Greece's largest ancient tomb: Amphipolis
It's from between 300-325 BC and could contain the remains of an ancient Greek celebrity. Here's why the Alexander the Great-era tomb found in Amphipolis is such a significant discovery.
Female statues keep watch
The most recent finding at the Amphipolis excavation site in northern Greece were two female statues, known as caryatids. Wearing long robes and thick curly hair, they guard the second entrance to the tomb, which dates back to 300-325 BC - the era of Alexander the Great. The interior of the tomb has not yet been explored, but experts suspect the contents may still be intact.
One of the two female figures discovered on September 6 was missing its face. "The left arm of one and the right arm of the other are raised in a symbolic gesture to refuse entry to the tomb," said Greece's ministry of culture in a statement. The two figures were similar in style to the two other statues found several weeks earlier: sphinxes at the main entrance to the tomb.
These two marble sphinxes stand watch at the main entrance to the tomb and were uncovered in August by archeologists. They would've been over 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall with their heads and wings, pieces of which were found nearby. A wide path and 13 steps lead to the entrance of the tomb, which is the largest ever discovered in Greece. The burial mound alone measures 1,500 feet (457 meters).
This marble lion, over 17 feet (5 meters) tall, supposedly stood atop the tomb. It was discovered by the Greek army in the bed of the Strymónas River back in 1912. While experts can't be sure that the tomb was left undisturbed until it is fully excavated, expectations are high that it belonged to an ancient celebrity, possibly one of Alexander the Great's high-ranking officials or family members.
Excavation work on the tomb in Amphipolis began in 2012 under the direction of chief archeologist Katerina Peristeri. "We are like surgeons, making slow progress," she told Greek media. The tomb, located in the Macedonian region of Greece on the Aegean Sea, dwarfs that of Alexander the Great's father. The legendary ruler is thought to be buried in Egypt, though the exact location is unknown.
Attention to detail
This intricate marble panel was found in what appears to be the antechamber of the main room of the tomb. The quality of the work is evidence of the wealth and significance of its owner. Alexander the Great's wife and son are said to have been murdered in Amphipolis when Macedonian general Cassander conquered the territory in the 4th century BC. It's possible the tomb was made for them.
Miles of marble
This marble-faced stretch of wall was uncovered at the tomb site in August. Experts have said the structure bears the handprint of Alexander the Great's chief architect, Deinocrates of Rhones, who was employed to build the city of Alexandria.
Pictured is an aerial view of the Amphipolis site, located south of the Greek city of Serres. Anticipation is high as archeologists make their way deeper into the chambers of the tomb, which the Greek government has called a "monument of great importance." The mystery of its inhabitant will likely be solved in the coming weeks, though Alexander the Great's burial site may forever remain a secret.