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Ancient gold wreath found in subway dig

  • Gold wreath Greece.JPG

    A gold wreath of olive leaves decorates the remains of a Greek nobleman, shown as it was found during excavation at a construction area of Thessaloniki's Metro. (Vasiliki Misailidou-Despotidou)

  • Gold wreath Greece 2.jpg

    A similar gold wreath with more leaves discovered in 2008. (Greek Ministry of Culture)

The streets aren’t paved with gold – but the subways are.

A wreath of golden olive leaves seemingly worthy of Caesar himself was discovered during excavation in Thessalonika, the second largest city in Greece, while preparing for a new subway tunnel -- marking the ninth such wreath discovered in recent years.

'It’s not common. It’s an extraordinary finding.'

- Dr. Vasiliki Misailidou-Despotidou, director of 16th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities for Greece’s General Directorate of Antiquities

The wreath itself is a simple one, with a smattering of olive leaves on a gold band meant to encircle the head. But the find itself is anything but simple.

“It’s not common. It’s an extraordinary finding,” Vasiliki Misailidou-Despotidou, director of 16th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities for Greece’s General Directorate of Antiquities, told FoxNews.com. “It happens quite seldom.”

The wreath, which dates to the beginning of the 3rd century BC, marks the first such discovered in the West cemetery, she said, although eight others have been discovered over the years buried with bodies in an East cemetery.

In 2008, four similar gold wreaths decorated with olive leaves and earrings were discovered in one of the 700 tombs of an ancient graveyard unearthed during construction work for the subway in the Sintrivani district, according to the Greek Reporter.

 “The wreath was found inside the grave in an excavation conducted for Metro,” Misailidou-Despotidou told FoxNews.com. In ancient Greece, men wore wreaths in a variety of ceremonies, she said, noting that the grave contained a man’s remains as well.

Gold wreaths are associated with royal or aristocratic graves, according to Discovery News, often featuring delicate decorations of oak, olive, vine, laurel and myrtle leaves. Many were created primarily to be buried.

The wreath was taken to the workshops Greece’s General Directorate of Antiquities in Thessalonika where it is currently being cleaned and studied.

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