ATHENS – Greece’s Culture Ministry has warned against “overbold” speculation that an ancient artificial mound being excavated could contain a royal Macedonian grave or even Alexander the Great.
Site archaeologist Aikaterini Peristeri has voiced hopes of finding “a significant individual or individuals” within.
Greek websites enthused that it could hold the long-sought grave of 4th-Century B.C. warrior-king Alexander the Great — thought to lie in Egypt.
A Culture Ministry statement said the partly-excavated mound has yielded a “very remarkable” marble-faced wall from the late 4th Century B.C. It is an impressive 500 meters (yards) long and three meters high.
But the ministry warned it would be “overbold” to link the site near ancient Amphipolis, 370 miles (600 kilometers) north of Athens, with “historic personages” before the excavation is completed.
“The finding of Amphipolis is certainly very important, but linking the site with the identification of historical figures without scientific justification is risky,” the Culture Ministry said in a press release.
Alexander, who was educated by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks.
By the age of 25 he had defeated the Persians and his entire eventually included Egypt, Anatolia, Syria, Gaza and Mesopotamia, even stretching as far as India. At age 32 he died in Babylon, possibly as the result of malaria or typhoid fever.
Last year, researchers from the 28th Ephorate of Antiquities unearthed a tomb in the city of Amphipolis, near Serres, northern Greece, which they believe could belong to the wife and son of Alexander the Great, Roxana and Alexander IV, Archaeology * Arts reported.
The circular enclosure surrounding the tomb located in an urban area close to the small city of Amphipolis is three meters (or nearly 10 feet high) and its perimeter is about 500 meters (or 1,640 feet). The head of the team, Katerina Peristeri, noted that it is too soon to talk with certainty about the identities of the discovery.
“Of course this precinct is one we have never seen before, neither in Vergina nor anywhere else in Greece. There is no doubt about this” she said. However, it is too early, as she told journalists, to speak with certainty about the identities of the people at the tomb site. Further evidence was required.
Nevertheless, local authorities and media rushed into claiming and believing that the tomb belongs to Alexander’s wife and son, who, according to legend, had been ostracized to Macedonia after Alexander’s death. There the 12-year-old Alexander the IV and his mother Roxana were murdered. Tradition has it that the two victims were buried in Amphipolis but no evidence so far has proved this.
Alexander remains one of the enduring figures of world history and with Greeks and their neighbors in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia both claiming him. He has been the subject of countless books and films and with Greeks saying he’s a hero and critics that he was one of the first major imperialists trying to conquer the world.
The exhibition The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander The Great will be hosted in four museums in Canada and the USA from December 2014 to September 2016.
The exhibition will be presented at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, The Field Museum and The National Geographic Museum.
More than 560 ancient objects, as well as some models, casts and copies, from Greek museums, as the National Archeological, the Numismatic, the Epigraphic Museum, the Acropolis Museum, the Archaeological Museums of Thessaloniki and Heraklion, will travel to the other side of the Atlantic aiming at be included in the exhibition.
The exhibits will chronologically cover the period from prehistory until the late Hellenistic period. The exhibition will be structured in nine sections, which aims at helping the visitor get familiar with the Greek civilization.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)