Digging Through The Past to Understand the Present

Revisit this fascinating story from Smithsonian Magazine on what the discovery of a 3,500-year-old soldier’s tomb in southwestern Greece tells us about the Mycenaeans, the Minoans, and the roots of Western civilization — and what archaeology tells us about who we are as humans.

“There were days when 150 beads were coming out—gold, amethyst, carnelian,” says Davis. “There were days when there was one seal stone after another, with beautiful images. It was like, Oh my god, what will come next?!” Beyond the pure thrill of uncovering such exquisite items, the researchers knew that the complex finds represented an unprecedented opportunity to piece together this moment in history, promising insights into everything from religious iconography to local manufacturing techniques. The discovery of a golden cup, as lovely as the day it was made, proved an emotional moment. “How could you not be moved?” says Stocker. “It’s the passion of looking at a beautiful piece of art or listening to a piece of music. There’s a human element. If you forget that, it becomes an exercise in removing things from the ground.”

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