23 March 2006

Tomb robbery: a career not for the squeamish


If I had lived, say, about 2000 years ago, I would like to have been a tomb robber. Think about it. It was an "occupation" full of excitement, danger, instant riches. Every grave opened would have been a journey into an unknown with gold, silver, lapis lazuli at the destination, not to mention a skull or two. There is more. I would have been my own boss, although it would have been good to have an accomplice, the hours would have been flexible, although I suspect, most of the work would have been carried out at nite. There would also have been some commuting, mostly over rough territory. But, hey, no job is perfect.

Furthermore, a certain amount of "library research", which I am good at, would have been necessary to figure out where there were unopened graves that might have belonged to the royalty or otherwise, rich people. It would have been necessary to employ some middlemen to gather information and also to sell the bounty. We are talking about a regular business here.

So, if time travel ever becomes a reality, you know what I'll be doing.

But, it wasn't me who opened the graves in the picture. They were like that when I got there back in the summer of 2000. I took the picture near the ruins of Notium (Notion), an Aeolian city by the Aegean Sea northwest of Ephesus in western Turkey. It was a great place to visit, away from the beaten paths, lonely, forgotten, without signs, restorations, guides or anyone else. It was all up to my imagination to visualize the place the way it might have been a long time ago.


Duane said...

Because of the marvelous stones at the opening of these tombs, my guess is that they were not robbed (or perhaps better, most recently robbed) in antiquity. These great stones would have very likely found there way into some secondary use long before now if they were it that position for long. I'm afraid you could get by with a rather short range time machine and still be the leader of theses tombs last and most thorough plunders.


That's a good point. There are some small nearby villages. However, the walls of Notium itself have survived. Maybe the villagers were not too interested in building.

According to Bean, Notium was excavated by the French in 1921 (during the middle of the Greek-Turkish conflict?). It is possible that they opened up (robbed?) the graves.

bev said...

Yes, it does seem a little amazing that that wonderful stone wasn't either hauled away or broken apart by now. Looks like an interesting site.