More on that tomb in Amphipolis

A while back I wrote about the increasingly famous dig at Amphipolis, and explained why Alexander the Great is not in there.

The plot thickened slightly a few hours ago, when the Greek Ministry of culture released pictures of a terrific mosaic.

Here's the mosaic (I've taken all these from the press release):


Yes, the centre is damaged.  But the rest of the image is remarkably clear.

The guy on the left is Hermes.  He's got the staff in his left hand (it's called a caduceus).  He's got the wacky hat.  The hat is because Hermes travels a lot.  He wears the wide-brimmed affair to keep the sun off.

He won't need it where he's going on this trip though, because Hermes is leading someone to the afterworld.

In addition to being Messenger of the Gods, Hermes also leads dead people to Hades.  In that guise he's known as Hermes Chthonios.  If you're an H.P. Lovecraft fan then you'll be familiar with that last word.  It simply means "underground".




Weirdly, the guy on the chariot is probably Lord Hades himself.  It might seem odd that Hades needs a guide to get home, but this is a standard motif.  He's sometimes depicted on a chariot racing home with a very reluctant Persephone in tow.

The extremely erudite and in this case well-informed PhDiva has suggested the guy on the chariot might be Philip II, who was the father of Alexander.

Don't get excited.  This isn't the tomb of Alexander's father, unless there's something hideously wrong with the identification of another tomb at a place called Vergina.

Personally I think the jury will be out for some time on the identification of the driver.  If it's Hades, then it really doesn't say much about who's inside.

What is very interesting is that the picture looks much like another one at Pella, which was the capital of Macedonia in the time of Philip and Alexander.  The Pella mosaic shows an Abduction of Helen by Theseus.

If you told me the same artist did both, I wouldn't argue.  More likely it was a standard style of the times.  But it makes identical dating and the link to Pella very strong.

It also raises the probability that the tomb holds someone  closely associated with Alexander.  But that's just a guess.  Who it is remains a mystery.






5 comments:

Geoff Carter said...

Trust a fiction writer to come up with a rational answer!
I wonder if this makes you an in-credible source?

Gary Corby said...

I doubt it!

If this were fiction, the mosaic would contain obscure hints to the existence of an ancient conspiracy that exists to this day and secretly rules the world.

Needless to say the round damaged portion would have revealed everything the heroes needed to know to uncover the conspiracy. It was wiped, by operatives of the secret conspiracy, just before the archaeologists broke in.

Now only a trail of bizarre deaths amongst various obscure academics at institutions around the world can lead us to the cabal, and the only vital clue left is hidden within the damaged brain of a professor of ancient Macedonian, currently institutionalized for insanity.

annebingham said...

You forgot the part about the professor's brain damage occurring when he was beaned with a priceless yet perhaps anachronistic black-figure amphora, the design on which contained the key to ... but hey, why should I do your work for you?

Gary Corby said...

"... but hey, why should I do your work for you?"

Because you're the co-author? For working title, are you okay with THE ATLANTIS CONSPIRACY?

The strange thing is, if we wrote this, it would probably sell.

annebingham said...

I was thinking more along the lines of THE STILL UNQUIET BRIDE CODE, but we can work that out later. You know how it goes with working titles.