Woman of Lefkandi

Woman of Lefkandi

The Dark Ages are characterized by a period of lack of information and depopulation, as well as by a shift in burial practices. The shift towards ornate burials and “hero graves” is most obvious at Lefkandi, where an intricate tomb is contingent to a large cemetery. Within the tomb, or “Toomba,” are remains of a woman, presumably a rich woman. Interestingly, her remains were not cremated and were buried along side those of a cremated man, his remains bundled in linen and within an amphora. Whether or not she was “superior” per say to the man is up for debate; some archaeologists believe that she was buried as a companion for the man, while others believe that the man was her protector to the under-World (Musgrave).

Her high status is indicated by firstly her expensive jewelry adornments, including pieces with precious jewels, as well as a gold brassiere. Also found in her grave was an ancient Babylonian gorget, and an iron knife with an ivory handle, perhaps an hint of her status, occupation, or family ties. Another indication of the ritualistic nature of this grave is the presence of four horse skeletons within the grave. Still preserved are their iron bits; their existence suggests some kind of sacrifice or other god-focused offering (Musgrave).

            This particular burial suggests that Dark Age life achieved a higher level of civil discourse than previously thought. The well-crafted jewelry indicates that ancient Greeks of the Dark Ages achieved a higher level of industrial success than previously indicated. Furthermore, the variety of jewelry and metalwork could mean that these Greeks had more international or non-local contact than formerly believed. The ornamentation of the body, along with the precision and carefulness of artifacts accompanying the body suggest that burial practices and the afterlife were pinnacles of ancient Greek civilization. Also, the richness of the grave as a whole leads us to believe that there was a definitive hierarchical pyramid for Greeks at this time, with elites or royalty receiving great treatment and adornment in their burials, whereas commoners or plebeians were publicly buried. The site of Lefkandi preserves some of the most remarkable artifacts and telling details of life in the Dark Age period.

Sources Consulted

Biers, William R. The Archaeology of Greece: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Ithaca:

Cornell UP, 1996. Print.

British School of Athens. “Jewelry from a female burial.” Early Excavations at 
Lefkandi.Classics, 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.


The Late Helladic IIIC Intramural Burials at Lefkandi, Euboea
Jonathan H. Musgrave and M. R. Popham
The Annual of the British School at Athens , Vol. 86, (1991), pp. 273-296
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30102879
Fitzsimons, Rodney. “Lefkandi.” Hierarchy and Diversity: Iron Age Burial 
Practices. Champlain College, 2009. Web. 1 Dec. 2012.

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