Humanities

Prosilio 2: The Tomb

Prosilio 2 is located in the village of Prosilio in Central Greece, which is 3.5km from the ancient Minyan city of Orchomenos – a major regional center and fortification for the Minyan dynasty. The tomb was first discovered during excavations undertaken in the area by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports/Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia and the British School of Athens/University of Cambridge.

Prosilio 2 is a single use, 14th century, rock built chamber tomb located in a tumulus. The dromos measures 20 meters long and the façade is 5.4 meters in depth. The burial chamber is 42 square meters, making it the ninth largest out of almost 4,000 currently known chamber tombs. The original gabled roof of the tomb was 3.5 meters high, however a collapse shortly after its construction left a cavern 6.5 meters high. Inside the chamber, a rock cut bench lines all four sides of the tomb and walls and floor are plastered.

The chamber of Prosilio 2 (courtesy of archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com)

The burial consists of one man aged 40-50 years old along with numerous grave-goods, all fairly valuable. The grave goods consisted largely of various “tinned” clay vessels, horse bits, arrows, pins, jewelry, combs, a seal stone and a signet ring. Absent, however, apart from two small stirrup jars used to hold aromatic oil, was any form of Mycenaean decorated pottery despite its popularity at the time. Meanwhile, the large amount of jewelry in Prosilio 2, along with the Griffin Warrior, have thus led to the questioning of the prior notion that jewelry was only deposited in female graves.

A tinned drinking cup from Prosilio 2 (courtesy of archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com)

In comparison to the standard chamber tomb, Prosilio 2 has a number of remarkable similarities and differences. Architecturally, Prosilio 2 has a standard construction with a dromos, stomion, and burial chamber. Like the standard chamber tomb, Prosilio 2 has plastered walls and floors and a bench running along all four sides of the chamber. A lack of additional cist or pit graves, or other burials in the dromos, conforms with most single burial chamber tombs. However, the size of the tomb sets it apart from others and, along with the tumulus, leads one to think that the man interned was of high social and economic status. Within the tomb, the grave-goods are of a richer sort, also aiding the conclusion that the interned was of high economic status. The presence of weapons, horse-bits, and much jewelry lead to two conclusions: first, it has started to dispel the notion that jewelry was usually only a women’s grave-good. Secondly, as mentioned above, its collapse and its single use, with no other burials even in the dromos as was sometimes common in the event of a collapse, support the notion that expensive grave-goods may have been commonplace, just frequently removed from the grave by its owners. Architecturally, Prosilio 2 is similar to most rock built chamber tombs, just on a grander scale. Burial wise, its plethora of jewelry is noteworthy, and may be the result of the tombs collapse or some external factor which led the owners not to reclaim them.