National Geographic : 1978 Jul
are quite unique. A small gilded plate with a depiction of Athena in relief, eight golden lions' heads, and golden bands and rings brighten the corselet's surface. On a leather fringe at the bottom, 56 strips of the same metal, adorned with fine palmettes, add to the sumptuous decoration of this priceless relic (page 71). While the corselet lasted out the millennia in relatively good condition, the shield, which must have been built on a frame of leather-covered wood, had disintegrated. It is possible to imagine it, though, from the surviving pieces. The outer ring was fash ioned of ivory inlaid with a wave pattern of dark glass. Concentric to that was a round golden band, and the center of the shield must have displayed a small figure of Victo ry in high relief, made of gold and ivory. The shield's grip was of gold-plated silver that ended in palmettes. On the top rode a pair of winged Victories in repousse. Such an impressive and delicate work of art, I be lieve, would never have been exposed in ac tual combat. Rather, it was encased in a bronze cover, which we had initially taken for the shield itself. The weapons bore witness that the tomb could not have belonged to a commoner; these were valuable pieces, made with su preme skill and care. HE SAME OPULENCE and superb quality are revealed in the silver ves sels. Aside from the rosettes, the wave like moldings, or kymatia, and the palmettes that cover their surfaces, almost all the ves sels show at the base of their handles small decorative heads in relief. Heracles, Pan, Sileni, and other figures offer us wonderful examples of fourth-century B.C. Greek metalwork. Kingly cache of vessels, many of finely wrought silver, lay in a heap against the north wall of the main chamber when Dr. Andronicos entered the tomb. "Incredible! Marvelous!" he murmured when he first glimpsed the array, which included more than 70 objects of gold, silver, bronze, and iron-masterly examples of the ancient art of Greek metalworking.