It is rare that archaeology can combine both written accounts and pictorial evidence with an archaeological excavation. But dramatic excavations on the Greek island of Paros did just that.
This wonderfully simple geometric style vase (left) shows a battle in process, with arrows flying hither and thither, slingers whirling their slings above their heads, a dead man lying on the ground, and archers with their bows shooting off arrows (left). The dead were cremated and buried in two large graves – 20 in one, 140 in the other – with two very fine painted vases. Do the vases show the actual battle in which they perished?
Do we have a literary account too? The poet Archilochos, who was a native of Paros, wrote a lament about a battle in which his fellow country-men are slaughtered. Is this the battle?