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24 June 2012
New methods for tomb excavation

A new study takes a geo-archaeological approach towards excavation in hopes of better interpreting the use and reuse of Mycenaean chamber tombs, reconstructing the complex processes to better understand the social meanings behind it. This new method is a first step in developing a more nuanced approach towards excavation that can be potentially revealing at a number of mortuary sites.
     From 1400 to 1060 BCE, chamber tombs are found across the Aegean region and consist of three major elements: a chamber, a chamber entrance and the entrance corridor. They are traditionally found on hillsides, with the corridor sloping downwards to the chamber. The tombs usually contain more than one burial, and have a number of grave and funerary goods.
     It is known that chamber tombs were reopened for memorial services and burial of further individuals, but it is unknown how this process correlates with what is found within the tombs.
     Both macro-and micro-stratigraphy were applied to 6┬áMycenaean┬átombs to create better interpretations regarding their opening and reopening.
     As the soil will be of similar composition, sections were excavated to different levels and a single portion of the floor left untouched along the edge and middle to preserve the stratigraphy. A variety of lenses within the strata were then sampled to determine whether these represented individual episodes of refilling.
     While researchers were not able to correlate specific episodes of burial with grave goods or layers of soil, they were able to document the process of reopening and backfilling.

Edited from Past Horizons (13 June 2012)

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