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A shaft tomb or shaft grave is a type of deep rectangular burial structure, similar in shape to the much shallower cist grave, containing a floor of pebbles, walls of rubble masonry, and a roof constructed of wooden planks.[1]


The practice of digging shaft tombs was a widespread phenomenon with prominent examples found in Mycenaean Greece; in Bronze Age China; and in Mesoamerican Western Mexico.[2]

Mycenaean Greece[edit]

Mycenaean shaft graves originated and evolved from rudimentary Middle Helladic cists, tumuli, and tholos tombs with features derived from Early Bronze Age traditions developed locally in mainland Bronze Age Greece.[3] Middle Helladic burials would ultimately serve as the basis for the royal Shaft Graves containing a variety of grave goods, which signified the elevation of a native Greek-speaking royal dynasty whose economic power depended on long-distance sea trade.[4]

The depth of Mycenaean shaft tombs would range from 1.0 m to 4.0 m with a mound constructed for each grave and stelae erected.[5] Archaeological examples include Grave Circle A and Grave Circle B.

Bronze Age China[edit]

Shaft graves were utilized by elites from the Shang Dynasty (or Yin Dynasty) during the Bronze Age of northern China.[2]

Mesoamerican Western Mexico[edit]

The Western Mexico shaft tomb tradition or shaft tomb culture refers to a set of interlocked cultural traits found in the present day western Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit, and, to a lesser extent, Colima to its south, roughly dating to the period between 300 BCE and 400 CE. An example is the La Campana archaeological site of the Capacha and subsequent cultures.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Pedley 2011, p. 86.
  2. ^ a b Kipfer 2000, "shaft grave", p. 508.
  3. ^ Dickinson 1999, pp. 103, 106–107.
  4. ^ Dickinson 1977, pp. 53, 107; Dickinson 1999, pp. 97–107; Anthony 2007, p. 48.
  5. ^ Komita 1982, pp. 59–60.


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaft_tomb — Please support Wikipedia.
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31 news items


Mon, 02 Nov 2015 10:59:21 -0800

Stocker co-leads the team that unearthed the undisturbed shaft tomb, along with Jack Davis, UC's Carl W. Blegen Chair in Greek Archaeology. Other team members include UC faculty, staff specialists and students, some of whom have worked in the area ...

Live Science

Live Science
Tue, 27 Oct 2015 09:33:03 -0700

Archaeologists who thought they were excavating the site of an ancient house in Greece recently uncovered something much more rare: a wealthy Bronze Age warrior's tomb, chock-full of precious metals and colorful gemstones. The tomb, which dates back ...
Bowling Green Daily News
Tue, 03 Nov 2015 01:22:30 -0800

The Greek Culture Ministry announced last week that this shaft tomb and its concomitant treasures in southwestern Greece had been unearthed by archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati. The team led by Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis, a wife and ...


Wed, 28 Oct 2015 18:41:15 -0700

The Greek culture ministry announced on Oct 26 that this shaft tomb and its concomitant treasures have been unearthed in southwestern Greece by archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati. The team led by Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis, a husband ...

New Tang Dynasty Television

New Tang Dynasty Television
Tue, 04 Mar 2014 22:56:06 -0800

Archaeologists in Mexico found a sealed 1,500-year-old pre-Hispanic shaft tomb, a deep rectangular burial structure, with the sculpture of a long-faced shaman guarding it, in the state of Colima. The remains of children and small dogs were also found ...

Ahram Online

Ahram Online
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 03:58:34 -0800

Karomama's shaft tomb. The first was at the Ramesseum temple on Luxor's west bank, where the tomb of a divine royal wife called Karomama was accidently discovered within the walls of temple. The ministry's head of Ancient Egyptian antiquities, Youssef ...

Ancient Origins

Ancient Origins
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 17:42:46 -0700

An examination of two skeletons found in a mine shaft/tomb, one a female, showed the humerus bones of the upper arm were highly developed. Larger bones are a sign of robustness that anthropologists associate with repeated use of muscular force. In ...

Chron.com (blog)

Chron.com (blog)
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:00:33 -0800

Very well off people might have had a shaft tomb, but for the most part Egyptian coffins were buried in a hole in the ground. Many coffins, like this one, didn't remain there for long. Tomb raiders would come along and dig up the coffins for gold ...

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