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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

Lefkandi, an archaeological site on the Greek island of Euboea, challenges the very notion of a period termed the Greek “Dark Ages”. Built around 1000 BCE on a site uncharacteristic of the years following the destructions of the 1200 BCE “Bronze Age collapse”, Lefkandi shows neither signs of dispersion nor overall lack of highly developed culture.

The “Toumba” structure on the site is in the form of a large, rather long apsidal structure with multiple rooms differentiated within. This building is about ten times the size of known contemporary structures elsewhere. Beneath the Toumba is a large and rich burial deposit. Foreign luxury goods were among the finds: a Cypriot amphora, Babylonian gorget, and electrum ring, all indicating connections to trade networks reaching beyond Greece.

Among the burials were a male cremation and a female inhumation. The cremated remains were placed within the amphora and this was in turn placed within a large bronze bowl. A sword, stone razor, and other weapons were found nearby. The female inhumation was buried with gold, ivory, and faience grave goods. Three horses, some of them with bits still in their mouths, appear to have been sacrificed and also buried nearby. Such material possessions are extremely rare finds during the "Dark Ages", while the horse burials (an age-old marker of elite status), serve to bolster this impression.

Evidence of burial feasting and broken pots was also uncovered, which may indicate that Lefkandi had served as a hero shrine (or, heroon). The site was partially destroyed by bulldozer in recent times, so the relationship of the burials to the building above is up for debate. Either way, the interments, cremations, and Near Eastern luxury goods allow us to conclude that these lavish funerary deposits were considerable elite status markers, in spite of the fact that contemporaneous elite finds are relatively scare elsewhere in Greece at this time.

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by Harry Anastopulos

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Posted at Dec 16/2007 11:15AM:
Rachel Griffith: This is a very useful description of a really facinating archeological site. You can't help but wonder who the man and woman buried actually were and how they obtained such unusual wealth.

Posted at Dec 16/2007 10:07PM:
Kuy Yeon Lee: I like the image!!! how you made it sorta transparent.

Posted at Dec 20/2007 11:24AM:
chris witmore: Great job on your images Harry, but image sources need to be referenced.