The spectacular prehistoric seal found in the tomb of the Griffin Warrior

In the summer of 2015, archaeologists working around the Mycenaean palace of Nestor in Pylos, Greece, found a tomb with the remains of a warrior from 1500 BC.

Next to him is an amazing treasure trove of weapons, gold jewelry, and other objects, most of them Minoan in style. He even had a reconstruction of his face done and he was named after Griffin Warrior.

In November 2017, the team from the University of Cincinnati announced the discovery in the same tomb of a truly impressive object: a seal carved in a precious stone that researchers already consider one of the best works of prehistoric Greek art ever found.

The seal after being cleaned / photo University of Cincinnati

It has been given the name Pylos combat agate because of the battle scene it depicts. Found a year ago, during all this time it had to be cleaned of the limestone in which it had been embedded.

Once revealed in its original form, the experts realized that what they had in their hands was nothing more than a true masterpiece in miniature.

The seal as found / photo University of Cincinnati

And it is that the quality of the carving and the delicacy of its details make the seal the most refined work of glyptic art produced in the Aegean Bronze Age.

According to Jack Davis, head of the department of Greek archeology at the University of Cincinnati, the representation of the human body and musculature has a level of detail that is not found again until the classical period, a thousand years later. It is, he says, a spectacular discovery.

The fight scene was meticulously carved from a piece of stone just 3.6 centimeters in length, so details such as the intricate weaponry ornamentation are roughly half a millimeter and only visible with powerful magnifying lenses and photomicroscopy.

Drawing of the staged scene, by Ben Gardner / photo University of Cincinnati

In it you can see a warrior who, having already defeated an opponent lying at his feet, turns his attention to another enemy, sticking his sword into his neck.

A scene that recalls the epic combats of the Iliad, although researchers do not dare to say that it is a reflection of the Homeric epic.

Another detail seen under a microscope / photo University of Cincinnati

What they do think is that it undoubtedly represents a legend well known to Minoans and Mycenaeans.

The Pylos combat agate it is unmatched by anything previously discovered from the Minoan-Mycenaean era, which the researchers say will force us to revise our understanding of Bronze Age Greek art.

And it is that the seal suggests that the Minoans (since their origin is probably the island of Crete) were producing a type of art that until now nobody imagined that they were capable of producing.


University of Cincinnati.

Back to top button