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Floor Mosaic Adds to Mystery of Ancient Greek Tomb

Oct 13, 2014 12:07 PM EDT
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The mystery of who may be buried in an enormous ancient Greek tomb has bewildered archaeologists for months, and now a newly discovered floor mosaic has possibly added another piece to the puzzle.

Located in Amphipolis in northern Greece, archaeologists had unearthed what is the largest ancient tomb back in August, and since then have debated who it belongs to, with candidates including Alexander the Great, his mother Olympias, his wife Roxana or an important general.

The intricate mosaic, made from white, black, gray, blue, red and yellow pebbles, dates back to the last quarter of the 4th century BC, consistent with the belief that the grave contains the remains of a contemporary of Alexander the Great. Measuring 10 feet (3 meters) long and 15 feet (4.5 meters) wide, it depicts a horseman with a laurel wreath driving a chariot drawn by two horses and preceded by the god Hermes - the conductor of souls to the afterlife, according to the Culture Ministry.

"But who is the bearded man in the chariot being led by Hermes? The profile depiction to me suggests that it is Philip II," Dorothy King, a classical archaeologist not involved in the excavation, wrote in her blog.

According to the Daily Mail, some experts believe that the presence of female figures, known as caryatids, show that the tomb belongs to a female, while others have suggested that the tomb belongs to one of the king's officials.

A circular area of the mosaic's center is missing, but authorities say enough fragments have been found to reconstruct a large part.

The finding comes just two days after bones found in northern Greece were confirmed to be those of Alexander the Great's father. That royal tomb at Vergina, a town 100 miles away from Amphipolis, was found back in the late 1970s.

Alexander, who died in 323 B.C., is believed to have been buried in Egypt - but his tomb has yet to be found.

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