Archaeologists Excavate 3,500-Year-Old Tomb Of Greek Warrior And Discover Rare And Unique Minoan Sealstone

Archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati have been wading through a treasure trove of objects after discovering the 3,500-year-old tomb of a Greek warrior, gifted with the name Griffin Warrior, and one of these objects includes a very rare Minoan sealstone. While researchers happened upon this warrior’s burial site two years ago, his tomb has only just now started to reveal its secrets.

The Minoan seal that was found is known as the Pylos Combat Agate, and on it features warriors engaged in a daring, hand-to-hand battle for their very survival. Archaeologists are calling this seal one of the most unique objects inside of the tomb and it is believed that this object may completely change everything we know today about ancient Greek art.

The 3,500-year-old Griffin Warrior was originally discovered in 2015 buried in an olive grove not far from Pylos in Messenia, Greece. It is reported to have been one of the most exciting and significant historical finds in Greece in over half a century, as Phys.Org reports, with the Greek Culture Ministry having officially said that the tomb was the “most important to have been discovered in continental Greece in 65 years.”

The grave of the Greek warrior had been left completely undisturbed for thousands of years, creating what has amounted to a veritable time capsule of ancient Greek objects which include stone beads, four rings made of solid gold, a sword, and ivory combs.

It took over one year for archaeologists to completely clean the Minoan seal so that it was in an observable state, and once its image could finally be seen, those involved in the work found themselves quite emotional. Shari Stocker, one of the dig leaders and a researcher at UC’s Department of Classics, admitted that many were moved even to tears.

“Looking at the image for the first time was a very moving experience, and it still is. It’s brought some people to tears.”

Jack Davis is professor of Greek archaeology and the department head at UC’s Department of Classics, and explained that one of the most unique attributes of the Minoan seal inside the 3,500-year-old Greek warrior’s tomb is that it shows what is a representation of the human body which normally isn’t found on objects of this period and really only came into play over 1,000 years after this warrior would have died.

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later. It’s a spectacular find.”

Inside the Griffin Warrior's tomb has been found many treasures, including a Minoan sealstone, known as the Pylos Combat Agate.
Inside the Griffin Warrior's tomb has been found many treasures, including a Minoan sealstone, known as the Pylos Combat Agate. [Image by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

On the Pylos Combat Agate Minoan sealstone is emblazoned an epic fight which was very much in the tradition of a Homeric epic. However, archaeologists can’t say whether it does in actuality reflect one of Homer’s works and another legendary battle is much more likely to be featured on it, such as one fought between the Minoans and Mycenaeans, according to Shari Stocker.

“It would have been a valuable and prized possession, which certainly is representative of the Griffin Warrior’s role in Mycenaean society. I think he would have certainly identified himself with the hero depicted on the seal.”

Jack Davis further elaborated on just how intricately carved this tiny little Minoan sealstone is and how it clearly shows just how artistic the Minoan race really were.

“It seems that the Minoans were producing art of the sort that no one ever imagined they were capable of producing. 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.”

A team of researchers has also taken the liberty of reconstructing the 3,500-year-old Greek warrior’s face to give the public some indication of what this man may have once looked like.

The 3,500-year-old Greek warrior has been gone for a long time now, but secrets of his life continue to emerge in the form of objects found buried with him like the precious Minoan sealstone that would have once been a most treasured possession to the Griffin Warrior.

[Featured Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]