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31 intact burials unearthed at large Mycenaean cemetery

An extensive Mycenaean cemetery with 31 undisturbed burials containing numerous items of jewellery and several different types of ceramic vases, including 12 ornate Mycenaean drinking cups or kylikes, has been unearthed by Greek archaeologists at the Loggas site near Elati in Kozani (Macedonia), a short distance from ancient Aiani.

31 intact burials unearthed in large Mycenaean cemetery
View of the excavation of the Mycenaean cemetery near Elati, Macedonia 
[Credit: Georgia Karamitrou-Mentesidi via Ethnos]
"The Mycenaean presence in Upper Macedonia is now well established by the discovery of several settlement types throughout the region", says archaeologist Georgia Karamitrou-Mentesidi.

The site at Elati spans some 45 ha. of which less that 2 ha. have been excavated to date. The cemetery itself is located along the banks of the Aliakmon river and occupies around 5 ha. of land of which only 0.5 ha. has been excavated.

The 31 burials appear to belong primarily to the Late Bronze Age (1600-1100 BC), though archaeologists believe some may be considerably earlier in date. 

According to Ms. Karamitrou-Mentesidi, the unlooted cist graves were lined with stone slabs and contained both jewellery (bronze rings, beads of amber) as well as abundant pottery.

Bowls, jugs, drinking cups and amphorae make up most of the 47 ceramic vessels found in the graves.

31 intact burials unearthed in large Mycenaean cemetery
Mycenaean graves excavated at Elati 
[Credit: Georgia Karamitrou-Mentesidi
via Ethnos]
Significantly, 12 Mycenaean goblets or kylikes were discovered in 7 of the graves. Indeed, 3 burials contained only Mycenaean goblets while another 2 contained other types of Mycenaean vases.

Mycenaean kylikes have surfaced elsewhere in western Macedonia. 8 (intact and fragmentary) Late Bronze Age kylikes have been identified in the prefectures of Kozani and Grevena, 2 earlier examples were recovered from the necropolis of Kozani and another 3 at ancient Aiani.

"The kylix, then, which belongs exclusively to the Mycenaean vase repertoire, is fairly widespread at several locations of Upper Macedonia. The tall kylikes from Elati, with one exception, are wheeled, with a long tapering body. However, there is variety in the size, style, and even some variations in the shape," says Ms. Karamitrou-Mentesidi.

"Their general shape resembles specimens from Epirus, while the characteristic decorative rings on the leg are known from Western Greece, especially Kephalonia, Ithaca and elsewhere, which suggests that the Mycenaean penetration originated from these areas."

31 intact burials unearthed in large Mycenaean cemetery
Mycenaean kylikes from Elati [Credit: Georgia Karamitrou-Mentesidi 
via Ethnos]
The cups of Elati bear rich decoration with a variety of motifs, including the 'running' spiral, concentric circles, herring-bone pattern and even horizontal zigzags.

"The comparison of kylikes from neighbouring areas - especially Thessaly, Epirus and the Ionian Islands - demonstrates both similarities and differences. While direct influence is often taken for granted, we cannot exclude the possibility that they were produced locally", adds Ms. Karamitrou-Mentesidi.

"Kylikes and the other Mycenaean vases were produced in small local workshops and were not only a useful household item, they were also considered ideal to accompany the deceased in the afterlife, even if some were missing a handle or a foot."

Source: Ethnos [March 03, 2016]

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