mycenean chamber tomb with grave goods dating to the 13th-12th centuries BCE has been discovered in the centre of the main town on the island of Salamina.

The tomb was unearthed during works to link a home with the central sewage network, according to archaeologist Ada Kattoula of the Western Attica, Piraeus and Islands Antiquities Ephorate who spoke  to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Friday

She noted that it was the third tomb located in the area, following two discovered in 2009 during excavation to install the sewage pipes and added that those finds had led to the discovery of 41 intact pottery vessels in very good condition, with inscribed decorations typical of the era, as well as pieces of roughly 10 more vessels.

"The excavation conditions are extremely difficult because there are many springs in the area and the specific tombs, being carved into the rock, are prone to flooding. We needed pumps to empty the water. With great technical difficulty and significant assistance from the contractor we were able to investigate," Kattoula stressed.

The tomb is part of a Mycenean-era cemetery discovered many years earlier and investigated in archaeological digs held in 1964, 1992 and 2009. The chamber, carved from the natural rock in the area, is 2.6 metres by 2.9 metres across and 1.5 metres high at its tallest point. It is slightly smaller than the other two tombs in the cemetery, which measured 3x3 metres across.

It contained the skeletal remains of at least five people, indicating it was a group grave typical of the time. Chamber tombs were dug into rock, as roughly square chambers accessed via "roads". With each new burial, the entrance was opened and the remains of the previous dead were moved aside to make room for the new body and its grave goods.

The monument will remain buried while the skeletons will be studied and the vessels found within preserved. The find will greatly contribute to forming a complete picture of Salamina's Mycenean cemetery.

The historic sea battle of Salamis

In March, the Greek Ministry of Culture revealed that the location where the Greek naval forces had gathered before the historic sea battle of Salamis against Persians in 480 BC has been located. 

The battle of Salamis is one of the most important battles in the history of Ancient Greece. It was a naval battle fought between an alliance of Greek city-states under Themistocles and the Persian Empire under King Xerxes in 480 BC which resulted in a decisive victory for the outnumbered Greeks. The battle was fought in the straits between the Attica mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens, and is deemed as the climax of the second Persian invasion of Greece.

The announcement clarified that the location was most likely the commercial as well as the navy port of the island of Salamis in the classical ancient Greek era, the largest and closest of the Athenian state, after the three ports of Piraeus Kantharos, Zea and Munichia.

The discovery came to light after ongoing archaeological search that started in November-December 2016 by team of 20 experts and scientists from several Greek universities and archaeological bodies and was funded by the British Horon Frost Foundation that supports Maritime Archaeology in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

“It is the commercial and probably war port of the classical and Hellenistic period of the city-state of Salamis”, the Ministry and added: “It is also the region where a portion of the united Greek navy had gathered on the eve of sea battle in 480 BC… It is the pool part of the united Greek fleet on the eve of the great battle of 480 BC, which is adjacent to the most important monuments of the Victory: the Polyandreion (tomb) of Salamis fighter and the Trophy on Kynosoura,” the statement says adding that “references to the ancient port of Salamis has been found in the works of geographers Skylakos (4th BC) and Stravon (1st BC-1st AD) as well as of traveler and geographer Pausanias (2nd AD)

The search also verified the existence of ancient artifacts submerged on the three sides (north, west and south) of the bay of Ambelakia. 

Some of the findings that came to light included port structures, fortifications and various other buildings

“Following aerial photography, photogrammentric processing, topographical and architectural documentation, the first visible map of the region came to surface”, the Minister underlined and also revealed that the investigation confirmed that the three sides of  Ambelakia Bay (north, west and south) kept submerged antiquities, which gradually sink and emerge due to changes of the sea level, which, especially in February, reach half a meter.

The findings include harbor structures, fortifications and various premises and are considered of major historical significance for archaeologists and fans of Ancient Greece.

Ancient Greek historian Herodotus recorded that there were 378 triremes in the Allied fleet. The Persian fleet initially numbered 1,207 triremes. However, by his reckoning they lost approximately a third of these ships in a storm off the coast of Magnesia, 200 more in a storm off the coast of Euboea, and at least 50 ships to Allied action at the Battle of Artemisium.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report


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