Athens-Archeologists have found at least 80 skeletons, their wrists clamped by iron shackles, in a mass grave in an ancient Greek cemetery in central Athens.
They are the victims of a mass execution. But who they were, how they got there and why they appear to have been buried with a measure of respect – that all remains a mystery, say archaeologists.
“They have been executed, all in the same manner. But they have been buried with respect,” Dr. Stella Chryssoulaki, head of excavations, said.
“They are all tied at the hands with handcuffs and most of them are very very young and in a very good state of health when they were executed.”
The experts hope DNA testing and research by anthropologists will uncover exactly how the rows of people died. Whatever happened was violent – most had their arms bound above their heads, the wrists tied together.
But the orderly way they have been buried suggest these were more than slaves or common criminals.
The cemetery dates from between the 8th and 5th century BC.
“It is a period of great unrest for Athenian society, a period where aristocrats, nobles, are battling with each other for power,” said Chryssoulaki.
One of the strongest theories is that they were supporters of Cylon, an Athenian noble and Olympic champion who staged an attempted coup in Athens in 632 BC with the help of his father-in–law, the tyrant of Megara.