W6 Archaeology in the News Post

Article name: Human burial found in the middle of sacrificial altar at Mt. Lykaion

Date: 8/11/2016

Source: https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2016/08/human-burial-found-in-middle-of.html

Description: Mt. Lykaion, the place that Zeus was believed to be born and raised, has been a site known for sacrifices. Usually goats and sheep, there is a dedicated ash altar with sacrificial remnants that can be dated from the 16th century BC to the Hellenistic period. Recently, however, a human skeleton was found in the middle of the altar.

Mt. Lykaion, where Zeus was said to be born and raised, has great holy significance to the ancient Greek people. Ashes from sacrificial goats and sheep were commonplace from the 16th century to the Hellenistic period. In summer, 2016, however, human remains were found roughly centered in the ash altar. Their skull was missing, but their lower jaw was preserved. Pottery associated with the skeleton was dated to the Mycenaean period, suggesting that the burial likely dates approximately to the 11th century BC. The skeleton is still being studied, but the body’s position and East/West orientation clearly indicate its importance.

Also discussed in the article are some findings at a nearby site, including a staircase and some clay sima (upturned parts of a roof to act as a gutter) associated with an administrative building.

What struck me in this article was how the skeleton was dated by associating it with the pottery. I was originally looking for an article that used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the bones left behind, but the first two I checked both used pottery found during the excavation. Perhaps it’s simply too recent to have been dated using radiocarbon dating. Maybe it’s also just cheaper to get an approximate date with the associated pottery than it is to do radiocarbon dating.

5 thoughts on “W6 Archaeology in the News Post

  1. I actually had the same article this week! I thought it was rather interesting as it seemed to be a huge input to the culture of Greeks. They were placed as the center of civilization and represented a society of peace and structure, yet they seemed to have done sacrifices. It explains what writers had been looking at for many years. They would all point to Greece and say that sacrifice was common there, yet there was never any evidence that proved this until now. I also love how they explained the whole altar that they found making sure that there was a ritual that went along with the killing.

  2. I hope that one-day dating technology will be able to advance to much more accurate and cheaper standards. That would really make the archaeological record more detailed. I hate to be slightly skeptical for approximate dates based solely on pottery. I always find it interesting when ancient sites are somehow connected to a compass orientation. How did people from so long ago find the orientation and why was the significance to them? A gutter on an ancient administrative building seems interesting. People really did many of the things that we do today so long ago. This would be an interesting site to visit.

  3. I also came across this article on the website. I love learning about ancient Greek history, and it fascinates me that we are still uncovering evidence and new findings that feed us more information even in the summer of 2016! Reading your post makes me wonder if the sacrificial ash alter has been explored very much before, especially if they are just now realizing that there was human skeleton remains there. I also think it’s strange and interesting how the person’s skull was missing, but their lower jaw was preserved! I agree that it is astounding how they dated the skeleton according to the dated pottery associated with it.

  4. Wow that is crazy we both had the same story this week! I found mine on ABCNews but it was still the same topic. I thought that the craziest part of the story was that they found ashes from animals close to the remains because it pretty much perfectly matches an Ancient Greek myth about sacrifices performed for Zeus. However, the article I read did not mention anything about the staircase or about the administrative building! I really hope they find some more interesting artifacts on the mountain because I would love to see some more ancient Greek myths confirmed!

  5. This is a very interesting article on many levels. The fact that they did not use radiocarbon dating is also very shocking to me. Considering how much more advanced our dating techniques have become, including AMS dating, it seems odd that they used the pottery around the skeleton in the ashes to date the skeleton. I would think that they would be able to date the artifacts at this site in a much more precise way. The fact that the skull was missing seems fascinating to me as well. Usually in ceremonies like these, everything is done for a reason so it only makes me wonder why they removed the skull.

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