The larnax was the standard burial vessel used in the Minoan civilization

David Goran
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A larnax is a type of small closed coffin, box or “ash-chest” usually made of clay and often used as a burial container for human remains in ancient Macedonia, either a body (bent on itself) or cremated ashes.

In the ancient period of Macedonia, keeping the human remains of their beloved families was a common practice.

Minoan funeral. Archaeological collection of Archanes Photo Credit


The larnax or sarcophagus, a clay burial container Photo Credit


Late Minoan Larnax; 14th Century B.C. Photo Credit

The first larnaxes appeared in Minoan times (2000-1550 BC) when they took the form of ceramic coffers designed to imitate wooden chests, perhaps on the pattern of Egyptian linen chests. During the Late Minoan period III (1400-1100 BC) a specific type of larnax with inscriptions appeared.

They were decorated with schematized themes which often covered the entire surface (abstract patterns, sacred horns, bulls, octopuses, and scenes of hunting and cult rituals).

Some the larnaxes were painted with a variety of naturalistic motifs and scenes, which make these chests the richest source of pictorial art in Late Minoan III Crete Photo Credit


Late Minoan sarcophagus from the necropolis of Armeni, 1400-1200 B.C. Archaeological Museum in Chania Photo Credit


Larnax painted with flowers, Late Minoan III period, 1440-1050 BC. Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos Photo Credit


Larnax with ibexes and a water bird. Archaeological Museum of Rethymno Photo Credit

Larnaxes in the form of small terracotta sarcophagi became popular during the later Hellenistic period, some of which were painted in similar styles to contemporary Greek vases.

Functional bath-tubs, the earliest known in the West, have been found at Bronze Age palaces such as Knossos and Pylos.

Bathtub – Larnax palace of Knossos XIVe century BC Photo Credit


Minoan larnax with a painting of plants and winged creature. Archaeological Museum of Heraklion Photo Credit


Minoan larnax with a painting of a boat. Archaeological Museum of Heraklion Photo Credit


The golden larnax of Philip II of Macedonia, Vergina Museum Photo Credit


It is the most famous larnax ever found in the world Photo Credit

In a few exceptional cases, larnaxes appear to have been made out of precious materials. One such example is the 4th century BC larnax found at Vergina in northern Macedonia. It was made of 24-karat gold, with a total weight of approximately 8 kilos.

Here is another story from us: The ancient city Philippi was founded by the King Philip II and is considered to be the most important archaeological site of eastern Macedonia

The tomb where it was found is thought to have belonged to King Philip II of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great, and it is one of the most valuable objects of the ancient world that are preserved to this day.