Today in 1977, Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos discovered the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. Now WE know em


Manolis Andronikos was born October 23, 1919 in Bursa, Turkey.

His father soon moved to Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece and the ancient capital of Macedonia.

He went on to study philosophy at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki before eventually teaching Classical Archeology at the University in 1952.

In 1954, he continued his studies at Oxford University before returning once more to Aristotle University in 1957 and becoming professor of Archeology in 1964.

He then began archaeological research in various locations, but his main research focused on Vergina, a small town in northern Greece.

Aristotle University under the leadership of professor K. Rhomaios had began excavation at Vergina in 1937.

Ancient Macedon

Around 650 BC, Perdiccas established the Kingdom of Macedon along with his capital city of Aegae.

Aegae is thought to mean “city of goats” after Perdiccas was advised to build his capital where the goats led him.

Archaeologists had been searching for Aegae since the early 1850’s when they discovered burial mounds in the hills around two small agricultural villages.

Excavations began in 1861 sponsored by French Emperor Napoleon III.

As a result of this interest, the modern town of Vergina was founded in 1922.

An ancient palace was discovered in 1937, however excavations were put on hold with the outbreak of World War II.

After the war the excavations resumed and dated to the reign of Philip II.

Philip II

Philip II of Macedon was famous in antiquity as the father of Alexander the Great.

During the 1960’s, the rest of the ancient capital was uncovered including the theatre in which Philip II was murdered.

Then, after Manolis Andronikos began excavating the area, he became convinced that a hill called the Great Tumulus concealed tombs of Macedonian kings.

Then in 1977, Manolis Andronikos undertook a six-week archaeological dig.

On November 8, 1977, he found four burial chambers including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Two of the tombs were found to have been sacked.

The facade of the tomb of Philip II of Macedon

The facade of the tomb of Philip II of Macedon

The tomb of Philip II had two rooms. The main room included a marble sarcophagus with a larnax made of 24 carat gold weighing 11 kilograms.

The golden larnax and the golden grave crown of Philip.

The golden larnax and the golden grave crown of Philip.

On the remains of Philip II was a golden wreath of 313 oak leaves and 68 acorns weighing 717 grams.

The Funerary Pyre of Philip II

The Funerary Pyre of Philip II

In the other antechamber room, there was another sarcophagus containing the remains of a woman wrapped in a golden-purple cloth with a golden diadem decorated with flowers and enamel.

In 1978, the other undisturbed tomb was discovered to belong to Alexander IV, son of Alexander the Great.

The artifacts from this tomb were later included in the traveling exhibit “The Search for Alexander” displayed at four cities in the United States from 1980 to 1982.

While this discovery is of great archaeological importance, the identification of the tomb with Philip II has been disputed by some archaeologists; that said, if the tomb is not Philip’s, one of the others in the same complex probably is.

Manolis Andronikos lived permanently in Thessaloniki on Papafi Street and died on March 30, 1992.

Great Tumulus Museum

The entrance to the "Great Tumulus" Museum at Vergina.

The entrance to the “Great Tumulus” Museum at Vergina.

In 1993, the Great Tumulus Museum was built to protect the tombs and exhibit the artifacts.

Now WE know em



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