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 Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece

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PostSubject: Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece   Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece I_icon_minitimeWed Aug 13, 2014 6:15 am

Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece

Archaeologists uncover entrance to important tomb from reign of warrior-king Alexander the Great

Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece Greece_tomb_3004273b
A partial view of the site where archaeologists are excavating an ancient mound in Amphipolis, northern Greece Photo: Alexandros Michailidis/AP

Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece Squires_60_1768792j
By Nick Squires, Rome
8:46PM BST 12 Aug 2014

Archaeologists in Greece have discovered a vast tomb that they believe is connected with the reign of the warrior-king Alexander the Great, who conquered vast swathes of the ancient world between Greece and India.

The tomb, dating to around 300 BC, may have held the body of one of Alexander's generals or a member of his family. It was found beneath a huge burial mound near the ancient site of Amphipolis in northern Greece.

Antonis Samaras, Greece's prime minister, visited the dig on Tuesday and described the discovery as "clearly extremely significant".

A broad, five-yard wide road led up to the tomb, the entrance of which was flanked by two carved sphinxes. It was encircled by a 500 yard long marble outer wall. Experts believe a 16ft tall lion sculpture previously discovered nearby once stood on top of the tomb.

They ruled out the possibility that the tomb could be that of Alexander - the emperor is believed to have been buried in Egypt after he died of a fever in Babylon in 323BC.

The tomb was found in Greece's northern Macedonia region, from where Alexander began to forge his empire.

"It is certain that we stand before an especially significant finding. The land of Macedonia continues to move and surprise us, revealing its unique treasures, which combine to form the unique mosaic of Greek history of which all Greeks are very proud," said Mr Samaras.

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. The site is being guarded by police while archaeologists continue their excavations.

Catherine Peristeri, the head of the ancient monuments department in northern Greece, said some of Alexander's generals and admirals had links to the area around the ancient city of Amphipolis. It was also the place where his wife, Roxana, and son, were killed in 311BC by Cassander, a Macedonian general who fought over the empire after Alexander the Great's death.

Situated about 65 miles northeast of Greece's second-biggest city, Thessaloniki, the tomb appears to be the largest ever discovered in Greece.

It probably belonged to "a prominent Macedonian of that era," a culture ministry official told Reuters.

The tomb, which consists of white marble decorations and frescoed walls, was partially destroyed during the Roman occupation of Greece.

Amphipolis was founded as an Athenian colony in 437 BC but conquered by Philip II of Macedon, Alexander's father, in 357 BC.

Alexander the Great single-handedly changed the history of the ancient world with a lightning pace of conquest. Born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in 356 BC, he was educated by the philosopher Aristotle. When his father was assassinated in 336 BC, Alexander set about consolidating his hold on the kingdom of Macedonia before embarking on the conquest of the powerful Persian Empire.

He led his army to victories across Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, establishing an empire that eventually stretched from the Danube to the frontiers of India.
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PostSubject: Entrance to “extremely important” Amphipolis tomb found   Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece I_icon_minitimeWed Aug 13, 2014 8:09 am

Entrance to “extremely important” Amphipolis tomb found

August 12th, 2014

Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece Amphipolis-tumulus-200x132

Excitement is mounting in Greece over the excavation of a vast tomb atop Kasta hill in the ancient Central Macedonian city of Amphipolis. The Kasta Tumulus was first excavated in 2012, revealing a circular tomb almost 10 feet high (eroded from an estimated original height of 80 feet), 525 feet in diameter and 1,640 feet in circumference, making it significantly larger than the Great Tumulus atVergina (43 feet high, 360 feet in diameter) that houses the tombs of Philip II of Macedon and other members of the royal family. In fact, it’s the largest tomb ever discovered in Greece.

Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece Wedding-of-Roxane-and-Alexander-Il-Sodoma-1517-200x131

Almost as soon as digging began, speculation exploded in the media about who might be buried in such a monumental tomb. Could it be Roxana of Bactria, last wife of Alexander the Great, and their son Alexander IV Aegus? According to historian Diodorus Siculus (The Library of History, Book 19, Chapter 52 and105), they were imprisoned and killed in Amphipolis by Cassander, distant relative of Alexander the Great and Regent of Macedon, in around 310 B.C. Siculus says Cassander had his minion kill them and conceal the bodies. The largest tumulus in Greece doesn’t seem like an ideal spot to conceal anything. Outside of the fever dreams of the press, therefore, there is zero historical evidence that mother and son were interred in Amphipolis and zero archaeological evidence attesting to who was interred in the tumulus.

With Greece’s economy in deep recession, there was no budget to continue excavations or even to secure the site, now exposed to the world in injudiciously excessive terms as a tomb of great historical interest. Archaeologists found Philip II buried in a 24-pound gold casket. Even the most distant possibility that someone in the Macedon royal family or adjacent thereto could be buried in the Kasta Tumulus would surely prove an irresistible lure to looters.

Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece Tumulus-walls-150x112

Somehow the money was scraped up to continue excavations and by Spring of 2013, much of the perimeter of the tomb had been unearthed. The foundation of the perimeter wall was built of large limestone blocks clad in marble from the island of Thasos, the same kind of marble used to make a sculpture known as the Lion of Amphipolis. The lion and blocks of marble were found in the Strymon river in the early 1910s. Greek soldiers dragged the blocks out of the river and used some of them

Vast tomb unearthed in northern Greece Lion-of-Amphipolis-150x129

to build a base for the lion a few kilometers away from the Kasta Tumulus. The loose blocks and columns that weren’t used in the reconstruction are still there, grouped together next to the lion monument.

Many of the marble pieces from the tomb were missing, so Michaelis Lefantzis, the archaeological team’s architect, went looking among the lion’s marbles for blocks that may have come from the tomb. He found that 400 blocks from around the lion

 and 30 from the base wereVast tomb unearthed in northern Greece Lion-of-Amphipolis-marble-150x112the same in shape, size and elaboration as the ones in the wall encircling the tumulus. It seems the Romans stripped them in the 2nd century A.D. and used them to stabilize the banks of the river. Archaeologists believe the lion was once perched on the top of the tomb before it was tossed in the Strymon.

The discovery underscored what an impressive monumental structure the tumulus was in antiquity. Now archaeologists are on the verge of getting inside and maybe discovering who was so important as to garner such a fancy final resting place.

Quote :
So far, workers have unveiled a flight of 13 steps that lead to a broad path, flanked by masonry walls, which end in a built-up arch covering two headless, wingless sphinxes — mythical creatures that blend human, bird and lion characteristics.

Archaeologists believe the entrance will be unearthed by the end of the month. They haven’t found any evidence of tomb raider activity, no tunneling, no break-ins, so they expect to find an intact tomb. Anticipation is so high the Prime Minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras, visited the site Tuesday, calling the tumulus “clearly extremely important.”
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