At the outset, in order to get Olympias to Amphipolis, Taphoi asserted that Cassander must have gone there after the fall of Pydna in the Spring of 316 BC. There is no evidence for that assertion. We are simply not told of Cassander’s immediate movements, but according to Diodorus he seems to have headed south through Boeotia to the Peloponnese [ XIX.54]. Next, Taphoi asserts that Cassander took Olympias with him to Amphipolis, but there is no evidence for that either. In fact it would appear she never left Pydna. After her conviction, just before her execution, Cassander sent messengers to her offering to provide a ship/naus to take her to Athens, which she refused.[ so she obviously was not with him, wherever he was]. Since Amphipolis is inland, on the river Strymon, and inaccessible by sea-going ships, due to bridges etc, she could not have been there. Nor could she have been taken down-river from Amphipolis by boat to a ship offshore, for the prevailing winds at that time of year [Spring] are southerly, creating the dreaded ‘Lee-shore’, against which no sensible ship’s Captain would allow himself to be trapped or wrecked ( as various Persian fleets found to their cost along these shores).
Pydna, of course, was one of Macedon’s few important harbours. In fact that is the reason Olympias ‘holed up’ there in the first place. With Macedon largely under Cassander’s control, with the aid of his powerful backers, she was expecting succour in the form of a relieving army from the sea by her allies. In the event that this did not occur, it also provided a viable evacuation point – as Cassander later tried to utilise with his offer.
Moreover, there is strong epigraphical evidence that Olympias’ tomb was at Pydna. It seems that Olympias’ family, the Aeacidae, were overthrown as rulers of Epirus toward the end of the third century BC and ended up in exile – at Pydna – for the next few centuries. For full details see C. Edson “The Tomb of Olympias”. Despite the relatively poor condition of the site of Pydna, no less than three (partial) inscriptions have turned up which relate to Olympias and her Aeacidae family. The first shows that the family of Olympias settled at Pydna. It is of a three year-old boy who died in the 1st C BC and reads:
The personal name Neoptolemus, of course, is taken from the son of Achilles, the legendary founder of the Molossian dynasty, and was borne by two kings of the Epirote royal house, the Aeacidae, and was a common name in the family.“Aeacid is my race, Neoptolemus is my father, my name is Alkimachos, of those coming/descended from Olympias. As a child whose intelligence was equal to that of men, Fate placed me at the age of three a corpse beneath this tomb.”
The second inscription actually refers to the tomb of Olympias:
The words in italics enclosed in brackets are restoration, but note that the reference to seeing Olympias' tomb at Pydna is original.Here is evidence literally written in stone!" As you pass [the memorial] of [Neop]tolemus, [stranger, stay, that] you may see the tomb [of famed] Olympia[s. Hel]enus, [bewailing] the race of impetuous A [eacides], buried [his son in the bosom of] measureless [earth -----]."
As Edson says:
The third inscription is too damaged to permit any reasonable restoration, but it too is clearly a funereal epigram“It would, however, be most unsound method first to restore this fragment and then to use the restoration as historical evidence. It is obvious that only the preserved portion of the text can have any evidential value. But the new, complete epigram published above creates a means of control, denied to Wilhelm[ an earlier translator], which markedly elucidates the problem of interpretation...... The salient point, of course, is that this fragmentary epitaph specifically mentions the tomb of Olympias[and being able to see it at Pydna]..... We have, therefore, epigraphic evidence for the tomb of an Olympias at or near Pydna/Makriyialos, and this evidence is in no real sense dependent on conjectural restoration. In view of the claim made in the new epigram, there can be little doubt that the tomb here mentioned is that of the great queen. “
and refers to a Neoptolemos, and so is probably another Aeacidae burial.“..thou liest at the well walled...”
It should be noted that the inscriptions are not just Edson’s translations/restoration, but that of others too. Edson concluded:
This is the only actual evidence we have, other than the literary sources, of the fate of Olympias.“The inscriptions considered above show that by the second century B.C. a family claiming descent from the Aeacidae, the royal house of Epirus, and thus from Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, resided at the ancient site near [Pydna]Makriyialos. As we have seen, in the second epigram the tomb of Olympias is specifically mentioned. These facts create two main problems: (1) When and under what circumstances was the tomb of Olympias constructed, and (2) When and for what reason did members of the royal family of Epirus come to reside in this part of Macedonia? [ see above for (2) ]
(1) After the execution of Olympias at Pydna, Cassander, according to Diodorus and Porphyry,"... refused her body proper burial and caused it to be cast/thrown out into the open.” But there were surely those in Macedonia who would see to it that the corpse of the mother of the great king received interment, however informal. Because of the circumstances it is understandable that the initial and necessarily surreptitious burial should have been at or near Pydna. Given Cassander's notorious hatred for Olympias, it is unlikely that a formal tomb was constructed for the queen's body during his reign or even during that of his sons, that is, from 316 down to 294 B.C. The ‘terminus ante quem’ for the construction of Olympias' tomb is the years 288 to 285 B.C. during which Pyrrhus of Epirus, himself of course an Aeacid, ruled the western half of Macedonia within which Pydna was situated. Pyrrhus would surely have seen to it that the body of his famous cousin received proper burial, had such burial not already taken place during the short reign of Demetrius I (294-288 B.C.).”
There is a human tendency to ignore, dismiss, ‘explain away’ or distort evidence which does not agree with a pre-conceived view. As Paralus pointed out, Taphoi “dismissed [the epigrahic archaeological evidence] as being presented by "intrepid epigraphers" indulging in "invention". That is untrue, as can be seen from the above. He also ‘explained away’ the evidence as possibly relating to another Olympias (for example, Pyrrhus named a daughter after his famous cousin). This does not really hold up when the ancestry of Olympias mother of Alexander is clearly set out [inscription1] Moreover, the lack of reference to a patronymic shows that the subject was famous enough to be identified without one. He also claims that the inscriptions don’t actually say her tomb was in Pydna. This is also incorrect. Inscription 2 specifically says that the tomb of Olympias is to be seen at Pydna. In any event the circumstantial literary evidence is pretty overwhelming – all of which makes Taphoi’s conviction that the Kasta tomb is that of Olympias untenable.
Let us now examine what Taphoi puts forward as evidence for his view;
So far so good. As I posted on the ‘sphinxes’ thread though, the female skeleton cannot be that of Olympias judging by our sources. Cassander threw out the corpse of Olympias unburied, and her skeleton should be less intact and show damage from scavengers etc.Secondly, Olympias was executed by a mob, most probably by stoning which would have left severe skeletal damage ( or alternately hacked to death) Either of these facts alone rule out the woman in the tomb being Olympias, whose skeleton has no such damage, let alone both. The stated age also does not fit either. Most scholars, including Taphoi until after the age of the woman was announced, reckon Olympias was born between 375 and 370 BC, which would make her in her mid-fifties at the time of her death, rather than mid-sixties. However, since neither Olympias’ exact age nor the exact age of the female skeleton can be known with certainty, one should not make too much of the age discrepancy.Paralus wrote:...And the speculation continues apace. What might be nice here is some evidence for this continued speculation other than your opinion. Assertion without evidence amounts to little more than opinion...
Taphoi wrote:Let us recall where we are on the matter of evidence. We have the largest and most magnificent tomb ever found in Greece reasonably securely dated to the last quarter of the 4th century BC containing the bones of a 60+ woman as its principal occupant.
The problem here is that there is not a scintilla of evidence that Olympias was taken to Amphipolis to be tried and executed. As to age, see above.......It is located at Amphipolis, the city of which the surrender to Cassander led immediately to Olympias’s murder by Cassander, when she was aged about 60...
In ancient Greek culture, sphinxes were widely used as decorative elements in Greek art generally, and the first to appear in sculpture appeared in the 7th century BC. From the 6th century BCE, sphinxes appeared in stone sculpture, sometimes with raised hind quarters. These sculptures were used as votive offerings, usually perched atop tall Ionic or Doric columns and placed at sanctuary sites such as Delphi and Olympia. Sphinxes also commonly appeared atop funerary stelai and were usually brightly painted. A surviving example from Attica (around 540 BCE) displays traces of paint and would have originally had black hair, wing feathers in green, blue, black and red and breast scales in red and blue. Interestingly, when used in votive offerings the head always faced forwards whilst sphinxes on funerary stelai, often in pairs as at Kasta, always faced sideways. The fact that this common decorative element appears in other Royal tombs really tells us nothing, other than that the structure is a tomb, and probably Royal. There is no association with a particular individual, least of all Olympias.We also have sphinxes guarding the entrance and it is known that sphinxes were used to decorate the thrones of at least two late 4th century BC Macedonian queens including that of Olympias’s mother-in-law (sphinxes were sacred to Hera and the Macedonian king and queen posed as earthly versions of Zeus and his wife Hera).
Firstly, the statues are quite clearly caryatids, not “Klodones”. The term Caryatid refers to Karyai in Laconia where women often danced balancing a basket on their heads in honour of Artemis and where Caryatids were used in Archaic architecture. Later, they were used as columns in Ionian architecture. Archaic Caryatids were usually used in the porches of Treasury buildings which were built to house offerings from specific states at religious sanctuaries. The most important treasury at Delphi was from the Siphnians (c. 525 BCE) and this and at least two other Treasuries had Caryatids. The most famous Caryatids are the six which support the roof of the false south porch of the Erechtheion on the Athenian acropolis. This building was constructed between 421 and 406 BCE as part of Pericles’ great project to rejuvenate the architecture of Athens. The Caryatids display features which would become staple elements of Classical sculpture: clothes which cling to the body (the ‘wet look’) and a bold and more dynamic positioning of the hips and legs. Although each Caryatid wears the same robe - a belted Doric peplos and short himation - each is uniquely rendered, a feature particularly noticeable in their intricate plaited hairstyles (best seen from the rear). They are frequently shown holding in their right hands 'phialai' - shallow vessels for pouring libations - whilst their left hand slightly raised their robe. The Katsas caryatids are ‘standard’, clearly modelled on the Athenian ones, and there is nothing about them that can be associated with Dionysius or Olympias .We also have a couple of greater than life-size statues of priestesses of Dionysus guarding the entrance to its second chamber recalling the famous account in Plutarch of Olympias’s associations with these “Klodones”.
It must be doubtful if the hair colour is in any way significant; red, orange-red, or red- brown is the most common hair colour in Greek art ( particularly statues). Another Royal Macedonian tomb contains a famous painting of Hades abducting Persephone - the same scene as in the Kasta tomb. The three main figures, Hades, Persephone and Demeter are all depicted red-haired. Evidence of nothing then, and no particular association with Olympias.We also have a truly stunning quality pebble mosaic depicting the abduction of Persephone where it is quite obvious that the woman is intended to symbolise the occupant of the tomb being taken into the underworld. This “Persephone” is a queen with flame coloured hair, where we know that Olympias’s family were famous for their flame coloured hair (the family name of Pyrrhus actually meaning someone with flame coloured hair). The otherwise inexplicable early smashing, looting and sedulous sealing of the emptied tomb is perfectly explained by the murder of Olympias’s grandson and daughter-in-law at Amphipolis 6 years after her death. There is no other 60+ woman who could possibly have been given such a tomb in the last quarter of the 4th century BC, so there is nobody else whose tomb this could possibly be [provided only that the carbon date of the bones is Hellenistic and not Roman]. To add to all this we have paintings in the tomb that appear to depict the Mysteries of Samothrace at which Olympias first met Philip. They are the Mysteries of Samothrace because the celebrants (a man and a woman) are depicted engaging in bull sacrifice at night (the scene has a black background and is lit by a large brazier) and the celebrants wear red belts and there are Nikes flitting about in the scene, all of which is recorded of the Mysteries of Samothrace.
We do not know when the tomb was looted or vandalised, or even if they occurred concurrently. There is nothing to associate the tomb damage with "the murder of Olympias’s grandson and daughter-in-law at Amphipolis 6 years after her death."
To say “there is no other 60+ woman who could possibly have been given such a tomb....” is also obviously false, an example of the ‘positivist fallacy’ I referred to on the ‘Sphinxes’ thread ( the tendency to identify with known historical figures). In fact there are dozens of unknown Macedonian noble women and Queens – for example Cassander’s mother- that are possible candidates. We don’t know who the female skeleton is, or how, or when she came to be in the tomb. What we can say with certainty is that the undamaged skeleton cannot be Olympias ( see above). The red girdles in the painting are also not necessarily indicative of the ‘Mysteries of Samothrace’ either. Such girdles are symbolic of death for example, and are depicted on almost every Macedonian grave stela. Nor for that matter were Philip and Olympias the only people who attended the Mysteries – the positivist fallacy again.
At the end of the day, nothing about the Kasta tomb can be linked specifically with Olympias.
I hope readers will forgive my somewhat lengthy expansion of Paralus’ succinctly expressed point of view. It only became necessary because of Taphoi’s continued assertions/speculations, which are not supported by evidence when examined in a critical and relatively objective way. To put forward an opinion, before the evidence had emerged, and then to cling to this view, dismissing solid contradictory evidence is clearly bad methodology.I believe it was evidence that was asked for not repeated speculation based on red hair or Olympias' supposed murder at Amphipolis. She was, as the sources clearly state, captured and dealt with at Pydna. There is also the matter of the epigraphic evidence which you've airily dismissed as being presented by "intrepid epigraphers" indulging in "invention". Something you'd know a thing or two about it would seem.
Repetition of speculation does not an argument make.
Conclusion: There is absolutely no evidence that Olympias was tried and executed at Amphipolis after the fall of Pydna, or even went there. Nor is there any specific evidence that connects her with the Kasta tomb. On the contrary, such evidence as we have, both literary and archaeological , suggests she never left Pydna, and was executed and eventually interred there. The Kasta tomb cannot be that of Olympias.
attempted edit to try to corect heading typo.