Macedonian Tombs of Lefkadians

The Macedonian tombs are an ancient greek type of funerary monument named after the area where most samples of this type are found. They first appear shortly after the middle of the 4th century BC and their use lasts for approximately two more centuries. This underground funerary monuments, square or rectangle, usually with one or two chambers, arched roof, often with a monumental facade and a road leading to the monument.
The archaeological site of Mieza includes four great Macedonian tombs as well as other ones of less importance, located in the surrounding area outside the city walls and seems to be situated on both sides of the main road that led from Mieza to Pella.
The Macedonian tombs of Lefkadians, according to archaeologist Katerina Romiopoulou, are a valuable source of information for the late Classical and Hellenistic architecture and for the ancient monumental painting, although they were discovered looted. They constitute unique monuments of the Classical and Hellenistic periods in Greece. They have large surfaces with colorful compositions painted with the techniques developped at the 4th century BC. The four more important tombs to which we will refer to are: the tomb of Kinch, the tomb of Lyssonos and Kallikles, the tomb of Judgement and the tomb of Anthemia.
(Source: C. S. Zalios, Lefkadia of Naoussa, Naoussaiika, Vol. 19, January-April 2013)

 


A. The tomb of Judgement or tomb of Lefkadians
In 1954, quite by accident, a large bicameral Macedonian tomb with a two-storey facade was discovered and excavated in the area of ​​Lefkadia by archaeologist Photios Petsas. According to Ph. Petsas, this tomb is the largest, with the most brilliant decorations, and, as a memorial, the most important of all Macedonian tombs. The tomb in its original form had a height of approximately 1.5 m. and a diameter of about 10 m. The orientation of the monument is such that the facade faces the West.
The monument consists of a simple vestibule and the burial chamber accompanied by great architectural decoration. The facade of the tomb consists of two floors of which the bottom is of Doric rythm with four semicolumns and two pilasters, while the upper one haw six Ionic semicolumns and two pilasters; among them there are seven virtual windows.
The eleven friezes of the Doric cornice are decorated with depictions of the mythical conflict between Centaurs and Lapiths. The pediment also has a depiction made of colored mortar.
The two-storey facade depiction is inspired by Plato’s Gorgias. It shows the dead led by the conductor of souls Hermes to the judges of Hades, Aiakos and Rodamanthys, who will decide whether he will be judged as being good and will then reside to the islands of Makarioi or as being bad and will thus be eternally tortured in Tartarus.
The deceased who are dressed in the attire of a Macedonian military ruler, is presented standing, turning and moving to the right. His left hand is in the pocket of his sword and his right hand raises the spear as if ready to begin.
The deceased is considered to be a pictorial presentation, unlike the other three forms, for which the painter would have pre-established models deriving from a long tradition. Accordingly it can be said that the representation of the dead constitutes evidence for clothes and arming of a warrior of his time, who probably died whilst fighting because he is missing his shield and helmet occasion.
The frieze depicted battle equestrian and pedestrian Macedonians against the Persians, who were fighting in pairs, one foot in collaboration with an equestrian.
The monument is in the years after 300 BC, the deceased was a contemporary generation of Alexander the Great died at an advanced age, probably in the early 3rd century BC. Manolis Valsamidis in his book “Miezas” make certain that the tomb is the Pefkesta of Miezas.
(Source: C. S. Zalios, Lefkadia of Naoussa, Naoussaiika, Vol. 19, January-April 2013)

 


B. Τhe tomb of Anthemians
The other tomb in the area, the so-called tomb of Anthemia, was accidentally discovered in the winter of 1970. It was already plundered and was systematically excavated by archaeologist Katerina Romiopoulou (1971-1973). This is a beautiful bicameral monument, with an Ionic facade constituted by four limestone pilasters coated with white mortar that support the entablature and pediment. The fresco on the tympanum of the pediment depicted a semi-recumbent couple. It is the couple of gods of the underworld, Pluto and Persephone. The three palmette ornaments adorning the pediment conserve the vivid red and blue colors unchanged, while the entire vaulted ceiling of the vestibule is painted with waterflowers and palmettes in white and purple shades on a blue background. These flowers gave the tomb its conventional name.
The entrance facade was barred with simple stone bricks, while the opening of the first to the second chamber closed with a monumental marble double-leaf door, measuring 3.50 x 1.80 m., currently seen lying on the floor of the chamber. Inside the chamber we can discern a long mantel built for the funerary gifts and offerings as well as a rectangular tray where the urn with the remains of the burning of the dead was placed.
According to archaeologist K. Romiopoulou, the tomb dates from the first half of the 3rd century BC. The current monumental access to the tomb was built after its discovery.
(Sources:
A. Oikonomou, Naoussa. The place, the past and the present... Naoussa, 2005.
C. S. Zalios, Lefkadia of Naoussa, Naoussaiika, Vol. 19, January-April 2013)

 

C. The tomb of Lyson and Kallikles
A remarkable Macedonian tomb of the Hellenistic period was accidentally found in the spring of 1942 in the estate of Amanatides, in Lefkadia. The excavation was conducted by Charalambos Makaronas during the fall of the same year and published in 1993 in a separate book by his collaborator Mrs. Stella Miller.
The tomb, dating back to around 200 BC, consists of a burial chamber with a vaulted top and a tile roof of 3 x 4m. and a small antechamber with a flat roof. The facade consists of a high wall with a small pediment on a square protrusion over the door. The chamber, as well as the antechamber, is decorated with rich frescoes.
Above the lintel of the door, which leads to the main chamber, there is an inscription: “Lyson – Kallikles of Aristophanes”.
Two sets of arms are painted high on the semicircular tympanums of the walls:
On one of them one can see two swords hunging, two helmets, two greaves and a shield with the Macedonian eight-pointed star at the center.
On the other tympanum, there are two swords hanging, two armors of the heavy Macedonian cavalry and a Macedonian shield at the center with a depiction which is often met in Macedonian coins.
On the three walls, there are two rows of rectangular niches in which pottery as well as ashes of the remains of burnt bones of the dead were found. A total of twenty-two niches were found, five of which were void. Above each funerary compartment, the name of the deceased is written. It appears that the men of the family were buried in the upper compartments, while the women were buried on the lower ones. The family members had an influential position in the military hierarchy of Mieza, as it appears by the military components depicted on the tomb tympanums.
On the short side opposite the entrance, we can see the compartments of Lyson, the older among the sons of Aristophanes as it appears, and of his wife Dimareti Zoilou; below are the compartments of his brothers, Kallikles along with his wife Phila Aristeou, and Evippos along with his wife, Sparta Lyson, daughter of this elder brother.
The male descendants of Lyson up to the fourth generation are buried in the compartments on the left long side; the male descendants of Kallikles up to the third generation are buried on the right one. Evippos doesn’t seem to have left any descendants.
According to Makaronas, the palaeographical evidence of the inscriptions, the decor and architecture of the monument permit its chronological placement in the period of the reign of Perseus, the last ruler of the dynasty of Antigonides.
This tomb -which is a rare example of Hellenistic funerary architecture-, was discovered in 1942 and it is not open to the public, in order to protect its unique frescoes and inscriptions; it remains fully enclosed into the ground.
(Sources:
A. Oikonomou, Naoussa. The place, the past and the present... Naoussa, 2005;
C. S. Zalios, Lefkadia of Naoussa, Naoussaiika, Vol. 19, January-April 2013)

 

 

D. The Tomb of Niaousta (tomb of Kinch)
The Tomb of Naousa, also known as the Tomb of Kinch took its name after the Dane archaeologist, K. F. Kinch, who excavated it in the late 19th century. It is a small two-chamber tomb with a simple Doric façade. Nothing has survived today of the painted decoration which existed in its interior.
It is only from a drawing from the initial publication of the monument may we now see a beautiful mural which represented a Macedonian horse rider at-tacking a Persian, who, terrified, is trying to escape. The tomb’s current state is due to reconstructive work which was performed during the period 1970-1971.
The tomb is bicameral, with a vaulted roof and flat chamber in the vestibule. It was covered with mound height 2.50 meters.
The facade is Doric and the entrance is surrounded by two pilasters. Inside there were color illustrations which unfortunately destroyed. It is dated to the first half of the 3rd century BC. The study was published by Kinch in the Proceedings of the Danish Academy in 1920.
In 1970, after cleaning and maintenance works of the Archaeological Service the restoration of the tomb took place in its current form.
(Source:C. S. Zalios, Lefkadia of Naoussa, Naoussaiika, Vol. 19, January-April 2013)