Whose Tomb? Greece Wonders

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tags: archaeology, Greece, Alexander the Great



Call it “CSI: Alexander.” For months, the excavations at a large ancient tomb in northern Greece have gripped the country. First, a marble slab wall was unearthed. Then, through announcements and leaks from the Greek Culture Ministry meted out with the pacing of a good mystery series, headless sphinxes and other statues were found. Finally, bones! But whose? 

Is it possible — as culture officials implied with a wink and a nod but never actually stated — that the tomb could be for the family of Alexander the Great? Archaeologists say it’s highly unlikely. But that’s hardly the point. By the time the Culture Ministry announced this week that the bones of five people, not one, had been found in the tomb, it was the latest episode in an archaeological reality show that has entertained and distracted Greeks from their economic troubles. 

The show has also starred Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Even before he found himself fighting for political survival in national elections to be held this Sunday, Mr. Samaras used the excavation in Amphipolis, in the Greek region of Macedonia, to tap into national pride. He made a televised visit to the tomb in August — widely seen as an evocation of Alexander’s legacy — and later showed Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany artifacts found at the site. This week, Mr. Samaras, whose conservative New Democracy party was trailing the leftist Syriza Party in a close race, mentioned Amphipolis in a campaign speech, calling Macedonia “the eternal bastion of Greece.”




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