Tholos tomb of Acharnai, Municipality of Acharnes

Tholos tomb of Acharnai, Municipality of Acharnes

The Mycenaean tholos tomb at Acharnai (or the so called tholos tomb of Menidi) was excavated by the German Archaelogical Institute in 1879, under the supervision of the Greek Government’ s Ephorate of Antiquities.

It’s the best preserved tholos tomb in Attica. The tholos tomb at Acharnai is the latest in Attica, dating to the 14th-13th cent. B.C. It was built to receive the members of the elite families of the region.

The tomb is mounded with earth and sustained all around by a low wall. It has the usual form of the tholos type tombs, consisting of a corridor, the entrance and the burial chamber, all built with rude masonry. The long (almost 27m, 3m wide) descending corridor leads through a narrower entrance passage to the burial chamber. The chamber, nearly circular in ground plan, has a diameter of 8.35 m. It is built as a corbelled vault, with walls tapering towards the apex, where the final opening is closed with a big slab at the height of approximately 9 m from the floor. So, the chamber had the shape of a beehive.

The entrance, 1.55 m wide and 3.35 m long, is built with roughly dressed stone blocks. Its jambs support the lintel, constructed from three successive monolithic blocks. On the inner side of the tholos the so called relieving triangle is visible, while on the exterior a more original system was adopted by putting four smaller stones horizontally in intervals.

The tomb contained the skeletal remains of six people and many findings. It is about the personal things of the dead, like jewelry of gold, silver, bronze, electron, glass paste and faience, seals of semiprecious stones, boar tusks probably parts of a helmet, bronze offensive weapons and a lot of ivory items. To those are included a cylindrical box in relief decoration of rams and fragments of two lyres, one of which is considered to be the oldest of the type, bearing in relief decoration of sphynxes on the base. Clay and stone vases existed as well. Important are the four amphoras from Canaan, for denoting the contacts with the southeastern Mediterranean.

Findings in the corridor suggest that to later years till the 5th cent. B.C. honor was attributed to the ancestors. The most important of the findings from the tholos tomb at Acharnai are displayed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

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