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mycenae - rich in gold | by Xuan Che
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mycenae - rich in gold

Remarkable gold elliptical funeral diadems, leaves, wheels, cups, earrings, pendants and pins from Shaft Grave III, "Grave of the Women", Grave Circle A, Mycenae. 1600-1500 BC.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens.


Once part of a large cemetery outside the acropolis walls, Grave Circle A was discovered within the Mycenaean citadel by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 under the supervision of the Greek Ephor of Antiquities Panagiotis Stamatakis.


The tombs in Grave Circle A contained a total of nineteen burials: nine males, eight females and two infants. With the exception of Grave II, which contained a single burial, all of the other graves contained between two and five inhumations.


The amazing wealth of the grave gifts reveals both the high social rank and the martial spirit of the deceased: gold jewelry and vases, a large number of decorated swords and other bronze objects, and artefacts made of imported materials, such as amber, lapis lazuli, faience and ostrich eggs. All of these, together with a small but characteristic group of pottery vessels, confirm Mycenae's importance during this period, and justify Homer's designation of Mycenae as 'rich in gold.'


Shaft Grave III, the so-called "Grave of the Women," contained three female and two infant interments. The women were literally covered in gold jewelry and wore massive gold diadems, while the infants were overlaid with gold foil. A great number of gold roundels and other gold cut-out foils in various shapes with repousse decoration were initially embroidered onto, either the deceased's clothes, or their shrouds. The jewelry included large silver and bronze pins with rock crystal heads or with gold ornaments and sheething, a necklace of amber beads, gold earrings, and gold seals engraved with hunting or dueling scenes. Miniature gold vessels, faience vessels and gold scales were also found.

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Taken on December 20, 2010