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)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Update on the excavations of Amphipolis

Over the past week the Greek Ministry of Culture has published several press releases including more pictures of what has been brought to light so far.

Archeologists are now working to clear the soil from the space behind the second portal guarded by the caryatids (the first portal wall is the one with the sphinxes). At this stage, progress is slow as the vault and the lintel of the third doorway are damaged, probably because of the weight of the soil above the tomb and the newly exposed space has to be shored up for safety reasons. This marble doorway is in Ionic style, which is consistent with previously exposed passages.

The vaulted ceiling is made of limestone, just like in the two previous rooms. Yet unlike the earlier cleared room, this third one was not entirely filled with sand which is consistent with that of the natural terrain, and requires more protective measures. Because of the weak structure, it is estimate that this securing will take several days. Interestingly, the architect on the site has made a drawing of the successive rooms cleared so far, giving us a much better idea of the entire picture. 

Meanwhile a closer examination of the caryatids has determined that each statue is 2.27 meters high, resting on a marble pedestal. They are wearing a long and well-draped chiton, and it has been noted that their feet and fingertips are delicately detailed. 

So far, I have not seen any indication about the presence of stairs in this third room, as speculated, but of course I may have overlooked some pertaining information. So much guess work and so many theories have been developed since these excavations seriously went underway that it is difficult to sort out what is true, what is probable and what is fake. One theory uttered by Michael Lefantzis (thank you Bannister) is that the diameter of the tomb of Amphipolis corresponds exactly to 1/100th of the city walls of the city of Alexandria in Egypt. It also seems that Dr Katerina Peristeri appeared on TV on 19 September and stated that this tomb has not been looted – based on what, I don’t know.

For the more curious among us, there is some reading on analyzing these excavations including several interesting drawings.

The most bizarre theory has been developed by Panagiotis Trajan, wondering if the tomb of Amphipolis represents the gates to the underworld (just click on the link for the full story).

Last but not least, someone has found pictures of British soldiers in WW1 crawling through a hole in a wall that closely resembles the first wall of the tomb of Amphipolis. It is up to anyone to explain where the skulls come from as it seems improbable that they were just “laying around”.

To summarize the present status: we still have not found the tomb in the inner chamber; we still don’t know who is buried here; and we still do not know whether there is more than one tomb hidden in this mound. What has been found so far is very exciting, of course, but we still are not any closer to solving this enigmatic burial site.

[copyright for all images belongs to the Greek Ministry of Culture]


  1. Based on the ministry drawing interpreted in a drawing on the blog of Empedotimos ( ) seems the lintel of the door is very close to the floor (just over meter and a half). In the drawing of the ministry is also shows that the last wall descend more than the others, which means that the floor has steps or slope. Possible explanations?
    Will the excavation be stopped in the winter?

    1. Each picture and each drawing raises more questions indeed. They have been talking about stairs before, maybe this is what they meant? I find it also strange that there is not step to enter through the portal with the caryatids: who would take such a high step? Not very convenient.
      Good question whether excavations will be stopped in winter (which is the normal procedure). A good reason to continue right now at a steady pace. Nobody really wants to stop at this stage. They did put up a roofing over the site, didn't they?