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A Rare Carved Stone That Could Change Art History

In 2016, archaeologists unearthed the grave of a man who died around 1500 B.C in Pylos, Greece. He's now called the "Griffin Warrior." One of the artifacts found was a small stone less than an inch and half wide, encrusted with limestone that had accumulated over the past several thousand years. But when the limestone was removed, the stone revealed an intricate carving that amazed the scientists studying it. Shari Stocker and Jack Davis of the University of Cincinnati described the stone they call the “Pylos Combat Agate.”

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later,” explained Davis. “It’s a spectacular find.”

Even more extraordinary, the husband-and-wife team point out, is that the meticulously carved combat scene was painstakingly etched on a piece of hard stone measuring just 3.6 centimeters, or just over 1.4 inches, in length. Indeed, many of the seal’s details, such as the intricate weaponry ornamentation and jewelry decoration, become clear only when viewed with a powerful camera lens and photomicroscopy.   

“Some of the details on this are only a half-millimeter big,” said Davis. “They’re incomprehensibly small.” 

Read about the excavation and the Pylos Combat Agate at UC magazine. There's also a website dedicated to the Griffin Warrior's grave. -via Atlas Obscura

(Image credit: The Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati)

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