King Philip II Stirs Controversy in Archaeology World

In the archaeological world, a new controversy has been stirred up by King Philip II of Macedon (also known as Alexander the Great’s father) about whether his skeletal remains are in Tomb I or Tomb II at Vergina in Macedonia.

Old Bones, New Controversy: Opposing Studies Published in Same Year

Within two months, two opposing studies have been published regarding Philip II’s final resting place in the tombs at Vergina in Macedonia. The conflicting articles have ignited a heated debate as to which tomb sheltered the ancient Greek king at the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site.

According to the new article, published by Antonis Bartisokas and fellow colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), King Philip II’s remains are in Tomb I.King Philip II Stirs Controversy in Archaeology World - Clapway

Researchers Have Said King Philip II is Behind Tomb I…

Bartsiokas and the researchers came to this conclusion after bone analysis of the femur and tibia revealed the skeleton in question had a knee injury. An injury, researchers say, that has given away the true identity of the skeleton in Tomb I to be King Philip II.

In several historical accounts, Philip II (( suffered a battle wound in the knee. Though he recovered, he suffered the rest of his life with lameness in the affected leg. The bone analysis showed the femur and tibia had fused at an angle that would support the stories of the king’s leg injury.

King Philip II Stirs Controversy in Archaeology World -- Clapway

… But other researchers are convinced Philip II is Behind Tomb II

While Bartsiokas is satisfied that this analysis is correct, some researchers aren’t convinced. Earlier this year, a pair of researchers, Antikas and Wynn-Antikas, published their own findings from the tombs that concluded the remains of Philip II were in Tomb II, accompanied by a Scythian warrior princess, a woman who is known as his seventh wife.

Antikas’s research revealed other injuries, including a sharp trauma to the bones in the skeleton’s hand, had definitively ruled Tomb II as the correct crypt for the assassinated king. The researchers also pointed out other bioarchaeological evidence of changes to the bony structures that indicated it was truly King Philip.

The Controversy Heats Up as Antikas Takes on Bartsiokas

Knowing that the recent publication in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology had said the skeleton in Tomb II was Philip II, Bartsiokas and his researchers had some explaining to do once they had defined their King Philip II remains in Tomb I. The researchers suggested that the remains in Tomb II had actually belonged to Philip III Arridhaeus (the king’s son) and his wife.

After PNAS published Bartsiokas’s article, Antikas wrote a letter to the editor indicating a deep concern over the publication and its lack of full disclosure of the other skeletons found in the tomb.

Having studied the tomb himself, Antikas knows there are seven skeletal remains of humans in the tomb and also a few animal remains. For whatever reason, Bartsiokas did not include all of the skeletal findings in his published article. The researchers of the second study only identified King Philip II, Cleopatra, and a set of neonate remains as their newborn.

According to Antikas, this lack of disclosure is speculation enough to warrant the new findings as not being conclusively and sufficiently supported by evidence. Furthermore, the suggestion of the remains in Tomb II belonging to Philip III and his wife were merely based on stories from history rather than skeletal evidence.

So is it Tomb I or Tomb II? Bioarchaeological Analysis and the Future of Philip II

Though Bartsiokas and Antikas may not be on the same page with their conflicting results, the identification of the skeletons may soon come to light with new advances in bioarchaeological analysis techniques.

Though the bones have yet to undergo carbon-14 dating or DNA analysis, in the world of bioarchaeology, it is only a matter of time and testing until King Philip II of Macedon will emerge from either Tomb I or Tomb II.


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