In the 1970s one of Greece’s foremost archaeologists discovered a series of tombs that had lain hidden for centuries beneath the great tumulus of Vergina in the ancient Macedonian city of Aegea.
A once great and shimmering metropolis situated on the southern rim of the Macedonian Plain in northern Greece, Aegea was the seat of the Temenids, an almost mythical dynasty which claimed descendency from the Greek hero Heracles. They ruled for 350 years, from the mid-7th century to the 4th century BC.
What Professor Manolis Andronikos had unearthed was the undisturbed and unlooted tomb of King Philip II and other members of Alexander the Great’s immediate family.
The discovery made Aegea into one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, and the magnificent tombs and surrounding ancient landscape went on to yield an astonishing collection of treasures which opened a window into the Kingdom of Macedon.
Now Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum is exploring this fascinating society with an exhibition of more than 500 stunning archaeological objects from The Museum of the Royal Tombs at Aegae, together with never before seen treasures unearthed during the past 20 years.
Among the objects are priceless items including a golden head of Medusa, one of two found in the tomb of King Philip II, together with arms and armour, golden wreaths, marble sculpture and exquisite silver banqueting vessels.
Exhibition: Heracles to Alexander the Great, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until August 29 2011