Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


The Sea Peoples’ “Sepulchral Medinet Habu”? The LH IIIC warrior burials of the north-western Peloponnese and the origins of Achaian ethnicity

Theodoros G. Giannopoulos Aegean Studies 1, 2022, 127-195

Since the 1930s a constantly increasing number of warrior burials of Late Helladic IIIC date (12th and early 11th century B.C.) have come to light in the north-western Peloponnese, especially within the borders of the historical and modern region of Achaia. The 24 excavated buried warriors (16 in Achaia) represent the greatest concentration of contemporary warrior burials in the Aegean and are accompanied by an equal number of Naue II swords. The aim of the present paper is to provide a systematic and up-to-date consideration of this group of warrior burials, stressing its importance as a case study for two different and often competing theoretical approaches: one principally socio-archaeological, focusing on social status and display and sometimes questioning the real warrior identity of the deceased, and the other more biographical-historical, associating social questions with the perspective of real warrior lives. Disconnecting the finds in question from both the idea of a “static”, land-based ruling elite and from various migrationist hypotheses, we explore their biographical dimension within the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age Aegean and Mediterranean historical context. Through an interdisciplinary study it is possible to examine the relationship of the north-western Peloponnese with the wider “Sea Peoples phenomenon” of the late 2nd millennium B.C. and the significance of the Mycenaean post-palatial era for toponymic associations and identity perceptions hitherto exclusively
related to early historical antiquity.


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