Tholos (Bee hive) Tomb of Vapheio
The bee hive (also known as tholos) tomb of Vapheio is an important monument situated in the Eurotas valley. It was excavated in 1889 by the archaeologist Christos Tsountas, and dates back to the Mycenaean age. The tomb contained significant burial objects like guns, seal rings, pins, pots and the two famous gold cups depicting bull chasing. The gold cups, exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum, date back to the second millennium B.C. and they are considered to be among the most important findings of Greece. It is believed to be the tomb of prince Vapheio and is Laconia’s largest Mycenaean tomb.
The world famous monument was excavated in 1889 by the archaeologist Christos Tsountas in the valley of river Eurotas, near the town of Amyclae. The tholos tomb of Vapheio is a significant archaeological monument of Greece. It is a sample of the early Mycenaean era (1500B.C.), and its excavation brought to light important artifacts, such as the two gold cups exposed at the National Archaeological Museum. The gold cups are from the second millennium B.C. and they attest to the importance of region during that period. The cups depict scenes of bull chasing. On the first cup a man ties a rope around the bull’s leg, while the animal mates with a cow and on the second cup a bull is caught in a net. Apart from those two very famous findings, the tomb contained seal rings, two gold rings, gold and silver pins, war guns, tools and bronze and gold pots.
It is concluded that the occupant of the cist in the Vapheio tholos was prince Vapheio who had amassed a very rich collection of luxurious objects by trading off the famous marbles of the region (Lapis Lacedaemonius).
It is the largest Mycenaean tomb brought to light in Laconia. A 29.8 meter long road (dromos) leads to the chamber (10.2 meters in diameter). Since the early 19th century the tomb has drawn the attention of the scientific community and many excavations have been conducted.