11.12.2014

Amphipolis

Firstly I would like to make it very clear once again that Katerina Peristeri is doing an amazing job, and that her whole team are clearly very talented.

What I present is just my opinion based on their incredible work, and I am sure that when she presents her ideas they are more likely to be correct!

If my guess is Hephaestion based on historical evidence, logic and her work ... I am sure that she has given her candidate much more thought, but has been conservative in announcing it. So if she later announces Hephaestion, please give her credit for thinking of it first! If she announces someone else, I am sure she has very good evidence for him.

Also to clarify the swan found in the tomb.

I am aware that a self-published 'scholar' has been making wild guesses that Olympias is buried at Amphipolis, because he choses to ignore the many inscriptions saying she was buried at Pydna.

I prefer to ignore those kinds of wild and deliberate distortions of history.

I am aware of a story about a scorpion and a swan linked to Hephaestion. Please note that this is a modern children's story inserted into the movie Alexander, and Hollywood movies are not really considered historical sources!

 There are many real myths involving swans, for example Zeus turning into a swan to seduce Leda; and since the Argeads claimed descent from the kings of Sparta, that story is more likely.

But my interpretation lies in the well known story that Phaeton was turned into a swan.

Phaeton is an interesting figure, and although Ovid wrote a different version of the myth, in this period he was linked to mourning. In fact the Belevi tomb, probably built by Lysimachus for his son, had figures of the Heliades his sisters standing between the columns as mourners for him (the statues vanished long ago, but the inscription identifying them survives). I interpret the women on the Mourning Women Sarcophagus as copying the women between the columns on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and possibly also representing the Hecatomnid relatives of Mausolus as Heliades mourning him - in addition Helios seems to have been in the chariot that crowned the Mausoleum.

Therefore there are good arguments to be made for the daughters of Helios mourning their brother Phaeton, and Phaeton being represented by the swan he turned into.

Greek myths are better for historical interpretations than the semi-insane ramblings in Hollywood films.

17 comments:

  1. Without looking at empirical evidence, I can hardly believe that all this was done for Hephaestion. My intuition says it is someone more royal, such as Olympias or that this is a necropolis with many important people entombed - especially given the aerial extent of the mound. Why have just one burial in one tiny section of this vast circumference?

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  2. P.S. There is no larnax. This mound continues to baffle.

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  3. A larnax is not necessery in Macedonian tombs.

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  4. Im sorry I am missing something...a swan's remains were found in the tomb???

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  5. @ioakeim yes but it was much before above the mosaic. There is speculation that it was transfered there along the sand that filled the monument.... Some though correlate it to a cult of Hephaestion.

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  6. Hephaestion? . but "All historians agree on extreme pain, but they speak differently, depending on their condition or their enmity to the prince and Hephaestion It was in Babylon that the body was carried Hephaestion: they raised him a pyre which nothing has ever equaled the magnificence. "

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  7. Persian pyres burnt less - so the bones of Mausolus were found like these ones in his tomb.

    Macedonian pyres added more to the pyre so it burnt more.

    Modern cremation burns higher temperatures than wood, so little is left. Does that help?

    Mausolus was a Persian Satrap and Hephaestion was 'burnt' at Babylon probably more in the Persian style. Either way his remains were brought back to Macedonia for burial on Alexander's orders.

    Also Alexander ordered a cult for Hephaestion, and there was one for Mausolus, so that might further clarify the difference?

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  8. If the ancient sources do not lie and the funeral pyre was 60 meters (wood I guess), I think it would be impossible to find the body. If the pyre was mud brick (ziggurat type) and at the top a small fire would be different and would only produce a fleshless the corpse. But it is not clear whether they have found traces of bones or skeleton. In the example of Macedonian tomb with cist in the last chamber, several bodies were found cremated guess. There is the possibility that the cist had several urns with the remains of more than one person.

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  9. Now now 60meters is an exageration... 6 is more feasible. We seem to underestimate the abilities of ancient people just because they eeren't as technologically advanced.... Im sure that someone would have thought of a way to spot bones among ashes after the pyre went off... Plus 6 m of fire was for show of actualy a lets say 2 m was enough to incirnerate the body.... The pyre was said to be a 6 storey pyre with every storey having a different theme....

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  10. I think one of the issues is that 'pyra' is used both for the funeral pyre (possibly at Babylon, although the sources differ a little even on this) and 'pyra' is used for the tomb in Alexander's last wishes (when the Babylon funeral would have taken place already so it suggests a tomb in this context).

    Another issue is that whilst everyone wanted to honour H when Alexander was still alive, they cared less once he died (except Ptolemy) so the books of Curtius for example that would have covered the funeral are missing and few other details survive.

    The details that do survive suggest that the body was sent somewhere else to be buried, quite some way away, and the obvious conclusion is home to Macedonia.

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  11. This is an example of tomb with underground chamber which I referred http://www.news.gr/ellada/nea-ths-perifereias/article-wide/187155/amfipolh-o-tafos-sth-nea-kalindoia-enishyei-to-se.html

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  12. But the announcement of the Greek Ministry of Culture
    says nothing about the skeleton being burnt.
    The suggestion is that we are talking about a burial
    and not about cremated bones.

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  13. Only Alexander was mummified. Mummies bones are not usually burnt.

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  14. Dorothy is this another Alexander monogram Inside to tomb????

    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=kcgpdt&s=8#.VGhrGslaeWU

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  15. Ministry's official photo so not to assume it is photoshoped

    http://www.yppo.gr/images/l_14821.jpg

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  16. le lion de pierre d'Amphipolis me fait penser qu'il s'agit de la tombe d'Haephestion (lion de pierre également à Ecbatane) et le choix de la ville d'Amphipolis (proche des côtes perses) qui n'est pas une capitale de la Macédoine, difficile de déposer ce corps dans les tombes des rois et reines de Macédoines à Vergina)... mais je ne suis pas spécialiste, juste passionnée par l'histoire grecque

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  17. http://empedotimos.blogspot.gr/
    Hullo.This is a very interesting analysis on what we have seen so far in Amphipolis.Of course it's in greek and i don't know how greek is to you.If you can understand it please comment on it.Keep up the good work.

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