Forgotten necropolis


Mar 6, 2007

An unknown lakeside civilization reveals its hidden treasures

An unknown civilization around four lakes that lasted from 6000 BC to 60 BC has been uncovered in two important excavations of a Neolithic and an Iron Age settlement in the Amyntaio district of Florina, northern Greece.

A 7,300-year-old home with a timber floor, remnants of food supplies and blackberry seeds are among the findings in a Neolithic settlement near the lakes of Vegoritis, Petres, Heimatitida and Zazari. Garments, women’s fashions and burial customs in northern Eordaia 3,000 years ago are coming to light among the hundreds of funeral offerings in a forgotten necropolis dating from the Iron Age in western Macedonia.

More than 100 years after the excavation at Aghios Pandeleimonas in Amyntaio in the Florina prefecture – known in the bibliography as the Pateli Necropolis – by the Russian Archaeological Institute of Istanbul, a systematic investigation of 12 tombs by the 17th Antiquities Ephorate has found a total of 358 tombs dating from between 950 BC and 550 BC. Although the first discovery in 1898 of 376 graves produced many findings, now in the Istanbul Museum, the necropolis between the lakes of Heimatitida and Petres has revealed hundreds more graves.

The graves, mostly rectangular in shape and placed in a circular formation, contain hundreds of funeral gifts buried with the dead. Among them are ceramic and bronze pots, jewelry, clothing accessories, iron and bronze weapons and tools and a number of other objects of unknown use.

A total of 460 locally made pots have been collected from the graves of men, women and children. Of particular interest are the pieces of jewelry, hairdressing and beauty aids in nearly all the women’s graves as well as those of little girls.

Panikos Chrysostomou, who is in charge of the dig, has attempted to depict the appearance of women in ancient Pateli, and is to present it on Saturday at an archaeology exhibition on excavations in Macedonia and Thrace.

The depiction, which refutes many of the elements in previous presentations of archaeological findings, at least those shown in the past 20 years of this annual conference, shows details of bronze ribbon diadems and bronze and gold hair ornaments, bead necklaces of stone, bronze or shell, iron, ivory or leather belts decorated with bronze, a wide variety of bracelets and bronze rings for the middle or ring finger.

Men’s graves show that residents of this town did not bear arms, as only a few weapons were found in the graves.

Inhabited from 6000 BC to 3100 BC in the region of Amyntaio, a Neolithic settlement has given up hundreds of findings. Part of a timber floor measuring 5 square meters and in excellent condition is unique in Greece and the Balkans.

A large number of objects indicate the economic activity, eating habits and daily activities of the inhabitants and include weaving looms, ceramic pots, 53 clay figurines, 25 small figures of humans and animals, a large number of jewelry items and charred remnants of plants (wheat, lentils, pomegranates and fruit seeds) which have been preserved for 7,300 years.