Friday, August 29, 2008

Archaeology 201

Archaeologists today unearthed an unusual burial in Greece. A solid gold wreath, in addition to a set of human remains, was found in a clay pot, amongst other burials.

Hmmmm . . . that’s interesting. This is where Archaeology is combined with detective work and logic. The typical burials in Greece, at about 500 B.C. were fairly elaborate. There was a ritual mourning period, funerary monument, and public burial.

Bodies were interred in a state of repose, never in jars or huddled down. The only culture that actually put bones into jars were the Tibetans. Even the Egyptians used canopic jars, but only to store body organs.

So, we have a jar, a gold wreath, and some remains. Typically, the gold wreath would symbolize rulership or a member of the royal family. The person burying the deceased had great reverence and respect for either folklore, customs, or the interred person (this is why the gold wreath was not plundered nor stolen by the caretaker). Radiocarbon dating would give us the relative date of the jar, and of the bones. In addition, the burial is fairly clandestine, since there were no similar burials nearby (no other remains in jars).

An educated wild guess would say that, this is a burial of a member of the royal lineage. Perhaps an heir, perhaps an illegitimate child. Perhaps there was fear that the decedent might be exhumed, this is why the burial was done in secret. It was someone important enough to place a gold wreath and hide the burial. But perhaps too provocative to bury openly, with the proper honors.

But again, this is just a guess. Why these remains were interred, along with a gold wreath . . . more than likely, we’ll never be sure . . .

- Omar W. Rosales

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