In 1872, farmers in Menidi, an ancient area of the village of Acharnes north of Athens, discovered a few large rocks on the ground that looked like they were placed in an organized manner. Upon clearing the surrounding area they discovered many more, all set in a circular pattern. When they removed one of the larger stones they discovered it was part of a beehive-shaped roof to an underground structure.
Excavations later revealed a Mycenaean tholos (beehive) tomb, dating to the 13th or 14th century BCE, in surprisingly good condition. The ancient tomb sits at the end of a 90-foot-long sunken walkway flanked by stone walls. It leads to a large entrance with three tombstones above it, the only known tholos tomb with this design. The underground tomb chamber is one of the largest of all Mycenaean tholos tombs, measuring 27 feet wide and 30 feet high. There are at least six people buried in the tomb, and after their burial, the entrance to the tomb was filled in.
The tholos tomb of Menidi is one of the best-preserved beehive tombs in Greece. It is unknown who built the grave, or who exactly it was built for. But based on the size, the high-end artifacts found within, and the number of people buried inside, experts believe the tomb was a burial place for royalty.
Know Before You Go
Many of the relics found in the tomb are on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. These relics include musical instruments, bronze weapons, gold, silver and copper jewelry, boar husks and a rare ivory cylindrical compass. The tomb is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.