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 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)

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Tomb of Amphipolis is making headlines again

There is not much news to tell about the ongoing excavations of the Tomb of Amphipolis, although for reasons beyond my comprehension it is making headlines all around the world once again.

[The two sphinxes guarding the entrance of the ancient Macedonian tomb  [Credit: INTIME NEWS]]

Excavations at Amphipolis started in 2012 (see: Has the Tomb of Roxane and young Alexander been located?) and more information was divulged in the course of 2013 (see: Roxane’s Tomb linked to the Lion of Amphipolis? and Nonsense about Alexander’s grave in Amphipolis). There is evidently the link with Alexander the Great as speculations tie this tomb to his wife, Queen Roxane who was killed by Cassander in 311 BC and to her son by Alexander the Great, Alexander IV. Nothing has been proved yet though.

The only new elements I can distill from all these news articles is that apparently the entrance to the tomb has been opened since they state that two sphinxes were guarding it. Behind them there is 4-5 meter-wide corridor covered with frescoes although no pictures have been released. I read about columns and decorations of white marble from Thasos but their whereabouts is vague (see this article in: The Greek Reporter)

All indicates that this is the burial site of a prominent Macedonian, maybe a royalty, from 325-300 BC and also that the nearby Lion of Amphipolis may have stood on top of this tumulus now under excavation. It may well have been built by the famous architect Dinocrates, a close friend of Alexander the Great.

My first idea for all this recent commotion is because the Greek state desperately needs funds to continue their excavations, for so far there is no sensational find or any exceptional key element to trigger our attention. 


  1. I guess that the news is the finding of the entrance and the entry by archaeologists in the tomb and "Archaeologists, who began excavating the site in 2012, hope to fully explore the tomb by the end of the month to determine exactly who was buried there".

  2. Why are the sphinxes heads missing? Was it looted despite of the big stone wall? What do You think?

  3. There may be various reasons why the heads of the sphinxes are missing. This tomb may have been looted, either in antiquity or in more recent times or both. The heads may have fallen off the bodies under the pressure of the soil covering the tomb and may still rest inside the tomb.
    So far, explanations about what has been found inside the tomb remain vague as the study is still underway. I have not seen any picture of the inside frescoed wall or a detail of any of the sphinxes.
    Understandably everybody's interest is focused on who is buried here? I'm very anxious to hear more about this intriguing grave site.

  4. The Sphinxes were protected by the stone arch, so, they did not suffer from the soil pressure. It is probably the tomb of Νέαρχος. Νέαρχος used to be compared by Menandros,Indo-Greek king to "a lion dominating the sea...". can't be the tomb of Ῥωξάνη:. the Macedonians had no respect for her. Her body has certainly been thrown in one anonymous pit after she had been murdered by Κάσσανδρος. Besides, it is obvious that the grave was plundered and that there is not much luck that it still contain something. The only question I ask myself is: why to have walled up an already looted building? Roman concrete masonry? And yes indeed, how about the pretended frescoes and the rhombus mosaics?

    1. Yes, Nearchos has been named as a possible owner but I would not bet on it.
      After Alexander's death, Macedonia went through roaring times and there is far too much speculation about what really happened to those close to Alexander to seriously make sense of it all.
      You do intrigue me with your remark about walling up a looted tomb. Did I miss that the wall was built at a later date than the actual tomb?
      I was just in the process of writing an update based partly on this article Things are moving very fast it seems ...



  7. Most of the picture in the press shows the Sphinxes, but never the lower part of the entrance. Notice that behind the sphinxes, there is some masonry which could be from Roman time.

  8. I had a interesting phone conversation with a friend of mine an old friend of mine who is actually working on the excavation: He told me that the tomb has probably been looted. The fact is that Peristeri does not understand why an already looted place was walled-up - as many people wondered about. More: two other secondary entries seem to have been localized among which the one is recent because it is a badly re-corked opening practised by looters not long ago. The archaeologists, who seem overtaken by the too big mediatization of information hope that at least a part of the site was able to escape the looters not to disappoint public expectations. It is indeed about a discovery the stakes economic, political and even symbolic in which are very important for a country in full bankruptcy.

  9. Thank you, Bannister. I am not surprised that we were not told the entire truth and that previous lootings have been kept from the general public. Maybe the (over) mediatization has done more harm than good, but as you point out: there is much at stake for Greece and the country can definitely use an uplifting boost.
    I just read and published today's updates as the archaeologists seem confident to reach the inner tomb in about two weeks. Maybe they really are too optimistic?
    It goes without saying that an un-looted tomb is the dream of every archaeologist, but personally I am more interested in its place in history - not in the gold or precious gifts. If the tomb can be tied, even remotely to Alexander the Great, I would be very happy for so much is still shrouded in darkness.

  10. I agree with You: looted or not looted, it doesn’t change anything to the fact that this grave shall speak to us.