Hekatomnus’ Tomb Found(?)

I’ve already griped about how my low-bandwidth situation while visiting my mother was incredibly annoying when there was big archaeological news, so by way of praeteritio, I won’t mention it again. Even so, another example of which were reports of a tomb find in Milas, Turkey. The initial English report brought back by my spiders  suggested the tomb of “Hekataios” had been found, and I expressed hesitations about that in the issue of Explorator that went out at the time. That, however, was followed by our friend Dorothy King’s excitement on Twitter about the discovery of the tomb of Hecatomnus, the founder of the Hecatomnid dynasty in Caria. It turned out I was getting a number of news reports on this, but didn’t make the connection as most of them had headlines concentrating on a ‘looted tomb’ being found. Eventually, however, we did manage to see what Dr King was excited about … AP seems to have taken the lead in picking up the story, so here’s the version from The Age:

Turkish police have raided a house used by people suspected of digging illegally for antiquities and discovered two tunnels leading to an underground tomb that housed an ancient marble coffin and frescoes, officials say.

Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay on Friday described the discovery near the town of Milas, in western Turkey, as an “important archaeological find” and ordered digs in surrounding areas, Haber Turk newspaper reported.

Looting of ancient artifacts is common in Turkey, and the country has imposed heavy penalties to deter illegal digs. But the Milas discovery is the first time in years that authorities have found what could be an important archeological site while chasing looters.

The 2800-year-old carved coffin, decorated with reliefs of a bearded reclining man, probably belonged to Hecatomnus, who ruled over Milas, according to Turkey’s Culture Ministry.

Several treasures that would have been placed in the underground tomb were most likely looted by the treasure hunters and sold in the illegal antiquities trade, the ministry said.

A court has arrested and charged five of 10 people detained in the raid, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Anatolia, which was allowed to enter the tomb, said the suspects had dug two tunnels – six and eight meters long, from the house and an adjacent barn, leading to the tomb that is buried about 10 meters deep.

They used sophisticated equipment to drill through the thick marble walls of the tomb and were working to remove the coffin from the underground chamber when they were detained, according to the Culture Ministry.

“I would have wished that this (archeological find) had been discovered through our digs and not through digs conducted by a band of treasure hunters,” Anatolia quoted Gunay as saying.

“This is not an ordinary treasure hunt. It is very organised and it is obvious that they received economic and scientific help,” Gunay said. Turkey also would investigate the suspects possible overseas links, he said.

The story has been more widely reported (for obvious reasons) in the Turkish Press and Dorothy King’s own series of blogposts are definitely worth reading:

In addition to the foregoing, folks will probably like the photos from Radikal’s slideshow:

… and perhaps more interesting is a 15 minute video from Haberler(with commentary in Turkish, of course, but there really isn’t much of it … definitely read DK’s posts before watching this; be patient … it took forever to load for me); keep your eye open for the segment showing how the looters accessed the tomb … they had some heavy-duty equipment:

In regards to the foregoing, I tried to do a Google translate on the text and I *think* the identification as Hekatomnus is based on inscriptions/graffiti on the walls left by workers? I’m not at all positive about that but it’s a major question which isn’t dealt with in the English coverage.

More coverage:

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