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
, 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 Greece Vergina Town Hall amidst a cluster of earlier discovered tombs that were closely related to Alexander’s ancestors, the Temenids who fled in the early 9th century BC to settle over here. Argos
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 – as a consequence of Perseus’ defeat at Pydna in 168 BC. Macedonian Kingdom
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
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! Macedonian Kingdom