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Archaeology & History

'Tomb of Cerberus' unearthed by archaeologists in Italy

By T.K. Randall
October 11, 2023 · Comment icon 13 comments
A fresco depicting Cerberus found in a tomb in Italy.
Image Credit: Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape
The remarkable sealed tomb, which is believed to date back 2,000 years, was found in Giugliano.
Said to guard the entrance to the Underworld, Cerberus - a terrifying three-headed dog - is undoubtedly one of the most iconic creatures in all of Greek mythology.

Depictions of this terrifying beast have been found across the ancient world and now it has been found again - this time in a fresco found on the wall of a newly unearthed tomb in Giugliano, Italy.

The discovery was made when archaeologists spotted a curious wall that had been built using an ancient Roman construction technique known as opus incertum.

This later turned out to be the front wall of the tomb which was sealed by a heavy slab.
Inside, in addition to the fresco of Cerberus, they found a depiction of ichthyocentaurs - a centaurine-type sea god with the body of a human, the legs of a horse and the tail of a fish.

The tomb was extremely well-preserved and did not appear to have been disturbed since antiquity.

"The tomb has frescoed ceilings and walls in perfect condition, with mythological scenes that go all around the room and figurative representations among which, a three-headed dog stands out," said Mariano Nuzzo - superintendent of Naples' Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape.

"The emotion aroused by the privilege of such a discovery is indescribable."

Source: Mail Online | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Piney 6 months ago
The original Indo-European triune concept went with about every mythical being The Proto-Indo Europeans were horse nomads who had a river and lake seasonal return settlement complex and the predecessor of Poseidon was both a water and horse god. @Antigonos whaddya think? 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Antigonos 6 months ago
You mean do I agree? Very possible. Poseidon’s cult started inland, in the Peloponnese, as a god of earthquakes, thunder and horses. I’d love to have seen Ray Harryhausen bring that depiction of Cerberus to life. The model he would have had made for it would’ve been a work of art. Although the version he created for Clash of the Titans was pretty awesome. Hard to beat.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Orphalesion 6 months ago
Eh, I think the human imagination can manage to produce a triple headed/bodied dog and an ichthyocentaur without mushrooms. :-) And as Piney pointed out, often legendary creatures are a embodiment of aspects of the culture that produced them.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Orphalesion 6 months ago
Also to ad to my message above...Kerberos and ichtyocentaurs were already well known characters in myths, poetry, art etc. by the time that particular fresco was drawn, so it's not like they came up with them on the spot. It's just a very imaginative depiction of Kerberos.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Cho Jinn 6 months ago
In CotT I think that was Orthrus, his two-headed brother.  But a Harryhausen Cerberus would have been great, yes; those movies are classics.
Comment icon #9 Posted by and-then 6 months ago
That was the first thing I noticed.  I'd always thought Cerberus was one dog with three heads.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Orphalesion 6 months ago
Most of the time he is (though there are also versions where he has 50 heads, and/or fur made out of snakes)  But this is a very unique variant. It's possible that the artist didn't have a visual reference (so an older depiction like on a vase) at hand when he painted so it's his best guess how a three headed dog would look like, or he just thought it looked more interesting this way. 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Nicolette 6 months ago
I think we all did. At least that's how it looked when i met him this one halloween.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Cho Jinn 6 months ago
That’s great
Comment icon #13 Posted by Bed of chaos 6 months ago
I wonder who's buried there. Supposedly (euronews.culture) "full excavation of the chamber tomb is currently in progress". I'd guess archaeologists should reach the underworld by December.

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