Newly discovered ancient tomb in Greece may belong to King Cassander
Last week, a Greek archaeologist announced the discovery of 20 burials near Macedonia’s ancient capital in northern Greece dating back to the 6 th century BC until the early Hellenistic era (4 th – 3 rd century BC), which researchers hoped may be associated with the early Macedonian kings. Now the director of the 17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Angeliki Kottaridi, has shed new light on the discovery and has revealed that evidence suggests the graves belong to members of the Temenid dynasty, otherwise known as the Argead dynasty, and one may be King Cassander himself.
Although looted and partially destroyed, the monuments are impressive evidence of funerary architecture and include portraits of the royal family of King Perdiccas II, and multiple tributes recalling the Homeric epics.
According to Mrs Kottaridi, one tomb is particularly important as it shows a large underground room with white walls decorated with painted garlands, fronds, flowers and ivy leaves. Among the finds were impressive ceramic funerary objects which date back to 420-410 BC and an iron sword believed to belong to King Perdiccas II (454-413 BC), who had fought hard during the Peloponnesian war to keep his kingdom independent.
Researchers working at the newly discovered tombs. Photo source .
In one of the tombs, a set of gold coins were found containing the star symbol of the Macedonian kings, known from Macedonian shields and coins – sixteen rays of different length around a central rosette. Other finds in the chamber included an iron breastplate, ceremonial shield, iron Macedonian helmet, the royal diadem, and weapons.
Gold coins found at the Royal Necropolis of Aegae, Vergina [Credit: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ/ΥΠΠΟ/STR]
Archaeologists are linking the tombs with the Temenid dynasty, the kings of Macedonia, because of their size and shape and the impressive funerary objects found in them. Moreover, one of the graves may have belonged to Cassander himself or to one of his sons, who were also members of Temenid dynasty.
Cassander was one of Alexander the Great’s successors and husband to his sister, Thessaloniki, who established the Antipatrid dynasty. King Cassander became known for his hostility towards the memory of Alexander the Great and he is responsible for changing the name of Therma to Thessaloniki.
The tombs were found at Vergina, a town in Northern Greece identified as Aegae (Aigai) - the first capital of the Macedonians. The town became internationally famous in 1977, when the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos unearthed the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. (This view is challenged by some archaeologists who believe it may instead be the tomb of Alexander’s half-brother Philip III Arrhidaeus).
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom that flourished from 808 to 167 BC. The rise of Macedon, from a small kingdom at the periphery of Classical Greek affairs, to one which came to dominate the entire Hellenic world, occurred under Philip II’s reign. For a brief period, after the conquests of Alexander the Great, it became the most powerful state in the world, controlling a territory that included the former Persian Empire, stretching as far as the Indus River; at that time it inaugurated the Hellenistic period of Ancient Greek civilization.
Featured image: Five new royal tombs discovered in Vergina. Photo credit: Greek.reporter.com