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by Archaeology Newsroom

Achilles and the valley of the river Spercheios

Until recently Thessaly has been considered as belonging to the periphery of the Mycenaean world, an approach based, mainly, on the scarcity of available information. This picture has been radically changed, since the conclusions of recent research speak for an area quite significant within the boundaries of the Mycenaean world. However, the data supplied lately by a number of excavations are not sufficient for the formation of a final theory as regards the Spercheios Valley during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age. Nevertheless, they can support certain conclusions:

1. The Spercheios Valley, like Phocis and Thessaly, belongs to the sphere of the Mycenaean world. It seems that Homer as well as later ancient authors and poets, who relate Achilles with this area,give after all a reliable account of the presence of Mycenaeans in this region.

2. The up-to-date Mycenaean finds echo parallel artistic evolutions of their time as they were formulated in the southern Mycenaean centres and also exhibit influences from Thessaly.

3. Ceramics as well as the types of bronze jewels, dating from the Early Geometric period, show a close dependence on the art of Thessaly.

4. The burial practice is identical with that of Southern Greece.Family chamber-tombs were used exclusively for the burial of a family member. The Glypha tumulus with the cist graves is an exception to this rule a phenomenon, however, quite usual in Thessaly where the chamber-tombs are rather a rarity.

5. A variety of graves are used during the Early Geometric period.Old Mycenaean chamber tombs are reused (Bikiorema) or new are dug (Lamia).Large pithoi parallel to the ground with the dead in an embryo-like position (Syka, Hypati) or elsewhere cist and shaft graves (Stylis) prevail. It seems that the choice of a certain type of grave can be interpreted as a family or tribal tradition.