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Macedonia tours - Touring Macedonia - Aegae - Pella - Filippoi -Veria - Kavala - Florina - Edessa - Thessaloniki - Philippi

Macedonia

Alexander III the Great
Alexander III the Great The Ancient Macedonians (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes) were an ancient tribe which inhabited the alluvial plain around the rivers Haliacmon and lower Axius, north of the Mount Olympus in Greece. Historians generally agree that the ancient Macedonians, whether they originally spoke a Greek dialect or a distinct language, came to belong to the Koine Greek speaking population in Hellenistic times. Whether the ancient Macedonians were of ultimately Greek origin themselves or were later Hellenised continues to be debated by Slavs scholars. The Macedonian Royal family known as the Argead dynasty claimed ultimate Greek descent from Argos and Macedonians since Alexander I, were admitted in the Ancient Olympic Games, an athletic event in which only people of Greek origin participated.

 

It should, however, be noted that no matter their ultimate origin, Macedonian acceptance into the Greek world was a gradual but eventual process (the concept of "ethnicity" itself being quite fluid).

Aegae (Vergina) - Pella

Vergina (in Greek Βεργίνα) is a small town in northern Greece, located in the prefecture of Imathia, Central Macedonia. The town became internationally famous in 1977, when the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos unearthed what he claimed was the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.

Vergina is about 13km south-east of the district centre of Veroia and about 80km south-west of Thessaloníke, the capital of Greek Macedonia. The town has a population of about two thousand people and stands on the foothills of Mount Pieria, at an elevation of 120m (360 ft) above sea level.

Vergina - Aegai Summer Palace of Filippos

A highly important ancient city, certainly to be identified with Aegae, the first ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedonia, spreads over the low hills on the northern slopes of' the Pierian range, between the modern villages of Palatitsia and Vergina. This city was the most important urban centre in the region until the 4th c. BC.

Vergina - Aegai Summer Palace of Filippos

 Here were to be found the ancestral sanctuaries of the Macedonians, and the palaces and the tombs (with their famous treasures) of the Argead dynasty, which traced its origins to the mythical hero Heracles and gave Greek history its most captivating figure, Alexander the Great. In ancient pole of royal authority, Aegae retained the prestige of the sacred city of the dynasty even after the administrative capital was transferred to Pella in the 4th c, BC.

Vergina - Aegai Summer Palace of Filippos

The site was the headquarters and the scene of the activities of kings such as Alexander I (495-452 BC) and Archelaos (413-399 BC), who made his court a centre of literature and arts, attracting to it the most famous artists and intellectuals of his age; and it was here, in September 336 BC, after the murder of Philip II in the theatre of the city, that Alexander the Great (336-323 BC) was proclaimed king.

Vergina - Aegai Summer Palace of Filippos

The Vergina Sun, Star of Vergina or Argead Star is the name given to a symbol of a stylised star or sun with sixteen rays. It was unearthed in 1977 during archaeological excavations in Vergina, in the northern Greek province of Macedonia, by Professor Manolis Andronikos. He discovered it on a golden larnax in the tombs of the kings of the ancient kingdom of Macedon. The symbol was discovered in the Greek region of Macedonia and Greeks regard it as an exclusively Greek symbol, unrelated to Slavic cultures and it is copyrighted under WIPO as a State Emblem of Greece. 

The Vergina sun on a red field was the first flag of the independent Republic of Slavic Macedonia, until it was removed from the state flag under an agreement reached between the Republic of Slavic Macedonia and Greece in September 1995.

The Greek government and many Greek people, especially Greek Macedonians, saw it as the misappropriation of a Hellenic symbol and a direct claim on the legacy of Philip II. A Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman said in January 1995 that "the symbol is Greek and has been stolen." Nationalists on both sides subsequently associated the symbol with the (much later) Star of Bethlehem and have argued that their respective communities have used the symbol for sacred purposes before the Vergina discovery.  The Greek position on the symbol has been supported by some abroad, such as the former United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who reportedly told a questioner: 

 I believe that Greece is right to object and I agree with Athens. The reason is that I know history, which is not the case with most of the others, including most of the Government and Administration in Washington.The strength of the Greek case is that of the history which I must say that Athens has not used so far with success. Allexander III the Great

 Archaeologists were interested in the hills around Vergina as early as the 1850s, knowing that the site of Aigai was in the vicinity and suspecting that the hills were burial mounds.

 

Excavations began in 1861 under the French archaeologist Leon Heuzey, sponsored by the Emperor Napoleon III. Parts of the Macedonian royal palace of Palatista were discovered. In 1937, the University of Thessaloniki resumed the excavations.

More ruins of the ancient palace were found, but the excavations were abandoned on the outbreak of war with Italy in 1940. After the war the excavations were resumed and during the 1950s and 1960s the rest of the royal capital was uncovered. The Greek archaeologist Andronikos became convinced that a hill called the "Great Tumulus" concealed the tombs of the Macedonian Kings.
In 1977, Andronikos undertook a six-week dig at the Tumulus and found four buried chambers which he identified as hitherto undisturbed tombs. Three more were found in 1980. Excavations continued through the 1980s and 1990s. Andronikos claimed that these were the burial sites of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.
Andronikos maintained that one of the tombs was of Philip II, and another was of Alexander IV of Macedon, son of Alexander the Great and Roxana and this has now become the firm view of archaeologists and the Greek government. include the burials of prominent members of the clans, accompanied by rich grave offerings, in tumuli dating from the Iron Age; chamber tombs and cist graves, "rich in gold", dating from the 6th and 5th c, BC, discovered on the fringes of  the city; and a total of ten "Macedonian" tombs, the most outstanding of which is the tomb that probably belonged to Philipp's mother, Queen Eurydike, which has a brilliantly decorated marble throne.
 

 Makedonia Tour

The tomb of Philip II was discovered in 1977 and was separated in two rooms. The main room included a marble sarcophagus and in it was the golden larnax made of 24 carat gold and weighing 11 kilograms. Inside the golden larnax the bones of the dead were found and a golden wreath representing 313 leaves and 68 fruits of oak tree which weighs 717 grams.

In the room were also found the golden-ivory panoply of the dead, the burial bed on whom he was burned and silver utensil for symposia. The ivory burial bed is a masterpiece of micro sculpture. In the antechamber there were another sarcophagus with another smaller golden larnax and in it the bones of a woman in a golden-purple cloth and a golden diadem decorated with flowers.

There was one more partially destroyed by the fire burial bed and on it a golden wreath representing leaves and flowers of myrtle.  In 1978 another burial site was also discovered near the tomb of Philip . It was slightly smaller than the previous and was not sacked too.

On a stone pedestal was found a silver hydria which contained the bones and on it a golden wreath representing oak branches. There were also utensil and weaponry. A narrow frieze with a chariot race decorated the walls of the tomb. The tombs belongs to Alexander IV of Macedon son of Alexander the Great and Roxana

Pella

Pella (Greek: Πέλλα) was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon. A common folk etymology is traditionally given for the name Pella ascribing it to a form akin to Doric Greek Apella, originally to have meant a ceremonial location where decisions were made. However, the local form of Greek was not Doric, and the word exactly matches standard Greek pélla "stone", undoubtedly referring to a famous landmark from the time of its foundation

The city was founded by Archelaus (413–399 BC) as the capital of his kingdom, replacing the older palace-city of Aigai (Vergina). After this, it was the seat of the king Philip II and of Alexander, his son. In 168 BC, it was sacked by the Romans, and its treasury transported to Rome. Later, the city was destroyed by an earthquake and eventually was rebuilt over its ruins. By 180 AD, Lucian could describe it in passing as "now insignificant, with very few inhabitants".

Pella is first mentioned by Herodotus of Halicarnassus (VII, 123) in relation to Xerxes' campaign and by Thucydides (II, 99,4 and 100,4) in relation to Macedonian expansion and the war against Sitalces, the king of the Thracians. According to Xenophon, in the beginning of the 4th century BC, it was the largest Macedonian city. It was probably built as the capital of the kingdom by Archelaus, although there appears to be some possibility that it may have been Amyntas. It attracted Greek artists such the painter Zeuxis, the poet Timotheus of Miletus and the tragic author Euripides who finishes his days there writing and producing Archelaus.

Archelaus invited the painter Zeuxis, the greatest painter of the time, to decorate it. He was later the host of the Athenian playwright Euripides in his retirement. Euripides Bacchae premiered here, about 408 BC. Pella was the birthplace of Philip II and of Alexander, his son. The hilltop palace of Philip, where Aristotle tutored young Alexander, is being excavated. Makedonia Tour

After the battle of Pydna in 168 BC, in which the Romans defeated the Macedonians and Macedonia in consequence ceased to exist as an autonomous kingdom, the palace at Pella was looted of much treasure which was transported to Rome. - Livy XLV 32.8-33.5

... the eyes of the crowd which came were no more drawn to the stage spectacle, the contests of men, or the racing of the horses, than to the collected loot of Macedonia, set out on exhibition, statues, paintings, rare stuffs, and vessels made of gold, silver, bronze and ivory, manufactured with great pains in the palace at Pella, so as to serve not only for immediate show, as did the objects with which the palace of Alexandria was crammed, but for continuous use. This booty was loaded on the fleet and given to Gnaeus Octavius to transport to Rome...

In antiquity, Pella was a port connected to the Thermaic Gulf by a navigable inlet, but the harbor has silted, leaving the site landlocked. The reign of Antigonus likely represented the height of the city, as this is the period which has left us the most archaeological remains.

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