Jul 5, 2016

Is This the Legendary Throne of Agamemnon?

A stone fragment that might belong to the lost throne of the kingdom of Mycenae has been found by a Greek archaeologist, if his claims are right.

Made of a type of stone that has not been found anywhere else in Mycenae, the 110-pound slab is dubbed the throne of Agamemnon after the legendary king of Mycenae and leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War.

One of the central figures in the "Iliad," Homer's epic poem about the war, Agamemnon is also known for his bloody end in a bathtub, hacked to death by his wife and her lover as he returned from his victorious expedition against Troy.

A team led by Greek archaeologist Christofilis Maggidis found the fragment two years ago in the now-dry riverbed of the Chavos River, within the city's Lower Town.

Maggidis, associate professor at Dickinson College and president of the Mycenaean Foundation, said the polished stone block was found directly below Mycenae's royal palace. The hilltop building had partially fell down during a catastrophic earthquake in about 1200 BC.

"The throne fragment had fallen, rolled and was subsequently buried by the river fill when the southeastern part of palace collapsed in the ravine," Maggidis said.

Shortly after the stone fragment was brought to light in 2014, the finding was questioned.

Vassilios Petrakos, the Secretary General of Archaeological Society at Athens, appointed a committee to examine the piece. At the end, the stone fragment was dismissed as a basin. The committee's conclusion was accepted by the Ministry of Culture and the case appeared settled.

But Maggidis, who has been leading excavations at the site of ancient Mycenae in southern Greece since 2007, announced recently that further studies indicate conclusively that the find is "a fragment of the stone seat of the monumental royal throne of the palace at Mycenae."

"The assessment of the Petrakos committee about a 'basin' is unreliable and fallacious, as it was based on unfounded assumptions and erroneous observations," Maggidis told Discovery News.

He noted that the fragment is made of porous stone and would have been useless to hold liquids had it been a basin.

"The importance of an archaeological find is assessed by the international academic community on the basis of its scientific publication and in due time, not by committees or organizations," he added.

Maggidis, who will detail his findings in a scientific publication in 2017, said the block shows a stunning resemblance to another, older and smaller throne found in the Minoan palace of Knossos.

"It is similar in terms of shape, size and proportions," Maggidis said.

He noted that all the other alternative interpretations of a basin, altar, offering table or mortar are eliminated when considering the high quality of fine carving and polishing and the morphology of the block, which is carved in such a way as to support being sat upon.

"For example, the shallow central depression, which is only 3cm (1.18 inch) deep, and the way in which it slightly deepens towards the rear side, identical to the Knossos throne, are indisputable traits of a seat," Maggidis said.

"This is one of the most important and emblematic finds of the Mycenaean age," he added.

Read more at Discovery News

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