Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

More Royal Tombs found at Aegae

Talking about Royal Tombs at Aegae (modern Vergina), the impressive Tomb of Philip II of Macedonia immediately comes to mind, while other smaller but not less important tombs are often being dismissed.

In spite of the financial problems in Greece, it is heartwarming to hear that excavations are still ongoing, bringing three new tombs to light, especially in Alexander’s homeland. The tombs are located near the Vergina Town Hall amidst a cluster of earlier discovered tombs that were closely related to Alexander’s ancestors, the Temenids who fled Argos in the early 9th century BC to settle over here.

Picture from Archaeology News Network 

The largest of these three tombs stands almost up to its original height and still shows traces of blue and red painted bands. Inside the funerary bed and urn were placed at the southern end.

Yet the tomb on the north side dating probably from mid 5th century BC seems to be more impressive although its walls only reach up to 4.5 meters approximately. The hypostyle hall measures 7 x 5 meters, with two Ionian columns on high square bases supporting the stone ceiling, while four framing semi-columns add an elegant touch. Each of the corners is filled by quarter-columns and amazingly a recuperated capital still has traces of white plaster under blue and red painted Ionian scrolls. The entrance is from the north in between two semi-columns and can be reached through a monumental stairway. Here too, the funerary bed and urn are located opposite to the doorway. According to the scholars, this tomb is very promising as far the history on the origins of Macedonian tombs is concerned. At a later stage, the tomb seems to have been used as depository for several corpses of horses, dogs, adults as well as infants and toddlers, mingled with shards of pottery, tiles and pieces of a marble funerary stele. These remains were apparently thrown in together during a single, probably tragic incident that seems to be connected with the destruction of Aegae by the Romans and the fall of the Macedonian Kingdom – as a consequence of Perseus’ defeat at Pydna in 168 BC.

All tombs were looted in antiquity, and it is thought that this looting might coincide with the destruction of the royal necropolis of Aegae in 276 BC. Yet some significant finds were made: a relief in gold, probably a decoration element for a shield; a golden oak, once part of a wreath and proof that the tomb belonged to a man; pieces of a cuirass in the form of scales; and a number of golden discs carrying the Macedonian star.

Interestingly, the archaeologists dug deeper underground to expose a fifteen meters long floor paved with pebbles. This floor together with a few pieces of white and colored plaster from the walls seems to pertain to the original building of which nothing else is left. They were able to date this early construction thanks to a coin of Perdiccas II (454-413 BC) discovered on the premises. Fragments of a larger sculpted floral motif with spiral shoots, buds and acanthus-leaves may indicate that these elements belonged to a funeral monument.

In the end, these new discoveries may lead to learn more about the fate of the Macedonian Kingdom from the time of King Amyntas (530-498 BC) and Alexander I (498-454 BC), ancestors to both Philip II and Alexander the Great, as those earlier times are still mostly shrouded in mystery. Exciting stuff!

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