An unearthed tomb on Crete reveals a dynasty of priestesses reigned on the isle during the “Dark Ages” of ancient Greece.
In an Archaeology magazine report, writer Eti Bonn-Muller details the results from last summer’s excavation of a tomb at Orthi Petra at Eleutherna on Crete, where a team found the burials of a high priestess of Zeus and three acolytes this summer.”People then may have considered them sorceresses, or intermediaries with the gods,” Bonn-Muller says. Led by archaeologist Nicholas Stampolidis, the team dates the four burials to 2,700 years ago. Earlier digs had discovered the remains of other women, buried together in large “pithos” jars from 2,800 to 2,600 years ago. All of the women appear related, based on distinctive features of their teeth, the team reports. “What’s really remarkable is the find shows these women were a dynasty that lasted at least 200 years in this location,” Bonn-Muller says.
The burial site is near Mount Ida, where in Greek mythology, Zeus, the king of the gods, was sheltered from his father in infancy. Artifacts from the tombs show trade with Egypt, Greece and the Near East took place on Crete at the time. “The finds have the potential to change how we think about the roles of women during this period of time,” Bonn-Muller adds. “Archaeologists had thought of the era as an empty period but we are seeing a lot took place then.”
By Dan Vergano