Adulation of heroes, including the flawed, militaristic, authoritative men of Homeric epic, was an important feature of ancient Hellenic culture. This phenomenon is reflected in cults and shrines built in the Archaic period. How did these so-called “hero cults” form, and can Early Iron Age (EIA) elite burials form a connection between the tomb cults of the Late Bronze Age (LBA) and the hero cults of the Archaic and later Classical periods? The purpose of this study is to examine EIA burials whose elite goods and archaeologically visible tombs reflect the burial of a “heroic” person. In doing so, I draw connections between the elaborate LBA burials and the less ornate EIA interments of Greece and Cyprus that contain references to the LBA past. To examine this phenomenon, I consult theories of state formation, the cyclical nature of changing levels of social complexity, and cultural memory. In order to draw connections between Archaic hero cults and earlier EIA tombs, the study examines burials at the following sites in Greece and Cyprus: Athens, Lefkandi, Pylos, Nichoria, Portes, Grotta, Paroikia, Knossos, Vrokastro, Kavousi, Mochlos, Kourion, Amathus, and Salamis. Additionally, Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey provide documentary evidence to accompany the archaeological material.


Kardulias, Nick

Second Advisor

Shaya, Josephine


Archaeology; Classical Studies


Archaeological Anthropology | Classical Archaeology and Art History | Classical Literature and Philology


Hero cults, mortuary archaeology, heroes, Homer, tombs, hero worship, mortuary ritual, Cyprus, Greece, Early Iron Age, elite burials

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2018 Alina M. Karapandzich