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Mosaic depicting god Hermes riding chariot revealed in Amphipolis Tomb

Mosaic depicting god Hermes leading chariot revealed in Amphipolis Tomb

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The Greek Ministry of Culture has announced the discovery of a stunning mosaic depicting a chariot in motion in the burial mound at Amphipolis in northern Greece.

The exciting finding was made as archaeologists removed layers of soil behind the two caryatid statues in the second chamber of the world famous tomb.

The enormous mosaic, which covers the entire floor of the second chamber and measures 14.7-foot wide (4.5m) by 9.8-foot long (3m), is made with white, black, grey, blue, red, and yellow pebbles. It depicts a chariot in motion, bordered by a decorative border made of squares and spirals.

The mosaic covers the entire floor space in the second chamber of the Amphipolis tomb

The mosaic covers the entire floor space in the second chamber of the Amphipolis tomb. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

“The central theme is a chariot in motion, pulled by two white horses and driven by a bearded man, crowned with a laurel wreath,” the Ministry said in a statement. Experts are not sure who the driver is, but it is possible that it is showing the occupant of the tomb, who has not yet been found.

The driver of the chariot - Mosaic Amphipolis tomb

The driver of the chariot is a bearded man wearing a laurel wreath but his identify is unknown. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

According to the Culture Ministry, the chariot is led by Hermes, messenger of the gods, identified by his characteristic insignia, including winged sandals and a caduceaus (a winged staff with two snakes wrapped around it). He appears to be acting as a conductor of souls to the afterlife. In ancient Greek mythology, Hermes served as a psychopomp, or an escort for the dead to help them find their way to the Underworld.

The god Hermes leads the chariot and its occupant into the afterlife - Mosaic Amphipolis tomb

The god Hermes leads the chariot and its occupant into the afterlife. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

The mosaic has been dated to the last quarter of the 4 th century BC (325 – 300 BC), which supports theories that the occupant of the tomb is associated in some way with Alexander the Great, although not believed to be Alexander himself.

A section of the mosaic is damaged. However, archaeologists have recovered numerous pebbles and mosaic fragments during the excavation and hope to be able to restore the mosaic to its full majesty.

Featured image: Mosaic depicting a chariot and two horses led by Hermes, Amphipolis Tomb, Greece. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

By April Holloway

Comments

angieblackmon's picture

i love how beautiful and unique mosiac art is. it takes planning and patience, but clearly it can hold up to the test of time. i love the spirals at the bottom edge. of course the people are amazing. i do wish that big piece in the middle wasn't missing, but i think enough of the story of this piece can be seen through what is left. it's beautiful!

love, light and blessings

AB

Alexander isn't wearing winged sandals or carrying a caduceaus. As it's unlikely that the artist got Hermes to pose I suppose that some similarities in features and attire are to be expected.

The picture of "Hermes" looks just like the picuture of Alexander on the mosaic at the Pella Museum, showing the lion hunt of Alexander with friend Craterus. Listed as a 3rd century BC mosaic. Even the hat he is wearing is the same in both mosaics.

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