Hope for a fourth vault at the huge tomb being excavated at Ancient Amphipolis, northern Greece, have been dashed. Archaeologists working at the third chamber thought a gap in the wall could lead to a third chamber but the dig revealed a marble stanchion had been removed from the spot.
If the limestone found in the third chamber that has already been removed by the excavators was a wall sealing then there may be a possibility for further investigations.
Greek Culture Ministry Secretary Lina Mendoni gave a press conference at the Archaeological Museum of Amphipolis on Tuesday where she stated that the tomb has definitely been tampered with. She said: “The tomb has obviously experienced human intervention, as we can see so far. Since the beginning of the announcements, we had said and repeated several times that we have very strong indications of looters’ activities.”
She said that archaeologists were working on the third chamber, the last room of the monumental tomb to the best of archaeologists’ knowledge so far. “Under the present evidence, we cannot speak of another room,” she said, adding that we still cannot say anything about the occupant of the tomb. “This monument, as revealed, is extremely important, not just for the area and Macedonia alone, but also for the history and archaeology. It also confirms that a lot of time needs to be spent on studying it; it could be that the scientific community will be discussing this monument and its significance in the science of history and archaeology for the next 10 or 15 years even”.
The researchers said that a likely doorway that was found at a width of 0.96 meters was not confirmed by the excavation work dashing hopes for a further doorway where they had expected one to be.
On her part, lead archaeologist Katerina Peristeri said that if the tomb has been plundered it means that a very important person was buried there. She confirmed that there is no fourth chamber. Regarding the finding of the sphinx guards’ wings in the third chamber she said that this is yet another mystery of the tomb.
Excavators are currently digging through one meter of sandy soil to reach the floor of the third chamber.
The only hope for further developments that could lead to the mystery of Amphipolis being solved once and for all is for an underground burial room to be found behind a floor made of limestone such as the one that the research team had found in front of the Sphinx and another horizontal one in front of the caryatid statues.
A video of the excavation –
On her blog, Dorothy King’s PhDiva, archaeologist Dorothy King says it “ain’t over yet”, where she points out that diggings would continue for a few years, if not decades. “Based on other examples, and the fact that there was a lion on a base on top of the mound, I’d bet that there was other architectural sculpture on the exterior, for example it would be highly surprising if there were not a frieze. Since the lion etc were found some way from Kasta, the archaeologists will be looking around the area,” she says.