Bound in Time: Unearthing 80 Skeletons with Wrists Tied Sheds Light on Ancient Greek Rebellion

Two mass graves containing 80 ancient bodies have been discovered in the Faliron Delta region of southern Athens.

The 7th Century BC bodies, belonging to young men, were placed side by side with their arms shackled above their heads.

One skeleton had arrow stuck in its shoulder, which suggested the young men may have been murdered prisoners.

Researchers believe they may have been captured for being followers of ancient would-be tyrant Cylon of Athens.

Two mass graves containing 80 ancient bodies have been discovered in the Faliron Delta region of southern Athens. The 7th Century BC bodies, belonging to young men, were placed side by side with their arms shackled above their heads. Researchers believe they may have been captured for being followers of Cylon

The findings, presented by chief archaeologist Stella Chrysoulaki, where made when builders were preparing the ground for the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC).

Given ‘the high importance of these discoveries,’ the council is launching further investigations, the culture ministry said.

Two small vases discovered amongst the skeletons have allowed archaeologists to date the graves from between 650-625 BC, ‘a period of great political turmoil in the region,’ the ministry said.

The skeletons were found lined up, some on their backs and others on their stomachs.

A total of 36 had their hands bound with iron. One of the men, the last one to be found in March, also had his legs tied with rope.

It remains a mystery as to why the men had their arms tied above their heads rather than behind their backs.

Archaeologists found the teeth of the men to be in good condition, indicating they were young and healthy.

This boosts the theory that they could have been followers of Cylon, a nobleman whose failed coup in the 7th century BC is detailed in the accounts of ancient historians Herodotus and Thucydides.

The findings, presented by chief archaeologist Stella Chrysoulaki, where made when builders were preparing the group for the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC). Given ‘the high importance of these discoveries,’ the council is launching further investigations, the culture ministry said.
Two small vases (one pictured in this image) were discovered among the skeletons. They have allowed archaeologists to date the graves from between 650-625 BC, ‘a period of great political turmoil in the region,’ the ministry said

Cylon, a former Olympic champion, sought to rule Athens as a tyrant.

But Athenians opposed the coup attempt and he and his supporters were forced to seek refuge in the Acropolis, the citadel that is today the Greek capital’s biggest tourist attraction.

The conspirators eventually surrendered after winning guarantees that their lives would be spared.

But Megacles, of the powerful Alcmaeonid clan, had the men massacred – an act condemned as sacrilegious by the city authorities.

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