Dear Journalists etc ... re Amphipolis

Look, I understand you're all special people, and I understand that you're all getting frustrated that the Greek Ministry of Culture is not giving you special access and secret information that your colleagues don't get about the tomb at Amphipolis.

I'm not sharing 'secret' information on Twitter, so you really don't have to ask to 'follow' me. Mostly I share photos of my Jack Russell, and sometimes I share silly photos of cats (see left). Usually my Tweets are so ridiculously mundane that only my closest family would be interested, because I go out of my way to lead a quiet life.

There is no conspiracy - I just am not a public figure, I have no desire to be in the press or be famous - and ... that's why I've been politely declining to make additional comments on the excavations of the Lion Tomb at Amphipolis, instead referring journalists to the Greek Ministry of Culture.

The information about the dig at Amphipolis is coming out in the press releases and I'm not going to tell you any more. I also have no idea what's been excavated recently, nor have I asked the excavators, nor do I plan to as I figure they're under enough pressure as it is.

The fact that the tomb was destroyed in the later Roman period was presented by the excavators at the big Thessalonike conference in March 2013. So no, no-one in any way associated with the dig has ever thought or claimed that the chambers would be excavated intact. I am aware of who's behind the claims that there has been recent looting, and ... oh look there's a unicorn ... The site has been secure for several years now, the locals have gone out of their way to protect it and they think so highly of the excavator that they bring them chance finds - there is no evidence to support wild speculation of recent looting.

More finds were presented this March at the same annual conference.

Everyone has different hopes of whose burial will be found, but for now no-one knows for sure.

If you're looking for an accessible summary to the various royals and dynasties that came after Alexander, I recommend: Daniel Ogden, Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death: The Hellenistic Dynasties, Cardiff 2010: available in libraries, Amazon UK, Amazon US etc.

I will say that the team of archaeologists working at Amphipolis are very talented, and that Michaelis Lefantzis in particular is one of the hardest working and most talented people working in the field.

It is not my place to 'reveal' others' finds before they chose to do so, and even more than a breach of archaeological etiquette it would be a serious breach of friendship.

I really love archaeology, and people who know me also know I ended up chatting about it to everyone from cab drivers to the postman ... so I will eventually get around to talking people through the finds in some blog posts.

For example this photo shows the round peribolos wall. Blue arrow = how parts of the wall were taken apart by the Romans destroying and hiding the tomb. Red arrow = the cornice carved as a trompe l'oeil roof, and indicating that this is the full height of the outer wall here. Green arrow = anathyrosis, showing that there were blocks originally there, possibly another low wall or a balustrade. Yellow arrow = the blocks are finely carved of marble, but the rough surface indicates that they were probably covered in stucco ....

But this is the sort of thing any halfway competent archaeologist should be able to explain based on this photo everyone has access to.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Contrary to what K. Peristeri assert during the week-end, the grave seems to have been plundered. So it was known from March, 2013!

  3. I think her comment was taken out of context and misunderstood. Yes, she and everyone else was aware that the lion and superstructure were destroyed in Antiquity - that's why it was found by the river, far from the mound.

    I think she was probably taken off guard, and trying to refute the allegations someone is making that the tomb was recently looted?

    (He has an agenda and promotes the idea the site was looted to try to raise money for his own group ...)

    And in answer to an earlier comment made, I am 100% sure they know the best parallel to the walling up, which is in Vitruvius 2.8.15:

    "Then Artemisia, after taking Rhodes and killing its leading men, put up in the city of Rhodes a trophy of her victory, including two bronze statues, one representing the state of the Rhodians, the other herself. Herself she fashioned in the act of branding the state of the Rhodians. In later times the Rhodians, labouring under the religious scruple which makes it a sin to remove trophies once they are dedicated, constructed a building to surround the place, and thus by the erection of the “Grecian Station” covered it so that nobody could see it, and ordered that the building be called “ἁβατον.” "

  4. Thank you for your answer, Dorothy.

    Anyway, I have no doubt on the fact that Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus, having literally bled Macedonia dry and dragged Perseus behind its chariot in a gesture of ultimate humiliation, had no interest to leave intact a place which, because of its political importance - there I join you as for a grave originally intended for Alexandre - could become a symbol of resistance for the Macedonians.

    I am even persuaded that the grave was wildly plundered during the period of instability which followed the Perseus ephemeral flight to Samothrace.


I do not moderate comments, but I remove spam, overt self-promotion ("read [link] my much better post on this") and what I consider hate speech (racism, homophobia etc).

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.