The prehistoric tumuli of Vranas, Marathon

The four prehistoric tumuli excavated by Spyridon Marinatos in the early 1970s at Vranas, in the Marathon plain, are considered to be one of the most important burial complexes of the Aegean Bronze Age for many reasons: they are probably part of an extensive tumulus cemetery, and are distinguished for their monumental dimensions and their elaborate construction; they include a wide variety of types of tombs, from large cists with individual burials to spacious, complex constructions with side entrances and remains of numerous burials. Moreover, they cover an unusually long period of use from the beginning of the Middle to the end of the Late Bronze Age. Two of the burial mounds are preserved in a very good condition. Finally, it is worth noting that the tumuli were built in a prominent area where tombs of the Early Bronze Age pre-existed.

Until recently, the Vranas tumuli were known only from preliminary reports by Sp. Marinatos. In 2014, a program of study and publication of Marinatos’ excavations and finds began under the auspices of the Athens Archaeological Society, and the direction of the Professor Emerita of the University of Athens, M. Pantelidou Gofa. Here is a brief overview of the first results of the study, which is a collective project, as well as some of the questions that arise from it.