News: The Tomb of Roxane, Amphipolis

Finally some press coverage of Tomb of Roxane at Amphipolis (use Google translate):

CityPaper in Greek with photos and videos.

My friend Michalis Lefantzis has been working on this and kindly discussing it with me for years, so I was worried about disclosing information the archaeologists had not and avoided blogging it.

The key points:

The tomb's construction is well dated by coins to around 310 BC, when Roxana and her son by Alexander the Great, Alexander IV of Macedon, were murdered on the orders of Cassander at Amphipolis. Diodurus of Sicily, 19.105.4:
Afraid for his own safety, he instructed Glaucias, who was in charge of the boy's custody, to assassinate Roxane and the king and conceal their bodies, and not to report the deed to any of the others. Glaucias carried out the orders, and this freed Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy and even Antigonus from anticipated fears about the king. For now that there was no one to take over the empire, those who ruled peoples or cities could each entertain hopes of kingship and controlled henceforward the territory under their power like kingdoms that had been conquered in war.

New pieces of the giant lion, after which the "Lion Tomb at Amphipolis" was named, have been found by Michaelis; but no penis. As I discussed recently, here, "lions" with manes but without a penis ... were in fact lionesses, and used on the tombs of women.

A colossal round retaining wall of limestone faced with Thasian marbles shows that the "Lion" once crowned a tumulus of the sort found at Vergina. The gigantic size of the tumulus means it was a royal burial.

The lioness and the size led to the conclusion that the tomb belonged to a queen, and the two possible candidates from the decades after Alexander the Great's death linked to Amphipolis by literary sources were Roxana his widow and Olympias his mother.

A building inscription gives us the name of the architect - Dinocrates. Dinocrates followed Alexander on campaign, and was the architect of the city plan of Alexandria. (See Virtuvius Praef II).

The tomb was deliberately destroyed in the Roman period, around the second century AD. They put a huge amount of effort into doing so, dragging the blocks, including the lion, into the river Strymon.

I know that there will be more announcements soon, but you'll have to wait to hear about them ... ;-)


  1. Dear Dorothy

    Your blog is one of the few I follow, I deem it very well-written.

    About the present issue, a question remains: if Roxane and Alexander IV were supposed to be discreetly 'vanished' why to build a tomb for her and the worse, with royal signs ?


  2. They honoured even those they had murdered - eg Ada Eurydice. Even later Anthony and Cleopatra built Arsinoe IV a tomb at Ephesus.

  3. Here's a thought. Assuming for now that the structure is indeed the final resting place of Roxane (or Roxane and Alexander IV), is it possible that it was built by Demetrius Poliorcetes?

    We know Poliorcetes was an enemy of Cassander, and murdered Cassander's son Alexander V in order to gain the throne (294BC). We also know he was a fervent admirer of Alexander the Great and was noted for his extravagance and love of the grandiose / monumental.

    Can it be possible to imagine that on becoming King of Macedonia Demetrius had Roxane (and her son's) remains re-interred in a much grander tomb structure to honour their memory (and that of Alexander the Great), thus helping to curry favour with the Macedonian people (??) Of course, Demetrius was only King of Macedonia for about 6 or 7 years, so perhaps this wasn't long enough time to have such a massive edifice built.

    I realise that the excavations are still in their early stages, so maybe a coin from a little later than 310BC might come to light?
    Whatever the case, this is a potentially fantastic discovery. Many thanks for letting people know about it.



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