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Archeological find

September 8, 2014

Dressed in long tunics, two newly discovered female figures guard the biggest ancient tomb ever found in Greece. The discovery of the statues raises the question: Who was buried inside?

Figure discovered at the archeological dig in Amphipolis, Greece, Copyright: picture alliance/AP Photo
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo

Two impressive female statues, known as caryatids, at the Amphipolis tomb in Greece are being hailed as a momentous discovery from the era of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC).

The two-foot figures are part of what is considered Greece's largest ancienct tomb, located about 100 kilometers (65 miles) from the city of Thessaloniki. Archeologists have been excavating there since 2012.

"The structure of the second entrance with the caryatids is an important finding, which supports the view that it is a monument of great importance," Greece's ministry of culture said in a statement announcing the find, which took place on Saturday.

With thick curls covering their shoulders, the caryatids seem to be carved in a manner similar to two sphinxes found guarding the main entrance to the tomb, which were discovered in August, according to the statement.

"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 the ministry. The sphinxes were missing their heads when they were discovered, while one of the caryatids was missing a face.

Sphinxes found at the Amphipolis archeological site in Greece, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa
The female figures were said to resemble the sphinxes previously discovered at a different entranceImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Suspicion is growing that the contents of the tomb, the interior of which has yet to be explored, may be intact. The quality of the sculpted columns and colored floor mosaic already uncovered at the site, as well as the size of the tomb, indicate that it belonged to a prominent ruler, though experts say it's unlikely that Alexander the Great himself is buried there.

Alexander the Great died at the age of 32 in Babylon, but his grave has never been found.

Amphipolis archeological site in Greece, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa
The Amphipolis dig is located in the Macedonian region of GreeceImage: picture-alliance/dpa

kbm / asb (AFP / Reuters)