New DNA findings from the University of Cincinnati archeology department suggest that the ancient Greek leader known as the Griffin Warrior 'likely grew up around the seaside city he would one day rule' reported science magazine Physics.Org.
According to the report, the findings are part of three new studies published in the journal Science that examined the ancient DNA of the Griffin Warrior and 726 other people who lived before and during the Bronze Age to learn more about their origins and movements across three continents surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
Led by researchers from Harvard University and co-authored by experts from around the world, the papers demonstrate that between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago, people with ancestry from the Caucasus, a region between the Black and Caspian seas, moved west into Anatolia (now Turkey) and north into the steppe of Eastern Europe. Then around 5,000 years ago, people from Eastern Europe spread out across the European continent and into Western Asia and back to the Caucasus. They joined local populations, "creating a tapestry of diverse ancestry from which speakers of the Greek, Paleo-Balkan and Albanian languages arose."
"When we look at the rise of Mycenaean civilization, the ancient DNA supports the notion that it was a local phenomenon, not something imported from the outside," said co-author Jack Davis, a UC Classics professor and department head.
"The development of the state by the Mycenaean was indigenous to Greece," Davis said.
Among the remains studied for ancient DNA analysis was that of the Griffin Warrior, whose tomb was discovered in 2015 by Davis and UC Classics senior research associate Sharon Stocker.
Davis and Stocker found the tomb under an olive grove in Pylos, a coastal city in southern Greece. A forensic examination determined the remains belonged to a young man between 30 and 35 years old who came from obvious wealth. His tomb contained weapons, armor and precious artwork, including an ivory plaque emblazoned with the image of the mythological half-eagle, half-lion griffin that gave the warrior his nickname.
"We were interested in the local implications for our interpretation of what we found at Pylos but also within the broader Mycenaean civilization," Davis said.[Physics Org]