July 24, 2015

Philip of Macedonia, Greece’s Ancient King, Found


The remains of Alexander the Great’s father have been found in a university store room, according to a forensic analysis that threatens to reignite the 35-year controversy over where he was buried. 
Philip II of Macedon, one of the most formidable generals in ancient Greece, transformed his state from a feeble backwater into the dominant military power in the Balkans before his assassination in 336BC.

His magnificent tomb was discovered virtually intact at Aegae, the sacred city of the Macedonians, in 1977. The “Vergina Sun”, a symbol etched on the golden coffin, became Macedonia’s emblem.

There is only one problem, according to Antonis Bartsiokas, a historical anthropologist at the Democritus University of Thrace: they got the wrong man. He believes that the real Philip’s bones, and the partial skeletons of his 18-year-old queen and newborn child, have languished unnoticed at the university for 30 years. In a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Bartsiokas and his team concluded that they were a better fit for the Macedonian king. A gaping hole through the skeleton’s left knee matches a description of Philip’s limp given by his arch-enemy Demosthenes.

The incomplete skull, jawbone, spine and leg bones were found under debris in a ransacked tomb. The looters made off with most of the grave goods but ignored a spectacular painting of the death god Hades abducting the maiden Persephone, possibly the work of a Theban artist called Nicomachus.

The archaeologists think the lavish tomb belonged to Philip III Arrhidaeus, one of Alexander the Great’s half-brothers.

Born in 382BC, Philip II spent his early teens as a hostage in Thebes. After his return to Macedonia he turned its army into the most devastating force in Greece.

 He was killed, aged 46 or 47, by one of his bodyguards. His wife, Cleopatra Eurydice, is said by some historians to have killed herself after the murder of her infant child a few months later.

By Oliver Mooody

With many thanks to The Australian

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