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The Griffin Warrior – Bronze Age Greece

Hailstones Melt

Realized Sentience
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A transcript of an interview with Professor Jack Davis (one of the co-finders of the Pylos Combat Agate shown above) is available at www.npr.org and indicates why a thumb-sized stone is important to ancient greek art history. The transcript cannot be reproduced here as it is under copyright.

http://www.griffinwarrior.org/griffinwarrior-burial.html
Centuries before the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces, a warrior died and was buried alone near the site of the later “Palace of Nestor at Pylos.” His burial was accompanied by one of the most magnificent displays of wealth discovered in Greece in recent decades. The character of the objects that followed him to the afterlife prove that this part of Greece, like Mycenae, was being indelibly shaped by close contact with Crete. This was the time of the very birth of European civilization.

The warrior’s tomb was discovered and excavated in summer 2015 by a team sponsored by the University of Cincinnati: students, professors, and professional archaeologists from a dozen different universities, representing as many different nationalities. Project co-directors Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis of the University of Cincinnati note: “The team did not discover the grave of the legendary King Nestor, who headed a contingent in the Greek forces at Troy. Nor did it find the grave of his father, Neleus. They found something perhaps of even greater importance: the tomb of one of the powerful men who laid foundations for the Mycenaean civilization, the earliest in Europe.”

Overlooking the bay of Navarino, high above the sea on the ridge of Englianos, sits the “Palace of Nestor at Pylos,” the most completely preserved of all Bronze Age palaces on the Greek mainland.

In the summer of 2015, an archaeology team from the University of Cincinnati uncovered a Bronze Age shaft tomb of an early Mycenaean warrior (probably the foremost leader of his times in the south Pelopponese). The discovery was made by University of Cincinnati's Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis. They were following through on a dig at a site that was initially excavated in the 1930s with the last activity in 1969, but this burial shaft was missed at that time, as it was found in a field on private land near an olive grove. The find proved to be a treasure-trove of artifacts, including 4 signet rings, bronze and gold jars, silver cups, a bronze suit of armour, a helmet of wild boar’s teeth and a gold-covered sword.

And there were the embellishments buried with the nobleman: 1000 beads carved from precious stones, also ivory combs, a gold necklace and more than 50 Minoan (from Crete) sealstones. (Note: a sealstone was a small carved object used to imprint clay or other soft substance with the mark of the owner, to create a seal).

One of the sealstones has enormous appeal, and was disclosed as a find in 2017, after restoration. The picture of this artifact is shown above.

The Pylos Combat Agate is a limestone-encrusted Minoan sealstone, which was found placed at the right shoulder of a skeleton, probably that of a Mycenaean nobleman, buried in the early Bronze Age, right at the start of the Mycenaean dynasties. It is an example of glyptic art from the Aegean Bronze Age, the details so fine it required photomicroscopy to be seen and appreciated. It is 3.6cm across, and was covered in 3,500 years of accretion and grime since its time of burial. It is carved on an olive-green piece of agate, and had the appearance of a bead, before being painstakingly cleaned, and restored. It is surmised the decoration was worn on a wristband (in a similar location on the wrist where we would wear a wristwatch, today. On the agate, the victorious warrior is depicted wearing such a wristband on his left wrist).

The artistic representation of the human face, body and musculature done in such fine detail eclipses anything else ever found until about 1,000 years later, that is in the classical age of Greek art, about 500BC. The knowledge of human anatomy for the age of the piece astounded archaeologists and researchers. “Some of the details on this are only a half-millimetre big,” Professor Davis says. “They’re incomprehensibly small.” They surmise that the gem was carved under the use of a magnifying glass (or else they can’t explain it). Most of the detail reproduced in this line drawing of the agate gemstone is invisible to the naked eye.

The agate gem shows a near naked, long-haired warrior plunging his sword into the neck of his heavily shielded, spear-wielding foe. The body of a second opponent lays crumpled at his feet.

It’s an energetic, tense but victorious moment of combat.

“I think he (the Griffin Warrior) would have certainly identified himself with the hero depicted on the seal,” Stoker says.

The gem was designed to be worn on the wrist, like a watch, the researchers say. In fact, the hero on the gem is wearing one just like it

…“This seal should be included in all forthcoming art history texts, and will change the way that prehistoric art is viewed,” Stoker says.

https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/archaeology/pylos-combat-agate-is-a-3500yearold-masterpiece-of-ancient-art-technology/news-story/74b886dc0b87dedcf0f4581e0d421137

“It seems that the Minoans were producing art of the sort that no one ever imagined they were capable of producing,” explained Davis. “It shows that their ability and interest in representational art, particularly movement and human anatomy, is beyond what it was imagined to be. Combined with the stylized features, that itself is just extraordinary.”

The revelation, he and Stocker say, prompts a reconsideration of the evolution and development of Greek art.

“This seal should be included in all forthcoming art history texts, and will change the way that prehistoric art is viewed,” said Stocker.

http://magazine.uc.edu/editors_picks/recent_features/unearthingamasterpiece.html

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The University of Cincinnati team’s dig at the olive grove on private land, with the tomb site at the far right, where the Pylos Combat agate was found.

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Gold signet ring found at the burial site

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A specialized team reconstructed the face of the Griffin Warrior by layering facial tissue over his skull.

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The intricate detail worked in a microscopic size.

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The seal artist's attention to detail and use of stylized faces make the Pylos Combat Agate one of the finest works of prehistoric Greek art ever discovered. Courtesy of The Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati

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Many of the seal’s details, such as the intricate weaponry ornamentation, become clear only when viewed via photomicroscopy. Courtesy of The Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati

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The agate as it was originally found with the accretion of limestone covering its fine detail.

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One of the ivory combs that was found in the tomb treasure.

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Palace of Nestor site, at Pylos, near the olive grove where the Pylos Combat agate was found.

http://magazine.uc.edu/editors_picks/recent_features/unearthingamasterpiece.html

Ancient Origins https://www.ancient-origins.net/pylos already features an article postulating the correlation between the graphic design of the Pylos Combate Agate, and the stars of the night sky. Although there might be something to this theory, the topic will probably require a hefty tome of research and analysis to convince me. The ancient Greeks and their ancestors from the Minoan-Mycenaean civilisation were a blood-thirsty lot.

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Pylos was frequently mentioned in history and mythology, and is a famous ancient name. Pylos has a continuous historical presence since pre-historic times. Pylos was the dominant Mycenaean center in Messenia.

It is interesting that the location also has a Homeric connection.

The position of modern Pylos is not where ancient Pylos was.

• the Mycenaean Pylos (Bronze-Age ~ -1300 / -1200 B.C.) called also Sandy Pylos or Homer's Pylos is supposed the capital of Nestor's Kingdom (from Homer's Odyssey), is located at Epano Englianos (nearby Hora). In 1939 archaeologists discovered and excavated there a Mycenaean palace known as the Palace to Nestor, it seems the site itself was called Pylos.
• the Classical and Hellenistic Pylos (~ -700 / +600) was probably situated on the rocky promontory now known as Koryphasion at the northern edge of the bay of Navarino, close to Voidokilia Bay.


http://www.voidokilia.com/pylos/00_Pylos-Story-EN.htm
 

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Linda

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#2
I was enjoying the agate carving and the interesting article - and then I got the part about its size. So, we have another episode of how in the world did someone do that.
 
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Hailstones Melt

Hailstones Melt

Realized Sentience
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I think the salient issue this is pointing to is that 1,000's of years ago we devolved. Thankfully, things are starting to look back up again, including the information that marvels such as this actually exist.

I can't wait for the Hall of Records to be opened under/nearby the Sphinx.
 
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Hailstones Melt

Hailstones Melt

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https://www.realmofhistory.com/2016/10/11/mycenaean-griffin-warrior-face-reconstructed/

The University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg have reconstructed the face and head of the Griffin Warrior. It is supposed that he died between the age of 30-35 years. Over 1,400 artifacts were found at his burial site. Many of them came from Crete (the Minoan civilisation) and it is assumed that there was much trade between the early Mycenaeans and Cretans, who at the time enjoyed an older and higher civilisation than that of mainland Greece. Greece's Golden Age was yet to come (about 1,000 years later, circa 500BC). It is thought that many of the refugees from the eruption of Thera (where Santorini is today) migrated to the South Pelopponese, bringing aspects of their culture with them.

This other seal stone was among the ones found at the site. It is also from the Minoan civilisation (from Crete) and features a bull, which is one of the main motifs of Minoan culture (think: Minotaur).

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Picture courtesy of University of Cincinnati

Imagine how our own "grave goods" would look like after 3,500 years (plastic combs, anyone?)

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Yeah, pure gold tends to clean up pretty well.
 

Pod

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Thank you Melt. Awesome find!

I have been listening to Graham Hancock in the last few days, blocks of stone over 1000 tons mined at Gobleki Tepi. How?

This is in the same league except the opposite spectrum.

Time for truth eh?

 
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Hailstones Melt

Hailstones Melt

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One of the things I found in one of the reports, which I found humorous, was the modern perspective of archaeologists that the Pylos Combat Agate may have been created under some form of magnification, or else the artist was very (very, very, very, very, very, very - my addition) nearsighted.
 

Pod

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One of the things I found in one of the reports, which I found humorous, was the modern perspective of archaeologists that the Pylos Combat Agate may have been created under some form of magnification, or else the artist was very (very, very, very, very, very, very - my addition) nearsighted.
It can be quite amusing to read the theories that "scientists" out forward to validate their claims, when all they are trying to do is NOT see the truth. Poor things.........
 

Lila

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Just goes to show that you never know what you'll find in your average olive grove (or apple orchard or local beach...)

Things I wonder:
- why is he called the "Griffin Warrior"
- why are we surprised that the ancients had better knowledge of anatomy than most of us do? After all, they didn't have cell phones and other technology to distract them. They must have spent lots of time with minds free to wander. While lacking MRIs and other devices that can peer into tissues, they did have an awful lot of experience of bodies sliced open in front of them, leaving the anatomy open like a book
- why are we surprised that the ancients had amazing arts? Similar reasons as above and again noting that anyone who had food sources and stability would have naturally had lots of time to fiddle with pieces of agate. Who knows what folks with lots of time on their hands come up with? We don't as we typically spend our time in a rush.
 
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Hailstones Melt

Hailstones Melt

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I tried to carve a lump of sandstone (sedimentary - should have been easy, right?) when I was a kid, to make a semblance of something (anything?)
It was like Wookiee meets Were-Rabbit pretending to play at sandcastles on the beach. The finesse of this ancient piece of carving is something to marvel at.
 
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Hailstones Melt

Hailstones Melt

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Scholarly consensus has long theorized that mainlander Mycenaeans simply imported or robbed such riches from the affluent Minoan civilization on the large island of Crete, southeast of Pylos. Although the Minoans were culturally dominant to the Greek mainlanders, the civilization fell to the Mycenaeans around 1500-1400 B.C. — roughly the same time period in which the Griffin Warrior died.

In a series of presentations and a paper published last year, Davis and Stocker revealed that the
discovery of four gold signet rings bearing highly detailed Minoan iconography, along with other Minoan-made riches found within the tomb, indicates a far greater and complex cultural interchange took place between the Mycenaeans and Minoans....

Stocker and Davis detail their astonishing archaeological discovery in the cover story of the January/February 2017 edition of Smithsonian magazine, a national publication with a circulation of more than 2 million.

The very first organized Greek society belonged to the Mycenaeans, whose kingdoms exploded out of nowhere on the Greek mainland around 1600 B.C. Although they disappeared equally dramatically a few hundred years later, giving way to several centuries known as the Greek Dark Ages, before the rise of “classical” Greece, the Mycenaeans sowed the seeds of our common traditions, including art and architecture, language, philosophy and literature, even democracy and religion. “This was a crucial time in the development of what would become Western civilization,” Stocker says.

Yet remarkably little is known of the beginnings of Mycenaean culture. The Pylos grave, with its wealth of undisturbed burial objects and, at its bottom, a largely intact skeleton, offers a nearly unprecedented window into this time—and what it reveals is calling into question our most basic ideas about the roots of Western civilization.

http://magazine.uc.edu/editors_picks/recent_features/unearthingamasterpiece.html

The skeleton was dubbed the "Griffin Warrior" for the discovery of an ivory plaque adorned with a griffin — a mythical beast with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle — buried with him.....

One longstanding theory is that the Greeks of the Griffin Warrior's era — dubbed Mycenaean after their principal city, Mycenae — are thought to have imported or robbed the riches from the affluent non-Greek Minoan civilization on Crete.

"The grave was right around the time the Mycenaeans were conquering the Minoans," explained Stocker. "We know that there were extensive raids and shortly after the date of our grave, Minoan-Crete fell to the Mycenaeans."

But Stocker and Davis say that the artifacts found in the warrior's grave suggest a far greater cultural sharing between the ancient civilizations than just mere plunder. Instead, they insist, the carefully selected and hand-placed items reveal much about the heart of the relationship of the burgeoning mainland Greek culture to the more refined culture of Crete.


http://magazine.uc.edu/editors_picks/recent_features/lordoftherings.html

The skeleton is believed to have been that of a warrior-priest.




This image of one of the carved gold signet rings shows 5 females dressed in the Minoan style at a sea-side altar, probably performing a religious ritual incorporating the nature of their island home.
 
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Hailstones Melt

Hailstones Melt

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Here is an image of a ceramic statue of the bare-breasted Minoan Snake Goddess (unrelated to the burial site). The Minoans were also known as the "Sea Peoples" due to their central position on Crete, on trading routes across the Mediterranean. According to Professors Stocker and Davis, the Minoan civilisation did succumb to Mycenaean assaults shortly after the date of the Griffin Warrior burial. It means that during his lifetime, he probably witnessed a lot of change and transformed power dynamics.

It is interesting that the Minoan civilisation was itself matriarchal, but at the time of the life of the Griffin Warrior, the ancient world was transforming from matriarchal societies to patriarchal ones (classical Greece was patriarchal). I personally think the precession of the equinoxes (the Great Year) and the smaller zodiacal cycles within it describe these swings between the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine, and the turbulent transition times.
 
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