Scientists examine 3,400-year-old Wafio gold bowls

Pair of gold bowls, called “Wafio bowls,” are considered masterpieces of art by the ancient Greeks. A pair of bowls made of gold, with unusual patterns, was discovered in the tomb of Vafio Tolos at the end of the century before last. Greekreporter writes about the history and study of the unique objects of art.

Vafio bowls, made almost 3.5 thousand years ago, modern historians call the product of advanced ways of working with metal of the Cretan-Mycenaean civilization. On the thin rims of solid gold, the artist was able to depict various scenes involving the bull, one of the most important animals in Bronze Age societies on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

On the first of the two bowls around the entire perimeter of the piece, the artist depicts a bull-catching scene. It depicts a bull while mating with a cow. At this moment, a man is tying a rope to the bull’s hind hoof. Three other bulls can be seen in the background.

The paired cup shows the bull caught in the net. The second animal, which probably managed to escape from the trap, is attacking the two men. The third unsuccessful hunter escapes from the battle site.

For a long time, scientists believed that both bowls were made by the same master, who used a complex and innovative for that time technology of stamping the smallest details on the gold surface of products.

However, modern methods of research have forced scientists to change the point of view. As one cup is made more carefully, the experts came to the conclusion that they were made by different people.

Also controversial is the question of which culture these artifacts should be attributed to: the Minoan or Mycenaean? Researchers believe that the bowls depict the Minoan method of catching the bulls, associated with jumping over the animal. However, some experts find a connection with the images on the walls of the palace of Knossos on Crete.

It is worth noting that at Vafio, the same place where the bowls were found, experts have found artifacts of both Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations.

This monument is located not far from Sparta. Wafio is best known for its beehive-shaped tomb of tolos. Such burial forms were characteristic of ancient Mycenaean tombs.

The tolos at Vafio was discovered by the Greek scientist Christos Tsuntas in 1889. At the same time, numerous artifacts from the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations were discovered at this monument. Now all these artifacts are in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum in the Greek capital.

Among the items found in the tomb are items belonging not only to different civilizations, but also to different periods. In this case, some of them do not even belong to the masters of mainland Greece. Among the finds were many objects of gold, silver, bronze, iron and crystal.

The multiple seals and rings found in the burial site belonged to both civilizations. In fact, Wafio has become the most extensive collection of Mycenaean and Minoan seals in the entire region near the Aegean Sea.

Much of the clay fragments found at this monument date from the period between 1500 and 1450 B.C. However, all of the gold objects, including the paired bowls, were made much earlier.

By 1911 Wafio’s tomb was almost completely destroyed, but many artifacts from it can still be seen in the halls of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.