A Greek Farmer Stumbled on a 3,400-Year-Old Tomb in His Olive Grove While Parking His Car

The ancient tomb contained bodies of two Minoan Bronze Age men.

One of two skeletons from an ancient Minoan tomb discovered in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.
One of two skeletons from an ancient Minoan tomb discovered in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

It’s a harvest he didn’t expect. A farmer in Crete accidentally unearthed an ancient tomb while parking a car in his olive grove. When the ground below his wheels gave way, the farmer found a gaping void that held an ancient burial site. Within were the bodies of two unknown Minoan Bronze Age men and several intricately painted ceramics, suggesting that the ancient family that lived there before was relatively wealthy.

The tomb, which was sealed behind a stone wall, is thought to date from 1400 to 1200 BC—about 3,400 years old—and appears to have been uncovered courtesy of a broken irrigation tube that softened the soil. The almost perfectly preserved burial site was undisturbed by looting over millennia.

The chamber was divided into three niches and contained two larnakes. These embossed clay coffins, often decorated with abstract designs or religious or hunting scenes, were commonly used by Bronze Age Minoans, and each holds a single skeleton arranged in a crouching position.

The men were buried with a bowl and 14 high-quality, ornamented Greek ritual jars, or amphorae, but Forbes notes that the tomb is not of the domed tholos variety that would have been used by the wealthiest Minoans.

The site, in the village of Rousses near Kentri, Ierapetra, in southeast Crete, has been excavated by the local heritage ministry, the Lassithi Ephorate of Antiquities. The tomb is particularly notable in that Minoan settlements are more common in the country’s lowlands and plains than in the mountainous region of Ierapetra.

“We are particularly pleased with this great archaeological discovery as it is expected to further enhance our culture and history,” said Argyris Pantazis, deputy mayor of Local Communities, Agrarian, and Tourism of Ierapetra, speaking to local news outlet Cretapost. “Indeed, this is also a response to all those who doubt that there were Minoans in Ierapetra.”

See more photographs from the discovery below.

A ancient Minoan tomb was discovered in this hole in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

A ancient Minoan tomb was discovered in this hole in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Artifacts from an ancient Minoan tomb discovered in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Artifacts from an ancient Minoan tomb discovered in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Artifacts from an ancient Minoan tomb discovered in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Artifacts from an ancient Minoan tomb discovered in Crete. Courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

A ancient Minoan tomb was discovered in this hole in Crete. Courtesy of the Nikos Petashs via Facebook.

A ancient Minoan tomb was discovered in this hole in Crete. Courtesy of the Nikos Petashs via Facebook.


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