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Aegae (Macedonia)

Coordinates: 40°28′45″N 22°19′29″E / 40.479304°N 22.324777°E / 40.479304; 22.324777
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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: Αἰγαί), also Aegeae or Aigeai (Αἰγέαι) was the original capital of the Macedonians, an ancient kingdom in Emathia in northern Greece. Currently the site falls within the town of Vergina.[1][2]

The seat of government was later transferred to Pella, which was located on a coastal waterway of the Thermaic Gulf. The current plain of central Macedonia did not yet exist, its area being divided between Lake Ludias and marshland. The plain was created by draining and infilling in modern times. The old capital remained the "hearth"[3] of the Macedonian kingdom and the burial place for their kings. These were the Temenid dynasty, which descended from the Perdiccas.

The body of Alexander the Great was to have reposed at Aegae,[4] where his father Philip II of Macedon fell by the hand of Pausanias of Orestis[5] but it was taken to Memphis through the intrigues of Ptolemy I Soter.

The recently excavated palace is considered to be not only the biggest but, together with the Parthenon, one of the most significant buildings of classical Greece.[6]

In 1996, the archaeological site of Aigai was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its monumental significance in Western civilization and exceptional architecture.[7]

Tomb of Philip II and Palace of Aigai[edit]

In 1977, Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos started excavating the Great Tumulus at Aegae[8] 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.[9]

Although there was much debate for some years,[10][11] Tomb II has been shown to be that of Philip II as indicated by many features,[12] 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).[13]

The most recent research gives further evidence that Tomb II contains the remains of Philip II.[14]

Palace of Aigai

The most important building discovered is the monumental palace. Located on a plateau directly below the acropolis, this building of two or perhaps three stories is centred on a large open courtyard flanked by Doric colonnades. On the north side was a large gallery with a view of the stage of the neighbouring theatre and the whole Macedonian plain. The palace was sumptuously decorated, with mosaic floors, painted plastered walls, and fine relief tiles. The masonry and architectural members were covered with high-quality marble stucco. Excavations have dated its construction to the reign of Philip II,[15] even though he also had a palace in the capital, Pella. It has been suggested that the building was designed by the architect Pytheos of Priene, known for his work on the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and for his views on urban planning and architectural proportions. The theatre, also from the second half of the 4th century BC, was closely associated with the palace.

Nearly 30 large columns that surrounded the palace's main peristyle have been reconstructed, some towering to a height of 25 ft.[16] The frieze on the peristyle's southern section has also been reconstructed.[17] Over 5,000 square feet of mosaics depicting a range of scenes, including the ravishing of Europa and motifs from nature have been carefully conserved.

The Palace of Aigai is the largest building of classical Greece and is the location where Alexander the Great was proclaimed king in 336 BC.[18]

The site of the palace lost significance for Macedonian Royalty after it (and the rest of the city) was burned down in 168 BCE after the Battle of Pydna, despite the city remaining for another three centuries.[19] A landslide in the first century AD preserved what was left of the ruins, leaving about 3-4 m of soil on top of the monument.[19]

The Palace of Aigai reopened to the public in January 2024 after an extensive 16 year restoration.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lund University. Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire.
  2. ^ Richard Talbert, ed. (2000). Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. Princeton University Press. p. 50, and directory notes accompanying. ISBN 978-0-691-03169-9.
  3. ^ ἑστία, Diod. Excerpt. p. 563
  4. ^ Pausanias (1918). "6.3". Description of Greece. Vol. 1. Translated by W. H. S. Jones; H. A. Ormerod. Cambridge, Massachusetts; London: Harvard University Press; William Heinemann – via Perseus Digital Library.
  5. ^ Diodorus Siculus. Bibliotheca historica (Historical Library). Vol. 16.91, 92.
  6. ^ "Αιγές (Βεργίνα) | Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergina". www.aigai.gr. Archived from the original on 2018-12-29. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  7. ^ "Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina)". UNESCO World Heritage Convention. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  8. ^ "Αιγές (Βεργίνα) | Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergina". aigai.gr. Archived from the original on 2018-12-29. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  9. ^ National Geographic article outlining recent archaeological examinations of Tomb II.
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ 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. ^ Musgrave, Jonathan; Prag, A. J. N. W.; Neave, Richard; Fox, Robin Lane; White, Hugh (8 August 2010). "The Occupants of Tomb II at Vergina. Why Arrhidaios and Eurydice must be excluded". International Journal of Medical Sciences. 7 (6): s1–s15. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ "Αιγές (Βεργίνα) – Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergina". aigai.gr. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  16. ^ Mandal, Dattatreya (28 February 2018). "Philip II's massive palace at Aigai to be opened for the public in May". Realm of History. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Philip II's palace at Aigai to open to the public in May". The Greek Observer. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  18. ^ Kantouris, Derek Gatopoulos and Costas (2024-01-06). "Greece unveils palace where Alexander the Great became king". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2024-01-31.
  19. ^ a b Kottaridi, A. (2011-06-22). "Chapter 15; The Palace of Aegae". In Fox, Robin J. Lane (ed.). Brill's Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC - 300 AD. Brill. pp. 297–334. ISBN 9789004209237.
  20. ^ Kantouris, Derek Gatopoulos and Costas (2024-01-06). "Greece unveils palace where Alexander the Great became king". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2024-01-31.


 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.

External links[edit]

Media related to Aigai (Vergina) at Wikimedia Commons

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