Greek Farmer Accidentally Discovers 3,400-Year-Old Minoan Tomb Hidden Under Olive Grove

Greek Farmer Accidentally Discovers 3,400-Year-Old Minoan Tomb Hidden Under Olive Grove

Greek Farmer Accidentally Discovers 3,400-Year-Old Minoan Tomb Hidden Under Olive Grove

Two Minoan people were laid to rest sometime between 1400 and 1200 B.C. in an underground enclosure built from the soft limestone native to southeast Crete.

The eight-foot deep pit contained two ancient coffins and an array of funerary vases

Both of them were buried within larnakes — intricately embossed clay coffins popular in the Minoan bronze-age society — and were surrounded by colorful funeral vases that suggested the high status of their owners.

The burial site was eventually covered with stone masonry and forgotten, leaving the deceased interruption for roughly 3,400 years.

Earlier this summer, George Dvorsky reports to Gizmodo that the local farmers accidentally brought the pair’s millenia-long rest to an abrupt end.

The four foot wide hole accidentally made by the farmer that ultimately led to the Minoan Bronze Age tomb.

The farmer tried to park his vehicle under a shaded olive grove on his property when the ground gave way, forcing him to find a new parking spot.

As he started to drive off, the unidentified local noticed a four-foot wide hole that had emerged in the patch of land he’d just vacated. Perched on the edge of the gaping space, the man realized he’d unintentionally unearthed “a wonderful thing.”

According to a statement, archaeologists from the local heritage ministry, Lassithi Ephorate of Antiquities, launched excavations below the farmer’s olive grove at Rousses, a small village just northeast of Kentri, Ierapetra, in southeast Crete.

They identified the Minoan tomb, nearly perfectly preserved despite its advanced age, in a pit measuring roughly four feet across and eight feet deep. Space’s interior was divided into three carved niches accessible by a vertical trench.

In the northernmost niche, archaeologists found a coffin and an array of vessels scattered across the ground. The southernmost niche yielded a second sealed coffin, as well as 14 ritual Greek jars called amphorae and a bowl.

Two Minoan men were buried in the Crete tomb roughly 3,400 years ago (Lassithi Ephorate of Antiquities)

Two Minoan men were buried in the Crete tomb roughly 3,400 years ago

Forbes’ Kristina Kilgrove writes that the high quality of the pottery left in the tomb indicates the individuals buried were relatively affluent. She notes, however, that other burial sites dating to the same Late Minoan period feature more elaborate beehive-style tombs.

“These [men] could be wealthy,” Kilgrove states, “but not the wealthiest.”

Unlike many ancient tombs, the Kentri grave was never discovered by thieves, Argyris Pantazis, deputy mayor of Local Communities, Agrarian and Tourism of Ierapetra, tells local news outlet Cretapost.

In fact, the site likely would have remained sealed in perpetuity if not for the chance intervention of a broken irrigation pipe, which watered down the soil surrounding the farmer’s olive grove and led to his unexpected parking debacle.

“We are particularly pleased with this great archaeological discovery as it is expected to further enhance our culture and history,” Pantazis added in his interview with Cretapost. “Indeed, this is also a response to all those who doubt that there were Minoans in Ierapetra.”

According to Archaeology News Network, most Minoan settlements found on Crete are located in the lowlands and plains rather than the mountainous regions of Ierapetra. Still, a 2012 excavation in Anatoli, Ierapetra, revealed a Minoan mansion dating to between 1600 and 1400 B.C., roughly the same time period as the Kentri tomb.

This latest find offers further proof of the ancient civilization’s presence—as Mark Cartwright notes for Ancient History Encyclopedia, the Minoans are most renowned for their labyrinthine palace complexes, which likely inspired the classic Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

According to legend, Queen Pasiphae of Crete gave birth to the Minotaur, a fierce half-man, half-bull hybrid, after falling for a bull sent to Earth by the Greek god Zeus. The Minotaur, doomed to an eternity spent wandering the halls of an underground labyrinth and killing anyone it encountered, was eventually defeated by the demigod Theseus, who relied on an enchanted ball of thread provided by the king’s daughter, Ariadne, to escape the maze.

Much of the Minoans’ history remains unclear, but Forbes’ Kilgrove reports that natural disasters, including the eruption of the Thera volcano, an earthquake and a tsunami, contributed to the group’s downfall, enabling enemies such as the Mycenaeans to easily invade. Analysis of the excavated Kentri tomb may offer further insights on the Minoan-Mycenaean rivalry, as well as the Cretan civilization’s eventual demise.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *