Zero to Hero: Elite Burials and Hero Cults in Early Iron Age Greece and Cyprus

Author(s): Alina Karapandzich; Paul Nick Kardulias

Year: 2018


Adulation of heroes, including the flawed, militaristic, authoritative men of Homeric epic was an important feature of ancient Hellenic culture. This phenomenon is reflected in cults and shrines built in the Archaic period. How did these so-called "hero cults" form, and can Early Iron Age (EIA) elite burials form a connection between the tomb cults of the Late Bronze Age (LBA) and the hero cults of the Archaic and later Classical periods? The purpose of this study is to examine EIA burials whose elite goods and archaeologically visible tombs reflect the burial of a "heroic" person. In doing so, we draw connections between the elaborate LBA burials and the less ornate EIA interments of Greece and Cyprus that contain references to the LBA past. To examine this phenomenon, we consult theories of state formation, the cyclical nature of changing levels of social complexity, and cultural memory. In order to draw connections between Archaic hero cults and earlier EIA tombs, we examine burials at the following sites in Greece and Cyprus: Pylos, Tiryns, Mycenae, Athens, Lefkandi, Grotta, Phylakopi, Knossos, Mesa Mouliana, Amathus, and Salamis. Additionally, Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey and Hesiod’s Theogony provide documentary evidence to accompany the archaeological material.

Cite this Record

Zero to Hero: Elite Burials and Hero Cults in Early Iron Age Greece and Cyprus. Alina Karapandzich, Paul Nick Kardulias. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443411)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -10.151; min lat: 29.459 ; max long: 42.847; max lat: 47.99 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20720