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Describe the development of ancient Greek burial customs through time Essay Example

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Describe the development of ancient Greek burial customs through time

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Females were highly valued as represented on the palace frescoes and figurines of “bosomy goddesses”, but burial customs reveal that males held highest positions in running the society (Martin 26). Martial prowess was highly valued, as the wealth of weaponry found in graves of Minoan males indicated (Martin 26). It is safe to assume than Minoan palaces were run by male kings or princes, and that the society was already highly specialized (Martin 26).The first Greek speaking culture whose burial grounds have been uncovered come from the Mycenaean culture of the second half of the second millennium B. The Mycenaean culture left rich and unique burial grounds. They were constructed as stone-lined shafts (Martin 27). Corpses were buried “with golden jewelry, including heavy necklaces festooned with pendants, gold and silver vessels, bronze weapons decorated with scenes of wild animals inlaid in precious metals, and delicately painted pottery” (Martin 26). The shafts date back to 1,600 B. The artifacts of the shaft graves indicate that Mycenaean culture was dominated by warriors and organized in independent settlements ruled by powerful commanders who lived in palaces (Martin 27). There was another type of burial chambers, tholos tombs (Martin 28). They are “spectacular underground domed chambers built in beehive shapes from closely fitted stones” (Martin 28). These stones mark a new period in Mycenaean society, beginning in the fifteenth century B., characterized by contacts throughout the eastern Mediterranean (Martin 28).As in the Minoan society, here too were warriors highly valued (Martin 29). All wealthy males in the Mycenaean culture were buried with their fighting equipment (Martin 29). A tomb from the fourteenth century B. in Dendra in northeastern Peloponnese harbored a complete suit of Mycenaean bronze armor composed of “a complete bronze cuirass (chest guard) of two pieces for front and back, an adjustable skirt of bronze plates, bronze greaves (shin guards), shoulder plates, and a collar…[and] a boarstusk helmet with metal cheekpieces” (Martin 29). His grave also contained “a leather shield, bronze and clay vessels, and a bronze comb with gold teeth” (Martin 29). This tomb is indicative of the state of the art in technology and the place in society that technology had in warfare: “the lightweight, two-wheeled chariot pulled by horses” dominated the battlefields (Martin 29). The vehicles were represented on “a

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Works cited

Antonaccio, Carla M. “Contesting the Past: Hero Cult, Tomb Cult, and Epic in Early Greece.”

American Journal of Archaeology 98. 3 (1994): 389-410. Web. 23 May 2012.

Hall, Edith. “Introduction.” In Antigone, King Oedipus and Electra. Kitto, H.D.F. Oxford:

Oxford University Press, 1962. Print.

Homer. Illiad. In Stevanovic, Lada. “Funeral Ritual and Power: Farewelling the Dead in the

Ancient Greek Funerary Ritual.” Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnography SASA LVI I.2 (2009): 37 – 52. Web. 23 May 2012.

Martin, Thomas. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times. Yale: Yale

University Press, 1996. Print.

Morris, Ioan. Burial and Ancient Society: The Rise of the Greek City State. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 1987. Print.

Sophocles. Antigone. In Antigone, King Oedipus and Electra. Kitto, H.D.F. Oxford: Oxford

University Press, 1962. Print.

Stevanovic, Lada. “Funeral Ritual and Power: Farewelling the Dead in the Ancient Greek

Funerary Ritual.” Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnography SASA LVI I.2 (2009): 37 – 52.

Web. 23 May 2012.

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