Amphipolis Overview

For people who were puzzling over the location of the gate with the sphinxes in relation to the old Google Earth photos of the tomb mound, as seen on the left ...

.... and the previous photo I posted (and yes, that is a little white car in the top right hand corner) ...

Well you'll all be thrilled to hear that ENA sent a helicopter over the site and shoot this footage, where the gate is covered by the recently erected white scaffolding shelter (see screenshot above):


  1. Great images by ENA, thank you!!. To do an excavation in a tumulus of this type, is necessary to dismantle the hill to ensure that does not sag over camera with earthworks?

  2. Good question! And I'm not sure I can answer it from a structural point of view. In theory in should be possible to open a fully unlooted tomb without the superstructure collapsing - eg Vergina tombs' chambers were structurally sound ...

    Firstly re Amphipolis: the Lion, the base, frieze, and all the things on top of the hill were removed by the later Romans, thrown into the river etc - and they seem to have made an effort to conceal the remains of the mound, so the issue is rather different.

    Secondly, the mounds above the tombs at Vergina, or what remained of them following the sacking of Cassander, were 'removed' in the sense of being excavated as the 'things' inside the top of the mound provide important information - off the top of my head above Tomb II there, the archaeologists excavated remains from the funerary pyre (ancient cremations burned less hot, so bones survive as do other remains), as well as later painted marble stele which showed continuing veneration ...

    So the answer is yes, at some sites it should be possible to not dismantle the artificial hill, but there are often very good reasons for doing so!

  3. For previous news I understood that at the top of the hill had been made archaeological excavations that had resulted in the discovery of parts of the lion an remains of the structures of the crown not removed by the romans , although it could just be a surface reconnaissance.
    The problem with the weight of the hill is that, perhaps when filling the chamber with sand, after possible looting, structural tensions have changed (and perhaps it´s better against seismic movements) but I guess this is an issue engineers and not archaeologists. Just'll keep quiet and wait to see which arises. Thank you very much for the info

  4. Yes, I think that the bottom bits of the lion base were found on the mound were presented this March. And ML found bits of the lion a few years back which led to this particular excavation.

    At Vergina, Tomb II was one of several tombs covered in a big mound, but the mound there seems to post-date the Pyrrhus destruction (sorry - mistakenly said Cassander above ... very tired ...) and bring in several tombs as well as a heroon. People think because of the painted stucco facades that Macedonian tombs were meant to be seen, but the evidence mostly suggests that they were not and that the gate / facade and dromos were buried quite quickly.

  5. Thank you Dorothy for your posts. To us not experts in archaeology your post are invaluable.
    To your knowledge how did the Macedonians choose their burial sites? Was the hill part of the landscape or did they build it on the tomb?

  6. Gosh, flattery will get you everywhere ;-)

    The Macedonian hills are artificial mounds created over the tombs - here it's tomb, retaining walls, then earth piled on. It became part of the landscape and was designed to be a significant part of it as a monument.

    Vergina - the mound of Tomb II and the other tombs in that grouping; the mound we have is later, and seems to be post the destruction, and since it covers several tombs it was probably not 'original'? Vergina was an old family burial site, although different generations used different sections, and women were buried in a separate section.

  7. If evidence for the presence of the Amphipolis lion were found during excavations at the top of the Kastas hill, the size of the hill should have been several meters high already, when the lion was there. Otherwise, the excavated lion base would have been much deeper. Is that correct?

    If so, can such a big structure (~500 m circumference, several meters high) be fully artificial?


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