Sealed in Perpetuity
This particular Smithsonian news feed reminds us of how our ancient ancestors protected things or people deemed important. This story sheds light on the timeless tradition of carving caverns into limestone bedrock to preserve things we hold near and dear.
Sometime between 1400 and 1200 B.C., two Minoan men were laid to rest in an underground enclosure carved out of the soft limestone native to southeast Crete. Both were entombed within larnakes—intricately embossed clay coffins popular in Bronze Age Minoan society—and surrounded by colorful funerary vases that hinted at their owners’ high status. Eventually, the burial site was sealed with stone masonry and forgotten, leaving the deceased undisturbed for roughly 3,400 years.
Earlier this summer, a local farmer accidentally brought the pair’s millenia-long rest to an abrupt end, George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo. The farmer was attempting to park his vehicle beneath a shaded olive grove on his property when the ground gave way, forcing him to find a new parking spot. As he started to drive off, the unidentified local noticed a four-foot wide hole that had emerged in the patch of land he’d just vacated. Perched on the edge of the gaping space, the man realized he’d unintentionally unearthed “a wonderful thing.”
Archaeologists from the local heritage ministry launched excavations below the farmer’s olive grove. They identified the Minoan tomb, nearly perfectly preserved despite its advanced age, in a pit measuring roughly four feet across and eight feet deep. The space’s interior was divided into three carved niches accessible by a vertical trench.
Unlike many ancient tombs, the Kentri grave was never discovered by thieves, in fact, the site likely would have remained sealed in perpetuity if not for the chance intervention of a broken irrigation pipe.
“We are particularly pleased with this great archaeological discovery as it is expected to further enhance our culture and history,” Pantazis added in his interview with Cretapost. “Indeed, this is also a response to all those who doubt that there were Minoans in Ierapetra.”
Typically, Minoan settlements found on Crete are located in the lowlands and plains rather than the mountainous regions.
This article, and many others like it are eerily similar to The St. Croix Ark's explanation of how the Knights of Malta left the Ark of the Covenant behind on the island of St. Croix (or St. John). Sealed in Perpetuity.