Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pella: 3000 years of history uncovered

(The following is a translation of an article by Yiota Myrtsioti).

Pella, the city under the city.

Huge prehistoric necropolis is discovered. Proof of a Macedonic civilization in Greece from 3,000 BCE.

A new chapted in the history of Macedonia has been opened after a rare discovery. Underneath the ruins of the ancient capital of the Macedonic Kingdom, there was lying one of the most ancient prehistoric graveyards. Upon its discovery we have been for the first time presented with signs of a pre-Macedonian civilization, similar to the Pelasgic pre-Mycenean civilizations.

More than a hundred graves from 2100 BCE have been found. All follow a similar pattern. The dead are buried within clay and various marble works of art are by their side. Most of the artifacts suggest either a Cycladean origin or local art inspired by the Aegean Civilization. Artifacts include small statues, metallic jewellery and weapons.

Some of the human remains are excellently preserved and currently DNA and chronological testing is underway. However most of the puzzles regarding Pella during the prehistoric times have been put into place and it suggests that Pella was a major civilization centre well before Bottiaia and Macedonia came into the spotilight.

Apparently, on top of the burial ground, the greatest of all Macedonian cities was built at the end of the 5th BCE century, when Archelaus transfered the capital of Macedonia from Aiges to Pella.

At this point, one of the largest centres of culture, one of the few at its time, was organized. We do know that there was a vast network of roads and water and sewers were part of the infrastructure. It is not far fetched to call this an ancient mega-city.

The exact size of the necropolis are not able to be identified since a large part of the graves seem to extend underneath Pella and it would literally mean destroying the ancient ruins themselves in order to uncover the even more ancient ones. Literally there are graves underneathe every road and building of Pella.

According to the local customs, the dead were buried inside huge clay pots, enclosed in small rock tombs. One of these remains will be exhibited at the new Museum of Pella, along with the dead and the artificats found at his grave.

Some of the most important discoveries is that the average height of the men discovered was aprox. 1.60 meters, which seems to confirm the etymoly of the word Macedon as meaning "tall one". At the prehistoric times, 2.000 BCE, a height of over 1.50 meters was considered very tall. Most other people at the time averaged below 1.38 meters.

Men and women were buried differently, with men buried on their right side while women buried on their left side. Some of the graves belong to children and young men of 14 to 16 years old.
Among the artifacts discovered include silver rings, silver earrings, brachelets, pendants, copper pins and knives. The wealth of metallic artifacts discovered suggests that Pella was a very rich city and society, even from the very ancient times.

The oldest artifact is dated to 3,100 BCE and is consistent with the techniques of copper artifacts from other Macedonic sites. Some of the marble artifacts discovered are so delicately crafted that arcaeologists are amazed. Certain designs seem to point to an even more ancient origin as at least as couple of the artifacts appear to be inspired by the neolithic art of the Cyclades Islands of Aegean, and date to 4,500 BCE. This is proof that Macedonia and Aegean civilizations had an extensive connection and were definately financially active between each other more than 6 thousand years from today.

The site also appears to be connected to the ancient city of Bounomos, which is referenced in ancient historians:

"...e de Macedonia Bounomos to proteron ekaleito" (translated: ...and Macedonia was once called Bounomos)

**It is important for all Hellenes to understand what this discovery means:

It suggests that the area of Macedonia was civilized and evolved into cities by 4,000 BCE.

It seems to confirm that the ancient name of Macedonia was Bounomos.

It provides proof that for their entire historic time, Macedonians were actively sharing social influences with Aegean Civilizations.