Amphipolis

Archaeological site with the largest ancient Greek tomb yet discovered.

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Amphipolis

The city of Amphipolis was founded by the Athenians (437 B.C.) at the mouth of the Strymon river. The port-city prospered with trade from the gold and silver mines in the Pangaion hills and timber from the nearby forests. Seeing the city’s importance, King Philip II of Macedon captured the city from the Athenians. Amphipolis became one of the principal harbours of the Macedonia Greeks and it is from here that Alexander the Great set sail with his army to invade the Persian Empire. Amphipolis remained an important centre throughout antiquity and even duing the Byzantine period as can be attested by the remains of numerous Byzantine churches. It fell into decline due to Slav raids in the 6th and 7th century and was finally abandoned with the coming of the Ottoman Turks.
 
Excavations at Amphipolis first began in the 1960s but had to stop due to lack of funds. In 2012 they resumed with  Greek archaeologists unearthing northeast of Amphipolis at a location called the Kasta Hill, a tomb, the biggest burial tomb ever unearthed in Greece. It is made from limestone and its flooring is of marble. It is 496 metres long. By the end of September 2014 three separate sections were uncovered by the archaeologists. Interesting finds include two syphinxes which guarded the entrance to the tomb. In the tomb, two of the supporting coloums are carved in the form of  Caryatids, that is beautiful young women. Directly behind the Caryatids and in front of the Macedonian marble door leading to the "third" chamber, is a pebble mosaic showing the abduction of Persephone by the god of the underworld, Hades. Hades' chariot is drawn by two white horses and he and Persephone are led into the underworld by the god, Hermes. The mosaic verifies the Macedonian character of the tomb. Indeed, the subject of the mosaic is the same as the wall painting found at the tomb at Vergina where of King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great  was laid to rest. The statues and the art seem to suggest, according to Dr. Katerina Peristeri, the archaeologist currently heading the excavation of the tomb, that the tomb was constructed in the last quarter of the 4th Century B.C.
 
It is a mystery who was buried in the tomb. Whoever is buried beneath the limestone, must have been some one of huge importance.
 

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