Lesvos: Archaeological discovery of a 2800 year old human body


A tragedy that occurred at the time of Homer (750-700 BC) came to light in a rescue excavation at the Hippodrome of Lesvos. The corpse of a dead woman (probably the lord of the Hippie), who died violently, was discovered in a tomb in a well.

The work, according to the excavator Dr Pavlos Triantafyllidis, archaeologist and head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lesvos, concerned the opening of a well behind the Ottoman mosque in the lower part of the village. By removing the slate slabs that sealed a box-shaped grave, a skeleton surrounded by graveyards, gold earrings, a large golden beaked bead, and bronze buckles were held to hold the precious costume that had of course melted.

As Dr. Triantaphyllides mentions, the buckles and the bronze needle, for the seams of gripping clothes, brought to mind Homer’s narrative (Odyssey, pp. 293-294) with the donors’ gifts to Penelope: “And Antinos she gave her plums, big and five-fold, twelve gold and bronze pins, which loosened the loins in the loops. ”

But the tragic specificity of this tomb is given by the discovery of the archaeologist-anthropologist Dr Fotini Maktzortz, who undertook the anthropological study of the skeleton. The dead, according to Dr. McGuirer, was a young woman aged 21-25 years old. Her life was ended in a violent way, rather than a strong earthquake. When she died, she might have left behind her orphan or “orphan”, and her “nearly” fetus who was pregnant with her “left”.

The return to the news of this unknown tragedy after 28 centuries seemed to touch the soul of the people after its announcement a few days ago at the Archaeological Museum of Mytilene. This important tomb has been transported and exposed there. We addressed the anthropologist Dr McGrath, who was particularly informative in her information but also in solving our queries.

The following is the interview of Dr. Maktourtz from the newspaper Eleftheros Press:

What led you to believe the violent death for this woman?

“The first element was the strange position of her head. The skull was unnaturally low, leaning against the left cheek on her chest as if her neck had bent. This peculiar attitude was rather deliberate to disguise the severe compressive fractures of the left-most predominant side of her skull, which most likely led to her death. As evidenced by CT, these fractures were compressive and resulted in severe craniocerebral injury that caused death. The left parietal bone was broken in at least six pieces. This fracture was reached up to the occipital seam at the back of the skull, and in front of the frontal bone two pieces of it were inwardly drawn, while its jaw was also broken. ”

So someone hit her in the head with something heavy?

“He was not only injured in the head. Many injuries existed in the rest of her body. There were fractures in the left shoulder, left arm, ulna, and even in the left femoral neck. But there were injuries in the right radius, ulna and metacarpia. The injury was mainly left-handed, but she crushed her neck and upper limbs. Consider that the left arm was welded to the laboratory by 16 separate fragments. ”

What caused these injuries?

First of all, it needs to be clarified whether they happened before or after her death. Was there a large stone under burial and under the pressure of the overlying layers caused the disaster in the skull? But this is not right, because the movement of the skeleton revealed completely the “floor” of the tomb, which was completely flat. Therefore, it is clear that what we have described is actually deaths in the past, the extraordinary severity of which is the cause of this woman’s death. ”

Was this woman being abused?

“The violent assault on such a gentleman seems contradictory. In addition to the precious jewels and the five vases of the tomb, a pot and an amphora were built on the northwest corner of the tomb, which could serve as a sign, concluding the commemoration of ritual rituals in its honor. ”

So where is her death?

“I think she was probably a victim of a seismic event as the fall from a high height should be ruled out when her lower limbs, with the exception of the left femoral neck, were not broken. The earthquake, of course, is too early to be recorded historically but here it may be archaeologically confirmed. The recording of earthquakes began systematically in the 20th century. However, ancient and medieval travelers report disasters on the island due to earthquakes. Benedetto Bordeaux, who visited Lesbos in 1528, describes the effects of earthquakes that have turned the city into ruins. ”

How did you measure her age? How should we imagine it?

“It was really noble. In addition to valuable items, its welfare is also evidenced by the highest relative height, compared to the average height of women for its time. Diet, as you know, plays an important role in height. It was about 1.62, that is, it was still satisfactory for today. To determine the age, epigenetic convergence is important. The outgrowth of the roots of the third molars (wisdom) shows that she had passed 21. The mild tooth decay puts her between 17 and 25 years of age. Stopping the growth of the enamel in the canine, is likely to be a childhood disease that has temporarily suspended its growth. The internal surfaces of its lakes also give approximately the age of 25 years.

In the presentation you talked about the strange position of her hands …

“Her left arm was parallel to her body, but her right hand was bent on the elbow and was so positioned that her palm leaned in her stomach. In this gesture, it is meaningful to discover a small, 30-week-old fetal left stomach bone in the abdomen. A large bowl with two handles was placed inverted above this point. This offer is probably a presumption of the existence of a metastatic child due to its advanced pregnancy. ”


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