Archaeologists in Greece Uncover Mosaic Dating Back to Alexander the Great

Ancient mosaic shows chariot preceded by the god Hermes, depicted as conductor of souls to afterlife. Large circular part missing can be reconstructed from fragments, authorities say.

The Associated Press
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A handout picture released by the Greek Culture Ministry on October 12, 2014 shows a mosaic found at a tomb in northern Greece.Credit: AFP
The Associated Press

Archaeologists digging through a vast ancient tomb in Amphipolis in northern Greece have uncovered a floor mosaic that covers the whole area of a room seen as the antechamber to the main burial ground.

In this photo released on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 by the Greek Culture Ministry, archaeologists inspect a 60cm (2 foot) female figurine.Credit: AP

The mosaic, 3 meters (10 feet) long and 4.5 meters (15 feet) wide, depicts a horseman with a laurel wreath driving a chariot drawn by two horses and preceded by the god Hermes. According to a Culture Ministry announcement on Sunday, Hermes is depicted here as the conductor of souls to the afterlife.

The mosaic is made up of pebbles in many colors: white, black, gray, blue, red and yellow. A circular part, near the center of the mosaic, is missing, but authorities say enough fragments have been found to reconstruct a large part.

The ministry says that archaeologists have dated the mosaic to the last quarter of 4th century B.C. (325-300 B.C.), consistent with their belief the grave contains the remains of a contemporary of Alexander the Great, the ancient Greek King of Macedonia, who conquered the Persian Empire and reached present-day India, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in a whirlwind campaign, from 334 to 323 B.C. The grave may be that of a relative or general of Alexander's, archaeologists have speculated.

Alexander himself, who died in Babylon in present-day Iraq at age 32, in 323 B.C., is believed to have been buried in Egypt. But his tomb hasn't been found.