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Alexander the Great personally ordered the tomb of his friend Hephaestion in Amphipolis

01 October 2015 / 12:10:18  GRReporter
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More than a year after the excavations have been completed, the secret of the tomb in Amphipolis has been uncovered. Head of excavations Catherine Peristeri and her collaborators announced the new data at a special presentation at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

According to the archaeologist, ancient architect Dinocrates or Stasicrates built the tomb on the orders, and with the personal finances, of Alexander the Great. The tomb was intended for his friend and close collaborator Hephaestion and Antigonus I Monophthalmus (Antigonus the One-eyed), who was one of the most important successors of the great military commander, completed it after his death, during the first half of the 4th century BC.

The new theory is based on new findings that have the monogram stamp of the Macedonian commander. Archaeologists have discovered the inscription "ΠΑΡΕΛΑΒΟΝ ΗΦΑΙΣΤΙΩΝΟΣ" ("Recipient Hephaestion" – editor’s note) on at least two of the marble slabs of the tomb, which they have found near the Lion of Amphipolis. The researchers are convinced that the sculpture was placed on top of the tomb, although there have been theories that have challenged this hypothesis in the meantime.

Another marble fragment has the inscription "ΑΝΤ" on it. According to some new hypotheses, it was the signature of all members of the Antigonid dynasty, the last ruling dynasty in ancient Macedonia. The researchers of the tomb in Amphipolis, however, believe that it is the signature of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, who was ordered to complete its construction. In fact, it represented "a written contract for construction" in connection with the receipt of the marble material that was designed for the impressive structure - possibly a memorial to heroes, similar to the memorials that have been discovered elsewhere in Greece.

"For 80 years the architectural elements were in the open, near the lion. Nobody however saw the barely visible inscription on the marble surface," said architect Michalis Lefantzis. He has analyzed the mystery of the geometric form on top of the tomb and the wooden column, which served to attach the figure of the lion. "The tomb is a delicate piece of work, it is a whole research field for engineers," added Lefantzis.

Catherine Peristeri in turn was explicit about the era of the construction of the tomb - the last quarter of the 4th century BC. She supported her opinion by comparing the sphinxes, caryatids and mosaic floors discovered inside the tomb with works that date back to the same period  and that are on display in Greek and foreign museums.

The discoveries have provoked a lot of comments on the Greek social networks. Many of them are just jokes, while others affect several topics of Greek reality, in view of the imposed view that Hephaestion was not only Alexander the Great’s closest friend, general and bodyguard but probably his beloved. In that spirit, commentator Antipas Karipoglou wrote on his account, "If it turns out that the tomb in Amphipolis is really devoted to Hephaestion this will mean that it is the largest monument dedicated to homosexual love. At the same time, it will be the greatest ‘trolling’ against all those who have staked on the populist-nationalist way of its discovery."

Look at the photo report of GRReporter, which presents the findings in the tomb during the excavation works.

Tags: HistoryTombAmphipolisAlexander the GreatHephaestionAntigonus I MonophthalmusLion of AmphipolisCatherine Peristeri
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