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Ancient Amphipolis due to yield find by end of month

Archaeologists might discover by the end of the month the identity of the person or people buried in an ancient tomb that has been discovered in Amphipolis, near Serres in northern Greece, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras suggested on Tuesday.

Samaras visited the excavation site and said he was confident it would yield an “exceptionally important find” from the early Hellenistic period. The tomb dates to between 325 and 300 BC, which coincides with the time when Alexander the Great died. He lost his life in 323 BC in Babylon, modern-day Iraq, but was later buried in Egypt. The Macedonian king’s final resting place is not known.

“It would be wrong of us to be tempted to start speculating,” Samaras told Kathimerini after being shown around the site by Katerina Peristeri, head of the 28th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. “Everything we have been shown by Mrs Peristeri and her team underline the significance of the findings.”

The mound is surrounded by a 497-meter circular wall built with Thasian marble, leading the premier to label it a “unique” site. A 4.5-meter-wide road leads to the tomb’s entrance, which is guarded by two carved sphinxes. According to Samaras, a 5.20-meter-tall sculpture of a lion found at the site, where excavations began in 1960, was initially positioned on top of the tumulus.

The prime minister told Kathimerini that the archaeologists, currently undertaking the delicate work of clearing the entrance to the tomb while ensuring there is no collapse, could be in a position to enter the burial chamber by the end of the month.

Peristeri has said it is highly unlikely that Alexander the Great was buried at ancient Amphipolis, located on the banks of the River Strymon in Central Macedonia. Alexander’s Persian wife, Roxana, and his son, Alexander IV, were banished to Amphipolis and murdered there in around 310 BC on the orders of Cassander, who became king of Macedon. Archaeologists tend to favor the interpretation that an important Macedonian official was buried at Amphipolis.

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