In 2015, researchers have found a rare 3,500-year-old seal-stone from the collection of 1,400 artifacts unearthed in the ancient tomb of a Bronze Age warrior buried in southwest Greece. This seal, which the researchers have now dubbed the “Pylos Combat Agate,” depicts a fierce hand-to-hand battle between three warriors, and changes our understanding of Greek art in the Bronze Age because it was around 1,000 years ahead of its time, according to experts.
It took experts from the University of Cincinnati about a year to clean the artifact before they might spot the delicate details carved into its surface.
As the team member Dr. Jack Davis told UC Magazine, the university’s news outlet. “What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later. It’s a spectacular find.”
The battle scene was engraved on a piece of hard stone just 3.6 centimeters (1.4 inches) long. Some of the details engraved into the stone are merely half a millimeter big and can only be easily noticed with a photomicroscope camera lens. According to experts, in order to create such a masterpiece, a magnifying glass might have been used. But the problem is, they didn’t manage to find any type of magnifying tool from this time period.
The thumb-sized stone shed light on the Mycenaean civilization and the influence the Minoans exerted to mainland Greece. The tomb where the stone was discovered is situated on the Peloponnese peninsula at Pylos, at the site of King Nestor’s palace.
The scene on the seal of a warrior who, having previously slain one adversary, plunges his sword into the exposed neck of another, it most likely portrays a legend that would appear to have been popular at the moment.
“It’s so moving to actually look at. Almost always the reaction is to cry,” said Stocker. “It would have been a valuable and prized possession - I think he would have certainly identified himself with the hero depicted on the seal.”
The “Pylos Combat Agate,” was one of the 1,400 ancient rarities discovered in the tomb. The tomb himself it contained the well-preserved skeleton of the “Griffin Warrior”, accompanied with a plaque portraying a being called a griffin, with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion.
The team of experts was able to reconstruct the warrior’s face and is estimated to have been around 30-years-old when he died. The fact that the vessels in the warrior’s tomb, constructed around 1500 B.C, are metal and not ceramics is an indication of his fortune and power.
The trove of riches discovered inside the tomb includes four gold signet rings and a variety of weapons, cups, and basins made of bronze, silver, and gold.
“This is the most important finding to have been discovered in 65 years in continental Greece” - The Greek culture minister confirmed.
Nevertheless, this fascinating find creates more questions than it does answers.
How could they cut and shape this stone in the Bronze Age, given that bronze is a great deal softer than the agate or hard stone that this piece is made from?
Details of less than 5mm require precision tools, where did they get them, and what were they made from?
“There will be many more surprises to come, for sure,” Dr Davis said.