Ancient Tomb Guarded by Sphinxes Unearthed in… Greece

Archaeologists in Greece have uncovered the entrance to a vast ancient tomb guarded by two sphinxes, adorned with frescoed walls, and surrounded by a nearly 500-metre long wall carved from marble, according to a news release in the Greek Reporter.

The unique burial monument, which dates from 325 to 300 BC, is the largest ancient tomb ever discovered in Greece and is believed to belong to a very important figure in history.

Plans are to enter the tomb next month, when hopefully the identity of the tomb owner will be revealed.

“It is certain that we stand before an especially significant finding. The land of Macedonia continues to move and surprise us, revealing its unique treasures,” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Tuesday during a visit to the site. 

Excavations on the massive burial mound, which is located on Kasta Hill, Amphipolis, in the country’s Macedonian region about 100km northeast of Thessaloniki, first started in 2012, and have focused on uncovering the impressive marble wall surrounding the tomb.

A partial view of the site where archaeologists are excavating an ancient mound in Amphipolis, northern Greece. Credit: Alexandros Michailidis/AP 

More recently, the archaeologists discovered a wide path leading to a tomb where the entrance is guarded by two statues of sphinxes carved from marble.

Entrance to the tomb on Karna Hill, Amphipolis, is guarded by two marble sphinxes 

Experts believe a five-meter-tall lion sculpture, known as the Lion of Amphipolis, previously discovered nearby once stood atop the tomb. The famous lion monument, which was found in 1912 by the Greek Army in the Strymonas River, is one of the best preserved monuments from 4th century BC.

Archaeologists believe that it once stood at the highest and most central point of the Kasta Hill mound. It now stands next to the old bridge over Strymónas River, on the street Amphipolis-Serraiki Akti.

The Lion of Amphipolis, which dates to the same period as the newly discovered tomb, is believed to have once stood atop the burial mound at Karna Hill, Amphipolis. 

Local media have been quick to speculate on the owner of the tomb, with Alexander the Great being the prime candidate.

Alexander the Great died in 323 BC under mysterious circumstances and the location of his tomb is one of the great mysteries of antiquity. However, a Culture Ministry official said there was no evidence to suggest a link to Alexander the Great.

It could be possible that the tomb belongs to a Macedonian royal. Amphopolis was also the birthplace of three famous admirals from the Macedonian period – Nearchus, Androsthenes of Thasos, and Laomedon (a close friend of Alexander the Great).

Many will be waiting in anticipation of the opening of the mysterious tomb and finally learning the identity of its owner. Featured image: The tomb entrance guarded by sphinx on Karna Hill, Amphipolis, Greece.

By April Holloway, Ancient Origins;

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