For the past two years archaeologists have been excavating a massive burial complex near the ancient city of Amphipolis in Greece’s northern Macedonia region which could be the resting place of Alexander the Great.
Last Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras paid a visit to the site, which lies 370 miles north of Athens, where he announced that Greek archaeologists were on the verge of an “extremely important” discovery dating from the era of Alexander.
All of Greece (and some of the world) is now waiting to see if the find is indeed the tomb of the once great king or simply the burial site of one if Alexander’s military commanders or family members.
Greek Prime Minister Samaras told reporters,
“It is clear that we stand before an extremely important finding.”
The burial site is not only significant but massive in size. Since archaeologists began their excavation work in 2012, they have unearthed a 1,600-foot-long, 10-foot high circular wall constructed from white marble imported from the nearby island of Thassos. A broad, five-yard-wide road leads to the tomb entrance, which is guarded by two headless sphinxes. Marble decorations and frescoed walls adorn the tomb, which was partially destroyed during the Roman occupation of Greece but apparently has survived without looting for more than 2,000 years.
Lead archaeologist Katerina Peristeri dates the burial tomb to between 325 B.C. and 300 B.C., towards the end of the reign of Alexander the Great.
For those not up to speed with Greek history, Alexander was a warrior-king from northeast Greece who went on to establish an ancient empire that touched three continents and stretched from the Danube River.
While many hope to find Alexander the Great, experts caution that the site is most likely not where the great king was buried.
The History website provides some context to the discover:
The tomb is almost certainly not the resting spot of Alexander the Great, who died in Babylon, modern-day Iraq, in 323 B.C. He was believed to have been buried in Egypt after his corpse was stolen en route to his homeland by Ptolemy, one of his former generals. Some have speculated, however, that the Amphipolis tomb could have been originally constructed with the intention of holding Alexander’s body.
A more likely explanation is that the grand tomb was built for one of Alexander’s commanders or family members. The empire forged by Alexander quickly crumbled into warring factions following his death, and blood drenched Macedonia’s arid hills from the infighting. Amphipolis, a former Athenian colony conquered by Philip II in 357 B.C., did not escape the violence. It was there that Alexander’s wife, Roxana, and his son and rightful heir to the throne, 12-year-old Alexander IV, were murdered by Macedonian general Cassander in 311 B.C. It’s possible that the tomb was built for either or both of them.
The mystery as to who is buried in the tomb will come to light soon enough as archaeologists estimate to enter the tomb by the end of August. We will then all see if Alexander the Great has finally been found.