Protecting the Dead: the LBA site of Aidonia, Greece, and the TAPHOS project

Lecture | September 19 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Kim Shelton, Associate Professor of Classics, Director of Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology, Department of Classics, UC Berkeley

 Archaeological Research Facility

I present the preliminary results of the Nemea Center's collaborative project with the Greek Archaeological Service (TAPHOS) at the LBA site of Aidonia in the Korinthia region of Greece. This project was launched to explore the socio-cultural practices and political affiliation of the people interred in the Late Bronze Age (LBA) cemetery at Aidonia while at the same time preserving an endangered archaeological site through systematic excavation, publication of legacy material, and public education.

The tombs at Aidonia date from the early 15th to the late 13th c. BCE, roughly contemporary with the Shaft Graves from Mycenae excavated by Heinrich Schliemann and the influential palatial period that followed. The Mycenaean cemetery of Aidonia challenges current narratives regarding state development in LBA Greece because the tombs there echo the burials of palatial elites, but mortuary practices indicate that they thrived independent of the palatial societies characteristic of the nearby Argolid region.

Four years of excavation following a pilot survey season have revealed a complex mortuary tradition that includes significant variation in the treatment of primary and secondary burials indicating how the population engaged with and created memories of their past through the use and reuse of chamber tombs. Our current work has also revealed that extensive looting continues on the site and has already destroyed much of the site's narrative, but not entirely as several undisturbed tombs have now been completely and systematically recovered by our project.