The Pylos Combat Agate, an ancient object found in Pylos, Greece and created around 1450 BC.

Is this Minoan Artistic Marvel a Miniaturization of the Heavens?

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The discovery of the Pylos Combat Agate in a Mycenaean shaft-grave tomb dating to 1500 BC may be one of the most significant archaeological and artistic finds in decades, perhaps in centuries. The level of artistic sophistication and detail are stunning -- the more so because the piece itself is so small and the level of detail is so incredibly high. Some details are only a half a millimeter in size. But is there an extra dimension to this immaculate artistry that would put it on a whole new celestial scale?

A Scene From the Stars?

Scholars are already debating the meaning of the scene, which shows a triumphant warrior plunging a sword into a shield-bearing combatant wearing a crested helmet, while another warrior lies sprawled-out beneath their feet, apparently already dead. Unnoticed until now, however, is the fact that this scene contains details which reveal that its pattern is in the heavens, corresponding to specific constellations.

This new discovery provides yet another example of a pattern I have been researching and writing about for several years now, demonstrating that ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories from around the globe – together with ancient artwork depicting mythical scenes - are frequently based on celestial metaphor, part of a system which appears to have been fully mature before the earliest texts such as the Gilgamesh cycle were written. This surely suggests the existence of some even earlier culture or civilization, upending conventional timelines of early human history.

Out of Place and Out of Time Object d’art

In the spring of 2015, a team of scholars working in the Pylos region of Greece discovered an undisturbed shaft-grave tomb of a Bronze Age warrior which included an intact skeleton and more than 3,000 artifacts arrayed on and around the body. The tomb is believed to date to the period around 1500 BC and to be from the Mycenaean civilization, but with many of the objects appearing to be of Minoan origin. The discovery, with its rich trove of artifacts, was described as the most significant in the region to be found in several decades -- but it would be another year before the most astonishing find was uncovered: a dirt-encrusted agate stone measuring only 3.6 centimeters which, when carefully cleaned, revealed artwork depicting a close combat scene with stunning detail and artistic sophistication.

The Combat Scene

Below is a simplified, hand-drawn reproduction of the scene containing the major outlines of the figures, based upon images published thus far. I have added colorization to the three figures in the scene in order to help distinguish them. We see a triumphant, long-haired warrior in an extreme lunge, stabbing downwards with a sword held in his right hand, his right arm raised over his head. This figure, whom I will call the Swordsman, has been tinted red in the diagram. The figure into whom the Swordsman is plunging his sword has a large shield, which appears to have been battered into a somewhat folded lozenge- or diamond-shape, possibly by the prior combat. This figure's right arm holds a long spear, the point of which can be seen on the other side of the Swordsman whom he is facing. I'll call him the Spearman, and he is tinted blue in the colored diagram. He is evidently about to receive a mortal wound from the Swordsman. Finally, there is a third figure stretched out below the two fighting figures of the Swordsman and the Spearman: this figure has apparently already been killed and his body is twisted into a contorted position. He is tinted green in the diagram below and we'll call him the Fallen Warrior. His head is to the left as we face the seal, and his lower leg (his right) is fully extended to the right as we look at the scene. His left leg is sharply bent with the knee pointing upwards. His arms are splayed out at different angles, with one bent over his head with the back of the hand against the ground.

A simplified, hand-drawn reproduction of the scene containing the major outlines of the figures. (Author Sketch)

The details of this scene are strongly suggestive of the outlines of specific constellations in the night sky -- and constellations which appear to have formed the basis for many other pieces of ancient artwork and ancient myths. Below is an image showing the region of the night sky containing the constellations Hercules, Ophiucus, Corona Borealis (the "Northern Crown"), and Scorpio. Sagittarius is also included for reference.


Fascinating article, and it makes a compelling case.

David W Mathisen's picture

Thanks Bob! This is a shorter version of the argument – many additional examples could be offered to back up the assertions being made here. Similar patterns are found in other ancient artwork, and I have previously made the argument that certain specific myths around the world (including from the cultures of the Pacific islands) include details that relate to a Hercules figure grasping a figure which is associated with the Northern Crown. Thus, when this newly-discovered piece surfaced, with a Hercules-figure grasping a crest that is positioned correctly for the Northern Crown, I find it to be particularly compelling evidence. Cheers, David 

After reading the article, I had to buy a copy of your book "Star Myths Of The World", and after reading that a copy of Rey's "The Stars". Just fascinating.


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