The Pylos Combat Agate, an intricately carved 3,500-year-old sealstone discovered in a the tomb of a Greek warrior. All images courtesy of The Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati

More than two years ago researchers from the University of Cincinnati unearthed a 3,500-year-old tomb in the southwest of Greece. The tomb belonged to a Bronze Age warrior nicknamed the “Griffin Warrior,” and contained many treasures, such as four gold signet rings, that have challenged previous notions about the origins of Greek civilization.

Perhaps one of the most important and visually captivating finds from the tomb occurred a full year after its discovery. Researchers uncovered a carved sealstone no larger than an inch and a half wide. The “Pylos Combat Agate” meticulously displays two warriors engaged in battle with bodies strewn at their feet, with some details less than a millimeter wide. The carving is perhaps most astonishing because it predates artistic skills that were not associated with Greek civilization for another millennium.

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later,” said Jack Davis, Carl W. Blegen professor of Greek archaeology at the University of Cincinnati in UC Magazine. “It’s a spectacular find.”

In a testament to the anonymous artist’s skills, it’s also worthy to note that magnifying glasses were not believed to be used for another thousand years. This ability and sophistication shows that the inhabitants of the area were creating art with an interest and knowledge of representational art not previously imagined. This new discovery, explained Davis and fellow dig leader Shari Stocker, is a catalyst to completely reevaluate the timeline and development of Greek art.

You can read more about the miniature carving and the Griffin Warrior’s tomb in UC Magazine. (via Neatorama and The History Blog)

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