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Tomb of noblewoman Neiko buried 1800 years ago discovered on Sikinos

Her name was “Neiko” and she was a noblewoman who lived and died 1,800 years ago. Greek archaeologists cannot say yet the woman also had lived on the island of Sikinos in the Aegean Sea, where her tomb was discovered.

Greek archaeologists found out that Neiko’s tomb remained intact all these years.

The woman was buried with her golden jewelry, an impressive mausoleum was built over her tomb in the years that followed.

According to  a statement issued by the Greek Culture Ministry, the discovery was made at Episkopi area of the island and it highlights many unique features, including its unusually large scale for the island and the unusual conversion of the temple-like mausoleum into a domed Byzantine church.

Pictures by Greek Culture and Sports Ministry

“It is an impressive palimpsest of antiquity and the medieval era, unique in Greece,” according to a culture ministry announcement on Monday.

The name of the dead, “Neiko” – or Νεικώ using the Greek alphabet, was found on an inscription on the tomb, carved into a rock inside the monument.

The box-shaped grave was found untouched in the vault of the Episkopi monument, a rare burial memorial of the Roman era, which was later turned into a Byzantine church and a monastery.

Golden wristbands, rings, a long golden necklace, a female figure carved cameo buckle, glass and metal vases and fragments of the dead woman’s clothes were found in the grave.

The well-preserved mausoleum on the tiny island, in the Cycladic group southeast of Athens, was likely to have been constructed to shelter the grave, archaeologists said.

“We were unexpectedly lucky,” Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades Dimitris Athanassoulis told Reuters on Monday. “This is Neko’s mausoleum.”

“It’s very rare. A monument, one of the Aegean’s most impressive, has got an identity. We now have the person for whom the building was built, we have her remains, her name.”

Despite attacks by grave robbers in ancient times and the building’s various uses through the centuries, Neko’s grave was found intact mainly because it was well hidden in a blind spot between two walls at the basement of the building, Athanassoulis said.

He said that experts thought Neko had links to the island but it was not clear whether she was actually from Sikinos.

The island of Sikinos, between Folegandros and Santorini in the Cyclades was known in Ancient Greece as Oinoe, the Island of Wine.

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