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Hey Archaeologists: Caryatids at Amphipolis (More Links at Bottom)

Figurines From Ancient Greek Tomb Called Major Discovery

  • Archaeologists inspect a female figurine in a hall leading to an unexplored main room of an ancient tomb, in the town of Amphipolis, northern Greece, released by the Greek Culture Ministry, Sept. 7, 2014.
Reuters

Archeologists have unearthed two sculpted female figures, known as Caryatids, as they slowly make their way into an ancient tomb recently discovered in Greece's northeast, the country's culture ministry said on Sunday.

They mark a significant new finding in the tomb on the Amphipolis site, about 100 km (65 miles) from Greece's second-biggest city Thessaloniki, which archeologists have hailed as a major discovery from the era of Alexander the Great.

The figures made of Greek marble were unearthed on Saturday, the ministry said in a statement.

Second entrance

The Caryatids, with thick curls covering their shoulders, support an inner entrance into the tomb and feature the same sculpting technique used for the heads and wings of two sphinxes found guarding the main entrance of the tomb in August, according to the statement.

“The structure of the second entrance with the Caryatids is an important finding, which supports the view that it is a prominent monument of great importance,” the Culture Ministry said.

The face of one of the Caryatids is missing, while both figures have one hand outstretched in a symbolic move to push away anyone who would try to violate the tomb.

Archeologists have said that the Amphipolis site appeared to be the largest ancient tomb to have been discovered in Greece.

Excavations, which began in 2012, have not yet determined who was buried in the tomb, but culture ministry officials have said that the monument appeared to belong to a prominent Macedonian from the 300-325 B.C. era. 

Plus these two links: 

http://www.tolerance.ca/ArticleExt.aspx?ID=234478&L=en

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-08/stunning-alexander-era-statue...

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Source: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/09/20/13-alexander-era-figures...


13 Alexander-Era Figures Who May Be Buried in the Amphipolis Tomb

by Ioanna Zikakou - Sep 20, 2014

amphipolis tomb

While evidence shows that archaeologists are one step away from uncovering the “big secret” of Amphipolis, Greece,  people are speculating on who is buried under Casta hill. Archaeologists and other world experts have supported different theories on who is the important ‘tenant’ of the Casta Hill. See the most popular ones below:

Olympias
Mother of Alexander the Great, wife of Philip II, king of Macedon, and daughter of King Neoptolemus of Epirus. Cassander had her murdered by stoning in 316 BC. (Read full story)

Androsthenes, Laomedon and Nearchus
Alexander the Great’s three admirals are closely connected to Amphipolis. Androsthenes and Laomedon were born there while Nearchus was either born or exiled in Amphipolis.

Cassander
Son of Antipater, did not follow Alexander’s army in Asia. He stayed with his father in Macedonia and used to fight with Polyperchon but eventually allied with him, when he killed Alexander’s son, Heracles. In 311 BC, he killed Alexander’s second son and successor, Alexander IV, along with his mother Roxana. He died of edema in 279 BC.

Polyperchon
He served under Philip and Alexander. He returned to Greece from Asia in 324 BC -after the death of Alexander- and was appointed regent of Macedon by Antipater in place of the latter’s son, Cassander.

Philip II of Macedon
Some do not believe that the tomb of king Philip was located in Vergina. Meanwhile, others claim that ancient Greeks might have built a second monument in Amphipolis to commemorate the king.

Heracles
Son of Alexander who was murdered with his mother, Barsine.

Alexander IV
The twelve-year-old son of Alexander and Roxana who was murdered along with his mother by Cassander. If his grave is located in Vergina, then it is possible that someone buried him and disposed of his mother’s corpse.

Alexander the Great
Alexander sailed from Amphipolis to Asia. However, it is almost certain that his tomb is located in Alexandria, since people such as Julius Caesar have visited his burial site. Some, however, insist that his bones were moved to Amphipolis by Olympias, while others argue that it is a cenotaph “waiting” to receive him, or a second monument in his honor.

Cenotaph or Memorial
This view is supported by the various influences on the monument’s construction as well as its size.

Hephaestion
General of Alexander’s army. Professor Theodoros Mavrogiannis believes that the Casta hill tomb belongs to Hephaestion and claims that the tomb was built in 325 BC by order of Alexander himself.

Roxana
The wife of Alexander became the mother of his son in 323 BC after Alexander had died. Roxana fled to Epirus in order to be saved by his descendants, and later went to Amphipolis, where she was murdered by Cassander in 310 BC.

Antigonus Monophthalmus
General of Alexander’s army, was proclaimed king in 306 BC and demanded that Cassander gives him Macedon. He died eighty-one years old and was buried with royal honors.

Philip Arrhidaeus
Son of king Philip. After Alexander’s death, he was proclaimed king by the Macedonian army as Philip III of Macedon. He was killed by soldiers who defected against Olympias. His bones were transported by Cassander to Aegae.

- See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/09/20/13-alexander-era-figures...

Greek Tomb's Female Forms Hint Olympias May Lie Within

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The gentle female sculptures found in the massive burial complex at the Kasta Hill site at Amphipolis, Greece, might depict priestess who took part in orgies and ecstatic rites while scaring men away with snake-filled baskets, according to a new interpretation of the finely carved statues.

If true, some scholars argue the tomb would belong to the mother of Alexander the Great.

The sculptures represent Orphic revelers and priestesses of Dionysus, says Andrew Chugg, author of "The Quest for the Tomb of Alexander the Great."

Photos: Female Sculptures Revealed in Greek Tomb

Technically known as caryatids -- pillars formed from sculptures of female figures common in Greek and Roman architecture -- the statues were unearthed in a mysterious massive burial mound in Greece's northeastern Macedonia region after archaeologists had already entered a chamber guarded by two colossal headless and wingless sphinxes.

According to team leader Katerina Peristeri, the structure dates to between 325 B.C. -- two years before Alexander the Great's death -- and 300 B.C.

Flanking a marble doorway, the curly haired female statues stand more than seven feet tall on a marble pedestal wearing thick soled shoes, their alternated arms outstretched as if to symbolically bar intruders from entering the chamber.

"These female sculptures may specifically be Klodones, priestesses of Dionysus with whom Olympias, Alexander the Great's mother, consorted," Chugg told Discovery News. "This is because the baskets they wear on their heads are sacred to Dionysus."

Chugg considers Olympias as the person most likely buried in the magnificent tomb.

"In his 'Life of Alexander,' the Greek historian Plutarch wrote how Olympias used to participate in Dionysiac rites and orgies with these Klodones," Chugg said.

Specifically, the Greek historian and biographer recounted that the mystical baskets were used to hold Olympias' pet snakes, which would rear their heads out of the baskets, terrifying the male participants in the Dionysiac rites and orgies.

"I have discovered there are Roman copies of a 4th-Century B.C. statue of Dionysus in both the Hermitage and Metropolitan museums with an accompanying figure of a priestess, who is dressed very similarly to the Amphipolis caryatids, including the 'platform shoes,'" Chugg said.

Sphinxes Emerge From Huge Ancient Greek Tomb

On the assumption that the Amphipolis tomb is that of Olympias, "the explanation for the caryatids would be they represent those Klodones that shared in Dionysiac orgies with the queen whose tomb they guard," Chugg said.

At 1,600 feet wide, the Kasta Hill mound is regarded as the largest burial site ever discovered in Greece. Hopes in the country are now high for an extraordinary find that might boost the country's economy after six years of recession and austerity.

"We are watching in awe and with deep emotion the excavation in Amphipolis," Greek Culture Minister Konstantinos Tasoulas told the BBC.

"The most beautiful secrets are hidden right underneath our feet," he said.

As the excavation began, basically revealing a long vaulted corridor, hopes grew the mysterious mound could be this century's tomb of Tutankhamun.

It emerged the structure, which originally was crowned by an impressive 16-foot-tall marble lion statue, was embellished in its underground space with colossal sculptures.

Two headless and wingless seated sphinxes, standing nearly 5 feet high and weighting about 1.5 tons each, guard the entrance, while two magnificent caryatids flank a second marble doorway.

So, who were these colossal sentinel statues protecting? Who is buried in the Amphipolis tomb?

Greek intrigue: What's hiding in ancient tomb?


Nikolia Apostolou and Marina Rigou, Special for USA TODAY5:22 p.m. EDT September 28, 2014

 

ATHENS — Athenians, Spartans, Macedonians, Persians and Romans once marched through Amphipolis in northern Greece thousands of years ago.

Today, armies of politicians, journalists and archaeologists have occupied the small town afterdiggers recently unearthed a massive tomb guarded by a pair of carved stone sphinxes and two caryatids, or sculptured female figures, a few miles outside the town center.

"I don't know who the tomb is hiding, but I really like that everyone is talking about this," said Nikoletta Stavroulaki, 29, an unemployed Greek who is captivated by the archaeological site's progress. "Historians from around the world are expressing different opinions, and I'm following all this. This creates amazing suspense."

With a perimeter of about 1,600 feet, the design of the massive tomb discovered two months ago suggests an important leader was buried there, leaving some to wonder whether it is the resting place of Alexander the Great.

Greek TV stations have been conducting live broadcasts from the dig, updating their audiences on the excavation's daily schedule. Meanwhile, newspapers have splashed paparazzi-style photos of lead archaeologist Katerina Peristeri on their front pages.

AFP 533120461

The partially unearthed entrance to the Kasta Tumulus in ancient Amphipolis, northern Greece, is shown.(Photo: Greek Ministry of Culture via AFP/Getty Images)

Peristeri, who has been digging at the site for two years, has repeatedly stressed she hasn't found conclusive evidence suggesting who might be in the tomb, and she believes it was likely built after Alexander died in Babylon around 323 B.C.

Judging from the caryatids' dress, University of Athens archaeologist Olga Palagia believes the tomb dates from the Roman era. Due to its size, she thought it was likely a monument to an event that occurred near ancient Amphipolis.

"An excavation is dated by the things the excavators find inside, first from the ceramics and secondly from the inscriptions and the coins," Palagia explained on Greek television. "Right now there has been no evidence of these things, so we look at the sculptures."

Peristeri, meanwhile, has lashed out at archaeologists who have fueled speculation about the site.

"I am outraged by colleagues who, without knowing the excavation or the archaeological site of Amphipolis, go on television for five minutes of fame," she said on a TV broadcast. "This excavation isn't done only for the benefit of archaeology, but also for the sake of the country in a very critical time period. Everyone is watching."

Her statements, however, have only seemed to garner more attention to the dig. Pundits are speculating that if the tomb doesn't belong to Alexander, his murdered wife and child or one of his top generals could be inside.

AFP 533306379

Archaeologists work next to Caryatids inside the Kasta Tumulus in ancient Amphipolis, northern Greece, on Sept. 11, 2014.(Photo: Greek Ministry of Culture via AFP/Getty Images)


Politicians are getting in on the hoopla, also — Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stopped by for a photo-op last month.

"It is definite we're in front of an important find," Samaras said. "The Macedonian land continues to thrill and surprise us, revealing from its guts unique treasures that compose and weave this amazing mosaic of our Greek history for which all of us Greeks are proud of."

The notoriety and political overtones of the find have put archaeologists in the awkward position of asking for less attention.

"It is the first time that an excavation is underway with television requirements and timetables," the Association of Greek Archaeologists said in a press release after Samaras' visit. "We express our agony on the possible pressure our colleagues are under in their effort to conduct a scientifically correct and fully documented excavation in TV studio conditions."

University of Athens political scientist Yiannis Metaxas worries that all the excitement over the tomb is overshadowing its true worth as a remarkable discovery.

"If in the end these are important finds — they are being undermined by all this noise," he said.

 

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/09/28/greece-tomb-mys...

And an NPR article covering the story: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/09/29/350658131/whos-buried...

OlympiasAt_Amphipolis3By Andrew Chugg*
I wrote my initial article on this question on the morning of 6th September (a day before the announcement of the discovery of the caryatids) and I wrote a second part, dealing with the caryatids and a few other issues on 20th September.
In these two articles I drew a number of inferences from the evidence available:

1) Sphinxes decorated the thrones found in the tombs of two mid to late 4th century BC queens of Macedon, one of whom was Alexander’s grandmother Eurydice I

2) Greek mythology recognised Hera the wife of Zeus as the mistress of the sphinx: the 4th century BC Macedonian kings identified themselves with Zeus, so it would make sense for their principal queens to have identified themselves with Hera

3) The female sphinxes at Amphipolis have their closest parallel in a pair of female sphinxes found by Mariette at the Serapeum at Saqqara, which were dated to the reign of the first Ptolemy by Lauer & Picard, mainly on the basis of an associated inscription: the Serapeum at Saqqara is also a strong candidate for the site of the first tomb of Alexander the Great

4) There are strong parallels between the façades of the tombs of Philip II and Alexander IV at Aegae and the reconstructed façade of the lion monument that stood atop the mound at Amphipolis

5) The paving in the tomb at Amphipolis closely matches paving in the 4th century BC palace at Aegae

6) The 8-petal double rosettes in the Amphipolis tomb have an excellent match on the edge bands of the gold larnax of Philip II

7) The evidence therefore favours an important queen being entombed at Amphipolis: Olympias, Alexander’s mother, and Roxane, Alexander’s wife may both have died at Amphipolis and are the only prominent queens that accord with the archaeologists’ firm dating of the Amphipolis tomb to the last quarter of the 4th century BC

8) On the assumption that the occupant of the Amphipolis tomb is Olympias, a straightforward explanation of the caryatids would be that they are Klodones, the priestesses of Dionysus with whom Plutarch, Alexander 2 states that Olympias consorted: the baskets worn on their heads would be those in which Plutarch says the Klodones kept snakes.

9) Plutarch, Alexander 2 tells the story of Philip having dreamt that he sealed Olympias’s womb whilst she was pregnant with Alexander with the device of a lion. This provides an explanation for the tomb having been surmounted by a
lion monument.

In this third part of my episodic commentary on this question I will put forward some evidence that the form of the baskets on the heads of the Amphipolis caryatids is consistent with the types of basket that were actually used by the ancient Greeks to accommodate the snakes used in the worship of Dionysus.
Then I will show additionally that the attire, stance and overall appearance of the Amphipolis caryatids matches ancient Greek representations of priestesses of Dionysus or the female servants of Dionysus known as Maenads.
It is clear that the newly discovered Amphipolis caryatids are members of the large sub-class of caryatids known as canephora: caryatids that bear baskets upon their heads (see Figures 1 and 2).
Canephora are so common and so well studied as to make any other explanation of the caryatids’ headgear at least improbable.
Plutarch, Life of Alexander 2, states that the Klodones of Olympias used to keep snakes in sacred baskets, which they employed in the course of their Dionysiac rites. Specifically, he uses the terminology μυστικῶν λίκνων for the Klodones’s baskets.
The word λίκνων originally meant a wicker fan used for winnowing wheat, but wicker baskets used in festivals of Dionysus came to be known by this name.
Although it is tempting to suppose that the type of basket referred to by λίκνων in some way resembled a winnowing fan, it is obvious that a flat basket could not have accommodated snakes (not for very long anyway!)

OlympiasAtAmphipolis3-1Figure 1. The left-hand caryatid in the vestibule of the tomb at Amphipolis at the time of her discovery
Figure 2. The entire bodies of the Amphipolis caryatids now revealedFigure 2. The entire bodies of the Amphipolis caryatids now revealed

Furthermore, there is plenty of ancient evidence available on the form of ancient snake baskets as used in Dionysiac rites.
The Dionysus Sarcophagus from the Metropolitan Museum in New York (Figure 3) depicts a procession including
Dionysus himself at its centre riding astride a panther and wielding his traditional pine-cone tipped wand or thyrsos. Its sculpture depicts a variety of baskets that should be identified as μυστικῶν λίκνων in view of the context.
However, in particular there sits on the ground beneath the feet of the god a small basket with a snake disappearing beneath its lid.
This is very similar in its shape and size to the baskets worn by the Amphipolis caryatids.

Figure 3. Marble sarcophagus with the Triumph of Dionysus and the Seasons, Roman, c. A.D. 260–270, Phrygian marble in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkFigure 3. Marble sarcophagus with the Triumph of Dionysus and the Seasons, Roman, c. A.D. 260–270, Phrygian marble in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Dionysus sarcophagus dates to ~AD260-270, but there are much earlier examples of Dionysiac snake baskets.
For example a coin minted in ~2BC in Pergamon in Asia Minor is reported to show the cista mystica, i.e. the basket containing the sacred implements of Dionysus worship.
It too includes a prominent snake and is similar to the baskets atop the heads of the caryatids.

Figure 4. A basket sacred to Dionysus with a snake emerging depicted on a coin minted ~2BC in PergamonFigure 4. A basket sacred to Dionysus with a snake emerging depicted on a coin minted ~2BC in Pergamon

It is also possible to find ancient artworks which convincingly show that the Amphipolis caryatids wear the dress and adopt the stance of priestesses of Dionysus.
In particular there are surviving Roman copies of a 4th century BC statue of Dionysus leaning on the diminutive figure of a human priestess in the Metropolitan and Hermitage museums (Figures 5 and 6).
She is a human priestess rather than a goddess, because the statue is a standard type.
There are parallel statuettes of Aphrodite leaning on a diminutive priestess, where the priestess wears a basket.
This means she is bearing offerings for the goddess as well as being physically leant upon and a fellow goddess would not be depicted in such a servile role.

In the case of the Met-Hermitage Dionysus, the priestess has many features that resemble the Amphipolis caryatids. Her stance is similar with one arm upraised and the other lowered to hitch up her dress.
She has the same hairstyle, with three curly locks brought forward over each shoulder.
The Hermitage version wears the same thick-soled sandals as the Amphipolis caryatids.
In particular, the priestess wears a similar dress to the caryatids with a chiton (tunic) worn on top.
The most unusual feature is that the chiton is hung over only one shoulder and its top edge is terminated by a diagonal band running between the breasts and exhibiting curious folds.
This diagonal band seems to be rare in other contexts, so it merits special attention, since it consequently provides relatively strong evidence for the identification of the Amphipolis caryatids as priestesses of Dionysus.

It may be worth noting that the priestess’s chiton and diagonal band appears to echo the panther skin tunic worn by Dionysus himself in the Hermitage statue.
The fact that the chiton it is hung over only one shoulder is more in keeping with the way Greek men wore tunics and therefore recalls Plutarch’s alternative term for the Klodones: Mimallones or “men imitators”.

It is also worth noting a couple of other examples of female figures wearing the single-shoulder chiton with a diagonal band of folds at its top edge.
Firstly, there is a relief depicting dancing women wearing this dress from the Temenos in the sanctuary of the mysteries on the island of Samothrace (Figure 7).
This building is believed to have been constructed between 340-317BC.
Plutarch, just prior to his account of the Klodones, recalls that Olympias (then called Myrtale) first met Philip of Macedon at the mysteries on Samothrace.
The dates of the Temenos make it possible that it was built under the patronage of the Macedonian royal family and it is interesting that the completion of this phase of expansion of the sanctuary (including several other buildings) is dated to the year preceding Olympias’s death.

Secondly, there is a famous Attic red-figure cup depicting the death of Pentheus on its exterior and a Maenad on its interior. It is attributed to Douris and dates to about 480BC (see Figures 8 and 9).
The Maenad, a female follower of Dionysus, also wears the single-shoulder chiton with a diagonal band along its upper edge.
Although this depiction is much earlier that the 4th century BC examples discussed above, the long tradition of this kind of attire among the female servants of Dionysus is probably significant.

Figure 5. Statue of Dionysus with a priestess, a Roman copy from the 2nd century AD of a Greek original of the 4th century BC (Hermitage) – see also Figure 6Figure 5. Statue of Dionysus with a priestess, a Roman copy from the 2nd century AD of a Greek original of the 4th century BC (Hermitage) – see also Figure 6
Figure 6. Statue of Dionysus with a priestess, a Roman copy from the Augustan age of a Greek original of the 4th century BC (Metropolitan Museum) – see also Figure 5Figure 6. Statue of Dionysus with a priestess, a Roman copy from the Augustan age
of a Greek original of the 4th century BC (Metropolitan Museum) – see also Figure 5 Figure 7. Relief showing dancing women wearing chitons with diagonal bands from the Temenos in the sanctuary of the mysteries on the island of SamothraceFigure 7. Relief showing dancing women wearing chitons with diagonal bands from the Temenos in the sanctuary of the mysteries on the island of Samothrace
Figure 8. Douris “Death of Pentheus” cup interior, depicting a Maenad with the thyrsos of Dionysus and a cheetah (~480BC)Figure 8. Douris “Death of Pentheus” cup interior, depicting a Maenad with the thyrsos of Dionysus and a cheetah (~480BC)
Figure 9. Douris “Death of Pentheus” cup exterior, depicting a Maenad brandishing a lower leg of Pentheus before the enthroned Dionysus (~480BC)Figure 9. Douris “Death of Pentheus” cup exterior, depicting a Maenad brandishing a lower leg of Pentheus before the enthroned Dionysus (~480BC)

Some have posed the question of who would have constructed such an impressive tomb for Alexander the Great’s mother? They argue that our sources state that Olympias had made herself unpopular by executing some of Cassander’s supporters and that Diodorus 17.118 states that Cassander left Olympias’s body unburied.

However, I answer that her relatives would have been duty-bound to retrive the queen’s remains and that Cassander must subsequently have agreed to allow their entombment. Probably, the tomb would have been commissioned, designed and paid for by Olympias’s relatives and other supporters: Roxane and Alexander IV were kept at Amphipolis for 7 years after Olympias was murdered, so they are likely to have overseen the arrangements. Furthermore, Cassander’s wife was Thessalonike, Alexander’s half-sister and a daughter of Philip II. Then too Alexander’s sister by Olympias, Cleopatra, could well have been involved. She would have been extremely concerned to ensure the appropriate burial of her mother. Olympias had many rich and powerful friends and relatives alive when the lion tomb at Amphipolis was built.
Cassander had to negotiate with the generals then running other parts of Alexander’s empire and these men would have pressurised him to behave properly in the matter of according funeral rites to so important a member of Alexander’s close family.

In summary, I have presented powerful evidence that the Amphipolis caryatids are indeed Klodones with reference both to the baskets borne upon their heads and their close resemblance to priestesses of Dionysus and Maenads in contemporaneous
ancient Greek art.
If they are Klodones, then this is a strong indication that the occupant of the Amphipolis tomb is most likely to be Olympias or else possibly another important queen of Macedon.

There are those who propose that the Amphipolis tomb is either an abandoned cenotaph for Alexander himself or that it is a cult centre and not a tomb at all.
For them the obvious question is: why did somebody take such pains to seal up an empty complex with multiple strongly built sealing walls and of the order of thousands of tonnes of sand from the bed of the local river?

There are those who favour male candidates for the occupant of this tomb.
To them I pose the question of why in this period a male would be assigned two pairs of female guardians for his tomb, when he came from a society where the servants of kings were adolescent boys and the servants of queens were women and girls and in general there was a high degree of segregation between the sexes?

There are those who argue for a date range radically different than that proposed by the archaeologists.
This is difficult, because the archaeologists have apparently found coin and potsherd dating evidence in digging this monument.
It is even more difficult, because there are many matches with late 4th century BC decorative styles in everything so far revealed: especially the flooring match with the 4th century BC palace at Aegae, but also the painted and sculpted decoration in general.
It is especially difficult, because a reconstruction of the demolished Lion Monument done in the 1930s closely echoes the facades of the tombs of Philip II and Alexander IV, not unearthed until the 1970s. It may be added that the band of drafting around the edges of some of the blocks from the Lion Monument matches the band of drafting on the blocks in the perimeter wall of the mound, so any suggestion that the Lion Monument never actually surmounted the Kasta Hill mound is fraught with difficulty.

- See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/09/30/is-the-mother-of-alexand...

Source: http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/marble-door-revealed-...

Marble Door Revealed in Greek Tomb

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Archaeologists excavating the large and mysterious mound at the Kasta Hill site at Amphipolis, Greece, have unearthed a broken marble door, Greece’s Culture Ministry announced today.

Made from marble brought from the island of Thasso, like most of the features uncovered so far in the underground space, the door fragments were found as archaeologists removed dirt from the second chamber.

Greek Tomb’s Female Forms Hint Olympias May Lie Within

According to Katerina Peristeri, the excavation’s director, the discovery leaves no doubt the structure is indeed a tomb dating to the time of Alexander the Great of Macedonia.

“Based on our findings, we are absolutely sure about our dating to the last quarter of the 4th century B.C.,” Peristeri said.

She hinted their dating relies on strong yet unpublished findings.

“We give information out to provide a clear picture [of the excavation]. However, not all the material is coming out in press releases,” Peristeri said.

3rd Room of Ancient Greek Tomb Revealed

Leading to the tomb’s third chamber, the marble door features a double row of dots down its center. The dots imitate nail heads, a feature common on Macedonian tomb doors.

A hinge was also discovered on the western side of the door.

“What is particularly unusual here is that the door was in two sections and hinged,” Dorothy King, a classical archaeologist not involved in the excavation, wrote in her blog.

“It was designed to open rather than merely be a ‘fake’ door designed to look like one as seen in most other Macedonian tombs,” she said.

Greek Tomb’s Female Sculptures More Than 12 Feet Tall

She noted that temples had doors that opened and closed, “but they tended to be either wood inlaid with ivory or wood covered in bronze,” King said.

Behind the two fully unearthed Caryatids (female statue) and in front of the door, Peristeri’s team also found bronze and iron nails. It’s not clear whether they belonged to the funerary carriage or something else.

As for the broken marble door, Peristeri believes it collapsed either as a result of the Bulgarian army’s bombing in 1913 or as the consequence of a severe earthquake that rumbled in Amphipolis in the 6th century A.D.

According to the archaeologists, Greece’s mystery tomb may hold more surprises.

It’s possible that a staircase or ramp exists behind the door in the third chamber, leading to a 6.5-foot-deep room.

Image: The marble door features a double row of dots meant to imitate nail heads (left); drawing showing the door design. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2779171/What-chamber...

I don't think the interactive floor plan uploaded correctly so you may want to check out the article through the above link^^

Have they found Alexander the Great's tomb? Or maybe his mother's: Greek archaeologists increasingly convinced mystery tomb hides a sensational secret

  • The tomb is situated in the Amphipolis region of Serres in Greece
  • Its huge burial site is said to date back between 325 and 300 BC
  • This means it could have been built during the reign of Alexander the Great
  • Archaeologists have now entered the third chamber of the tomb
  • It is unknown if anything lies beyond the third chamber
  • Two sculpted female figures, known as Caryatids, have been found plus sphinxes, which are both intended to guard one of the tomb's entrances
  • Experts hope it holds the remains of a senior ancient official 

Speculation about who the mysterious ancient tomb recently unearthed in Greece belongs to continues, with one academic now suggesting Alexander the Great’s mother was buried there.

A number of scholars believe that the presence of female figures, known as caryatids, show that the tomb in the Amphipolis region of Serres belongs to a female.

However, one expert has gone as far as to state that he believes that archaeologists could eventually discover the remains of Alexander the Great's parent, Olympias, inside.

Scroll down for interactive floor plan

A number of scholars believe that the presence of female figures, known as caryatids (pictured) show that the tomb in the Amphipolis region of Serres belongs to a female - probably Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias

A number of scholars believe that the presence of female figures, known as caryatids (pictured) show that the tomb in the Amphipolis region of Serres belongs to a female - probably Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias

WHAT ARE CARYATIDS?

Caryatids are sculptures of females that take the place of a column to support a building.

They are a distinctive feature in Ancient Greek architecture and famously hold up the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens.

Their elaborate hairstyles provide support to their necks that would otherwise be too thin and weak to support a heavy load.

The Caryatids in the Greek tomb are made of marble and support an inner entrance into the burial plot. 

They feature the same sculpting technique used for the heads and wings of two sphinxes found guarding the main entrance of the tomb last month.

Writer Andrew Chugg, who has published a book on the search for the legendary leader's tomb, as well as several academic papers, put forward his controversial argument in The Greek Reporter.

He argues that sphinxes guarding the tomb are decorated in a similar way to those found in the tombs of two queens of Macedon, including the king’s grandmother.

In Greek mythology, Hera, the wife of Zeus, is depicted as the mistress of the sphinx. As the Macedonian kings of at the time of Alexander identified themselves with Zeus, Mr Chugg thinks their queens may have been associated with the mythical creature.

He goes on to explain that the sphinxes guarding the tomb are most similar to a pair at Saqqara, which is thought to be the site of the first tomb of Alexander the Great - whose body, it is thought, was moved around after his death.

He also points out that the facades of the tombs of Alexander the Great’s father, Philip II and Alexander IV, are similar to the façade of the lion monument found, which was thought to have originally stood atop the mystery tomb.

In addition to this there are also similarities between the Serres paving and rosettes and those found inside Philip II’s.

An expert listed a number of features such as caryatids and sphinxes that indicate the tomb belongs to a woman. He thinks it was most likely built for Alexander the Great's mother because the caryatid female figures are probably Klodones - the priestess of Dionysus. A close-up of their sandals are pictured

With all this, he believes the grand burial was built for Olympias or Alexander the Great’s wife, Roxane, who are both thought to have died at Amphipolis around the same time as the tomb's construction in the last quarter of the 4th century BC.

Mr Chugg thinks it was most likely built for Olympias because the caryatid female figures are probably Klodones – the priestess of Dionysus.

Greek writer Plutarch said in a biography about Alexander the Great that his mother consorted with the priestess.

In it, he writes that Philip II dreamt that he closed Olympia’s womb with a lion seal, which perhaps explains the lion statue thought to have been placed on top of the mysterious burial mound.

Experts have previously suggested that the tomb belongs to one of the king’s officials. There are hopes that despite looting, a body may still remain inside the burial mound.

Sculpted female figure, known as a Caryatid, is seen inside a site of an archaeological excavation at the town of Amphipolis, in northern Greece
Details of two large stone sphinxes are seen under a barrel-vault topping the entrance to its main chamber

Here, archaeologists work outside a site of the tomb in Amphipolis, in northern Greece

Following months of excavation, a team of researchers has made their way into the third chamber of what's been dubbed Alexander the Great's tomb, in the Amphipolis region of Serres. Access was possible through a wall that was only recently uncovered (pictured)

Following months of excavation, a team of researchers has made their way into the third chamber of what's been dubbed Alexander the Great's tomb, in the Amphipolis region of Serres. Access was possible through a wall that was only recently uncovered (pictured)

During the most recent excavations, archaeologists have discovered fragments of a broken marble door which lead to the third chamber of the tomb .

They have also discovered iron and bronze nails as well as a large hinge. 

They say that the evidence follows the standard form of a Macedonian tomb, GreekReporter.com reported.

Experts believe the ancient mound, situated around 65 miles (100km) from Thessaloniki, was built for a prominent Macedonian in around 300 to 325BC. 

Access to the third chamber was made possible after experts unearthed two sculpted female figures, known as Caryatids, last week. 

Speculation continues about who the mysterious ancient tomb recently unearthed in Greece belongs to, with one academic now suggesting Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias (etched in a coin from 316BC) was buried there

WHY MIGHT THE TOMB BELONG TO OLYMPIAS?

  • Expert Andrew Chugg thinks that the sphinxes are similar to some found in the tomb of Alexander the Great’s grandmother.
  • He thinks that queens of the time were associated with the mythical animals.
  • The sphinx statues are also similar to a pair at Saqqara, which is thought to be the site of the first tomb of Alexander the Great, before his body was moved.
  • The lion which was once top the burial mound has a similar façade to the tomb of Alexander the Great’s father, Philip II.
  • This evidence suggests the burial was built for Olympias or Alexander the Great’s wife, Roxane who both died in the last quarter of the 4th century BC when the tomb was built.
  • Mr Chugg thinks it was for Olympias because the caryatid female figures are probably Klodones – the priestess of Dionysus.
  • A story by Greek writer Plutarch that Olympia’s womb was closed by a lion seal – perhaps explaining the connection with the lion statue.

By removing a large volume of soil, behind the wall bearing the two sculpted female figures, they were able to uncover the next chamber. 

Until now, experts had only partially investigated the antechamber of the tomb and uncovered a marble wall concealing one or more inner chambers.

During initial observations, the archaeologists found that the level of sandy soil in the third chamber is lower than in the previous two chambers. 

The dome structure has been weakened, as a result of losing a large amount of earth, and the researchers found the arched dome of the third chamber is on the verge of collapse, due to 'deep and extensive cracks' on either side. 

Before the discovery of the Caryatids, it was feared the ‘incredibly important’ tomb dating to the time of Alexander the Great had been plundered in antiquity. 

Sculpted female figure, known as a Caryatid, is seen inside a site of an archaeological excavation at the town of Amphipolis, in northern Greece.

On the left, an expert works on painstakingly removing the soil surrounding a large sculpture of a Caryatid - a female that takes the place of a column to support a building. Details of the body of a sphinx are pictured right, including its feathered wings and muscular body

Clockwise from top right shows two headless, marble sphinxes found above the entrance to the barrel-vaulted tomb, details of the facade and the lower courses of the blocking wall, the antechamber's mosaic floor, a 4.2-metre long stone slab, and the upper uncovered sections of two female figures. The second and third chambers, not pictured, have not yet been explored

Last week, archaeologists unearthed two sculpted female figures, known as Caryatids, (pictured) as they dug deeper at the site in the northeast of Greece. The half-bodied statues made of marble have thick hair covering their shoulders and are wearing a sleeved tunic
Archaeologists excavating an ancient mound in northern Greece (picutred) have uncovered what appears to be the entrance to an important tomb. It is believed to have been built at the end of the reign of warrior-king Alexander the Great and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras described the discovery as 'extremely important¿
The paw of one of the sphinxes guarding the tomb is pictured. Experts say that all the artefacts uncovered so far, suggest it is a tomb typical of the Macedonian style

Archaeologists said that a hole in the decorated wall, and signs of forced entry, indicated it had been looted.

But the discovery of the female sculptures gave fresh hope that some treasure may have survived, after all. 

The face of one of the Caryatids is missing (pictured), but both have one hand outstretched to push away tomb raiders

The Caryatids are made of marble and support an inner entrance into the tomb. 

They feature the same sculpting technique used for the heads and wings of two sphinxes found guarding the main entrance of the tomb last month.

‘The structure of the second entrance with the Caryatids is an important finding, which supports the view that it is a prominent monument of great importance,’ the Culture Ministry said.

The face of one of the Caryatids is missing, while both figures have one hand outstretched in a symbolic move to push away anyone who would try to violate the tomb.

Archaeologists have said that the Amphipolis site appears to be the largest ancient tomb ever discovered in Greece at 1,935ft (590m) wide.

Two months ago, pictures emerged of a pair of sphinxes guarding the grave's main entrance beneath a large arch and experts said that most of the earth around the mythical creatures had been removed to reveal part of a marble lintel with frescoes.

Chief archaeologist Katerina Peristeri said that the monument being uncovered is a unique tomb, not just for Greece but for the entire Balkanic peninsula, and described it as being of ‘global interest’. 

Mr Chugg thinks it was most likely built for Olympias (illustrated) because the caryatid female figures are probably Klodones - the priestess of Dionysu, whom she is said to have communicated with in an ancient tale

During initial observations, archaeologists found that the dome structure (pictured) has been weakened, as a result of losing a large amount of earth, and the researchers found the arched dome of the third chamber is on the verge of collapse, due to 'deep and extensive cracks'
Archaeologists were hopeful that an ancient mound in northern Greece could hold the remains of a senior official from the time of Alexander the Great. They discovered that its entrance is guarded by a pair of sphinxes (pictured) but last month warned that signs of forced entry indicate it was plundered in antiquity

WHO WAS ALEXANDER THE GREAT?

Alexander (statue pictured) was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356 BC, and died of a fever in Babylon in June 323 BC

Alexander (statue pictured) was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356 BC, and died of a fever in Babylon in June 323 BC

Alexander III of Macedon was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356 BC.

He died of a fever in Babylon in June 323 BC.

Alexander led an army across the Persian territories of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt claiming the land as he went.

His greatest victory was at the Battle of Gaugamela, now northern Iraq, in 331 BC, and during his trek across these Persian territories, he was said to never have suffered a defeat.

This led him to be known as Alexander the Great. 

Following this battle in Gaugamela, Alexander led his army a further 11,000 miles (17,700km), founded over 70 cities and created an empire that stretched across three continents.

This covered from Greece in the west, to Egypt in the south, Danube in the north, and Indian Punjab to the East.  

Alexander was buried in Egypt.

His fellow royals were traditionally interred in a cemetery near Vergina, far to the west. 

The lavishly-furnished tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, was discovered during the 1970s. 

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras added the discovery ‘is clearly extremely important’.

Alexander, who started from the northern Greek region of Macedonia to build an empire stretching as far as India, died in 323 B.C. and was buried in Egypt.

His fellow royals were traditionally interred in a cemetery near Vergina, to the west, where the lavishly-furnished tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, was discovered during the 1970s.

But archaeologists believe the Amphipolis grave, which is surrounded by a surprisingly long and well-built wall with courses of marble decorations, may have belonged to a senior ancient official.

Dr Peristeri argued the mound was originally topped by a large stone lion that was unearthed a century ago, and is now situated around 3 miles (5km) from the excavation site.

Greece's culture ministry said that earth around the sphinx statues has been removed to reveal part of a marble lintel with frescoes (pictured) but hopes of finding further treasures now seem to be slim

Significant ancient Greek tomb unearthed
The tomb is situated in Amphipolis region of Serres in Greece (marked). Archaeologists believe the grave may have belonged to a senior ancient official. While it looks largely undisturbed, there are fears that looting took place hundreds of years ago

The tomb is situated in Amphipolis region of Serres in Greece (marked). Archaeologists believe the grave may have belonged to a senior ancient official. While it looks largely undisturbed, there are fears that looting took place hundreds of years ago

THE GREEK SPHINX

In Greek tradition, the mythical sphinx has the haunches of a lion, sometimes with the wings of a great bird, and the face of a human - usually a woman.

It was described by writers as being treacherous and merciless.

In many myths, including Oedipus, those who could not answer a riddle posed by the monster, would be killed and eaten.

The sphinx described by the Ancient Egyptians was usually male and more benevolent.

In both cultures, they often guarded entrances to temples and important tombs.

The oldest sphinx found guarding a site was discovered in Turkey and dates to 9,500 BC.

Geophysical teams have identified there are three main rooms within the huge circular structure.

In the past, the lion has been associated with Laomedon of Mytilene, one of Alexander's military commanders who became governor of Syria after the king's death.

A paper sponsored by Harvard University that was published 70 years ago hints that this might be the case and that Laomedon worked as a language interpreter and sentry during the king's Asian campaigns, GreekReporter.com said.

The historian Diogenes Laertius said that Laomedon was banished by Alexander the Great's father, Philip II but returned to Macedonia when Alexander took the throne.

After governing a province in Syria after Alexander's death, he was captured by Nicanor when the empire broke up.

The story goes that he managed to escape to Caria, where he was promised the city of Amphipolis. So if his remains - or evidence that the final resting place is his - are found in the tomb, it could play a role in proving tales of the past.

‘The excavation will answer the crucial question of who was buried inside,’ Mr Samaras said.

Archaeologists who fear that few treasures and clues to its owner may remain in the tomb, said that part of a stone wall that blocked off the subterranean entrance was found to be missing, while the sphinxes, which were originally six feet (two metres) high, lack heads and wings. 

Excavator Katerina Peristeri has argued the mound was originally topped by a large stone lion that was unearthed a century ago, and is now situated around 3 miles (5km) from the excavation site (pictured). The lion has been associated with Laomedon of Mytilene, one of Alexander's military commanders

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/17/amphipolis-tomb-yi...

Amphipolis Tomb Yields Amazing Finds But Mysteries Linger

Archeological finds at the Amphipolis tomb may date back to Alexander the Great. That news delights modern Greeks. But what if the tomb is Roman? With their economy cratering and their government shaky, the Greeks are praying that Alexander the Great—or rather, his mother or son, or one of his generals—will come to their rescue. Greece has high hopes that the giant tomb now being excavated at Amphipolis contains one of these ancient Macedonian leaders. But when the inner chambers of the structure are revealed, sometime within the next few weeks, there may be bitter disappointments in store. Thus far the tomb at Amphipolis has produced artistic wonders, adding to speculation that its occupant(s) held very high rank. During the past week a superb mosaic, depicting a mythological rape scene, was uncovered on the floor of an antechamber: Hades, driving a chariot, is shown dragging the goddess Persephone down to his underworld kingdom, while a conspiratorial Hermes guides the team of horses. Even with a large circular section missing (but perhaps recoverable), this mosaic is clearly a masterwork, as are the sculpted caryatids (columns in the shape of women) that stand guard just in front of it. Though these finds have amazed observers worldwide and delighted the Greek nation, they have told little about what might lie beyond the tomb’s as-yet unbreached fourth entrance wall. In fact both the mosaic and the caryatid columns have raised questions as to whether the building dates to the era of Alexander the Great’s successors—the last quarter of the 4th century B.C.—or may even be Roman rather than Greek in provenance. Establishing the date of ancient monuments is often not easy, especially in the absence of inscriptions or easily datable objects like coins and pottery sherds. No such clues have yet been announced by the archaeological team at Amphipolis, a group led by Katerina Persisteri. Peristeri has vigorously claimed that the structure she is excavating dates to the last quarter the 4th century B.C., the tumultuous era that followed Alexander’s conquest of his vast Asian empire and his sudden demise in 323, but has not said why she thinks so. In a recent interview, Peristeri responded angrily to those who have challenged this date, hinting that it relies on conclusive evidence that, for undisclosed reasons, has not as yet been made public. Among these challengers is Olga Palagia, professor of archaeology at the University of Athens. After the caryatids were uncovered last month, Palagia, an expert in the history of ancient sculpture, suggested that they were carved not by the Greeks or Macedonians of Alexander’s era, but by Romans of a much later time imitating their Greek predecessors. The mosaic too looks to her eyes more like a work of the 1st than the 4th century B.C. In her view, the Amphipolis building may not hold Macedonian remains at all, but perhaps served to memorialize a Roman military victory in the area—perhaps that at Philippi, a site not far from Amphipolis, where, after the assassination of Julius Caesar, his heir Octavian defeated the senatorial armies of Brutus and Cassius. Should Palagia’s Roman-era dating prove correct, the Amphipolis find would still be hugely important, but nonetheless deeply disappointing to the Greek nationalist feelings that the excavation has aroused. The idea that the tomb is linked to Alexander—a heroic leader who inspires great pride in modern Greeks—has figured prominently in the announcements and press conferences held by the excavators. Top government officials, including Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, have made highly publicized visits to the site and have claimed it as a monument to the glories of Greek, not Roman, civilization. By now there is a great deal riding on what will be revealed in the main chambers of the tomb, presumably just beyond the recently cleared third antechamber. A nation beset by economic woes and political uncertainty may receive a badly needed boost to its self-confidence, a reminder of a glorious past when its kings ruled much of the world. Or it may see evidence of the decline that followed, the centuries after Alexander’s when Greeks became subject to “barbarian” Roman invaders. Research into the past has always been politicized in the Aegean region, but the questions surrounding Amphipolis, hopefully due to be answered in the next few weeks, have brought the politics of archaeology to a whole new level.

Full Link contains videos:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2818610/Secret-vault...

Secret vault discovered underneath Amphipolis tomb: Discovery reignites hope that Alexander the Great's mother lies inside

  • The tomb is situated in the Amphipolis region of Serres in Greece
  • Huge burial site is said to date back to between 325 and 300 BC
  • This means it could have been built during the reign of Alexander the Great
  • Experts have found evidence of a fourth chamber underground
  • They had feared that the third was the last and the remains had been looted  
  • Some believe the tomb was built for Alexander's mother, Olympias 
  • Tomb has revealed mythical sculptures and an amazing mosaic so far 

It was feared that a mysterious Alexander the Great-era tomb in northern Greece would never reveal who was buried there.

But now are fresh hopes that the ancient burial will give up its secrets, because archaeologists have found an ‘underground vault,’ which they hope holds the remains of one of the ancient leader’s relatives.

Greece’s Ministry of Culture has confirmed that an entrance to a subterranean room lies beneath the vast burial complex's third chamber.

Scroll down for video 

The hunt is on to find remains hidden in an ancient tomb guarded by sphinx sculptures (pictured) after archaeologists have found an 'underground vault'. The headless sphinxes were among the first major finds unearthed in the excavation which aims to reveal  for whom the grand mausoleum was built

The hunt is on to find remains hidden in an ancient tomb guarded by sphinx sculptures (pictured) after archaeologists have found an 'underground vault'. The headless sphinxes were among the first major finds unearthed in the excavation which aims to reveal  for whom the grand mausoleum was built

Last week, experts announced that the third chamber was probably the tomb’s last, warning that it may have been robbed in antiquity and any remains destroyed. But there was a glimmer of hope when archaeologists said they hoped to find an underground room in the structure, which dates to between 325 and 300 BC.

Now it appears the hunt for remains is back on, after the Ministry revealed that an underground vault exists measuring 13ft (4 metres) by seven feet (2 metres),ekathimerini.com reported.

In the early days of the excavation, which has been ongoing since August, a pair of headless sphinxes were found ‘guarding’ the entrance of the huge burial mound in ancient Amphipolis.

Since then treasures have been regularly unearthed, including an 'exceptional' female head belonging to one of the mythical creatures, and a beautiful mosaic depicting a Greek mythical scene.

Experts said the finds hint that the massive mound was intended for an important woman - possibly the wife or mother of Alexander the Great - but it will take a lot more digging until the mystery is solved...

Craze Over Greek Tomb Spawns Virtual Worlds Online

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/11906037/An...

Ancient Greek grave 'for Alexander the Great's friend Hephaestion'

Opulent underground monument in northern Greece was for Hephaestion, closest friend and general of Alexander the Great, archaeologist claims

An opulent underground monument in northern Greece that caused a stir ... may have been a symbolic grave - but not the final resting place of - the closest friend and general of ancient warrior-king Alexander the Great, the excavator claimed Wednesday.

Archaeologist Katerina Peristeri said she believes the vaulted structure, decorated with sculptures and a mosaic floor, "was a funerary monument for Hephaestion".

Greece's Culture Ministry in Aug. 26, 2014, shows a protective shelter excavators built over the entrance - decorated with headless marble sphinxes to a large 4th century B.C. tomb under excavation at Amphipolis in northern GreeceA protective shelter excavators built over the entrance - decorated with headless marble sphinxes to a large 4th century B.C. tomb under excavation at Amphipolis in northern Greece  Photo: Greek Ministry of Culture

The Macedonian nobleman grew up with Alexander and died in Persia in 324 B.C., predeceasing the king by less than a year and driving him into a frenzy of grief during which he ordered a series of monuments to be built for Hephaestion across his newly-won empire.

A graphic rendition of the tomb dating back to the Alexander the Great era (356-323 BC) at the ancient Amphipolis archeological siteA graphic rendition of the tomb dating back to the Alexander the Great era (356-323 BC) at the ancient Amphipolis archeological site  Photo: Greek Ministry of Culture

But Peristeri said there was no evidence Hephaestion was actually buried at the tomb in Amhipolis, east of Thessaloniki, whose excavation grabbed headlines, provoking speculation that it might belong to Alexander himself, who lived from 356-323 B.C.

Another archaeologist however, who was not involved in the excavation, rejected her identification as "totally unfounded."

Panayiotis Faklaris, associate professor at the University of Thessaloniki, told the Associated Press the tomb more likely belonged to some prominent ancient citizen of Amphipolis.

The tomb also contained a mosaic floorThe tomb also contained a mosaic floor representing the ancient Greek god of the underworld, Pluto, abducting the goddess Persephone on a horse-drawn chariot as the god Hermes looks on  Photo: AP

"There is no historic or scientific basis" for what Peristeri claimed, he said. "Hephaestion had no connection with Amphipolis."

The discovery caused controversy from the outset. Other experts cri... and creating unjustified expectations that the tomb was unplundered.

The partially unearthed entrance to the Kasta Tumulus in ancient AmphipolisThe partially unearthed entrance to the Kasta Tumulus in ancient Amphipolis  Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The monument contained twin marble statues of sphinxes and young women, had a painted frieze - parts of which survive - and, according to Peristeri, was topped with a large marble lion now standing a few miles away.

Greece's Culture Ministry, Oct. 20, 2014, shows the broken-off head of a marble sphinx, one of a pair that decorated the entrance of a large 4th century B.C. tomb under excavation at AmphipolisGreece's Culture Ministry, Oct. 20, 2014, shows the broken-off head of a marble sphinx, one of a pair that decorated the entrance of a large 4th century B.C. tomb under excavation at Amphipolis  Photo: Greek Ministry of Culture

Peristeri has offered no explanation of one of the find's strangest features - that it sheltered at least five skeletons, including an elderly woman and a baby.

She argued on Wednesday that fragmentary inscriptions link the monument with Hephaestion, and said an Alexander-era coin found in the monument - which she thinks was filled with earth generations later to protect it from vandals - confirms it was built in 325-300 B.C.

Bones of a woman believed to be over 60 years of age found at the Kastas hill in Amphipolis

Alexander led an army of Greeks to conquer a vast empire stretching as far as modern Pakistan. Ancient writers say he considered Hephaestion to be his alter ego, making him the second most powerful man in the empire.

When Hephaestion died, Alexander is recorded to have granted him hero's rites, declared mourning throughout the empire and had him cremated in Babylon at enormous expense.

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