A sphinx’s missing head has been found deep inside a mysterious Alexander the Great-era tomb at the ancient site of Amphipolis in the Macedonia region of northern Greece. The near-intact marble piece stands at 24 inches high and is marked by “traces of red,” according to the country’s ministry of culture.
The head is the latest in a series of recent findings at the site, which was entered by archeologists in August, and depicts an elegant woman who appears to smile slightly, baring minor damage to the nose and lips. Discovered in the tomb’s third chamber, excavators say that the bottom of the neck is a perfect match with one of the eastern sphinx’s body at the entrance.
“This is a sculpture of magnificent art,” Greece’s ministry of culture said.
Photo Courtesy of theamphipolistomb.com
Before this, archeologists had also recently unearthed fragments of the sphinx’s wings at the burial site, which dates back between 325 and 300 BC, the time immediately following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC.
Archeologists have also found a mosaic of Hermes steering a chariot, carved caryatids – pillars of female figures that serve as architectural support – and a large mosaic depicting the abduction of Persephone by Pluto being taken to the underworld.
Photo Courtesy of greece.greekreporter.com
Amazingly, the caryatids, abduction depiction, and sphinxes are all also represented in the marble throne found in the royal cemetery linked to Eurydice I, the grandmother of Alexander the Great, at Aegae (modern Vergina).
“The structure of the second entrance with the caryatids is an important finding, which supports the view that it is a prominent monument of great importance,” the ministry of culture said.
As a result, huge speculation has surrounded who was buried at the site. Experts hope the last chamber holds the remains of a senior ancient official, while others believe the burial mound was created for Alexander the Great’s mother, Olympias. Some even suggest it could have been made for Roxana, Alexander’s Persian wife.
“The excavation will answer the crucial question of who was buried inside,” Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said.
One thing everyone agrees on, though, is that Alexander the Great is not buried at the site—nevertheless, the unique tomb carries massive significance and is currently of “global interest,” according to chief archaeologist Katerina Peristeri.