Πέμπτη, 2 Οκτωβρίου 2014

Tell, lion, whose tomb do you guard, you slayer of cattle? And who was worthy of your valour?

Happy October everyone. 
This beautiful month is actually here. It's a bit hot and sunny in my city but i don't care. 
Also my country does not celebrate Halloween. But i still don't care, it's October! 
Although today i have a post about my summer adventures. 
Let's travel to the Greece of the past.

Come with me to Amphipolis. [map]

Modern Greek: Αμφίπολη; Ancient Greek: Ἀμφίπολις is a municipality in 
the Serres regional unit of Greece. The seat of the municipality is Rodolivos 
(which is my grandmother's village). In ancient times, it was a city in the region once 
called Edonia in the present-day region of Central Macedonia. 
It was built on a distance of around 5 kilometres from the Aegean Sea coast.

Origins; Archaeology has uncovered remains at the site dating to approximately 3000 BC. 
Xerxes I of Persia passed during his invasion of Greece of 480 BC 
and buried alive nine young men and nine maidens as a sacrifice to the river god. 
Near the later site of Amphipolis Alexander I of Macedon 
defeated the remains of Xerxes' army in 479 BC. 

Throughout the 5th century BC, Athens sought to consolidate its control over Thrace, which was strategically important because of its primary materials (the gold and silver of the Pangaion hills and the dense forests essential for naval construction), and the sea routes vital for Athens' supply of grain from Scythia. 

After a first unsuccessful attempt at colonisation in 497 BC by the Milesian Tyrant Histiaeus, 
the Athenians founded a first colony at Ennea-Hodoi (‘Nine Ways’) in 465, 
but these first ten thousand colonists were massacred by the Thracians. 
A second attempt took place in 437 BC on the same site under the guidance of Hagnon, son of Nicias.

The new settlement took the name of Amphipolis (literally, "around the city"), a name which is the subject of much debates about lexicography. Thucydides claims the name comes from the fact that the Strymon flows "around the city" on two sides; however a note in the Suda (also given in the lexicon of Photius) offers a different explanation apparently given by Marsyas, son of Periander: that a large proportion of the population lived "around the city". However, a more probable explanation is the one given by Julius Pollux: that the name indicates the vicinity of an isthmus. Furthermore, the Etymologicum Genuinum gives the following definition: a city of the Athenians or of Thrace, which was once called Nine Routes, (so named) because it is encircled and surrounded by the Strymon river. 

I had the time to select some of the most beautiful stone pine 
(or parasol pine - what a lovely name) cones. 
And i found a lovely place to save them as soon as i got in the city. 
Different shapes and shades of brown create one lovely decor.

Back to history; Amphipolis became the main power base of the Athenians and a target of choice for their Spartan adversaries. The Athenian population remained very much in the minority within the city. 
A rescue expedition led by the Athenian strategos (general, and later historian) Thucydides had to settle for securing Eion and could not retake Amphipolis, a failure for which Thucydides was sentenced to exile. 

A new Athenian force under the command of Cleon failed once more in 422 BC during a battle at which both Cleon and Brasidas lost their lives. Brasidas survived long enough to hear of the defeat of the Athenians and was buried at Amphipolis with impressive pomp. From then on he was regarded as the founder of the city and honoured with yearly games and sacrifices. The city itself kept its independence until the reign of the king Philip II despite several other Athenian attacks, notably because of the government of Callistratus of Aphidnae.

The whole family from my dad's side is from villages like Amphipolis, Rodolivos and Mesolakia (for my greek readers). I practically grew up there. Visiting relatives and staying with my grandma for my summer vacations, when i wasn't travelling with my parents, exploring nature, seeing ancient ruins everywhere. And above all seeing this beautiful lion for over 20 years now (previous post 1) (previous post 2). To be honest i am very happy those places take the popularity they deserve. 

click to enlarge and read all the info about The Lion Of Amphipolis.

Εἰπέ, λέον, φθιμένοιο τίνος τάφον ἀμφιβέβηκας, βουφάγε; τίς τᾶς σᾶς ἄξιος ἦν ἀρετᾶς;
Tell, lion, whose tomb do you guard, you slayer of cattle? And who was worthy of your valour?

Anthologia Palatina 7.426.1-2 (Trans. M. Fantuzzi & R. Hunter)
The lines above, by Hellenistic poet Antipater of Sidon, are as much of a tease today as they were when Oscar Broneer quoted them in The Lion Monument at Amphipolis in 1941. x

Now, let me take you to the Ancient Gymnasium of Amphipolis.

In 1982 excavations by the late archaeologist Dimitri Lazaridi led to the discovery of the first major public building whose inscriptions allowed the indetification as the Palaestra of the Ancient Gymnasium. 

Excavations continued in 1984 following the expropriation of the olive grove that covered the building. The Gymnasium is located on the south-east section of the city between the precinct of the wall of the acropolis and the outer precinct of the long wall. 

The site overlooks the entire sea (the view was spectacular) and it is the only gymnasium complex that has been found to date the northern Greece. Corresponding complexes be found in Delphi, Nemea, Olympia, Epidauros, Pergamo, Miletus, Eretria dating from the 4th to the 2nd century BC. 

The main entrance to the Gymnasium was from the east side, formed by a monumental staircase (8.70 m. wide). Behind it a build wall was revealed with carefully finished masonry... (for more info click the - not so well taken and i am sorry - picture below.)

Archaeology; The site was rediscovered and described by many travellers and archaeologists during the 19th century, including E. Cousinéry (1831), L. Heuzey (1861), and P. Perdrizet (1894–1899). In 1934, M. Feyel, of the École française d'Athènes, led an epigraphical mission to the site and uncovered the remains of a funeral lion (a reconstruction was given in the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, a publication of the EfA which is available on line). However, excavations did not truly begin until after the Second World War. The Greek Archaeological Society under D. Lazaridis excavated in 1972 and 1985, uncovering a necropolis, the rampart of the old town, the basilicas, and the acropolis. 

The German auction house Gorny & Mosch and the British Museum have smuggled artifacts from Amphipolis at their possession. These artifact smuggled to these countries by British soldiers, during World War I, and by German soldiers, during World War II. Good times... -.-

British soldiers of the 2nd King's Shropshire Light Infantry with skulls excavated illegally during the construction of trenches and dugouts at the ancient Greek site of Amphipolis during World War I, 1916. (wiki)


I am not sure if you already know Amphipolis because of the latest news about the "new" tomb they found.

In 2012 Greek archaeologists unearthed northeast of Amphipolis (location: 40.8394°N 23.8628°E) at a location called the Casta Hill, a vast tomb, the biggest burial tomb ever unearthed in Greece. The perimeter is 497 meters long (above picture) and is made of limestone covered with marble. Until today (September 19, 2014 the post is taken from wiki) there are three sections revealed by the excavation, each closed with a stone wall. There are two sphinxes just outside the entrance to the tomb. Two of the columns supporting the roof in the first section are in the form of Karyatids, apparently mimicking the fourth ce. BC style. The large size of the tomb indicates the prominence of the burial made there. 

The identity of the burial remains unknown, since the excavation is still going on. Dr. Katerina Peristeri, the archaeologist currently heading the excavation of the tomb, dates the tomb to the late period of the 4th Century BC, which is the period after the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC). Considering the evidence of syncretism (i.e. the archaic style of the Karyatids), and that the marbles covering the limestone perimeter is a Roman style, an archaeologist not connected with the excavation, Professor Olga Palagia, dates the tomb to the late 1st Century BC.

Here is the tomb/ monument from far away. 

Details from the Tomb; Entrance 



Caryatides - Karyatides


The tomb so far...

Latest findings (2 October 2014) x

In general, we have to wait. The archaeologists will be lucky if they come close to find who made it, for who and what purpose, when and how. They will be lucky if they find artefacts in there, especially after all this time and all the illegal smuggling. They need to research in big museums all over Europe to actually find what they are looking for. Not to mention the private collections... Anyhow, time will show us.

Until the next post, take care everyone

8 σχόλια:

  1. Wow, to think even archeologists, so well educated in matters of ancient architecture, can't guess the time the tomb was built... it's sort of sad and scary a bit. Just today I've been reading a book about XIXth century archeological excavations in the Fertile Crescent region and it struck me that back then they didn't know Sumerian culture existed, they thought all Biblical mentions about great cities were simply made up. So yes, the time will probably show whom this tomb belonged to - but sad is the fact, that tomb from so late and so well known antiquity remains an enigma.

    1. Hello there :) It's a bit early for them to know 100% but the head archaeologist of the excavation believes that the monument was build in the late 4th century BC. Around the time of Alexander the Great and his death (323 BC). I believe they need to unearth the whole tomb just to be sure about all the details. I mean, they did not enter the main room yet! It;s one unique monument that is why they are not sure about anything yet! As you said about the Sumerian culture and the fact they had no idea about it's existence. It's kind the same since they never found an other similar - to the current finds- monument. Also, they started the excavations this August (inside the tomb) some days after my visit there. But excavations cost a lot and not to mention time (they need to be extra careful since they have tons of sand above their heads since it is a artificial hill and not a mountain.) Anyway, i think is going pretty well, i mean they say it will last about one month more - of course that depends on the money and of what they will find further. I cannot be more excited about the whole story, of course and unfortunately i don't believe they will find things in there - due to the illegal smugglings - but one can hope for the best right? I find all those things very fascinating, 2014 and still unearthing secrets?! It's amazing!!

  2. All this stealing or destroying ancient artifacts gets on my nerves, too. It's pure barbarity - I can understand the poor robbing tombs of the kings the next day they were buried, I can understand stripping down ancient temples to get materials for building a house, because such things were done by simple folk and many years ago. But in 20th century?! One could think people were already civilised these 100 years ago... But it's overall deppressing, when I think how much was lost in time, unintentionally or intentionally... how much more would we know about the past, if the Alexandrian library weren't burned down, and all artifacts were safely in the museums, not destroyed because somebody found them to be the work ofthe devil.
    I hope the archeologists will find at least some skulls left, because it would be easy to know the time it was built. It's very interesting, whom such a big tomb might have belonged to! It would be a breaking news if it belonged to Alexander the Great himself, but, as I know from modern history of my city, wealthy families also like to build themselves tombs that big thay can be mistaken for royal ones :D

    1. You have no idea how furious i get with all that. And there are many countries - like Egypt for example - who suffered the same illegal smuggling from others. You know, i come to think after your words, that people don't get civilised over the years. There will be some who actually understand and appreciate beauty - either it is made my other humans or by nature itself - but there are always going to be some who want only to destroy. Either to make themselves a fortune (you know still people smuggle antiquities to get a big reward in the black market) or just to see the world collapse (fanatic religious people for instance) That's their stupidity & i will never understand it. When my country was under turks occupation, English people came here and smuggled many ancient artefacts because of course turks let them. After that during the Balkan wars, again English, Bulgarian. Then again during the German occupation, German people. Even Greek people. Those are the awful human kinds. Of course it is not ok to see Greek artefacts in other countries museums but in the far future i can stand it. I cannot stand the lose, like the Library of Alexandria (omg i am crying only to its name!) and i cannot stand that we will probably never know things from the past (the lost ones and of course those items in the private collections). It's hurtful for people like me who actually value the past. Not only my country's past, but the past in general. Anyway, we do hope for the best. There are news everyday from the tomb (and the hilarious part is that everyone says a different person that is buried there every day :P) Even to find the skeleton of the building/monument it would be great since they say it;s a really big one :D Thank you my dear for your comments!

  3. This is such fascinating history, and archaeology is so very intriguing. Thank you for sharing, and it is (and you are) lovely always.~

  4. It is mindblowing to read this post. The history of Greece is long and very very old. By the time they builded these mausoleums and temples, people in the north were very primitive.
    The smuggling and thieving of ancient arifacts is a horrible crime.

    1. Oh gosh, thank you so much!! Really :)
      Ancient Greeks have very old history indeed and that is why we get so excited when archaeologists discover something and at the same time very sad when people - even in our days - smuggle illegal artefacts. It is really fascinating and also great the fact that i know those places from close, just to share them with people like you who will appreciate their history. I have some more posts in mind from there to post in future. Hope you enjoy them too.


A special thank you to those who take the time to write me.
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