Alexander The Great-era tomb discovered

tomb discovered
In August, a team of archaeologists has uncovered the entrance to a tomb in Amphipolis, in northern Greece, in an area that was once part of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. Very quickly, the tomb is dated to the time of Alexander the Great.

Since then, scientists, supported by the workers, working to excavate the tomb, revealing the secrets gradually. First of all, we have seen a remarkable pair of sphinxes guarding the entrance. Then came two caryatids, female-columns statues. More recently, door leftovers, and a sumptuous mosaic depicting the abduction of Persephone by Hades, god of the underworld.

There is still much work to complete the excavation, which raises an important question: who is buried there? For Greek archaeologists near certainty: it is a member of the Macedonian royal family, so a member of the family of Alexander. But which one? The answer is still the subject of speculation.

The family of Alexander the Great, worthy of “Game of Thrones”

Alexander the Great is one of those historical figures around which a myth is built, surrounded by theatrics and mystery.

King at age 20, a student of Aristotle, he died at 33 years (probably disease), in 323 BCE, after having made himself master of an empire from Greece to India. He left a family, an official heir, and generals who were eager to share his empire. He survived his mother, Olympias, his wife, Roxana, and his posthumous son, Alexander.

A family also worthy of “Game of Thrones” Olympias would hand in the assassination of her husband Philip, Roxane have killed his two other co-wives, wife Cassandra Alexander’s half-sister and is in stride murder Roxane and her son a few years after stoning Olympias … A real Greek tragedy.

The 7 “candidates” to the grave

– Alexander the Great himself, it should be part of eliminated automatically. History records that in fact his embalmed body, back from Babylon, place of death, was simply “hacked” by one of his lieutenants, Ptolemy. The latter, in charge of Egypt, has also subsequently founded his own pharaonic dynasty, which ended with the famous Cleopatra VII. Ptolemy would have wanted to recover the body of his lord, no doubt hoping political advantage. Alexander would have been buried in Alexandria, a city he had founded and which bore his name. However, we never found the tomb nor the mummified remains, which would have had many adventures before disappearing in the various natural disasters that devastated the ancient city of Alexandria in late antiquity.

– Philip II, father of Alexander was already discovered his tomb in 1977 in Vergina, also in the north of Greece, 170 km of the current excavations of Amphipolis. The tomb was intact, and many indices (including a facial injury whose story reported) were the body to match that of Philip. A controversy has yet smoldered for years, challenging the identity of the body, but a recent anthropological study would confirm that it was indeed the father of Alexander. Note that his face was modeled in the early 80s, a feat at a time when the facial reconstructions computer could still appear like science fiction.

– Alexander, son of Alexander posthumous son and theoretical heir to an empire already divided between the general of the king, he was taken in Macedonia by Roxane, his mother. Both under the protection of Olympias, Alexander’s mother, they ended up being killed on the orders of General Cassandra, a few years after the death of Olympias. Cassandra did not want to have any legitimate heirs may challenge its rights to the Macedonian throne. Alexander IV was then 12 or 13 years. One theory is that his body would be part of those found in Vergina tomb complex with that of Philip II.

– Olympias, Alexander’s mother: She is reputed to have belonged to a Dionysian worship, having engaged in orgies and sleep with snakes. On the death of her son, she supported the Cassandra opponent to the throne of Macedonia, and eventually stoned. Cassandra is said that denied him the right to a funeral, which would exclude it from the list because of Amphipolis, though his followers could bury semi-clandestinely. Other clues would point towards him: the caryatids, the fact that some Dionysian symbols were discovered, and even mosaic which represent kidnapped by Philip II, with Alexander leading the procession Hermes. This is certainly the view taken by Andrew Chugg, author of “Alexander the Great: The Lost Tomb”.

– Roxanne, wife of Alexander native of Bactria, located north of present-day Afghanistan, she took his son and heir in Macedonia, where it ends murdered, probably at the age of 33 years. It may well be the occupant of the tomb of Amphipolis. Caryatids and mosaic Persephone removal are symbols that would point more towards a female royal rank, corresponding to Roxane.

– Cleopatra, sister of Alexander: She was murdered in 308 BC. After the king’s death, she was sought in marriage by those who wanted to legitimize accession to the throne of Macedonia. It could also be buried at Amphipolis.

– Half-brothers, cousins …: the family was extended. Examples include Philip III, half-brother of Alexander and who succeeded him in title as king of Macedonia. Cassandre, the former general who had married Thessalonike, half-sister of Alexander, it would be buried in one of the new tombs discovered in the spring in Vergina.

Archaeology reality TV version?

Probably in a few weeks we will have the answer to the question of a hectic emergency: who can occupy an old tomb more than 2,300 years old? The ancient history enthusiasts hold their breath, but archeology can it end up well under media pressure?

The 3D view of the tomb

To dig such a monument, it takes time, patience. The walls and ceiling must be strengthened so that nothing collapses, searches must be done sensitively to avoid damage (or lack) an object of importance. But today, the tomb is under siege, not by looters, but by the media, who want every day new information.

This is understandable, of course. Personally, I am this “soap opera” since mid-August, while we would not look at me do even one episode of “Secret Story”. We live in a fleeting curiosity of civilization and immediate, and the suspense of this major archaeological discovery is the one to serials twists.

However, it is hoped that those in charge of the excavations manage to resist this pressure, and that we deliver in due time the identity of the (or) occupant (s) of the tomb of Amphipolis. If I had to make a prediction, I would go for Roxane

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