Greek archaeologists recently discovered in Kozani, northern Greece, the remains of a wealthy woman who lived in the 1st century BC along with symbols of the Greek god Apollo.
The unique finds were presented at an archaeological conference that started on Thursday and ended on Saturday.
Archaeological discoveries presented
The discoveries were made at a Public Power Corporation (PPC) lignite mine in Eordea, Kozani, during the excavation period which ran from 2018 to 2020.
Archaeologists working for the Kozani Ephorate of Antiquities presented their findings at the 33rd Macedonian and Thracian Excavation Conference. The head of the excavation, Dr Areti Hondrogianni-Metoki, presented the findings and gave a speech on their significance.
First almost full bed found
One of the extraordinary objects unearthed in the lignite mines was the bed and remains of a woman from the 1st century BC.
Although there is evidence that people were often buried in their beds in ancient times, this was the very first time that archaeologists have excavated a person buried this way in Greece.
Dr Hondrogianni pointed out that during further excavations bed accessories had been found, but this was the first time that an entire bed had been preserved. In 2020, specialists attempted to restore the bed.
Most of the bed was made of bronze, which is why it has survived for millennia. Unfortunately, the wooden parts of the bed had decayed before they were excavated, which is why archaeologists spent time restoring the bed in 2020.
The fruits of their labor were presented at the conference, in the form of a reproduction of the original bed. This included the wooden elements, which were reconstructed by studying the information they had gleaned during the excavation.
This is a historical archaeological find, which confirmed that the Greeks of this period were indeed buried in their beds.
The skeleton can be a royal woman
The identity of the woman whose remains were found remains unknown. However, she stands out for her status as a wealthy – and possibly royal.
Luxurious items were found buried around the woman, and she herself was found with golden bay leaves around her head. Archaeologists believe these may have been woven into a wreath for her to wear.
The woman was of middle age and is believed to have belonged to a royal family, as there have been other archaeological finds in the wider area that indicate royalty settled there.
However, there is also the possibility that she was someone with great religious authority, which would also explain the richness of the objects buried with her.
Symbols of Apollo
Parts of his bed have also been decorated, according to archaeologists. The ends of the bed were decorated with mermaid heads, but the decorations on the top of the bed have special meaning.
This part of the bed bears the symbol of an aquatic bird holding a serpent in its mouth – a symbol known to the god Apollo due to the Greek myth that he killed the serpent at Delphi, subsequently saving the world.
The laurel and the leaf are also sacred to Apollo, which means that the leaves found on the woman’s head may also have been symbols of Apollo.
Archaeological finds near Mavropigi show the remains of a sanctuary for Apollo.
Further archaeological study is needed
The woman’s remains have been transported to the Archaeological Museum of Aiani, where they will be studied in more detail. The museum’s laboratory should be able to confirm his age and sex, as well as determine the cause of his death using anthropological information.
The main purpose of the Kozani Ephorate of Antiquities is to create a life-size reproduction of the bed that was found as part of the burial, which would be on display in the Aiani Archaeological Museum for the public to see.