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)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wall paintings in the tomb chamber of Amphipolis

I find it quite surprising that wall paintings were discovered inside the tomb chamber of Amphipolis and it seems that there also traces of paint on the ceiling. The Greek Ministry of Culture has released a few images of the walls where we discern an animal, probably a bull, flanked by two human figures in movement. Beyond each person there is a hydria and a winged humanoid figure that is approaching a tall tripod vessel – a motif often associated with sacred places. The paintings are rather worn and faded but they hope that further studies with ultraviolet rays will reveal more clues about the identity of the dead.

Other great news is the fact that coins depicting Alexander the Great were retrieved from this tomb. However, the are being dated to the 2nd century BC, being the time of the last Macedonian kings and not to the fourth century BC when this tomb presumably was built. Many shards of pottery have been collected as well, and they in turn do belong to the fourth century BC. This may have led the officials from the Ministry to conclude that the monument was originally open to the public before it was looted at some time during Roman occupation when it was sealed.

Studies by archaeologists, geologists, historians and other scientists will have to provide more information but it is estimated that their work may take up to five years.

While most of the media attention goes to what is hidden under the huge mound at Amphipolis, other works are being carried out at nearby Lake Kerkini. When in 1936 a dam was built here, workers used (re-used) loose stone blocks that laid around and which now have been identified as belonging to the Tomb of Amphipolis.

It seems that the level of Lake Kerkini has regressed, revealing the presence of these blocks that belonged to the wall of the tumulus. Some of the slabs carry inscriptions that may be helpful in identifying the owner of the tomb, but so far no scholar or archaeologist has made any comment on these finds. Who will be the first to come forward?

More about this intriguing story is analyzed in depth by Andrew Chugg is his most recent article Lingering Mysteries of the Amphipolis Tomb.

[Pictures from the Greek Ministry of Culture]


  1. The best identified inscriptions on the blocks are names, probably graffiti from the soldiers(?) or people that moved the blocks from the round wall in the past. Inscription is only visible on the marble blocks from the wall. The blocks having pieces of a shield or other things found in the same region with the blocks have nothing written. The only exception is a small part of a Macedonian tomb entrance, also residing next to the lion with some wall blocks, which shows some individual letters on top (most piecies were originally found together near the lion, in the river and formed a dam.Different parts probably came from different locations).

    The names of the blocks use ligatures (two letters combined in one symbol) or they also write "Σ" as "C". The first are post-hellenistic, the second date from the 4th century BC, but are most common in roman times or later. So, inscriptions on the blocks removed from the wall are probably not from its construction.

    1. If I understand this correctly, we cannot expect any of these inscriptions leading to the name of a possible occupant of the tomb? It would have been too nice to be true!

    2. You never know - there should be more marbles in the bottom of the Strymon, I hope they d some underwater search at some point. But at least in the existing blocks, most (if not all) inscriptions are post-dating the monument, possibly by centuries. Maybe there is more info on the blocks that are still on the round wall...

    3. Gee, I thought they'd checked the surrounding wall for inscriptions or possible indications as to the owner of the tomb? Maybe I'm mistaking ...