Aegae (Macedonia)

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Coinage of Aegae towards the end of the reign of Amyntas I, under Achaemenid Macedonia, circa 510-480 BC. Goat kneeling right, head reverted; pellet above and before / Quadripartite incuse square.

Aegae or Aigai (Ancient Greek: Αἰγαὶ), also Aegeae or Aigeai (Αἰγέαι), was a city in Emathia in ancient Macedonia, and the burial-place of the Macedonian kings. The commanding and picturesque site upon which the town was built was the original centre of the Macedonians, and the residence of the dynasty which sprang from the Temenid Perdiccas. The seat of government was afterwards transferred to the marshes of Pella, which lay in the maritime plain beneath the ridge through which the Lydias forces its way to the sea. But the old capital always remained the national hearth (ἑστία, Diod. Excerpt. p. 563) of the Macedonian race, and the burial-place for their kings. The body of Alexander the Great, though by the intrigues of Ptolemy I Soter, it was taken to Memphis, was to have reposed at Aegae,[1] – the spot where his father Philip II of Macedon fell by the hand of Pausanias of Orestis.[2]

Its site is located near the modern town of Vergina.[3][4]

Tomb of Philip II at Aegae[edit]

In 1977, Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos started excavating the Great Tumulus at Aegae[5] near modern Vergina, the capital and burial site of the kings of Macedon, and found that two of the four tombs in the tumulus were undisturbed since antiquity. Moreover, these two, and particularly Tomb II, contained fabulous treasures and objects of great quality and sophistication.[6]

Although there was much debate for some years,[7] as suspected at the time of the discovery Tomb II has been shown to be that of Philip II[8] as indicated by many features, including the greaves, one of which was shaped consistently to fit a leg with a misaligned tibia (Philip II was recorded as having broken his tibia). Also, the remains of the skull show damage to the right eye caused by the penetration of an object (historically recorded to be an arrow).[9][10]

A study of the bones published in 2015 indicates that Philip was buried in Tomb I, not Tomb II.[11] On the basis of age, knee ankylosis and a hole matching the penetrating wound and lameness suffered by Philip, the authors of the study identified the remains of Tomb I in Vergina as those of Philip II.[11] Tomb II instead was identified in the study as that of King Arrhidaeus and his wife Eurydice II.[11] However this latter theory had previously been shown to be false.[10]

More recent research gives further evidence that Tomb II contains the remains of Philip II.[12]


  1. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece. 1.6.3.
  2. ^ Diodorus Siculus. Bibliotheca historica (Historical Library). 16.91, 92.
  3. ^ Lund University. Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire.
  4. ^ Richard Talbert, ed. (2000). Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. Princeton University Press. p. 50, and directory notes accompanying.
  5. ^ "Αιγές (Βεργίνα) | Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergina". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  6. ^ National Geographic article outlining recent archaeological examinations of Tomb II.
  7. ^ Hatzopoulos B. Miltiades, The Burial of the Dead (at Vergina) or The Unending Controversy on the Identity of the Occupant of Tomb II. Tekmiria, vol. 9 (2008) Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "WordPress VIP Alternative". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  9. ^ See John Prag and Richard Neave's report in Making Faces: Using Forensic and Archaeological Evidence, published for the Trustees of the British Museum by the British Museum Press, London: 1997.
  10. ^ a b "Musgrave J, Prag A. J. N. W., Neave R., Lane Fox R., White H. (2010) The Occupants of Tomb II at Vergina. Why Arrhidaios and Eurydice must be excluded, Int J Med Sci 2010; 7:s1–s15". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  11. ^ a b c Antonis Bartsiokas; et al. (July 20, 2015). "The lameness of King Philip II and Royal Tomb I at Vergina, Macedonia". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112 (32): 9844–48. Bibcode:2015PNAS..112.9844B. doi:10.1073/pnas.1510906112. PMC 4538655. PMID 26195763.
  12. ^ New Finds from the Cremains in Tomb II at Aegae Point to Philip II and a Scythian Princess, T. G. Antikas* and L. K. Wynn-Antikas, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Aegae". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Edessa". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.

Coordinates: 40°28′45″N 22°19′29″E / 40.479304°N 22.324777°E / 40.479304; 22.324777