The archaeologists have been presenting their research each March at the conference in Thessaloniki, and so for those who are unhappy with the lack of info in the press ... tough luck! The people working hard on the site were pretty pissed off someone who had no right to do so leaked their finds before Prime Minister Samaras visited.
So to try to answer the questions I can ...
The photo above shows the Lion as is - it's an old reconstruction, so conspiracy theories around 13 Steps don't really hold up (sorry). The Lion was pieced, as you can see in the photo below, and some of the pieces were missing when it was 'reconstructed' ....
The site is very secure, with the police and the locals working hard to ensure that there is no looting.
No, you can't visit the excavation, sorry - that's partly for it's security (so you don't loot), and partly for your own (imagine a really unstable building site). But if you're in the area, there is a fabulous little museum and the rest of the archaeological site at Amphipolis is pretty impressive.
Yes, it seems to be a male lion. We noticed a few years ago that the Greeks depicted both male and female lions with manes - cue a lot of looking at their genitals in museums ... There are various ancient sources that mention a Lioness marking the tomb of some women, and so one theory, when Roxanne was being considered as the occupant, was that the Amphipolis Lion was in fact a she ... but that has now been discarded as a theory.
Yes, Alexander the Great had leonine locks and sometimes wore a lion skin ... but lions are so popular on ancient grave monuments that unless he's buried in dozens of locations like the Buddha, one bone per site, just having a giant lion does not suggest anything either way to do with Alexander III.
Yes, there is very good evidence for the date, but you'll have to wait for the publication.
Amphipolis does not mean 'new city' - there are various theories in ancient authors well into the Byzantine period discussing the meaning of the name. The city was about a century old when Philip II captured it, and it seems to increase in importance from the time of Alexander onwards, and had an important Imperial cult under the Romans. I meant 'new' as opposed to the 'old' Vergina where his father was buried.
Alexander didn't like his father, might have been involved in his murder, and ... liked to emphasise his more divine descent, so a new tomb in a new city to mark his conquest of the known world, far from reminders of his father ... well, it doesn't take Freud to work that one out, does it?
I'd rather keep out of the modern politics, but Alexander the Great's homeland was the Greek province of Macedonia.
I don't know who was buried in the tomb at Amphipolis but it was not Alexander - every single source in Antiquity says so. And no the theory that his body was taken to Venice instead of St Mark's is unlikely. And even if tonnes of gold is ever found in the tomb, I very much doubt it would be sold off to pay off the national debt - the items found will be housed in a museum for all to see and appreciate.
Now to get to the bottom of the matter ... the round wall which surrounded the tomb and supported the mound above it. We tend to take round buildings for granted these days, but when I was studying as an undergrad there were only a dozen round Greek buildings known (to date myself a bit, the last discovered of that dozen was the Ptolemaion at Limyra, which someone is now arguing is not in fact round ...).
Round buildings are very rare, and perfect circles really only begin with Deinocrates, hence his association with Amphipolis.
The perimeter of the Amphipolis round wall is some 500m, whilst the Mausoleum of Augustus, and the Mausoleum of Hadrian are roughly the same size as each other and significantly smaller (which off the top of my head I think is about 280m? ...).
We know that Augustus visited Alexander's tomb in 30 BC and the before him Julius Caesar did (Lucan, Pharsalia, X.1ff) ... and that a better translation of Lucan describes Alexander's Tomb as having a mound of earth ... but that was the tomb in Alexandria in which Alexander the Great was buried.
Geography, V. 3) describes the tomb of Augustus in Rome, seen to the left in one of many possible reconstructions, in this way:
the Mausoleum, a great mound near the river on a lofty foundation of white marble, thickly covered with ever-green trees to the very summit. Now on top is a bronze image of Augustus Caesar; beneath the mound are the tombs of himself and his kinsmen and intimates; behind the mound is a large sacred precinct with wonderful promenades; and in the centre of the Campus is the wall (this too of white marble) round his crematorium; the wall is surrounded by a circular iron fence and the space within the wall is planted with black poplars.
We know that there were obelisks in front of it, moved in the Renaissance, and considering that the theme of so much of the Augustan building programme was the Pax Augusta, we can guess that there would have been figures of Nikai, winged victories, possibly offering him his laurels, which were depicted on his tomb as they were on his house. (The angels of the Mausoleum of Hadrian, which give it its modern name the Castel Sant'Angelo are modern).
So Augustus' Mausoleum may have been called 'mausoleum' after the heroon of Mausolus - but like so much Augustan art it was a mixture of styles, and in many ways seems to echo the tomb at Amphipolis in shape and form.
Who's buried at Amphipolis? Wait and see ;-)
Browsing through the coverage I thought no-one had any new details ... but of course the always on-the-ball Ta Nea did. (Incidentally, they and To Vima have by far the best archaeology coverage of any newspaper I know)).
Με μικροκάμερα �διείσδυσαν� οι αρχαιολόγοι στον τύμβο της Αμφίπολης - Πολιτισμός - Επικαιρότητα - Τα Νέα Οnline:
Αποκαλύφθηκαν 15 σκαλιά και δύο Σφίγγες, καθώς και μικρό ψηφιδωτό δάπεδο που οδηγεί στην είσοδο.
Σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες, οι Σφίγγες, βάρους 1,5 τόνου η κάθε μία, εμποδίζουν την είσοδο στον τύμβο.
Εκεί υπάρχει μεγάλος όγκος χώματος και παρεμβάλλονται δύο τοίχοι με απόσταση 6-7 μέτρων μεταξύ τους.
I think this makes the point about art created by people who'd never seen lions ....
And just to make the point about how bloody huge the thing is ... that's a car in the top right of the photo, not a dinky toy: