A huge ancient tomb has been unearthed by archaeologists in Greece’s northeast Macedonian region, according to government officials. It is distinguished by two sphinxes and frescoed walls and dates to 300 – 325 B.C.
This marks a significant discovery from the early Hellenistic era, even though a Culture Ministry official said there was no evidence yet to link it to Alexander the Great, who died in 323 B.C., after an unprecedented military campaign through the Middle East, Asia and northeast Africa, or to his family.
That same official said the Amphipolis site, situated about 65 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Greece’s second largest city, Thessalonki, appeared to be the largest ancient tomb ever discovered in Greece.
Archaeologists began excavating the site in 2012 and expect to enter the tomb by the end of the month to determine who is buried there.
“It looks like the tomb of a prominent Macedonian of that era,” said a second Culture Ministry official, declining to be named. Alexander the Great died in Babylonia, in what is modern Iraq, and his actual burial place is not known.
Archaeologists believe the two sphinxes they found were used to guard the entrance, a 4.5-meter (about 14.5 feet) wide road leading into the tomb, with walls on both sides covered by frescoes. It is circled by a 497-meter (343 foot) long marble outer wall.
Experts believe a five-meter (16 foot) tall lion sculpture previously discovered nearby once stood atop the tomb.
“It is certain that we stand before an especially significant finding. The land of Macedonia continues to move and surprise us, revealing its unique treasures,” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Tuesday during a visit to the site.