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 Drangiana/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, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 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)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First peep inside the tomb of Amphipolis

At last we are receiving a clear picture of the tomb entrance now that the blocks of the surrounding wall have been removed. We are rewarded with a good view of the portico above which the two sphinxes are keeping watch.


It turns out to be a quite unusual example of a Macedonian tomb from the last quarter of the fourth century BC as nothing suggests the presence of any door panels filling the 1.67 meter wide portico.

More soil has been removed from the corridor, revealing walls lined with imitation marble slabs of extraordinary quality. The architrave above is decorated with rosettes.

Archaeologists expect to hit a second doorway soon.

[Pictures released by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport]

36 comments:

  1. "Furthermore, with the continued removal of soil inside the vestibule, there appeared beneath the marble of Ionic architrave, an inset block of marble, separate from uprights along the side walls. At a distance of 6 meters from the entrance opening, the top marble septal wall was revealed with a small section of the left part missing. Behind it, there appeared to be two more chambers. In the septal wall, a second entrance is expected to lead to the interior of the monument which seems to have escaped desacration in the past."

    So, if I understand this, only a part of the grave, two empty chambers which can be seen from the hole in the septal wall, should have been looted, because there could be another door still hidden.

    Very, very strange.

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  2. Yes, the suspense is still there! It is almost like a detective novel, with the difference that this is history! Wow wee!

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  3. Read This! : http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/08/26/historian-claims-the-louvre-museum-holds-ancient-amphipolis-tomb-treasures/

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  4. See? I told you, there are still other possibilities ;-)
    Who knows, maybe Leon Heuzey (beside Vergina) explored the area in the mid 1800's and brought some artifacts back to the Louvre. I'm saying this from the top of my head - not sure at all though ...

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    1. Hi Bannister,
      I just re-read the article you so kindly shared. Don't you think that the accusations made by that historian about objects taken from Amphipolis are rather vague? In such a case, I would at least expect him to be specific about the artifacts - and he is not.
      I remember that at the exhibition Alexandre le Macédonien there was a great deal of pieces from the Louvre itself, many I'd never seen before in spite of having spent very many hours roaming through those rooms. Was there something from Amphipolis? I don't know, and apparently that historian doesn't either.
      The idea that this tomb was looted for the purpose of the exhibition in Paris is absolutely ridiculous! No wonder the Louvre does not want to comment.

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  5. The French military with the help or complicity of Hellenic troops of Zymvrakakis could have possibly looted it in September 1918. If the Greeks knew it, they did nothing because Elefthérios Venizélos ordered to shut-up. So the contents of graves could have been sold or seized by France and preserved in the collections of the Louvre or the Guimet Museum under false inventory numbers. Nevertheless, a recent looting in order to provide artefacts to the Paris exposition is nothing but absurd.
    --

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  6. Look at the picture : http://archaeology.org/news/2468-140827-greece-exterior-excavation-amphipolis

    There is something which seems to me abnormal. Look at the sight of the blocking-wall : we clearly can distinguish the joints of what looks like to be modern plaster blocks with white tracks of filler. Frankly, doesn't it disturb you?

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    1. The entire picture is disturbing, that's why I did not display it. It is a detail out of context. The white streaks look like white-wash or plaster which strangely enough seem to have covered the stones that are now removed (hole). I don't understand the traces of white underneath the ceiling itself either (the ceiling of what?).
      The archaeologists are not very cooperative either with their information, which adds to the general confusion and wild guesses. They are extremely careful in their assumptions but it cannot be that difficult for them to differentiate a new wall from an antique one, right?

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  7. I tried to inquire through a personal contact that I already got on the phone. This time it was impossible to obtain the slightest information, and the impression that I had is that the political and ideological objectives in terms of communication go to the opposite direction of scientific interest.

    I mentioned the details of which we are discussing, in particular the white tracks and the presence of plaster on the dividing wall and there was an embarrassed silence...

    What is certain is that the Greek Ministry of Education seems to distil the information by carefully omitting certain things.

    If the hole in the top of the dividing wall was indeed re-corked with some plaster and if the white tracks are tracks of filler, then must be resolved to formulate the hypothesis of a very recent penetration in the grave. Even a burglary committed by the French servicemen in September 1918 would not have left so fresh tracks.

    So, for absconds motives, one would have recently filled-up a hole drilled in Roman time, or at the beginning of the previous century? But why?

    This incoherence adds to the presence of the wall - at the moment out-of-the-way - which sealed an already looted tomb.

    I persist in believing that it is inconceivable that a building so big, with such a circumference, contains only two or three rooms situated near the entry. There must be others, plundered or not.

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    1. A typical Greek situation where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, or doesn't want to know.
      I cannot judge whether a burglary from 1918 could look so fresh or not. I would keep that possibility open. But it just may be that someone used the Roman time hole and decided to cover it up out of fear for being accused of looting. When? How? Why?
      This whole digging is turning into a farce. It was suddenly announced with big pump and circumstance a few months ago as being the revelation of the moment, while the first "modern" investigations and excavations go back to 2012 (making you wonder what happened in the meantime). Who needed this publicity? Who wanted to throw sand in our eyes so we would not see what is really happening there?
      I entirely agree that there must be more than one or two tombs under such a huge tumulus, just refer to the one in Vergina for comparison.
      Thanks for sharing your latest thoughts. Are we the only ones thinking straight?
      We have a popular saying here: if you don't believe my story, I'll tell you another one. This would easily fit the present case, wouldn't it?

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  8. Bannister, maybe the fact that the team and the team leader choose to be brief about their statements is the reason why you did not get an answer from your source this time. Plus the fact that something that was entrusted to you last time, you went ahead and post it in every blog which has an article about Amphipolis. Plus maybe the fact that when Ms. Peristeri said "I think that is its difficult for such a tomb to be looted" was presented in the media as "The tomb is not looted". There is no need for a conspiracy or complex theories to explain why you do not get the data you want. We all look forward for as much info, photos and updates about the excavation, but the excavation process is not guided from our thirst for fast information. Excavations progress slowly. As for the white structure in the wall, I cannot really see how you conclude this is plaster. Aren't there different possibilities? The press statement said the wall was made of marble. This could be damage on the marble surface exposing fresh material? Why at this height? Look on the left, at the side wall. There is also trace of white material there, at the same height as in the inner wall. If that was plaster, why would anyone put it there? So was there maybe a marble plate or other structure intersecting the inner and side walls at that height? How can you also have a very recent burglary, given that the whole structure was many meters below the ground? And if there is a recent burglary, why anyone bother applying filler on an ancient wall? Also, how can we be 100% certain that the tomb was looted? Yes the hole doesn't look promising, but look on the right side: a crack on the wall at the mirror location of the hole, I assume from physical processes. Just be patient.

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    1. Thank you Planet for putting reality in a practical context. We are so impatient, but then the confusing messages that were published over the past days throw more oil on the fire than they should.
      Archaeology is an exercise in patience. We, the admirers of Alexander and followers of the latest developments, are just bystanders but we yearn to dig in there with you!
      It feels like waiting for a long lost relative (yes, I'm a little crazy - forgive me!)

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    2. Just to make sure: in some parts of your reply ("we yearn to dig in there with you") I get the impression that you think I am participating in the excavation. If so, that is not correct - I have nothing to do with excavation or even archaeology. If I misunderstood, just disregard the above. I am just fascinated by the discovery, and I know that scientific investigations always progress at a slow rate. Just wanted to remind that.

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    3. I got carried away and formulated this wrongly.
      Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to partake in that excavation? My nerves would be a wrack for sure!

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  9. I can not imagine why looters in antiquity, after plundering the grave, filled the first chamber with soil and build a perfect wall blocks, blocking the entrance. But hey, this could be done after a first foray by pious hands to prevent another theft.
    I find it even more strange that in the twentieth or twenty-first century, looters entered, overcome the first chamber, loot the tomb, and it then bother to rebuild the second wall, putting plaster on the boards but the side were left unlocked , then fill the chamber land and build a wall. Much work can draw attention.
    Nothing makes sense.
    About the white patches is unlikely to be broken marble. For the color as white, breakage should be recent and is not uniform. Could they be moisture stains?
    Keep Calm and wait. Archaeologists are forced to give part of his daily findings and also to take daily concluisones thereof. That's a lot of pressure.

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    1. Thank you for joining in with your comments. Nothing makes sense, as you say, and all options are open.

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  10. I 've red somewhere that the white line indicates the hight of the dirt inside this hall. If its true then lt explains the position of the hole up there.
    We must notice something that went no so clear, the wall that sealed the entrance was not so completed.
    Some stones where missing on the top, as we see in the early pictures.
    Thank you

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    1. Thanks for pointing this out.

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    2. We should know if those stones, missing in the first photographs were withdrawn by archaeologists to reach the door or missing before. Does anyone have any data on that?

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    3. Withdrawn by archaeologists.

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    4. No crane is visible in the first pictures, as on the later photos and no word about moving a number of stones in the early announcements, again contrary the later press announcements.

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  11. I do not wish to be involved in controversy on this excellent site dedicated to Alexandre and take the opportunity to congratulate his author on his curiosity and its open spirit.

    1. I only wanted to underline the numerous contradictions create by official statements which go back to front of the reality.

    2. A plundered grave is never closed carefully by those who destroyed her, unless they intend to return there.

    3. If the main access was made inaccessible, but that proof of intrusion exists, then there was a vertical drilling which allowed to reach the grave by another way, and it will or not be verified later. What the archaeologists know, it is that there were several attempts of penetration among which one at least seems to be older and one other recent, fruitless, recent and badly recorked.

    4. The white tracks on the dividing wall are obviously neither molds nor pieces of broken marble: I am convinced that it is about plaster or about filler. Anyway, ancient tracks of broken marble would have no this very white colour.

    5. All the top to the architrave seems to have been added: it's not contemporary besides of the building, far from it.

    6. The separation between the rounding summit of the contingent vault, completely white, and the rest of the partition is strange: it is not homogeneous. it's for me obvious that people intervened after the creation of the grave and that operations of masonry took place.

    All this is mysterious and sometimes annoying because of the poverty of the official communications, but, I underline it, it does not mortgage the discovery again importing elements.

    I have the conviction that if looters got well by average miscellaneous into the building, the whole grave was not desecrated.

    I' am persuaded that there are one or two rooms which were not visited or what objects were not able to be transported for motives connected to their scale or to their weight,.

    Whatever are the questioning or the hypotheses discussed in the social networks, it seems to me that the transparency has to prevail considering the political and scientific importance of this discovery. It is not the place to alienate the communication in ideological objectives but to consider that the Hellenistic Greek inheritance is universal and concerns each of us.

    Good evening, all of You!

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  12. To put all your minds at ease: everyone is welcome to my blog and everyone is welcome to express his opinion. My readers do not have to agree with me and that is not my purpose.
    Archaeology, like history, is a precise study - but the outcome is never a certainty. It is what it is for the time being, pending new studies, new technologies, new discoveries, new developments,...
    A good example is Schliemann who discovered Troy and was convinced to have found Priam's treasure. He did discover Troy alright, but only years later were we able to establish that his treasure came from an entirely different time-layer. Was he right? Was he wrong?
    Unfortunately we live in a time where a sneeze in China or a cough in Brazil make instant headlines. We want to know it all and we want it now.
    Whatever theory each of us develops about this mound at Amphipolis, we'll have to wait for the careful studies of the men and women in the field. We cannot ask them to rush their jobs or jump to conclusions they may regret afterwards.
    Let's be positive: there is this huge tomb, excavations are underway, the estranged lion may find his home again, and we have seen pictures that look very promising.
    Like so many of you, I am impatient to have more news, but all in due time. Meanwhile I'll be happy to listen to more of your opinions in this matter.

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    1. Well, obviously I am sorry if I expressed my disagreement before in a strong way. That was not intentional and I didn't want to upset or offend anyone. I really find the discussion here interesting.

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    2. Don't worry. I'm looking forward to reading more of your comments!

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  13. Interview with Nicholas J. Saunders about Amphipolis tomb
    http://www.mediterraneoantiguo.com/2014/08/interview-with-nicholas-j-saunders-best.html

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    1. Many thanks, Boro! At last we are getting a view from the academic side.
      I'm going to put it on my blog.

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  14. http://www.yppo.gr/2/g22.jsp?obj_id=58232
    News from the site!

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    1. Thank you, redumbrella, most of all, thank you for these pictures. This time we are getting a much better view of the inside. I am waiting for a much better translation of this Greek text than what Google offers in order to properly assess the news.

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    2. One.important part of the text is the theory that maybe those holes of the.outer and the two inner walls are part of the plan to fill the rooms with river sand and so to seale them.

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    3. You mean that by filling the room with river sand they would have created an extra obstacle for possible looters? It is a possibility, of course, although I never heard this being applied in any other Macedonian tomb before.

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    4. Yes, they must have some evidence about that, otherwise the ministry wouldn mention this in a official press release.
      If this is the case then the tob must be the rest place of a very important person, thats why all those mesures against looting.
      Dont forget that the gate is behind the sourounding wall AND underground (13 steps) so totaly invinsible.

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    5. It may always be possible that the filling came a few decades later after the construction of the tomb, after the Macedonians had the unfortunate experience of seeing the tombs at Aigai being plundered at the early, 3rd centrury BC. Could this explain why parts of the inner wall appear to have some elemental differences from the rest of the construction.

      I also read in a greek article here (http://www.thetoc.gr/politismos/article/istories-tumbwruxias-me-aformi-tin-amfipoli) that the only two tombs who escaped looting at Aegae from Gauls were well covered by the artificial mound and that after those events Antigonus Gonatas "reinforced" the tumulus surrounding Phillip's and Alexander IV's tombs. Maybe the same practice was applied to all other unlooted tombs existing that time, including the one at Amphipolis.

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    6. It is quite interesting to read that Antigonus Gonatas took such good care of Philip's and Alexander IV's resting place. The same reinforcement may indeed have been used in Amphipolis but that would imply that a very important person must be interred there.
      I'm glad the Ministry of Culture has released new pictures which give a much better view of the general entrance.
      How exciting!

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    7. Thank you redumbrella for your explanation. As you can see, I do agree with you that the tomb must have been built for "a very important person". Who else could afford it and who else would go through so much effort?

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  15. Using sand to fill tombs is a very ancient technique which first appeared in Sumerian graves and later in Egypt. So the Macedonian perfectly knew about these methods of protection and were able to want to reproduce them in the Amphipolis Tomb.

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