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Informations générales
Numéro de notice 6170
Année de l'opération 2017
Date de modification 2017-09-21
Nature de l'opération Fouille - Programmée
Institution(s) Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia / British School at Athens
A monumental Mycenaean rock-cut chamber tomb came to light at Prosilio in the municipality of Levadia, near Orchomenos in Boeotia, during the first season of a five-year programme of excavations conducted there in collaboration between the Greek Ministry of Culture & Sports/Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia and the British School at Athens/University of Cambridge (Figs 1-2).

The tomb is one of the largest of its kind ever to have been discovered in Greece. A rock-cut passageway (dromos), 20m in length (Fig. 3), leads to a monumental façade 5.40m in depth. The façade gives access, through a doorway (stomion), to the burial chamber which has an area of 42sqm, making this example the 9th largest of c. 4,000 Mycenaean chamber tombs that have been excavated in Greece in the last 150 years. The chamber’s roof was originally gabled and had a height of c. 3.5m. Over the years, and perhaps even since Mycenaean times, the original roof started to crumble creating a cavernous interior with an existing height of 6.5m. The crumbling of the original roof disturbed, to some extent, the burial and its furnishings in the chamber but also helped seal the burial layer. Inside the chamber, a rock-cut bench was carved on all four sides of the rectangular tomb. The bench was enhanced by the addition of mud plaster.

The construction of the tomb dates to the middle of the 14th century BC. Its excavation has yielded one of the best documented assemblages of a Mycenaean palatial individual burial on mainland Greece. The presence of a single burial (Fig. 4) with important finds is an extraordinary discovery, rarely attested in monumental Mycenaean chamber tombs. Tombs of this type are used for many burials making it difficult to associate particular objects with individual burials. In the case of the Prosilio tomb, however, the discovery of a single burial allows for the association of the objects placed in the tomb with the dead individual buried there.

On the chamber floor, the team discovered the burial of a man, 40-50 years old, accompanied by a number of objects, the study and conservation of which has just begun. The assemblage includes ‘tinned’ clay vessels of various shapes (Fig. 5), a pair of horse bits (Fig. 6), arrows, pins, jewellery of various materials, combs, a sealstone and a signet ring.

The discovery of this burial and its associated finds will allow the researchers to understand better funeral practices in the region during the Mycenaean period. The first examination of the finds suggests a conscious selection of the objects interred with the body by the tomb-using group that was responsible for the burial’s preparation. As in the case of the warrior discovered at Bronze Age Pylos in 2015 – chronologically earlier by at least a century to the burial in the Prosilio tomb – the placement of different shapes and types of jewellery with a male burial contests the, until now widely held, belief that jewellery should mostly be associated with female burials. It is also worth noting that, with the exception of two painted stirrup jars (Fig. 7), commonly used to store aromatic oils, no painted pottery was discovered in the tomb – a feature which is otherwise widely attested in tombs of this period.

The Prosilio team believes that the tomb is associated with ancient Orchomenos, a major regional centre controlling northern Boeotia. Orchomenos, which is c. 3.5km away, supervised and controlled during the 14th and 13th c. BC the partial drainage of Lake Kopaïs. The power of this centre is reflected in its most famous monument, the tholos tomb of ‘Minyas’,  comparable in size and refinement only to the tholos tomb of ‘Atreus’ at Mycenae. The dead man from the Prosilio tomb was most likely associated with the upper echelons of society at this major Mycenaean centre. His important social role was secured after death by an impressive lasting home, which however was only admired during his high-status burial, before he was covered for ever with soil along with the indicators of his power.

The Prosilio project was conducted with the permission of the Greek Ministry of Culture & Sports. Directors of the inter-disciplinary five-year Prosilio project are: Dr Alexandra Charami, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia, and Dr Yannis Galanakis, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge. The Prosilio team also includes K. Kalliga, archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia, Dr P. Karkanas, geoarchaeologist and Director of the Wiener Laboratory at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Dr I. Moutafi, bio-archaeologist responsible for the osteological study.
Mots-clés Métal - Nécropole - Os - Sépulture
Chronologie Bronze récent
Référence bibliographique Ministry of Culture & Sports press release 11/9/2017.
Auteur de la notice John BENNET
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