Παναγιώτα Πολυχρονάκου Σγουρίτσα, ομ. καθ., Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Ελένη Μαντζουράνη, καθ., Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Αφροδίτη Χασιακού, λέκτ., Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Γιάννης Παπαδάτος, αν. καθ., Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Κώστας Κοπανιάς, αν. καθ., Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Ελευθέριος Πλάτων, αν. καθ., Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Άννα Γραμμένου, τ. λέκτ., Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
In the Year 1963, the late Ephor of Antiquities E. Mastrokostas excavated 5 Mycenaean graves near the village of Ag. Ilias, on behalf of the Archaeological Society at Athens. One chamber tomb was found under the very end of the square of the village, where the church of Panagia is situated and the four “tholos” tombs were found further south, near the hill of Prof. Ilias. In the southwest side of the hill several Neolithic finds were recovered, many near the “Kokkini Spilia” cave.
The hill of Prof. Ilias is very well situated. It lies between the sea and the river Acheloos, overlooking a very fertile plain and all the land, river and sea roads. The Mycenaean settlement on its top is surmised from some Mycenaean sherds, but has not been excavated yet.
The biggest “tholos” grave Seremeti (diam. 5,25m.) does not exist today but has given some of the most valuable and oldest finds. The same applies to the Panagia chamber tomb in the village.
The three Marathia graves still exist today, partly destroyed and pillaged already in antiquity and can be visited and studied (diam. 3-4m.) The Ephoria has provided them with wooden covers.
Though of rather small size all the “tholos" graves are remarkably well built. The blocks are small, almost regularly curved, consisting of a white smooth, rather soft substance and have a triangular or trapezoidal shape at the back end. The graves have no “stomion” but posess a rather low “dromos”. The first row of the closure was built with small stones. The Iintel was found intact in only one of the tombs.
The Ag. Ilias graves are built very much Iike the Mycenaean grave in Palaiomanina , the small one in Loutraki-Katouna dug by the Ephor Lazaros Kolonas and the one in Kiperi-Parga studied by Thanasis Papadopoulos. All these graves have the same characteristics. The stone material is of the same quality or of equal substance and enabled the masons to cut the blocks in the same rectangular shape. A geological report on the similarity of the limestone ranges of western Greece can be read at the Annex considering the matter. It is also very probable, that the same groups of masons, worked all along the west coast of Greece.
The items found in the graves show us that these were used for a long period of time, from LH II B to LH III C. Several bones and teeth were found from the numerous burials , but we have no proof if all of them were kept.
The finds comprise a great number of pottery sherds and some small intact alabastron (rounded as well as straight-sided), squat jugs, stirrup jars, deep bowls, cups, a feeding bottle, a shallow argular bowl and again all these shapes as well as piriform jars, flasks and kylix gathered from or glued together from many pieces.
Some pottery was of a finer quality, so maybe some items were imported. The designs were Mycenaean but ineptly drawn and in peculiar and not usual combinations The local potters had not absorbed the technique absolutely or there must have been two different workshops Among the pottery finds was a bovine animal and the front part of a chart, buttons or spindle whorls, either of pottery or steatite. Also a small piece of amber. It appears that Ag. Ilias was an important stop to the Northern road and central Europe, where Mycenaeans went looking for metals, usually tin and bronze.
Several erroded metal items were also found. Many were bronze daggers of Sandars la type or Deshayes K2. Where did these Mycenaeans get their bronze from? Thessaly, Lavrion or Cyprus or Albania?
The finds included seals of steatite, sardium and rock crystal. Beads from faience, glass, rock crystal and gold. Some gold rosettes as well and one in the shape of a bull, which is very naturalistic and minoan in character. Bone items, boar's tusks and finally three Egyptian pieces. One is the well known faience scarab of Amenophis III (1405-1370. B.C.) There is also a faience item for Kohl in the form of a monkey and a now lost small scarab of cornaline. Are these rich items gifts among sovereigns or gifts of retribution??
Ag. Ilias apparently had a port at the end of the Gulf of Aitolikon and presented a safe anchorage in bad weather for the ships crossing the Corinthian and Patraik Gulfs and sailing for Italy, either directly passing from Zakinthos or Kefallinia or first going up the Adriatic Sea and then continuing by road with direction central Europe.
The similarity of the graves of Ag. Ilias, of Paleomanina, of Loutraki and finally of Kiperi which is situated in Epiros, is an important factor for connections with the North, and the commerce for metals, especially as pieces of amber have been also found in Epirus as well as in Albania. Is it possible that the Ag. Ilias rulers had some sort of sovereignity over the whole area to the North?
The Ag. Ilias settlement must have been a very important one. The numerous items imported from the Argolid or some other important Mycenaean center, from the East, from Egypt and the North show us that the Mycaenean inhabitants had contacts and did commerce with all the known world of that era and that their rulers were quite important sovereigns to have such valuable gifts in their graves.
Aetoloakarnania, tholos tombs, Mycenaean culture, burial customs, Bronze Age