Tuesday Jun 28, 201103:19 PM GMT
Greece yields gold-covered skeleton
Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:54PM
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Ancient city of Aptera, Crete, Greece
Greek archaeologists have discovered a skeleton covered with gold foil during excavations near the ancient town of Eleutherna on the island of Crete.

The foil dates back to more than 3,000 years ago and was found in a 7th-century BCE twin grave.

"The whole length of the (grave) was covered with small pieces of gold foil - square, circular and lozenge-shaped," head of the archeology team Nicholas Stampolidis told AP.

"We were literally digging up gold interspersed with earth, not earth with some gold in it," he added.

The gold ornaments were 1 to 4 centimeters long and sewn onto a lavish shroud wrapped around the body of a woman. The shroud has almost completely decomposed except for a few threads.

The woman, who seems to have had a high social or religious status, was buried with a second skeleton in a large jar sealed with a stone slab weighing more than half a ton. The jar was then hidden behind a false wall.

The team also found a copper bowl, earthenware, perfume bottles imported from Egypt or Syria and Palestine, amber, rock crystal and faience beads, and a gold pendant in the form of a bee goddess.

"If you look at it one way up, it's shaped like a lily," said Stampolidis. "Turned upside down, you see a female figure holding her breasts, whose lower body is shaped as a bee with wings. The workmanship is exquisite."

Eleutherna is located on the northern foothills of Mount Ida, the mythical birthplace of Zeus, and has yielded a citadel, a number of homes and a cemetery with female burials.

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