September 11, 2008—A gold-bedecked warrior helmet and gold mask (pictured)—among other treasures—have been unearthed at an ancient cemetery near Alexander the Great's birthplace in what is now northern Greece.
Gold-foil ornaments, such as those shown above, were specially made for funerals. The precious material covered the mouths, eyes, and chests of 20 warriors recently found at the site, according to the Greek national culture ministry, which released this photo yesterday.
The warriors, who had been buried in the Archaic period, between 580 and 480 B.C., were found with helmets, swords, daggers, and spearheads.
The warrior graves were among 43 newfound burials at the Arhontiko site near Pella, the ancient Macedonians' capital. The new graves date from 650 to 279 B.C., the ministry said.
Other new finds include gold jewelry, copper and iron weapons, and pottery. Artifacts from previous digs include gold masks, crowns, and diadems, as well as local and imported pottery.
"The settlement [to which the cemetery belonged] flourished in wealth and population mainly during the Archaic period," a ministry statement said. "The funerary use of [gold] and the other grave goods points to a strong belief in life after death, and rebirth."
A total of 915 graves have been excavated over the past eight years at Arhontiko, about 330 miles (531 kilometers) northwest of Athens. Archaeologists estimate this represents just 5 percent of the cemetery.
Arhontiko was first settled around 6000 B.C. and abandoned in the 14th century A.D.
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