Greek archaeologists uncovered recently at Kozani, northern Greece, the remains of a wealthy woman who lived in the 1st century BC as well as symbols for the Greek god Apollo.
The unique findings were presented at an archaeological conference which began on Thursday and ended Saturday.
Archaeological discoveries presented
The discoveries were made at a Public Power Corporation (PPC) lignite mine in Eordea, Kozani over the excavation period which ran from 2018-2020.
Archaeologists working for the Ephorate of Antiquities of Kozani presented their finds at the 33rd conference on excavations in Macedonia and Thrace. The leader of the excavation, Dr. Areti Hondrogianni-Metoki, presented the discoveries and gave a speech about their significance.
First near-complete bed found
One of the extraordinary objects excavated at the lignite mines was the bed and remains of a 1st century BC woman.
Although there is evidence that people were often buried in their beds in ancient times, this was the very first time archaeologists have excavated someone buried that way in Greece.
Dr. Hondrogianni pointed out that during other excavations, bed accessories have been found, but that this is the first time an entire bed had been preserved. In 2020 an attempt was made by specialists at restoring the bed.
Most of the bed was made of bronze, which is the reason why it survived over the millennia. The wooden parts of the bed had unfortunately decomposed prior to being excavated, which is why the archaeologists devoted time to restoring the bed in 2020.
The fruits of their labor were presented at the conference, in the form of a reproduction of the original bed. This included the wooden elements, which were pieced together through studying information they had gleaned at the excavation.
This is a landmark archaeological finding, which has confirmed that Greeks of this period were indeed buried in their beds.
Skeleton may be of royal woman
The identity of the woman whose remains were found continues to be unknown. However, she is notable due to her wealthy — and perhaps royal — status.
Luxury objects were found buried around the woman, and she herself was found with golden laurel leaves around her head. Archaeologists believe that these may have been woven into a wreath for her to wear.
The woman was middle aged and is theorized to have belonged to a royal family, as there have been other archaeological discoveries in the wider area which point to royalty having settled there.
However, there is also the possibility that she was someone with great religious authority, which would also explain the wealth of the objects buried with her.
Symbols of Apollo
Parts of her bed were also decorated, according to the archaeologists. The ends of the bed were decorated with the heads of mermaids, but the decorations adorning the top of the bedstead hold particular significance.
This part of the bed bears the symbol of an aquatic bird holding a snake in its mouth — a known symbol for the god Apollo because of the Greek myth which recounts him having killed the snake in Delphi, subsequently saving the world.
The laurel tree and leaf is also sacred to Apollo, meaning that the leaves found on the woman’s head may have also been symbols for Apollo.
Archaeological findings in nearby Mavropigi show the remains of a sanctuary for Apollo.
Further archaeological study necessary
The woman’s remains have been transported to the Archaeological Museum of Aiani, where they will be studied further. The museum‘s laboratory is expected to be able to confirm her age and gender, as well as determine her cause of death using anthropological information.
The main goal of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Kozani is to create a life-size reproduction of the bed that was found as part of the burial This would be exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Aiani for the public to view.