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Shaft Graves

Page history last edited by Tom Brady 13 years, 8 months ago


Shaft Graves








[map of mycenaea, Google Maps,Edited By Tom Brady]


Shaft graves originated in Crete in the late Bronze Age (c. 1600–1450 BC) in the Minoan culture, and then spread to the Mycenaean culture. Shaft graves have been discovered in almost all Mycenaean villages and cities, as well as cities on the island of Crete. The graves were first discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876. The first graves were found in a cemetary at Mycenae in two sections called Circle A and Circle B. Inside the oldest circle, Schliemann found remains of about twenty five bodies per grave. Evidence shows that bodies would remain in their grave for about one hundred and fifty years until they were removed and replaced with new bodies. However, the circle that was specified for containing bodies of royalty and wealthy, contained the old bodies as well as the new ones. Schliemann believed that bodies inside the royalty graves were relatives of Knossos himself. Also, due to animal bones found inside some graves, Schliemann had proof that there were detailed funeral rituals performed upon burial.




The purpose of shaft graves, deep vertical pits used for burial, were to bury warrior-princes and other royalty. However, due to a lack of space, bodies of normal citizens would be packed into small graves on the outside of the city. Depending on the location of the grave, it is possible to determine the importance of the people buried inside. The dead from the royal family were placed in Circle A graves and the common people who died were placed in Circle B graves. The bodies were placed in these deep graves along with posessions and riches, showing some form of belief of an afterlife. These posessions helped archaeologists determing the professions of the dead buried in the grave.





Many things were found inside the shaft graves at Mycenae. Depending on the contents, archaeologists determined the professions of the people inside. Some shaft graves included swords, daggers, scepters, jewelry, and drinking cups. These objects would show that the person buried inside was part of a elite class of warrior. Also inside were evidence of Therian culture. Paintings found in Thera relate to necklaces, earings, and metal vessals commonly found in the shaft graves. There is also an abundance of gold, silver, and bronze found in the graves, showing wealth and trade in Mycenae. The presence of the gold showed the people were almost nomadic because they had portable gold and weapons.




[Shaft Grave in Circle A, Mycenaea, Greece, http://www.galenfrysinger.com/tombs_mycenae_greece.htm]


[Shaft Grave, Mycenaea, Greece,



 There are two groups of shaft grave found in Mycenae that are each surrounded by circlar stone wall. They are designated circle A  and circle B. Circle A has six large graves and was specifically for wealthy people. Circle B was the oldest grave, but was discovered after Circle A. Circle B was outside of the city's defensive line. The graves were used for multipul burials over the course of several years. Circle A was found inside the city. The graves were made of pebble floors and slab roofs and there are often multiple bodies in a shaft. When a shaft was full the would put down timbers and continue with a new shaft on top.







“Aegean civilizations.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 4 Dec. 2008 <http://school.eb.com/>.




   “Greece .” World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO. 2 Dec. 2008 <http://www.ancienthistory.abc-clio.com/>.



    “shaft graves.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2 Dec. 2008 <http://school.eb.com/>.





La Rosa, Vincenzo. “The Prehistoric Background: The Minoan-Mycenaean Civilization .” The Greek World . Ed. Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli. New York : Rizzoi International Publications Inc. , 1996. 29-30.



Stokstad, Marilyn, and Emerita, Professor. Art A Briek History . 3rd ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 93.



Comments (5)

Cris Salazar said

at 10:53 am on Dec 2, 2008

nice job guys!

Cris Salazar said

at 11:00 am on Dec 4, 2008


Ebury said

at 10:06 pm on Dec 4, 2008

tom put the websites that u got them from like it says on the wiki instructions

Ebury said

at 10:07 pm on Dec 4, 2008

and put a diffrent picture than the daggers get another one of the graves themselves

Patrick Wroe said

at 3:00 pm on Dec 10, 2008


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