Bold sphinxes. Enticing nymphs. A menacing rape-scene mosaic. While these finds have amazed, they’re yet to inform. But the evidence is mounting, and we may soon know who lies beneath the mysterious Amphipolis mound.
It may be Greece’s greatest ancient monument: A 2300-year-old, 590m diameter burial mound containing a mysterious mix of structures.
Excavations since August have exposed a myriad of artistic wonders.
Delicately crafted, scantily clad female-formed columns. Piercing eyed, female-headed sphinxes.
Most prominent is a masterful mosaic depicting a supernatural rape scene.
But it is a scattering of bones and a few faded paintings which now have archaeologists excited. These may contain the final clue as to the identity of the tomb’s occupant — a person who may have direct ties to the legendary Alexander the Great.
It is the idea that the mound is linked in some way to Greece’s greatest hero — Alexander the Great — which has the nation on the edge of its collective seat. The national hero still inspires great pride and passion, and the pressure on the archaeologists to produce results is immense.
But the amazing artwork has itself inspired detractors: It’s so advanced that some have cast doubt that it really dates from the era of legendary general’s death in 325BC. Instead they insist it must belong to one of his successors, or may even be a Roman monument attempting to tie their own achievements to that of the legendary general.
Now the evidence is mounting against the detractors. Coins showing the great General have been recovered in the tomb, and heavily faded artwork appear to show scenes reminiscent of Mycenaean fertility cults.
As the penetrating eye of science is turned on the faded images and decayed bones, much of Greece holds its breath: Is this the tomb of Alexander’s mother, Olympia?
The answer, whatever it may be, will no doubt become one of archaeology’s greatest discoveries of 2015.
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