The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Friday, October 9, 2015

In grave robber territory, locals abuzz over Alexander-era tomb; Largest of its kind ever discovered in Greece
A photo taken on August 19, 2014 shows a crane putting aside the marbles of the entry of the site where archaeologists have unearthed a funeral mound dating from the time of Alexander the Great, in Amphipolis, Northern Greece. It is believed to be the largest ever discovered in Greece but archaeologists are stumped about who was buried in it. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDIS.

By: Vassilis Kyriakoulis

AMPHIPOLIS.- To the villagers near the ancient Greek town of Amphipolis, archaeological treasure is nothing new -- many in the area have lived off antiquity smuggling for decades.

But a massive tomb unearthed near the town dating back to the era of Alexander the Great has locals and visitors abuzz like never before.

"The mystery hiding behind this discovery has excited our imagination," says Katerina Arabatzi, who drove from the nearby city of Veria to see the tomb.

"In recent days, we have started to remember the tale of Alexander the Great once more," she said.

The Hellenistic-era tomb lies within a mound 500 metres (over 1,600 feet) long and three metres high -- the largest of its kind ever discovered in Greece.

A five-metre marble lion, currently standing on a nearby road, originally topped the tomb, and two headless stone Sphinx statues flank the entrance, officials said.

"We knew something lay here," said visitor Eleni Avramidou, whose family hails from the area.

"All of northern Greece constitutes an archaeological treasure trove."

The tomb's outlines were originally discovered in 2012, some four decades after archaic graves were found atop the hill.

This week, archaeologists used a crane to gently remove limestone blocks barring access to the inner tomb, where a diamond-pattern floor mosaic has already been detected.

"This is a universal monument," supervising archaeologist Katerina Peristeri told state agency ANA on Friday.

"We have currently (unearthed) the entry steps and floor, and the wall sealing the entrance... we are like surgeons, making slow progress," she said.

The ring of marble slabs circling the tomb is the work of Deinocrates of Rhodes, the architect employed by Alexander to help design the city of Alexandria, Peristeri told ANA.

However, it is unclear whether the tomb's contents will be found undisturbed, as its presence was known in Roman times.

The excavation site had been sealed off under police guard ahead of a visit earlier this month by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who described the find as "unique".

"It is certain that we stand before an exceptionally important find," Samaras said. "This is a monument with unique characteristics."

Seeking an occupant
Officials say the tomb is unlikely to contain the body of Alexander, who died in Babylon in 323 BC and was likely buried in Alexandria, Egypt.

According to archaeology professor Michalis Tiverios, a more likely occupant is Nearchus, one of Alexander's admirals, who lived in Amphipolis.

"The monument is most likely associated with battles from the era," Tiverios told AFP, noting the presence of the lion's statue atop the tomb.

"It could also contain several Macedonian warriors, or it could be a cenotaph," he said.

Experts are also not ruling out that it could belong to another member of the Macedonian royal family.

Alexander's Bactrian wife Roxanne and son Alexander were exiled to Amphipolis and murdered there on the orders of his successor king Cassander around 310 BC.

The archaeological team conducting the excavation has declined to speculate on who or what lies inside, beyond noting that the monument dates from the period after Alexander's death.

"The senior archaeologist comes to our local coffee shop, but all she tells us is 'be patient'," said community leader Athanassios Zournatzis.

Tomb raiders
The heavy police presence around the site is not just to keep the crowds away.

In the nearby villages of Amphipolis and Mesolakia, home to around 600 people, most residents have a tale to tell about grave robbers.

"Many nights we would see people with lanterns on that hill, searching," said a 50-year-old local who declined to give his name.

"A few years ago, they even used a bulldozer to get into an ancient grave."

Police consider the area a high-risk zone for antiquity smuggling, and have made dozens of arrests in recent years.

The most prominent case involved an elaborate gold funerary wreath, allegedly found by a local farmer in the early 1990s and eventually sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles for $1.15 million (860,000 euros).

The wreath was returned to Greece in 2007 after more than a decade of wrangling.

One of antiquity's greatest warriors, Alexander of Macedon conquered the Persian empire and much of the known world before his death at the age of 32.

The Hellenistic era was a golden period of Greek civilisation ahead of the rise of Rome, with successor-states to the empire of Alexander ruling kingdoms in modern-day Egypt, Turkey, the Middle East, Afghanistan and India.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

August 23, 2014

Art Gallery of Ontario opens exhibition of work by the late Canadian painter Alex Colville

The spirit and splendour of Dresden's Gemäldegalerie to go on tour to Munich, Groningen and Vienna

SMK explores how the French artist Édouard Manet was inspired by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya

In grave robber territory, locals abuzz over Alexander-era tomb; Largest of its kind ever discovered in Greece

'The Real and Fantastic World of Charles E. Burchfield' opens at the Brandywine River Museum of Art

Paris relives the joy of liberation, 70 years after Nazis occupied the capital for four years

Roaring Twenties exuberance and Depression era extravagance on view at the Snite Museum of Art

Mathieu Mercier’s first exhibition in a Swiss museum opens at Kunstmuseum St. Gallen

First large-scale solo exhibition of the work of Marga Weimans on view at the Groninger Museum

Rebuilding the World Trade Center: Marcus Robinson's film chronicling 8 years of construction to premiere

Matisse all-nighter at Tate Modern; Visitors allowed a last chance to see this once-in-a-lifetime show in London

'Wade Marynowsky: Nostalgia for Obsolete Futures' opens at the National Gallery of Victoria

British illustrator Quentin Blake's new children's book The Five of Us published by Tate

'Chilean Schindler's List' saved leftists from regime

Contemporary jewelry artist Daniel Kruger exhibits at Sienna Patti

Juried exhibition of self-published photobooks opening at Phoenix Art Museum

First significant exhibition in the Philadelphia area by local fine art photographer Wendy Paton opens

Peru auctions jailed ex-spy chief's luxury jewels

Vietnam heroes exhibit opens at The Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin

Ancient Ethiopian walled city keeps modern life at bay

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves aims to pinpoint legendary Queen Nefertiti's tomb

2.- Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum explores the world of Indian textiles and fashion

3.- Rare Byzantine mosaic that depicts ancient streets and buildings in Egypt restored

4.- Sopranos actor/art collector Federico Castelluccio to pen book on Guercino discovery

5.- Exhibition at the McNay Art Museum presents more than 50 works created by Joan Miró

6.- Major monographic exhibition of works by Tamara de Lempicka on view in Verona

7.- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts acquires painting commissioned by King George III

8.- Tang Museum at Skidmore College receives 500 photographs from Jack Shear

9.- The Rijksmuseum and the Louvre to jointly buy rare Rembrandts for 160 mn euros

10.- Rail life: History of trains brought to life in a state-of-the art museum in Brussels

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Social Network Manager and Translator: Norma Cristina Pérez Ayala Cano

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site