The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipolis

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Nikas
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by Nikas »

agesilaos wrote:If you are right and Hermes is associated with Persephone's return then this is 'narrative compression' with the Rape and Return depicted simultaneously, I don't think I have ever read the original story but your version sounds right.
That is a good possibility as well, but it seems to me Hermes is always depicted as "leading the way".

Interestingly enough, here is a source that more tangibly ties the myth to the environs of Amphipolis:

[105] Thus Brutus and Cassius by an astounding act of audacity advanced to Philippi, where Tillius also disembarked, and the whole army was there assembled. Philippi is a city that was formerly called Datus, and before that Crenides, because there are many springs1 bubbling around a hill there. Philip fortified it because he considered it an excellent stronghold against the Thracians, and named it from himself, Philippi. It is situated on a precipitous hill and its size is exactly that of the summit of the hill. There are woods on the north through which Rhascupolis led the army of Brutus and Cassius. On the south is a marsh extending to the sea. On the east are the gorges of the Sapæans and Corpileans, and on the west a very fertile and beautiful plain extending to the towns of Murcinus and Drabiscus and the river Strymon, about 350 stades. Here it is said that Cora was carried off while gathering flowers, and here is the river Zygactes, in crossing which they say that the yoke of the god's chariot was broken, from which circumstance the river received its name.2 The plain slopes downward so that movement is easy to those descending from Philippi, but toilsome to those going up from Amphipolis.

Papuan, The Civil Wars, Book IV, Chapter XIII
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by Zebedee »

For what little it's worth, I was taught it was symbolic of the transition to the underworld where Orphic Hermes is essentially the god of transitions between the world of the living and that of the dead.

---

Coverage of interviews has a few snippets of information, including confirmation that they've found other datable material without mentioning it in press releases (pottery, shells).
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by agesilaos »

Nikas, Appian IV 105-8 would associate the tale with Philippi rather than Amphipolis, Paul the Apostle baptised some woman in the Zygaktos when at Philippi, which is far from Amphipolis; the area as a whole could be associated and the motif is common in Macedonian tombs. The lack of any details of the alleged dating evidence is infuriating and is going to cause problems; if subsequent investigation can discover bones from Verghina II which change the age of the female burial how is the world meant to take Greek Archaeology seriously if which ever authority insists on playing childish games; I just hope there are no breaks in any chain of evidence.
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

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agesilaos wrote:Nikas, Appian IV 105-8 would associate the tale with Philippi rather than Amphipolis, Paul the Apostle baptised some woman in the Zygaktos when at Philippi, which is far from Amphipolis; the area as a whole could be associated and the motif is common in Macedonian tombs. The lack of any details of the alleged dating evidence is infuriating and is going to cause problems; if subsequent investigation can discover bones from Verghina II which change the age of the female burial how is the world meant to take Greek Archaeology seriously if which ever authority insists on playing childish games; I just hope there are no breaks in any chain of evidence.
Hi Agesilaus, yes I recognize it is referring to Philipi specifically, but I was referring to the area as a whole as related to the Strymon basin.

It is curios as to why if they have additional evidence they are withholding it. What possible purpose could it serve, unless they are gearing up for a grande finale when they announce the conclusions of this dig?
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by Paralus »

Zebedee wrote:Even on the Philip idea, I'd be on the 'cigar is just a cigar' side of things. We have two female figures seeming to extend their arms next to a mosaic portraying a stereotypically Orphic story and all in front of the door to the underworld. Interpreting faces in this mosaic leads me towards topical satire of the family portrayed rather than reverence - you'd think the cult of Philip at Amphipolis would be less than impressed.
With which I can only agree. The idea that Hermes, Hades and Persephone here represent Alexander, Philip and Olympias, respectively, is logic of the Erich Von Daniken variety (where ancient art seemingly always represents 'astronauts'). Form a conclusion and then work the evidence.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by Taphoi »

The archaeologists/ministry are now saying it's probably the tomb of a member of the Royal Family, somebody "extremely important", because of the Orphic and Dionysiac associations. They remain firm on the last quarter of the 4th century BC too.
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by amyntoros »

On the inscription that none of us can see - I located this early announcement plus photograph. Here one can see something resembling carving into the stone, although it could just as easily be a surface crack in the stucco, IMO.

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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by agesilaos »

apomakrunontai-oi-sfigges-gia-na-dieukolunthei-i-prosbasi-sto-mnimeio.jpg
apomakrunontai-oi-sfigges-gia-na-dieukolunthei-i-prosbasi-sto-mnimeio.jpg (219.78 KiB) Viewed 4001 times
Do you mean this? It looks a bit like an S but not like a sigma or any Greek character, it is an illusion caused by a deep scrape, the upper stroke, and the effect of the rough marble surface. The surface is not stucco but there was speculation that it may have been originally, but no reports of any found on excavation.

The biggest tomb in Greece is for some one important probably Royal, hold the front page; as for the date, lovely but until they release the dating evidence it is a just a guess.
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by amyntoros »

agesilaos wrote:
apomakrunontai-oi-sfigges-gia-na-dieukolunthei-i-prosbasi-sto-mnimeio.jpg
Do you mean this? It looks a bit like an S but not like a sigma or any Greek character, it is an illusion caused by a deep scrape, the upper stroke, and the effect of the rough marble surface. The surface is not stucco but there was speculation that it may have been originally, but no reports of any found on excavation.

The biggest tomb in Greece is for some one important probably Royal, hold the front page; as for the date, lovely but until they release the dating evidence it is a just a guess.
No, that's not what I "saw", but I'm beginning to feel like we're searching for something that isn't there. :) As for the "someone important, probably Royal" this too is dragging on. We have all made the Orphic/Dionysian connection - how could we not? There were tombs announced in March in the royal burial cluster of the Temenids one of which may have belonged to Cassander himself or to one of his sons, who were also members of Temenid dynasty. So, during Cassander's reign (and his father's time in charge) they allowed or supervised the building of the largest tomb in Greece, but not for themselves? What a punchline this would be if he built it for Roxanne and her son to "hide" the fact that he killed them. Am seriously beginning to expect an empty tomb which was prepared for Alexander, as has been proposed by several people.

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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by agesilaos »

Have you checked out the border of the mosaic they are excavating? It is just like the one from Amphipolis, wonder what dating evidence there is for that one; the reporter is confused, Kassandros was NOT a Temenid/Argaead, and he seems to have distanced himself from that dynasty (not least by killing them off), a possible reason for an Antipatrid Mausoleum away from Aigai, but it is hard to see how the sources would not have made great play of this self-aggrandisment.

Going back a bit someone mentioned monograms being used to date the Temple of Athene Polias at Troy, all I can find is reference to stamped amphorae handles.
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by Zebedee »

There were builder's marks too, but they seem to have mis-dated the tomb in comparison to the sherds found beneath the walls.
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by Efstathios »

I've studied several of the photos that are published and even used photoshop and tried to enhance them but could not see any markings. What i saw were a lot of shapes resembling markings and even a face at one wall inside the tomb, but of course most of them if not all are just pareidolias. The photos that show the aledged markings more clearly are obviously not published.

If it's a tomb for Alexander, the question is why there. Maybe we have answered it already with our hypothesis. But there is another question, which is if there is a burial there. The facts suggest that there is. Sealing of the entrances with stone in Macedonian style, plus the sand which is not clear yet if it was used for sealing or for a structural purpose. And if there is a burial then who is inside. Maybe someone used it at a later period, like someone from the Antigonids? The dating of the sealing with stone could answer that.

something else of interest. I saw a village, part of the coastal housing settlements in google earth just southeast of Amphipolis, named "Μεγας Αλεξανδρος". I did a small search for the history of that settlement but couldn't find anything. There is a list that has villages and settlements in the Macedonia province which changed name, and dates, but it wasn't there. Of course the name is to be expected in the area, there is also a village called Olympiada more south towards Athos peninsula.
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by Taphoi »

Ian Worthington is suggesting Roxane or Olympias now.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... der-great/
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by agesilaos »

Worthington is only suggesting Roxane and deliberately, one presumes failing to not Kassandros' orders to dispose of the bodies in a secret grave Diod XIX 105 ii
2 Now Cassander perceived that Alexander, the son of Roxanê, was growing up and that word was being spread throughout Macedonia by certain men that it was fitting to release the boy from custody and give him his father's kingdom; and, fearing for himself, he instructed Glaucias, who was in command of the guard over the child, to murder Roxanê and the king and conceal their bodies, but to disclose to no one else what had been done. 3 When Glaucias had carried out the instructions, Cassander, Lysimachus, and Ptolemy, and Antigonus as well, were relieved of their anticipated danger from the king; 4 for henceforth, there being no longer anyone to inherit the realm, each of those who had rule over nations or cities entertained hopes of royal power and held the territory that had been placed under his authority as if it were a kingdom won by the spear.
Which changes things somewhat as does his interpretation of a standard funerary topos, if this Persephone symbolises a female burial then so ought the one in Tomb I at Verghina, but we know that was a man's tomb so the logic...well there is none, and as a Sogdian it is unlikely that Roxane had red-hair and fair skin!

It is Philip Freeman who suggests Olympias but only on the grounds that he thinks Kassandros could murder her, leave her unburied but then build the biggest and grandest tomb in Greece for her! Nephalokokkygia - Cloud Cockoo land - but that will be the level of any support for these candidates.
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Re: The Sphinxes Guarding the Lion Tomb Entrance at Amphipol

Post by Taphoi »

agesilaos wrote:Worthington is only suggesting Roxane and deliberately, one presumes failing to note Kassandros' orders to dispose of the bodies in a secret grave Diod XIX 105 ii... It is Philip Freeman who suggests Olympias but only on the grounds that he thinks Kassandros could murder her, leave her unburied but then build the biggest and grandest tomb in Greece for her! Nephalokokkygia - Cloud Cockoo land - but that will be the level of any support for these candidates
National Geographic wrote:Peristeri was unwilling to speculate on the identity of the tomb's owner based on this new evidence. But Ian Worthington, a classical scholar at the University of Missouri in Columbia, thinks the excavators could be looking at "a female occupant of the tomb, because the mosaic shows a female being led to the underworld." If this proves to be the case, Worthington added, the tomb might hold the remains of Roxane, Alexander the Great's wife, or Olympias, his mother. Both women were put to death by one of Alexander's generals, Cassander, as he secured the throne of ancient Macedonia.
agesilaos wrote:...if this Persephone symbolises a female burial then so ought the one in Tomb I at Verghina, but we know that was a man's tomb so the logic...well there is none, and as a Sogdian it is unlikely that Roxane had red-hair and fair skin!
Pardon me, but we do not know that. The bones found in that tomb were those of a man, a woman and a newborn infant, so there is no reason whatsoever why Persephone in its mural should not be a portrait of the woman.

You are right that the hair colour makes Roxane unlikely. But Olympias was a royal Molossian, who claimed descent from red-haired Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, and the grandson of her sister and uncle was another Pyrrhus (the name refers to flame-red hair, like "Ginger" in English). Also the Pompeii mural and the deer hunt mosaic from Pella depict Olympias's son with reddish blond hair. Also Aelian states that her son had reddish blond hair. Also Xenophanes of Colophon wrote that Thracians had red hair back then, so it seems to have been quite common in Northern Greece in Antiquity. The upshot is that it is looking likely that Persephone is a portrait of Olympias.

Best wishes,

Andrew
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