Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Mycenaean Palace in Sparta

Considering the prominent role that Sparta plays in the Iliad, it always seemed a little odd that no Mycenaean palace had been found there. But now one has. Adamantia Vassilogrambrou, who has the wonderful title Ephor of Antiquities, reported on the finds last week:
A new excavation in the Xirokambi area of Aghios Vassilios west of Sparta, in the Peloponnese, Greece, has revealed a richness of Mycenaean artefacts in the area, including the remains of a palace, Linear B tablets, fragments of wall paintings, and several bronze swords. . . . The Aghios Vassilios excavation began in 2010, after Linear B tablets were found in the area in 2008, pointing to the existence of a powerful central authority and distribution system. The deciphered texts were devoted to perfume and cloth production, the trade of which was controlled by a palace administration in the Mycenaean era. Evidence of a central palace administration was confirmed also by the architecture, which is dated to the 14th century BC, while contact with Crete was confirmed by the finding of a double axe, a feature of the island’s palace culture. Artefacts found include seals, a multitude of ceramic and bronze vessels, and 21 bronze swords. 
According to the Vassilogrambrou, the palace was destroyed by fire around 1300 BCE and never rebuilt, which was the fate of other Mycenaean royal sites.

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