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Πέμπτη, 7 Φεβρουαρίου 2019

The Gold Necklace from the grave of the Griffin Warrior at Pylos


One of the most spectacular finds from the grave of the Griffin Warrior, a Late Helladic II burial discovered in 2015 near the Palace of Nestor at Pylos, is a gold necklace (SN15-97) first uncovered in the southeast corner of the grave, near the right shoulder of the skeleton (Figs.1, 2).1 This necklace consists of a long gold loop-in-loop chain, three beads with granulated gold caps (two of agate and a central one of faience), gold repoussé finials, gold fasteners, and a piece of gold wire. In its composite form, the necklace is unique, even though the gold chain itself finds parallels for its method of construction at Mycenae, at Prosymna in the Argolid, on Crete, and elsewhere. The necklace is a welcome addition to the corpus of Aegean gold work, and the most elaborate example of its type to date.
This first scholarly presentation of the necklace and the context of its discovery gives us an opportunity to offer brief remarks on the significance of necklaces in martial contexts, both on Crete and on the Greek mainland during the first phases of the Aegean Late Bronze Age. We suggest that (1) the faience bead was most probably an Egyptian import; (2) the necklace was made on Crete and would have been worn in battle as a badge of honor; and (3) at some point, it may have been torn from a warrior’s neck by his opponent. We include the chemical analyses of the faience bead presented by Andreas G. Karydas, Vasiliki Kantarelou, and Maria Kaparou in the Appendix that follows this discussion.

  
The discovery and excavation of the necklace
Excavators first noticed the presence of the necklace on June 19, 2015, while cleaning around a nearby silver cup (SN15-18), but it could not be finally removed until three months later.2 The first part to emerge was one of two gold sacral ivy/papyriform finials and part of the gold chain (Fig.3:a), which ran under the edge of an enormous cover slab that had fallen into the grave, and was trapped beneath it.3 In early July, when a truck jack was used to raise the cover slab to an upright position, more of the necklace was freed (Fig.3:b).
It soon became clear, however, that the remainder was pinned under a large bronze cup (SN24-26) that rested on the right shoulder and chest of the warrior (Fig.3:c). It was only when the rim of the cup was removed that the necklace could be extracted on September 15, 2015 (Fig.3:d).4
The warrior was not wearing this gold necklace at the time he was buried. He was, however, wearing a necklace of amethyst beads, which were found above, below, and at the sides of his neck.5 Well more than a thousand other beads of carnelian, amethyst, gold, faience, ivory, and amber were found in the grave, the majority at the warrior’s right side, in the area where most of the sealstones and the four gold rings were also recovered.6 It is not clear how many of these were also from necklaces. From their random distribution in the grave, it appears that at least some of the smaller gold, faience, and carnelian beads may have been woven into a cloth cape or similar garment, in which case their presence may be indicative of a ritual, in addition to a military, role for the Griffin Warrior.7




The necklace  
Necklace -SN15-97 Fig.1. Chain, finials, beads, bead caps, fasteners, and wire. L. chain 74.5, chain and fasteners 75.6, finials 1.6 cm; W. chain ca. 0.3 cm2; Diam. central faience bead 1.76, smaller agate beads 1.52 cm. 
The chain for the necklace is fashioned from 365 gold links. Each finial consists of two repoussé plaques (Fig.4) decorated with a hybrid sacral ivy/papyriform motif (Furumark motif [FM]12, Late Helladic IIA variants with papyriform filling).8 In addition to vase painting, the motif is represented in Minoan Neopalatial seal carving (Fig.5), and a very close repoussé parallel on gold plaques was found by Christos Tsountas in Chamber Tomb 91 at Mycenae (Fig.6).9 The papyrus stems are formed by small ovals set between the volute spirals of the sacral ivy. Small ovals also outline the papyrus heads.
Two identical plaques were soldered together at their edges to form each finial, and the cavity formed between them was probably filled with sand (Fig.7).10
The finials were attached to the chain by fasteners, which consist of thin gold bands, rectangular in section, that have been folded over to form a loop at one end (Figs.8, 9). The sharpened ends of the fastener were inserted into a hole in the finial at the apex of the sacral ivy leaf where there is an oval bulb; the fastener was then welded into place. A short gold bar, round in section, was passed through the loop at the end of the fastener, after which the two loops formed by the last link in the chain were set over the ends of the bar. Finally, the ends of the bar were hammered flat so that the loops would pivot on the bar and not slide off it.


A second fastener was inserted into a hole at the top of the papyrus stem in each finial and likewise welded in place. The tops of the papyrus stems on both finials show evidence of repairs where the fasteners had once pulled loose in antiquity. They had been reinserted and the two halves of the finial were pulled together with short gold bands (Fig.10). Even this extreme measure did not succeed in holding the fasteners in the finials. By the time the necklace was excavated, one had again pulled loose -fortunately so, since that happy accident provided us with greater insight into the way in which the fasteners were crafted.11
About halfway between the two finials, two round agate beads flank a larger round, fluted “melon” bead (Figs.11, 12), which would originally have been a translucent blue.12 The results of chemical analysis have determined that the bead is made of faience; its style looks to Egypt for models, if it is not an actual import to the Aegean from there.13
The agate beads are not equidistant from the central bead. Had the necklace been broken and then repaired with some loops missing (assuming, of course, that the beads were arranged symmetrically in the first place)?14 All three beads have gold collars edged with gold granulation, which obscure the points of their attachment to the chain. The beads do not slide along the chain, and it seems unlikely that the chain passed through them. More probably, it was somehow secured to bronze or gold rods inserted into holes drilled through the beads-rods of the sort used to attach caps to sealstones.
The necklace was closed with a piece of flattened gold wire, inelegantly twisted around the fasteners that projected from the tops of the papyrus stems in order to tie them together (Fig.13).



Warriors and necklaces in the early Mycenaean period

Considerable attention has been given to the study of jewelry worn by women in the time of the Minoan New Palace period, particularly in reference to the wall paintings from Akrotiri, but much less to that worn by men.15 Yet it is clear that necklaces were frequent accessories to male dress, and we do not find it odd that the Griffin Warrior was buried with necklaces. Kilian-Dirlmeier has described the relevant kit of a warrior in the period of the Shaft Graves at Mycenae and in the Cretan New Palace period.16
She makes the point that in the choice of means of representation or prestige both the Mycenaeans and the Minoans preferred the same items: necklace, armlet, bracelet, seal and weapon. Given the chronological priority of Crete it may be argued that it is a Minoan fashion willingly and purposefully adopted by the Mycenaeans. It seems rather significant that this happened in the formative stage of Mycenaean society, when differentiation of status groups and a very complex ranking system were established.17
Notably, the necklace is a component of this kit, a point that can be underscored with reference to representational art and burial assemblages from warrior graves.
A warrior depicted in a seal impression from Ayia Triada wears a necklace (CMSII.6, no.15), as does the hero-victor on the Pylos Combat Agate (SN18-112) that also was found in the grave of the Griffin Warrior (Fig.14). In the former, a kilted warrior is about to plunge his sword into the neck of a fleeing opponent.18 He wears a necklace of six large spherical beads. In the latter, the victorious warrior wears a necklace wrapped twice around his neck; beads attached to its two ends flow behind him, above the locks of his hair.19 Further evidence of aggressive males wearing necklaces comes from the so-called Chieftain Cup of steatite found at Ayia Triada.20
Both kilted men wear necklaces; while one bears a sword, the other carries a staff and has a dagger strapped at his waist.21
Actual necklaces are distinctive components of assemblages from the so-called warrior graves at Knossos.22 There, from Tomb 4 at Sellopoulo, Popham, Catling, and Catling published relief beads of gold and faience that they believed came from three or four necklaces. The beads in gold consist of two repoussé plaques soldered together, like the finials of SN15-97.23 One type of faience bead, decorated with a waz-lily/papyrus motif, recalls the finials of SN15-97.24
We are not the first to suggest that a necklace was a badge of honor for a warrior, although our discoveries substantially bolster past claims. Laffineur, for example, has noted the relationship between military prowess and rank that we believe to be attested in the grave of the Griffin Warrior, stating that “burials with a complete set of offensive weapons are accompanied by precious vessels and rich jewelry, including diadems and necklaces.”25 Even more closely aligned with our own conclusion is Papadopoulos’s suggestion that warriors depicted wearing necklaces and bracelets are being set apart for special distinctions in the early phases of the Late Bronze Age, according to a custom that was Minoan in origin, but did not continue to be observed by later Mycenaeans.26



Where was the necklace made?
More gold loop-in-loop chains have been found in graves of the Early Mycenaean period than elsewhere in the Aegean in excavated contexts, but we are nonetheless inclined to think that SN15-97 was made on Crete.27
The necklace was likely imported to Pylos, damaged before or after its arrival, and repaired in ways that we have already noted, before finding its way to the grave.28 Is it too fanciful to imagine that it had been broken in battle when ripped off the neck of a previous owner?
The chain is arguably the finest example of loop-in-loop construction ever found in a prehistoric Greek context. The loops are, in fact, so tightly drawn that it is easy to confuse the technique with plaiting or braiding (Fig.15).29 The construction of the chain of our necklace has an old Aegean pedigree, one that is likely Minoan in origin.30 The closest parallel to the chain of the Pylos necklace is an example found by Tsountas in his Tomb 55 at Mycenae, which measures 60 cm long (Fig.16).31 Like SN15-97, the Mycenae chain was fashioned from gold loops, tightly compressed, with the ends of the final loop at each end of the chain attached to the loop of a pin-like fastener formed from a thin gold band. In the Mycenae case, the ends of the pins were inserted into the ends of a gold cylinder. The method of construction is clear, since one pin has pulled loose from the gold cylinder.
A much smaller, and much looser, chain, ca. 10 cm long, was discovered by Blegen in Tomb III at Prosymna (Fig.17).32 The final link on each end of it has been left open; these links may have been attached to a fastener like the Mycenae example, or they may have pivoted on a bar as did that from Pylos. Other loop-in-loop chains, more crudely made with welded repoussé finials, come from the so-called Aigina Treasure, purchased by the British Museum in 1892, and from Shaft Grave III at Mycenae.33
We find it difficult to believe that chains as sophisticated as those from Pylos and Mycenae could have been produced outside the compass of a palatial workshop, for which there is as yet no evidence in the Early Mycenaean period at Pylos or elsewhere on the Greek mainland. The other individual components of the necklace also seem compatible with Minoan manufacture. Both agate and faience beads were used in the production of jewelry of the Neopalatial period, while the technique of welding together matching repoussé halves is known from Crete.34 The hybrid sacral ivy/ papyrus motif is found both in Neopalatial wall painting and vase painting.
We conclude that the absence of close parallels from Crete itself is to be explained by the scarcity of published Neopalatial graves.35


The necklace and the Griffin Warrior
Finally, presentation of necklace SN15-97 encourages us again to remark on an extraordinary feature of the assemblage of objects interred with the Griffin Warrior: namely, the way in which representational imagery echoes actual objects. In publishing the four gold rings from the grave two years ago, we also wrote that “we can already say with certainty that there is a structural logic to the arrangement of objects in the grave.”36 There we mentioned the presence of a bronze mirror (SN10-7) that references a representation of a mirror being held by a seated goddess on our fourth gold ring (SN24-736), and also the depiction of a bull on the second gold ring (SN24-30) that parallels a bronze bull’s head designed as a finial for a staff (SN24-151).37
The necklaces from the grave of the Griffin Warrior constitute half of another pair of associations because they echo the necklace worn by the warrior on the Pylos Combat Agate.38 The fact that so many such references exist not only demonstrates the special attention paid to the selection of grave goods, but also suggests that mainlanders of the Early Mycenaean period had come to understand the meaning of iconography that is fundamentally Minoan in origin. In the present case, the most basic conclusion is that in the warrior society of Early Mycenaean Pylos, a necklace was a mark of particular distinction, and it was a victor who wore it.

Jack L. Davis 
University of Cincinnati department of classics 
Sharon R. Stocker 
University of Cincinnati department of classics 
Source: Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Vol.87, No.4 (October-December 2018), pp. 611-632

1. We initially announced the discovery of the necklace in the autumn of 2015 on our project’s website (www.griffinwarrior.org), where lowresolution photographs can be found. For general assistance in the preparation of this paper, we express our gratitude to Eric Cline, Emily Egan, Christine Lilyquist, Denitsa Nenova, Marina Panagiotaki, and Tina Ross. We also thank Evangelia Militsi, Demosthenes Kosmopoulos, Evangelia Malapani, and Nikos Antonopoulos for their support in Kalamata; Kathleen Lynch for her help in Cincinnati; Tina Ross for drawings; and Jeff Vanderpool, Peter Gaul, Maria Kontaki, and Eleftherios Galanopoulos for photographs. We thank Maria Anastasiadou in the archive of the Corpus der minoischen und mykenischen Siegel (CMS) in Heidelberg and Konstantinos Nikolentzos and Vasiliki Pliatsika of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens for providing illustrations of the comparative material. Finally, we thank the
major supporters of our work at Pylos, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Louise Taft Semple Fund of the University of Cincinnati, Phokion Potamianos and his family, the Malcolm
Hewitt Wiener Foundation, Jim and Mary Ottaway, Lawrence Stack and Loretta Cummings, Peter and Dorothea Goop, the Anglo-Hellenic League, the Kaplan Foundation, the Captain Vassilis and Carmen Constantakopoulos Foundation, the A. G. Leventis Foundation, the Elios Charitable Foundation, the National Hellenic Society, the Costopoulos Foundation, Bob and Dina McCabe, the Rust Family Foundation, and Robert and Nancy Stocker. Additionally, we are appreciative of the efforts of those who contributed to excavating the grave (see Davis and Stocker 2016, p. 628, n. 5, for individual acknowledgments).
2. The necklace was first uncovered by trench supervisor Alison Fields, who was assisted that day by Emily Egan. Fields wrote: “Emily continuing to clean around silver vessel to prepare it for removal. . . . to the N of the cup, immediately next to the stone was found part of a braided gold chain with a terminal in the shape of a sacral ivy! The chain seems to extend down under the stone and is being left in place for the moment.” It was finally removed by Sharon Stocker.
3. Concerning the cover slab, see Davis and Stocker 2016, pp. 631–632.
4. Stocker wrote in her diary on September 15, 2015: “We began the day with high stress levels because of the chain and the remaining fragment of the basin rim. . . . the basin cut the face and was solidly wedged against the bones of the face, the skull, and pieces of silver. It was a real mess. . . . ca. 10:00 a.m. I removed the necklace. It has been tormenting us for months now, but couldn’t come out until the basin rim was removed.”5. 
We do not present the amethyst necklace here, as it has not yet been studied in full.
6. The faience beads include the so-called “grain-of-wheat,” spherical, amygdaloid, and drum types. See Panagiotaki 2000 regarding Minoan faience more generally.
7. For the possibility that gold and beads of other materials were woven into fabrics at Troy and elsewhere in prehistoric times, see Barber 1991, pp. 171–172. For capes worn by men in ritual contexts, see Lenuzza 2012. See also Papadopoulos 2012, p. 652, and Konstantinidi 2001, p. 38, in reference to single pins in graves that may have served to secure such a male garment. There was one bronze pin in the grave of the Griffin Warrior (SN10-23), found by his pelvis and right leg, concreted by corrosion to a bronze mirror (SN10-7; the mirror is depicted in Davis and Stocker 2016, p. 651, fig. 14).
8. See Furumark 1941, fig. 35.
9. For the design, cf. seal impressions CMS II.7, no. 104A (Kato Zakros) and CMS II.8, no. 137 (Knossos) in Fig. 5, below. The grave of the Griffin Warrior has ivory beads with representations of
the waz-lily (SN10-168, SN10-169), but no beads of any sort with the sacral ivy/papyriform hybrid. For the primary publication of the gold plaques from Mycenae, see Xenaki-Sakellariou 1985, p. 255, no. 3191, pl. 125; see also the discussion in Laffineur 2012, p. 6, pl. III:b.
10. We thank Denitsa Nenova for her demonstration that all four plaques were made from the same mold. She describes (pers. comm., 2018) the method she followed in reaching this conclusion: “Schematic vector line tracing was applied on the most prominent parts (positives) of one of the four sides of the two finials of the necklace. The model aimed to account for the dimensions, shape, and distances between the elements of the motif. The semi-transparent tracing that resulted was then directly overlaid on the other three sides, resulting in a complete overlap with the positives on each, with only minor biases in execution: e.g., such as a 7-degree rotation of the motif from one side of finial A (the unbroken example) to the other in comparison to finial B (the broken example), where the designs on the front and back align perfectly.” Systematic studies of the repoussé technique are surprisingly few, given its widespread use in the early phases of the Late Bronze Age of Greece. One exception is a study by Christine de Vree, who used a digital microscope to measure gold owls from Tholos IV at Pylos, Kakovatos, and Peristeria; she argues in her forthcoming dissertation (Univ. of Freiburg) that all were made from the same mold. See also Laffineur 2012, pp. 5–6, for further discussion of the repoussé technique in reference to Aegean goldwork. On sand as filler, see n. 23, below.
11. It seems to us most likely that the fastener pulled loose when the cover slab fell into the grave.
12. See the Appendix, below, for a description of the present condition and color of the “melon” bead.
13. See, e.g., Lilyquist 2003 for Egyptian examples, and Panagiotaki 2000 for Minoan faience. We are grateful to Eric Cline, Christine Lilyquist, and Marina Panagiotaki for commenting on illustrations of the bead.
14. The points at which the fasteners are attached to the finials are the weakest points of the necklace (see below). It is unlikely that the chain itself would have broken, but links may have been lost.
15. For Minoan-Mycenaean jewelry in general, see Higgins 1980, pp. 53– 85, and now also Nosch and Laffineur 2012. See also Younger 1992 for representations of jewelry in Minoan- Mycenaean art, and Vlachopoulos and Georma 2012 for Akrotiri in particular.
16. Kilian-Dirlmeier 1988.
17. Kilian-Dirlmeier 1988, p. 165.
18. For the impression from Ayia Triada, see CMS II.6, no. 15.
19. Stocker and Davis 2017, pp. 591–592, fig. 12.
20. Koehl 1986. More recently, see Koehl 2016 for the argument that the cup depicts a male rite of passage.
21. See Koehl 2016, p. 115, fig. 9.2:a.
22. Popham, Catling, and Catling 1974, pp. 211–214. For a later, more comprehensive discussion, see Alberti 2004.
23. For the gold repoussé beads, “dark ‘sand’ was used to fill the hollow interior, so protecting their fragile character and giving them added weight” (Popham, Catling, and Catling 1974, p. 213). See also Higgins 1980, p. 83, where the material is identified as magnetite sand.
24. Popham, Catling, and Catling 1974, p. 212, fig. 11:K. The grave of the Griffin Warrior contains gold beads identical to the one from Sellopoulo (Popham, Catling, and Catling, p. 212, fig. 11:H).
25. Laffineur 2012, esp. pp. 15–16. Younger (1992, p. 275) in his fundamental review of images of jewelry did not, however, note any particular connection between jewelry and warriors: “Most people wear jewelry, men and women, but not usually in battle or on the hunt.”
26. Papadopoulos 2012, pp. 650–651. Regarding warrior status on Crete, see also Marinatos 1995, p. 581, n. 39 (in reference to necklaces), and Kostantinidi 2001, pp. 237–238 (in regard to warriors and jewelry, including necklaces).
27. There are no exact parallels as yet known from Crete. Beads of agate and faience find parallels on Crete, and the gold caps embellished with granulation are present on sealstones found in Minoan contexts, although they are more common on the mainland; see Krzyszkowska 2005, pp. 240–241;
Stocker and Davis 2017, p. 600. The challenge of distinguishing between
Mycenaean and Minoan art of the Early Mycenaean period has fascinated, inspired, and bedeviled Aegean prehistory since its beginnings: see the comments in Higgins 1967, pp. 76–79; Hood 1978, pp. 23–24; Betancourt 1981; Dickinson 1997; and see, in particular, Vermeule’s (1975) and Davis’s (1974, 1977) intellectually engaging, if not always conclusive, attempts to do so. Although we have favored a Minoan origin for the gold rings, the Combat Agate, and now also the gold necklace in publications thus far, we will argue for mainland manufacture for other finds from the grave in future publications.
28. On repairs to Aegean jewelry, see Phillips 2012, esp. p. 484.
29. As we ourselves did, in fact. Higgins (1980, p. 16) commented on “the remarkably square section” of such chains and adds that from “a structural point of view, they may be said to have two principal faces and two sides.”
30. See Higgins 1980, p. 16, fig. 3, for the simple form of the loop-in-loop chain; see also Evely 2000, pp. 409–410, on Minoan chains and their manufacture. A short loop-in-loop chain was found by Xanthoudides (1924, p. 111, pls. XV:484, LVII:484) in an Early Minoan vaulted tomb at Platanos
in the Messara; see the discussion of it in Hickman 2012, pp. 527–528, pl. CXXXVI:b–d.
31. Xenaki-Sakellariou 1985, p. 172, no. 2882, pl. 70.
32. Blegen 1937, p. 184, figs. 460, 578.
33. See Fitton, Meeks, and Joyner 2009. The loop-in-loop construction technique was used for several items of jewelry in the Aigina Treasure but in no case were a pin and bar employed to attach the chain to finials. For Mycenae, see Karo 1930–1933, pl. XXII, no. 78, with repoussé pendants attached to loose, loop-in-loop chains. Repoussé pomegranates (no. 77) from the same grave were also made by welding two halves together.
34. Evely 2000, pp. 424–426; see also the parallels from Sellopoulo cited in n. 23, above.
35. See Murray 2016, p. 60, fig. 3.18, for a color illustration of the motif on a kilt in the Procession Fresco from Knossos; see Banou and Betancourt 1999, p. 135, no. BQ1, fig. 14, pl. 19A, for a version of the motif in Late Minoan IB pottery.
36. Davis and Stocker 2016, p. 649.
37. Davis and Stocker 2016, pp. 652, 652, fig. 15.
38. See also Stocker and Davis 2017, p. 602.

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