Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How exciting!

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Archaeologists Find Massive Tomb in Greece
By COSTAS KANTOURIS, Associated Press Writer Mon Feb 13, 10:46 AM ET

THESSALONIKI, Greece - Archaeologists have unearthed a massive tomb in the northern Greek town of Pella, capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great.

The eight-chambered tomb dates to the Hellenistic Age between the fourth and second century B.C., and is the largest of its kind ever found in Greece. The biggest multichambered tombs until now contained three chambers.

The 678-square-foot tomb hewn out of rock was discovered by a farmer plowing his field on the eastern edge of the ancient cemetery of Pella, some 370 miles north of Athens, archaeologists said.

"This is the largest and most monumental tomb of its kind ever found in Greece," said Maria Akamati, who led the excavations.

Archaeologists believe the tomb — filled with dozens of votive clay pots and idols, copper coins and jewelry — will shed light on the culture of Macedonia in the period that followed Alexander's conquest of Asia.

Alexander's empire, which stretched from Greece to Asia, broke into separate kingdoms upon his death in 323 B.C., as his generals battled over the remains of the ancient world's greatest empire.

Similar tombs from the same era have been discovered on Crete, Cyprus and Egypt, which was ruled by a Greek dynasty founded by Ptolemy, Alexander's general.

The tomb's size suggests it belonged to a a wealthy Macedonian family, Akamati said.

The tomb, believed to have been used for two centuries, was probably plundered in antiquity as most of the artifacts were strewn by the entrance to the chambers, Akamati said.

The complex is dominated by a central area surrounded by eight chambers colored in red, blue and gold dyes. Three inscribed stone slabs inside bear the names of their female owners — Antigona, Kleoniki and Nikosrati. A relief on one of the slabs depicts a women and her servant.

The discovery was confirmed on Friday by a senior archaeologist responsible for the Pella site and will be presented at an Archaeological Conference in Thessaloniki that begins Thursday.

- And -

Greek tomb find excites experts

Archaeologists in Greece say they are examining the largest underground tomb ever found in the country.

They said a farmer had stumbled across the tomb carved into the rock near the ancient city of Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Archaeologists believe it dates to the period after Alexander's death, which was marked by mass power struggles.

The tomb was probably used by a noble family about 2,300 years ago - some of whose names are still visible.

Archaeologists said that the eight-chambered tomb was significant in style. It is accessible through a 16-metre entrance.

Rich family

Funeral tombs found earlier in Greece contained no more than three chambers.

Carved into rock, the new find is reported still to retain part of its internal wall colouring of red, light blue and gold.

It is believed that the tomb has been looted over the years. However, jewellery, copper coins and earthen vases were still found in the chambers, along with inscribed tombstones with the names still visible.

"This was a very rich family," archaeologist Maria Akamati told Reuters news agency. "This is rare as the cemetery is full of plebeians," or commoners.

She said at least seven people had been buried there.

The tomb was discovered by the farmer on agricultural ground close to the ancient cemetery in Pella.

The city was once the capital city of the Macedonian kingdom, which was ruled by Phillip of Macedon and later by his son Alexander the Great, who died in 323BC.

The period after Alexander's death was marked by power struggles and intrigues between the royal family and Alexander's generals battling for control of his empire.

Story from BBC NEWS: 2006/02/12 19:40:00 GMT© BBC MMVI

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