Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Philip’s tomb at Vergina, is it or is it not?

How often are we going to solve and refute the many theories that circulate about the owner of the bones contained inside the gold larnax at Vergina? Can we make sure they are those of Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, or not?

The latest conclusions were drawn in May 2015 but as explained in my article Inconclusive Analysis of Philip’s Tomb at Vergina they are far from being watertight. Before that, in 2009, Eugene Borza, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History, The Pennsylvania State University, wanted to prove that Tomb II was that of Alexander the Great (see: Questioning the Tomb of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great), so what’s new?


A more recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in August 2015 is stating that Philip is to be found in Tomb I and not in Tomb II as generally accepted till now – a theory based on Philip’s leg wounds.

The tumulus of Vergina contains in fact three Tombs, but only two are of particular interest. Tomb I contains the non-cremated remains of a man, a woman and those of a newborn baby. Tomb II contains the remains of a man and a woman inside two gold larnakes together with an array of armory and grave goods. Because of this content, but also the fact that according to history Philip had been cremated as common in Macedonia, led to conclude that this tomb was Philip’s.

Researchers now have done a bone examination of both tombs. In Tomb I it has been established that the baby was 41-44 weeks old, either newborn or still unborn; the woman was around 18 years old, being the age given by historians for Cleopatra, Philip’s last wife; the male skeleton was judged to belong to a 45 old (which matches Philip’s age) who suffered from a severe knee wound received three years before his death. This latest information can be tied to Philip’s last injury suffered during his campaign against the Scythians. The leg bones contained in this tomb show a stiffened knee joint, a knee ankylosis as we would diagnose today, together with a bone hole caused by a lance, which matches King Philip’s lameness.

The skeleton in Tomb II bears no leg injury and is therefore attributed to Philip II Arrhideus, Alexander’s half-brother and successor as co-king together with Alexander IV, the son of Alexander the Great and Roxane born after Alexander’s death.

The above story has appeared in the International Business Times, but does unfortunately not tell us in how far the remains in Tomb II do indeed match up with Philip III Arrhideus and does not explain the presence of a long and a short greave, for instance. It only mentions that the skull found there does not belong to King Philip (a rather obvious remark in the entire context).

The article is based on an interview with Antonis Bartsiokas, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, who has been working on the identification of the Vergina tombs for over 15 years. He seems to be an authority, so why do I still have my doubts? I find it a rather shortcut to state that “Philip was assassinated with his wife Cleopatra and newborn child” since Cleopatra and her child were murdered by Olympias after­ her husband had been killed, although we don’t know how long afterwards but certainly not together with him. Another point that raises questions is that he is accepting that Philip was wounded during his fight against the Scythians but why does it take priority over his burial according to Macedonian rites where the body was cremated. Alexander may have been in a hurry to bury his father but certainly not to the extend to go against old Macedonian tradition – I’m sure the entire army would have revolted. So, how conclusive can such an analysis be?

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