The Tomb of Nestor's Cup is an ancient Greek cremation burial dated back to the 8th century BCE, which contained cremated bones, grave goods, and the famous Nestor's Cup. The tomb was formally known as Cremation 168 and is among the hundreds of tombs uncovered in the Italian site of Pithekoussai.

Recent series of analyses showed that inside the Nestor's Cup is not the cremains of a child but at least three adult humans. The exceptional cup features one of the oldest Greek inscriptions, with the other one is the Dipylon inscription from Athens.

 Tomb of Nestor's Cup Contained Cremains of at Least Three Humans: Who's Buried With the Oldest Greek Writing?
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Nestor's Cup from Ischia, Museo Archeologico di Pitecusa

The Mystery of Nestor's Cup

According to the website History of Information, Nestor's Cup from Pithekoussai in the Italian island of Ischia is a clay drinking cup found in 1954. Archaeologists who found the cup noted that it contains the oldest Greek inscription on its side. However, the writings were fragmented as some shards of the cup were lost.

The three-line script when translated to English could be read as:

                      "Nestor's cup I am, good to drink from

                      Whoever drinks this cup empty, straightaway

                      the desire of beautiful-crowned Aphrodite will seize."

The clay vessel has puzzled experts because of this preserved message that seems to be inappropriate for a burial of a child. The recent findings on the mystery of Nestor's cup might help explain it as scientists reported in their study.

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Who Was Buried in Nestor's Cup?

In the study, titled "Who Was Buried With Nestor's Cup? Macroscopic and Microscopic Analyses of the Cremated Remains From Tomb 168 (Second Half of the 8th Century BCE, Pithekoussai, Ischia Island, Italy)" published in PLOS One, researchers performed a series of analyses on the morphology as well as histology and histomorphometry of the 195 cremated bones in the tomb.

Phys.org reported that the team determined that only about 130 fragments are from human remains, while 45 are from animals. Researchers reveal that the bones were from at least three adult humans from varying life stages. This is the first evidence that multiple human cremains is in the Tomb of Nestor's Cup.

The findings opened new doors for more questions about the mysterious tomb. However, the scientists were not able to determine who were buried in the exceptional eponymous cup. They did not provide any details as to the age at the death and why they were buried in the cup.

However, the study represents the use of histological data for examining ancient burial sites. The Tomb of Nestor's Cup is Mediterranean pre-classic archaeology's one of the most intriguing discoveries. The findings rewrite history ad previous archaeological interpretations of the tomb.

Advanced analysis on cremated remains marks a double goal in which researchers were able to reconstruct ancient osteobiography of individuals buried in the tomb, and they were also able to contribute a new methodological step toward the reconstruction of the life-history of people from ancient times despite their poor preservation.

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