Magnificent Fabric From Greek “Dark Ages” on Display in Athens



Athenians and tourists alike will get a rare chance to observe up close a magnificent piece of fabric discovered at the archaeological site of Lefkandi in Evia.

The fabric, which belonged to a notable citizen of ancient Lefkandi, is showcased along with other exhibits from the settlement, which developed during the so-called Greek “Dark Ages”, c.1100-750 BC. All the priceless artifacts are featured in an exhibition now showing at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

The ancient city of Lefkandi is hidden away on Evia, the Greek island which was the home base of many of the earliest Greek colonies. It was from Lefkandi that the first recorded war in Greek history was fought. Most importantly, archaeologists consider Lefkandi the key to understanding how the Mycenean civilization transformed into the period known as Classical Greece.

The spectacular find was made in 1980 when a large mound was excavated, revealing two shaft graves, one with the remains of a man and a woman under a large structure called a hērōön or “hero’s grave”. The other shaft grave held four horses which appear to have been sacrificed at the time of the couples’ burial.

Two of the horses were found with their iron bits still in their mouths.

One of the bodies in the grave had been cremated. The ashes were wrapped in a fringed linen cloth, then stored in a bronze amphora from Cyprus. The amphora was engraved with a hunting scene and placed within a still-larger bronze bowl. A sword and other grave goods were nearby. It is believed that the ashes were those of a man.

The woman’s body was not cremated, but was buried alongside a wall. Her body was adorned with jewelry, including a ring of electrum and a bronze braziere. Perhaps the most remarkable find of all was a gorget she wore,  which was already one thousand years old at the time of the burial. The gorget is believed to have come from ancient Babylonia.

An iron knife with an ivory handle was found near her shoulder.

The Lefkandi exhibit will be shown at the National Archaeological Museum until May.