LLR Books

Does the Alexander the Great-era tomb belong to the blue-eyed king? Remains of 'general' reveal that he was of medium height and had red hair

•           Last week bones were found in Greek tomb dating from the 4th Century BC
•           Analysis shows they belong to a man of medium height who had pale skin
•           Experts think he was probably an important Macedonian general
•           DNA tests will determine if the man was a member of the royal family
•           Carved bone and glass coffin ornaments were discovered near the bones
•           Amphipolis site is largest ancient tomb to have been discovered in Greece
•           Skeletal remains are being examined for further identification

For months archaeologists have speculated about who lies within an ancient burial mound in northern Greece.
Now analysis of the skeleton discovered in an underground vault has revealed that the person who was buried there was male and was probably an important general.
He was of medium height with pale skin and brown or red hair, they said, suggesting that the remains could could well belong to blue-eyed king.

Alexander the Great was reputed to have had blue eyes and golden or red hair.

Skeletal remains show the man buried in the Amphipolis tomb was of medium height with pale skin and brown or red hair.
He must have been of high social status, based on his opulent final surroundings.
Archaeologists say he was probably an important general, although because the tomb was looted in antiquity, no shield or sword have been found, which were typically buried with Macedonian warriors.
Experts are studying the bones to reveal what the man died of and what he ate. 
Last week, Greece's culture ministry said the opulence of the tomb indicates that a 'distinguished public figure' was buried there.
One contemporaneous account says his hair was 'xanth' - meaning 'golden' or 'auburn' - and a mosaic at Pella shows the warrior king with red hair.
However, other Roman writers said it was dark blonde, such as Roman rhetoric teacher Aelian, who wrote: '...his hair curled naturally and was yellow'. 
Another expert said that the bones will reveal details about the man’s health and his diet.
Katerina Peristeri, head of the Amphipolis Tomb excavation believes that the man was an important general, although because robbers have removed valuable items in antiquity, no weapons or precious objects remain in situ.
But experts have hypothesised about how the grave would have looked at the time of burial.
Chrysoula Paliadeli, Professor of Classical Archaeology at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, said: ‘Thanks to the elements we [have obtained] from other Macedonian graves, in which there was no human intervention after the burial, we can assume that we would have found armaments - a shield, sword, chest armour, helmet, shin guards and other items - and ceremonial containers made of gold or copper, chaplet and probably earthenware pottery.’

Some commentators sill hold out hope that the skeleton belongs to Alexander the Great himself, based on the warrior king's symbol being found inside the tomb.
However, The Greek Culture Ministry hasn't mentioned the symbol or the chances of the bones being the legendary warrior's.
Alexander died in Babylonia, present day Iraq, but his burial site remains unknown.
Some written accounts of the ancient leader's appearance say that he had red, or strawberry blonde hair, raising hopes that the skeleton may be his.
One contemporaneous account says his hair was 'xanth' which means golden or auburn and a mosaic at Pella shows the warrior king with red hair.
However, other Roman writers said it was dark blonde, such as Roman rhetoric teacher Aelian, who wrote: '...his hair curled naturally and was yellow'.
Experts will analyse the bones and attempt to see if DNA of the man matches that of the Phillip II, Alexander the Great’s father. However, this may be difficult because the king’s DNA is said to be ‘overworked’.
There is conjecture on Twitter about whether a 1999 geological survey indicates there are many more burial chambers in the grand complex, perhaps hiding more remains, meaning that even if the remains do not belong to Alexander the Great, the legendary leader may still lie in the mound.
A new study of Kasta Hill is said to be under way to determine if experts have revealed all the site's secrets.
Further tests will determine whether the man was a member of the ancient royal family of Macedonia.
Lina Mendoni, Secretary Culture Secretary, warned it will be hard to determine this and such an investigation could take around eight months.
Scientists will compare the DNA of the bones to that of Phillip II, who was buried at Vergina, but this will be difficult because the genetic material is 'overworked,' she told Iefimerida.
The bones of Phillip II - father of Alexander the Great - were burnt and because DNA tests were carried out some 50 years ago, it is feared the results may have been contaminated.
There is much conjecture on Twitter as to whether the tomb might belong to Alexander the Great or whether it is a massive complex, of which only one chamber has been discovered.
Some Twitter users have spotted a symbol in the tomb that they say is the mark of the ancient leader, while others are pointing to the results of an old geological survey that hints the mound hides many underground stone structures.
Last week, Greece’s Ministry of Culture revealed that the body had been placed in a wooden coffin, which disintegrated over time.
The skeletal remains were found both inside and outside the rectangular stone-lined cist, under the floor of the cavernous, vaulted structure that is 26 feet (eight metres) tall
Iron and bronze nails as well as carved bone and glass decorations from the coffin were also found scattered in the grave.

Skeleton Discovered In Greece Could Be Alexander The Great

Greek Archaeologists are waiting with bated breath over a skeleton found in a mysterious and richly-decorated tomb from the time of Alexander the Great - might solve the riddle of who ancient Greece's biggest burial mound was built for. Having dug their way past huge decapitated sphinxes, and broken through a wall guarded by two caryatids; they then excavated an antechamber decorated with stunning mosaics. Now experts have finally found the body it was all built for, the Greek culture ministry said Wednesday.
The skeleton was found scattered around a wooden coffin in the third room of the vast mound near Amphipolis in northern Greece. The ministry has said that the remains were clearly those of "a powerful personality, which can be seen from this unique tomb". Speculation is now rife that it could be that of Roxana, Alexander's Persian wife, his mother Olympias, or one of his generals. The skeleton will now be studied by researchers according to the ministry.
The archaeologist in charge of the dig, Katerina Peristeri, is to reveal her highly anticipated findings in two press conferences on November 22nd and 29th.
The main question being posed by a fascinated Greek public, which has been following the dig daily, is do the bones belong to a major historical figure? The tomb's near-intact sculptures and incredible mosaics have been a rousing reminder to Greeks of past glories with the country today mired in economic hardship.
With a monumental scale of half a kilometre in circumference, and the quality of the mosaics of a man driving a chariot and the abduction of Persephone by Pluto - have fueled theories that the tomb was built for a very high-status individual. This consensus appeared to be confirmed Wednesday when authorities revealed that the tomb "used more marble than any other public building in ancient Macedonia". "The extraordinary cost of the tombs construction means it is unlikely to have been built to bury a private individual," the ministry said in a statement to the press.
Historian Miltiade Hatzopoulos, a specialist on the period, told AFP that all this suggested the tomb contained a member of the Macedonia's famously fratricidal royal family. The dynasty, which reached its zenith under Alexander (356-323 BC), was incredibly wealthy, but with wealth came plotting, power-struggles and assassinations amongst the clan. Hatzopoulos stated: "We don't know where lots of the men in this family have been buried" - who doubts that the Macedonians would have made the same effort for a woman; therefore whoever the massive fourth-century BC structure holds, Hatzopoulos along with fellow historians think it is highly unlikely to be Alexander himself.
Alexander conquered the Persian empire and much of the known world before his death at the age of 32. He is then said to have been buried in Alexandria in Egypt, the city he founded; yet no grave has ever been found. But the identity of the Greek tomb's occupant is not the only mystery surrounding the existence of the tomb.
There is also a question raging between archaeologists: "Why has this funerary monument, whose size makes it unique in the Hellenistic world, not been mentioned in any historical document?" What the team of archaeologists havediscovered has left more than one expert perplexed. "An entrance crowned with a sphinx, sculptures like the caryatids, or the mosaics: we haven't seen this in a tomb before," said Alexandre Farnoux, director of the French Archaeological School of Athens.
The odd fact of the bomes being deliberately scattered, and smashing of some of the objects inside the tomb also raises questions. "Beyond the identity of the occupant, the real power of Amphipolis is to challenge the cliches of Greek art and to prove its capacity to produce the unexpected," said Farnoux.
For the first time in six years of the country's economic meltdown; it seems that arguments between historians rather than economists are in fact dominating the press in Greece.


“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”                                                                                      Socrates

Bones left behind by looters could shed light on mystery of huge ancient tomb in Greece

ATHENS, Greece –  Bones from a skeleton found in the innermost chamber of a huge, looted tomb in Greece could help archaeologists solve the riddle of who was buried in opulent splendor there, around the end of the 4th century B.C. in the twilight of Alexander the Great's reign.
A Culture Ministry statement on Wednesday said the skeleton was strewn in and around a rectangular stone-lined cist, under the floor of the cavernous, vaulted structure that is 8 meters (26 feet) tall.
In an excavation over the past three months near ancient Amphipolis, 600 kilometers (375 miles) north of Athens, Greek archaeologists have uncovered a three-chamber tomb decorated with marble statues of sphinxes and young women, and a large mosaic pavement.

Alexander was buried in Egypt, but his tomb has not been located.

Have archaeologists come to a dead end? No remains discovered within Alexander the Great-era tomb - but experts hope the burial room is hidden below ground

•           The tomb is situated in the Amphipolis region of Serres in Greece
•           Huge burial site is said to date back to between 325 and 300 BC
•           This means it could have been built during the reign of Alexander the Great
•           Experts hoped to find a fourth chamber holding remains but haven't found one, with some saying remains may have been looted from the third room  
•           There are hopes the chamber may lie hidden beneath the floor
•           Experts are divided to whether a fourth chamber may exist as well as whether the tomb was looted - and if it was ever finished or used
•           Some believe the tomb was built for Alexander's mother, Olympias

By Sarah Griffiths 

The world has been waiting with bated breath to see whether one of Alexander the Great’s relatives lies in a mysterious ancient tomb in Greece.
But it appears, for now, that archaeologists have come to a dead end, because the tomb’s third chamber, which has yielded no remains, is its last.
Despite this disappointment, some experts are cautiously optimistic that the burial chamber is hidden below ground, while others caution that the tomb, which dates back to between 325 and 300 BC, was robbed years ago.
In the early days of the excavation, which has been ongoing since August, a pair of headless sphinxes were found ‘guarding’ the entrance of the huge burial mound in Amphipolis, in northern Greece.
Since then treasures have been regularly unearthed, including an 'exceptional' female head belonging to one of the mythical creatures, and a beautiful mosaic depicting a Greek mythical scene.
Experts said the finds hint that the massive mound was intended for an important woman - possibly the wife or mother of Alexander the Great.
But, its owner may remain a mystery, because the Greek Ministry of Culture has announced that the third chamber of the tomb is the last one.
History enthusiasts captivated by the mystery of who was buried in the Amphipolis tomb were disappointed when the Greek Ministry of Culture announced that a fourth burial chamber hasn't been uncovered.
There are many theories about whether it exists.
Looting: Some experts simply say that the third chamber is the last one. This could mean that any remains were taken from the third chamber.
The Greek ministry of Culture has said since excavations began that the tomb could have been looted in antiquity, as suggested by broken sculptures, pieces of which have been found in unlikely places inside the tomb.
Hidden chamber underground: Others hope that a burial chamber lies beneath the third chamber. Archaeologists are currently moving soil to uncover the floor in the hope of finding a hidden room.
It's unfinished: There is the possibility that the tomb is unfinished and was never used. Archaeologist and author Dorothy King said that it may have been built for Alexander the Great himself.
Experts had hoped to find a fourth chamber linked to the third by a ‘gap’ in the wall.
However, the general secretary of the Ministry of Culture Lina Mendoni told The Greek Reporter that some archaeologists hope a fourth secret burial chamber may be discovered underground and is covered by a horizontal sealing wall.
They are currently digging down through three feet (one metre) of sandy soil to reach the floor of the third chamber in the hope of finding another entrance.
A geophysical survey of the site shows how large and rambling it appears to be, leading some commentators to hope that it is a matter of time before more of the burial complex is revealed.
In an interview with Ethnos newspaper, Michalis Tiverios, a Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Thessaloniki said: ‘I'm about 95 per cent sure that the 3rd Chamber is the last one.
'It's possible that we will find a throne - in case the tomb belongs to a woman - or a deathbed or a marble case where the golden urn was placed.’
Katerina Peristeri, the lead archaeologist on the project, fears that the tomb has been plundered and that the third chamber is the last, indicating that perhaps the remains of whoever may have been buried there were removed long ago.
She said that if looting has taken place, it indicates that it was the resting place of an important person.
She thinks this may have happened because parts of the Sphinx statues guarding an outer chamber were found in the inner third chamber.
At a press conference at the archaeological Museum of Amphipolis, Mrs Mendoni said: ‘The tomb has obviously experienced human intervention, as we can see so far. Since the beginning of the announcements, we had said and repeated several times that we have very strong indications of looting.’
‘Under the present evidence, we cannot speak of another room. This monument, as revealed, is extremely important, not just for the area and Macedonia alone, but also for history and archaeology.

In Greek tradition, the mythical sphinx has the haunches of a lion, sometimes with the wings of a great bird, and the face of a human - usually a woman.
It was described by writers as being treacherous and merciless.
In many myths, including Oedipus, those who could not answer a riddle posed by the monster, would be killed and eaten.
The sphinx described by the Ancient Egyptians was usually male and more benevolent.
In both cultures, they often guarded entrances to temples and important tombs.
The oldest sphinx found guarding a site was discovered in Turkey and dates to 9,500 BC.
‘It also confirms that a lot of time needs to be spent on studying it: it’s possible that the scientific community will be discussing this monument and its significance in the science of history and archaeology for the next 10 or 15 years even.’
There are even suggestions that British soldiers stationed in Macedonia during World War One, came across the tomb and removed artefacts.
An article by Ancient Origins goes so far as to suggest Dr Eric Gardner, who was a British medic during the war, donated some of the tomb's treasures to The British Museum.
Other archaeologists have theorised that the tomb may not hold any remains because it was never finished – and could have been intended for Alexander the Great himself.
Dorothy King, an American archaeologist who lives in England, reportedly said: '... the empty rooms and dead end support a cenotaph … for Alexander the Great, which was not reused for anyone else since doing so with such an important tomb might have seemed presumptuous.'
Last week, archaeologists found an 'exceptional' female head belonging to one of the mythical creatures, complete with tumbling curls, which they say were once painted a red colour.
The Greek Culture Ministry said: ‘It is a sculpture of exceptional art’.
The only damage is a missing piece of the nose. Fragments of the mythical creatures’ wings have also been found.
The marble bust measures 24inches (60cm) tall and belongs to the sphinx on the right-hand size of the arch.
Tomb expert Dimitris Gotsis created a mock-up of what the archway may have looked like and shared it on Facebook. The sphinx stares challengingly towards anyone entering the burial site
In Greek mythology, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter.
She lived far from the other deities after being hidden by her mother, who rejected the romantic advances of Apollo and Hermes.
Pluto, god of the underworld (also known as Hades) abducted her, bursting forth through the earth.
This scene is depicted in many famous works of art and is known as the 'rape of Persephone'.
Demeter searches for her daughter all over the Earth, neglecting her harvesting duties and causing great hunger.
Zeus orders Pluto to return his daughter.
Pluto complies with the request but tricks Persephone by giving her pomegranate seeds to eat - food from the underworld - which means she has to spend half of the year (the winter months) in the underworld, and the remaining time with the gods above.
The head was found in the third chamber of the tomb, where experts recently unearthed a remarkable mosaic depicting the mythical tale of the rape of Persephone.
They have now cleared the entire surface of the third chamber, which measures 14ft (4.5metres) by 19ft (6metres) and 17ft (5.20metres) high Archaeology News Network reported.
In the coming days, the experts intend on removing fallen pieces of limestone from the third chamber to reveal more of a huge door.
The discovery that the sphinx’s head is female, together with other pieces of evidence, may add weight to some archaeologists’ belief that the massive memorial was built for a woman of high status.
They think the burial mound may hold the remains of the mother or wife of Alexander the Great – or even perhaps an important military man.
However, sphinxes are usually depicted with female faces.
Last week, the Greek Ministry of Culture showed off a mosaic measuring 15 feet (4.5 metres) by 10 feet (3 metres) that covers the whole floor of a room, which is thought to be the ante chamber to the main burial room.
It is not known they experts will enter the final chamber.
The female figure in it is Persephone - daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter – who is wearing a white robe and riding in a chariot, according toThe Greek Reporter.
The mosaic measures 15 feet (4.5 metres) by 10 feet (3 metres) and covers the whole floor of a room, which is thought to be the ante chamber to the main burial room at Amphipolis.
It is composed of tiny pieces of white, black, blue, red, yellow and grey stone to form an image of a chariot drawn by two white horses, driven by a bearded man wearing a crown of laurel leaves.
Hermes, the messenger of the gods in ancient Greece, stands in front of the chariot, according to experts from the Greek Culture Ministry.
It has not been competely uncovered and a large section in the centre is missing.
The mosaic dates from the fourth century BC, matching dating of the other finds, which are from the time of Alexander the Great.
Experts say the scene shows her being abducted by Pluto and being led to the underworld. She goes on to become queen of Hades for half of every year.
Hermes, the messenger to the gods, is seen guiding the chariot to the underworld.
The scene, based on ancient Greek myths, was popular for illustrating tombs at the time and a mural on a similar theme is found in another royal tomb at Aiges, nearby.
The mosaic is composed of tiny pieces of white, black, blue, red, yellow and grey stone to form an image of a chariot drawn by two white horses, driven by a  Pluto - a bearded man wearing a crown of laurel leaves.
It is being protected with layers of Styrofoam and a temporary wooden floor, while archaeologists work on revealing the tantalising contents of the next chamber.
The mosaic dates from the fourth century BC, matching dating of the other finds, which are from the time of Alexander the Great.
There is widespread speculation over who was buried at the site - from Roxana, Alexandra's Persian wife to Olympias, the king's mother, to one of his generals.

A number of scholars believe that the presence of female figures, known as caryatids, show that the tomb belongs to a female.
Writer Andrew Chugg, who has published a book on the search for the legendary leader's tomb, as well as several academic papers, told The Greek Reporter that sphinxes guarding the tomb are decorated in a similar way to those found in the tombs of two queens of Macedon, including the king’s grandmother.
In Greek mythology, Hera, the wife of Zeus, is depicted as the mistress of the sphinx. As the Macedonian kings of at the time of Alexander identified themselves with Zeus, Mr Chugg thinks their queens may have been associated with the mythical creature.
He goes on to explain that the sphinxes guarding the tomb are most similar to a pair at Saqqara, which is thought to be the site of the first tomb of Alexander the Great - whose body, it is thought, was moved around after his death.
He also points out that the facades of the tombs of Alexander the Great’s father, Philip II and Alexander IV, are similar to the façade of the lion monument found, which was thought to have originally stood atop the mystery tomb.
In addition to this there are also similarities between the Serres paving and rosettes and those found inside Philip II’s.
With all this, he believes the grand burial was built for Olympias or Alexander the Great’s wife, Roxane, who are both thought to have died at Amphipolis around the same time as the tomb's construction in the last quarter of the 4th century BC.
Mr Chugg thinks it was most likely built for Olympias because the caryatid female figures are probably Klodones – the priestess of Dionysus.
Greek writer Plutarch said in a biography about Alexander the Great that his mother consorted with the priestess.
In it, he writes that Philip II dreamt that he closed Olympia’s womb with a lion seal, which perhaps explains the lion statue thought to have been placed on top of the mysterious burial mound.
Experts have previously suggested that the tomb belongs to one of the king’s officials. There are hopes that despite looting, a body may still remain inside the burial mound.
During recent excavations, archaeologists have discovered fragments of a broken marble door which lead to the third chamber of the tomb . They have also discovered iron and bronze nails as well as a large hinge.
They say that the evidence follows the standard form of a Macedonian tomb, GreekReporter.com reported.
Experts believe the ancient mound, situated around 65 miles (100km) from Thessaloniki, was built for a prominent Macedonian in around 300 to 325BC.
Access to the third chamber was made possible after experts unearthed two sculpted female figures, known as Caryatids, last month.
By removing a large volume of soil, behind the wall bearing the two sculpted female figures, they were able to uncover the next chamber.
Until now, experts had only partially investigated the antechamber of the tomb and uncovered a marble wall concealing one or more inner chambers.
During initial observations, the archaeologists found that the level of sandy soil in the third chamber is lower than in the previous two chambers.

Expert Andrew Chugg thinks that the sphinxes are similar to some found in the tomb of Alexander the Great’s grandmother.
He thinks that queens of the time were associated with the mythical animals.
The sphinx statues are also similar to a pair at Saqqara, which is thought to be the site of the first tomb of Alexander the Great, before his body was moved.
The lion which was once top the burial mound has a similar façade to the tomb of Alexander the Great’s father, Philip II.
This evidence suggests the burial was built for Olympias or Alexander the Great’s wife, Roxane who both died in the last quarter of the 4th century BC when the tomb was built.
Mr Chugg thinks it was for Olympias because the caryatid female figures are probably Klodones – the priestess of Dionysus.
A story by Greek writer Plutarch that Olympia’s womb was closed by a lion seal – perhaps explaining the connection with the lion statue.
The dome structure has been weakened, as a result of losing a large amount of earth, and the researchers found the arched dome of the third chamber is on the verge of collapse, due to 'deep and extensive cracks' on either side.
Before the discovery of the Caryatids, it was feared the ‘incredibly important’ tomb dating to the time of Alexander the Great had been plundered in antiquity.
Archaeologists said that a hole in the decorated wall, and signs of forced entry, indicated it had been looted.
But the discovery of the female sculptures gave fresh hope that some treasure may have survived, after all.
Caryatids are sculptures of females that take the place of a column to support a building.
They are a distinctive feature in Ancient Greek architecture and famously hold up the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens.
Their elaborate hairstyles provide support to their necks that would otherwise be too thin and weak to support a heavy load.
The Caryatids in the Greek tomb are made of marble and support an inner entrance into the burial plot.
They feature the same sculpting technique used for the heads and wings of two sphinxes found guarding the main entrance of the tomb in August.
The Caryatids are made of marble and support an inner entrance into the tomb.
They feature the same sculpting technique used for the heads and wings of two sphinxes found guarding the main entrance of the tomb last month.
‘The structure of the second entrance with the Caryatids is an important finding, which supports the view that it is a prominent monument of great importance,’ the Culture Ministry said.
The face of one of the Caryatids is missing, while both figures have one hand outstretched in a symbolic move to push away anyone who would try to violate the tomb.
Archaeologists have said that the Amphipolis site appears to be the largest ancient tomb ever discovered in Greece at 1,935ft (590m) wide.
Two months ago, pictures emerged of a pair of sphinxes guarding the grave's main entrance beneath a large arch and experts said that most of the earth around the mythical creatures had been removed to reveal part of a marble lintel with frescoes.
The historian Diogenes Laertius said that Laomedon was banished by Alexander the Great's father, Philip II but returned to Macedonia when Alexander took the throne.
After governing a province in Syria after Alexander's death, he was captured by Nicanor when the empire broke up.
The story goes that he managed to escape to Caria, where he was promised the city of Amphipolis. So if his remains - or evidence that the final resting place is his - are found in the tomb, it could play a role in proving tales of the past.
‘The excavation will answer the crucial question of who was buried inside,’ Mr Samaras said.
Archaeologists who fear that few treasures and clues to its owner may remain in the tomb, said that part of a stone wall that blocked off the subterranean entrance was found to be missing, while the sphinxes, which were originally six feet (two metres) high, lack heads and wings.
Alexander (statue pictured) was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356 BC, and died of a fever in Babylon in June 323 BC
Alexander (statue pictured) was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356 BC, and died of a fever in Babylon in June 323 BC
Alexander III of Macedon was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356 BC.
He died of a fever in Babylon in June 323 BC.
Alexander led an army across the Persian territories of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt claiming the land as he went.
His greatest victory was at the Battle of Gaugamela, now northern Iraq, in 331 BC, and during his trek across these Persian territories, he was said to never have suffered a defeat.
This led him to be known as Alexander the Great.
Following this battle in Gaugamela, Alexander led his army a further 11,000 miles (17,700km), founded over 70 cities and created an empire that stretched across three continents.
This covered from Greece in the west, to Egypt in the south, Danube in the north, and Indian Punjab to the East.
Alexander was buried in Egypt.
His fellow royals were traditionally interred in a cemetery near Vergina, far to the west.
The lavishly-furnished tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, was discovered during the 1970s.
 Chief archaeologist Katerina Peristeri said that the monument being uncovered is a unique tomb, not just for Greece but for the entire Balkanic peninsula, and described it as being of ‘global interest’.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras added the discovery ‘is clearly extremely important’.
Alexander, who started from the northern Greek region of Macedonia to build an empire stretching as far as India, died in 323 B.C. and was buried in Egypt.
His fellow royals were traditionally interred in a cemetery near Vergina, to the west, where the lavishly-furnished tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, was discovered during the 1970s.
But archaeologists believe the Amphipolis grave, which is surrounded by a surprisingly long and well-built wall with courses of marble decorations, may have belonged to a senior ancient official.
Dr Peristeri argued the mound was originally topped by a large stone lion that was unearthed a century ago, and is now situated around 3 miles (5km) from the excavation site.
Geophysical teams have identified there are three main rooms within the huge circular structure.
In the past, the lion has been associated with Laomedon of Mytilene, one of Alexander's military commanders who became governor of Syria after the king's death.

A paper sponsored by Harvard University that was published 70 years ago hints that this might be the case and that Laomedon worked as a language interpreter and sentry during the king's Asian campaigns, GreekReporter.com said.

Astronomical find: Ancient Greek wine cup may show constellations

By Joseph Castro, Live Science Contributor

A two-handled wine cup may hold some of the earliest Greek depictions of the constellations. Here, a bull, snake, rabbit/small dog and large dog decorations. (John Barnes)
A 2,600-year-old two-handled wine cup currently on display at the Lamia Archaeological Museum in Greece has long been thought to depict a random assortment of animals.
But the piece of ancient pottery, called a skyphos, may actually contain one of the earliest Greek depictions of the constellations, a new analysis shows.
The study researchers suggested that other ancient artistic representations of animals may also portray constellations, and hold clues to what the early Greeks knew about astronomy, said study researcher John Barnes, a classical archaeology doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri. [Image Gallery: World's Oldest Astrologer's Board]
"If we go back and re-evaluate other animal scenes that might have been originally categorized as hunting scenes or animal friezes, then maybe we can find more [depictions of constellations] and get a greater understanding of how the ancient Greeks viewed the night sky," Barnes told Live Science.
Ancient Greek astronomy
Most of what's known about early Greek astronomy comes from various literary texts, such as Aratus of Soli's Phaenomena, a poetic text that describes the Greek constellations known by the third century B.C. However, these valuable documents only date as far back as the Classical period of Ancient Greece, which lasted from the fifth to the fourth century B.C.
To learn about how the ancient Greeks viewed the night sky before then, researchers must rely on visual depictions of the sky, such as those found on ceramic pottery but these artifacts are relatively rare, and what's left of them generally only show one or two constellations. For example, one of the oldest constellation images from Greece comes from a pottery fragment from the Late Geometric period (760 to 700 B.C) found at a site on the island of Ischia in Italy, but it only depicts what may be the constellation Botes ("the Herdsman").
Barnes didn't set out to find ancient Greek constellation portrayals, but rather stumbled upon the curious skyphos while visiting the Lamia Archaeological Museum. The artifact, which dates back to 625 B.C., was originally discovered in a debris-filled trench next to a temple in the seventh-century acropolis of Halai, which is located about 25 miles north of Thebes, Greece.
About a third of the wine cup (including one handle) is missing. What's left of the skyphos depicts an array of animals: a bull with only the back half preserved, a snake, a hare or small dog, a large dog, a scorpion, a dolphin and the front half of a panther or lion. Though the skyphos was labeled as showing a simple animal scene, Barnes immediately thought it showed something else.
"My dad raised me on astronomy, and to me, the snake, rabbit and dog together looked like constellations," Barnes said. "That group jumped out at me."
Seasonal constellations
Animal friezes (horizontal bands of decoration) and hunting scenes are common types of decorations in ancient Greece, but the skyphos's particular collection of animals is atypical, Barnes said. For instance, the dolphin is out of place with the land animals. Additionally, scorpions are uncommon motifs that don't often show up as actual animals, and are instead represented as shield emblems. And while a dog chasing a rabbit is often seen in hunting scenes, the snake underneath the pair is unusual. [Constellations of the Night Sky: Famous Star Patterns Explained (Images)]
What's more likely is that the animals are constellations, Barnes said: The bull is Taurus; the snake is probably Hydra (rather than Serpens or Draco, two other serpent constellations recognized by the Greeks); the rabbit is Lepus; the dog is Canis Major or Canis Minor; the scorpion is Scorpius; the dolphin is Delphinus; and the lion is Leo.
Interestingly, Barnes added, the animals are not arranged on the skyphos in the order they appear in the sky. "If they are not arranged as they are in the night sky, then either the specific arrangement is not important, or they were arranged for another purpose," Barnes said, adding that he thinks there's a seasonal aspect to the arrangement, with the constellations separated into fall, winter, spring and summer groups, in accordance with when they rise and set throughout the year.
Specifically, the bull and (presumably) other constellations from the missing third of the skyphos represent fall; the snake, rabbit and dog make up winter; the dog (again) and scorpion belong to spring; and the dolphin and lion(and perhaps other missing constellations)signify summer, Barnes added.
However, the skyphos likely didn't function as an ancient calendar, and instead merely showed a generalized representation of time throughout the year, Barnes said.

Barnes' analysis of the skyphos was detailed in the April-June issue of the journal Hesperia.