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A Bronze Age Masterpiece

When University of Cincinnati archaeologists Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis discovered the Bronze Age grave of a man who came to be known as the Griffin Warrior at the site of Pylos in Greece, they could never have imagined that they would eventually recover more than 2,000 artifacts from the burial. In addition to the ivory plaque bearing the half-lion, half-eagle mythical beasts that gave the warrior his name, they found gold rings, bronze weapons, ivory combs, bronze mirrors, and semi-previous seal stones. The tiny gem, known as the Pylos Combat Agate, is decorated with some of the finest carving and most evocative imagery ever seen on a seal stone from the ancient Mediterranean world. To read an in-depth article about the discovery of the burial, go to "World of the Griffin Warrior." (All images courtesy Jeff Vanderpool, Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati)

  • The Pylos Combat Agate is one of 50 decorated seal stones to have been found in the Griffin Warrior’s tomb. It measures only 1.4 inches wide and depicts a leaping warrior stabbing an armored enemy in the neck. Another foe lies dead at his feet.
  • An extreme close-up of the soldier being stabbed shows the extraordinary detail of the seal stone’s imagery, especially the depiction of the weaponry and armor.
  •  The leaping warrior’s curly flowing hair conveys a vivid sense of motion.
  • The heaviness of the fallen warrior’s body, along with his upturned hand and tilted head, powerfully evoke the physicality of death.

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