National Geographic : 1987 Dec
A cup fit for a king-but whose? \\ 'HE INSURERS took a pound ing when this ship sank, I'll L tell you that!"joked Robin Piercy, an INA archaeologist,as he climbed aboard the research vessel Virazon with electrifying news: He had discovered a gold chalice. Piercy discovered the trea sure on the wreck's western edge, an area believed to be nearly barren. The chalice, made of two cones fastened by three rivets, with a thin strip as a collar to hide the junction, came to light among a cross culturalgroup of artifacts (be low). Surroundingthe chalice, gleamingat center, lie a Canaan ite amphora, at left, a Canaanite pilgrim flask, above-so called by archaeologistsbecause it was suitablefor a journey-anda two-handledMycenaean cup called a kylix. The juxtapositionironically illustratesan archaeological scale of values. Although many authoritieshave now studied the precious gold chalice, nothing is yet known of its place of origin or date. However, the unpretentious terra-cottakylix is of a style popular in the early 14th century B.C ., and it thus serves as a relatively accurate datingtool, although the artifactcould already have been several decades old when the ship went down. The kylix, which may have been made on the Greek island of Rhodes, standsfront and center in a collection of the wreck's Mycenaean pottery (right) that also includes a cup, a jug dated by its shape and faded decorationto the time of PharaohAkhenaten or earlier,and a pair of vessels, at left, called stirrupjars.All save the large stirrupjar, which may have stored oil, were probably tableware, sug gesting that perhaps some of the crew were Greeks.