Deep under a quiet valley in southern Greece, archaeologists are struggling to unravel a 1,400-year-old tragedy that wiped out a rural Byzantine community.
Sometime in the late 6th century, a group of at least 33 young men, women, and children sought sanctuary from an unknown terror in a sprawling subterranean network of caves in the eastern Peloponnese.
Carrying supplies of food and water, oil-lamps, a large Christian cross and their small savings, the refugees apparently hunkered down to wait out the threat. But experts believe the sanctuary became a tomb once supplies ran out.
"In the end, they knew there was no hope of escape and just lay down to die in the pitch black," archaeologist Dimitris Hatzilazarou told The Associated Press.
Well, isn't that all cheery.