Ministry dismisses claims that more than 5 skeletons found in Amphipolis

Archaeologist O. Palagia: “In the announcement they said they found 550 bones; five skeletons are from 157 bones. There are another 400 bones to study. From what I gather, we’re missing another 10 bodies.”

The culture ministry dismissed on Wednesday archaeologist Olga Palagia’s claims that the skeleton remains found in Casta tumulus of Amphipolis belong to more than five long-buried people.

“The 550 fragmented and intact bones found in the tomb all belong to five people,” the ministry said in an announcement, adding that the research and the recording stages have been completed.

It is reminded that excavations at the burial mound of Amphipolis revealed five skeletons in the last chamber of the ancient tomb. These belong to a 60-year-old woman, a newborn child, a burnt corpse and two men, one in his mid-30s bearing untreated stab wounds and another man aged roughly 45 years.

Archaeologist Olga Palagia told private Athens television station SKAI that five is the minimum number of people buried inside, as determined from the 550 bone fragments belonging to humans and animals that have been discovered within the mound.

“In the announcement they said that they found 550 bones and the five skeletons are from the 157 bones. There are another 400 bones to study. From what I gather, we’re missing another 10 dead.” Prof. Palagia said, adding that she believes the tomb is Macedonian and was reused after centuries.

“It started being used at around the 4th century BC. Then it was destroyed, and was used again from the 1st century BC by the Romans following the battle of Philippi, near the region of Amphipolis,” she said.

Prof. Palagia excluded the possibility of Olympias, Alexander the Great’s mother, being the older woman buried there, as she had already been buried at the Pydna site, where she was assassinated. Moreover, she said there are already signs marking her grave.

The skeletal parts are currently being tested to determine if the woman and the two men are blood relatives, though the lack of teeth and cranial parts used in DNA analysis of ancient remains may not allow for a successful identification. So far researchers have determined that the woman suffered from osteoporosis and frontal hyperostosis, while the two men both showed signs of degenerative osteoarthritis and spondylitis, which could show some connection.

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