Tholos Tomb Picture

Μυκηναϊκός θολωτός τάφος του Άνω Εγκλιανού.
Πύλος, Μεσσηνία.

Mycenaean tholos tomb of Ano Englianos.
Pylos, Messenia – Greece.

A tholos tomb (plural tholoi "domed tombs") also known as a beehive tomb is a burial structure characterized by its false dome created by the superposition of successively smaller rings of mudbricks or, more often, stones. The resulting structure resembles a beehive. In Greece, the vaulted tholoi are a monumental Late Bronze Age development.

This Mycenaean tholos tomb is the largest in the area and stands near the palace at Epano Englianos. It was built around 1550-1500 BC and remained in use throughout the 15th and possibly until the 13th century BC. As a family tomb, it is estimated to have accommodated at least 17 burials. Although it had been looted in antiquity, it still contained pottery and precious small objects. Outstanding among them are four sheet-gold owls and a gold seal with representation of a griffin, emblem of royal authority. The presence of royal tholos tombs in the area of Englianos indicates that around 1500 BC there was a large settlement on the hill, which was the center of an extensive territory.

The site compares in size and richness with the palace of Mycenae and is believed to be the home of Nestor, the second most powerful Mycenaean king. In Greek mythology, Nestor of Gerenia was the King of Pylos. According to Homer’s Iliad, Nestor took part n the expedition against Troy, provided and equipped 90 vessels, second only to the 100 ships of the expedition leader, Agamemnon himself. Nestor returned in safety from Troy and survived a good many years. In the Odyssey, Nestor and those who were part of his army had safely returned to Pylos since they didn't take part in the looting of Troy upon the Greek's victory in the Trojan War. Odysseus's son Telemachus travels to Pylos to inquire about the fate of his father. Nestor receives Telemachus kindly and entertains him lavishly but is unable to furnish any information on his father's fate.

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© 2012 Jordan Kevrekidis
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