1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vaphio
VAPHIO, an ancient site in Laconia, Greece, on the right bank of the Eurotas, some 5 m. S. of Sparta. It is famous for its “bee-hive” tomb, excavated in 1889 by Dr Tsountas. This consists of a walled approach, or δρόμος, about 97 ft. long, leading to a vaulted chamber some 33 ft. in diameter, in the floor of which the actual grave was cut. The objects found here and transferred to the National Museum in Athens include a large number of gems and amethyst beads, together with articles in gold, silver, bronze, iron, lead, amber and crystal. But by far the finest of them are two golden cups decorated with scenes in relief, picturing the capture of bulls. These form perhaps the most perfect works of “Mycenaean” or “Minoan” art which have survived. It seems likely that the Vaphio cups do not represent a local art but were imported from Crete, which at that early period was far ahead of mainland Greece in artistic development. The tomb, which probably belonged to Amyclae rather than to Pharis, as is commonly stated, is now almost entirely destroyed.
See C. Tsountas, Ἐφημερὶς Ἀρχαιολογική (1889), 136-172; J. G. Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece, iii. 135 f. (with full bibliography); W. Ridgeway, The Early Age of Greece, i. 26-28; R. C. Bosanquet, Journal of Hellenic Studies (1904), xxiv. 317 ff.; A. Riegl, Jahreshefte d. österr. arch. Institutes (1906), ix. 1 ff.
(M. N. T.)