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by Archaeology Newsroom

A crime in the late Minoan period

Among 500 skeletons found at the Late Minoan cemetery at Armenoi Rethymnon, Crete, 67E is the only individual who presents incontestable evidence of having met with a very violent and premature death. The finds in his family tomb indicate a degree of affluence or social prominence. The deceased was a young man about 25 years old. He was fairly tall and his skeleton shows he was physically robust and energetic, although his natural vigor may have been impaired due to brucellosis. On several parts of his body (arms, thighs and shins), there are traces of cuts which must have been caused by a sharp, heavy instrument, probably an axe. His right hand, in which perhaps he held a weapon to defend himself, had been completely severed at the middle of the forearm, since the rest of the bones of this arm were not recovered from the tomb. Traces of what very much resemble blood stains are easily visible on several bones, including the skull. His premature and violent death may have followed a duel or murder attempt. Perhaps through his social position or because of some other social problem of the period, he had incurred someone’s dislike or jealousy, alternatively he may have caused offence and been challenged to a duel.