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New Finds from the Cremains in TombII at Aegae Point to Philip II and a Scythian Princess

Posted: Fri May 26, 2017 1:06 am
by Xenophon
Over the years since the 1977 discovery of the magnificent intact tomb at Aegae, there were those who refused to accept that the tomb was that of PhilipII, father of Alexander, and suggested that instead it might be that of Philip Arrhidaeus. The matter was seemingly settled in 2015 with the publication of a new, much more detailed, study of the cremains of both the man and woman in the tomb, concluding that the occupants can only be Philip II and his seventh wife, a Scythian princess.

For those interested, the authors T & L Antikas have published the paper in English on the 'Academia' website where it is readily available, and makes good reading. ... kly_digest

Re: New Finds from the Cremains in TombII at Aegae Point to Philip II and a Scythian Princess

Posted: Fri May 26, 2017 3:31 pm
by sean_m
Good for them to make it available! Another contribution to the debate is "Understanding the Bones: The Human Skeletal Remains from Tombs I, II and III at Vergina" ... jolene.pdf

The article does mention some sad things: "As the cataloguing progressed and questions were raised regarding the history of the bones, we realised there was poor documentation about the interventions performed to them, not to mention the almost complete lack of photographs. Oral histories proved to be a valuable resource and will help future researchers."

Here is what they have to say about the skull in the main chamber:
"Despite earlier handling, interventions and reconstructions, the king's cremains have revealed significant new evidence. Multiple CT scans have detected no trauma on his frontal bone, and there are no nicks/notches seen macroscopically. ... Old or healing traumas are not seen on CT scans of the supraorbital arches, zygomatic, maxilla, right clavicle (a small fragment of the left clavicle sternal end exists) or the long bones of either leg. However, the absence of osseous signs does not necessarily mean that a person has not lost vision or become lame. Soft tissue traumas are equally capable of causing disabilities, for example loss of eyesight (Diodorus Siculus 16.34.5) after a corneal ‘scratch’ followed by infection, or lameness after a spear has severed thigh muscles (Justinus 9.III.2)."

And here is what they have to say about the leg bones in the antechamber:

"The woman's 11 Schmorl's nodes are probably due to horse riding beginning from an early age. The compression fracture diagnosed on her left tibia is a significant find for several reasons: First and foremost, it has provided context and ownership for the antechamber's artefacts for the first time since the discovery of Tomb II; it has helped identify the man in the main chamber, as suggested by W. L. Adams (1980) who had stated prophetically ‘the contents of the ante-chamber are crucial for any attempt to determine the identity of the king buried in the Royal Tomb’ and suggested by Faklaris (2011). Second, it is the first documented disability of a royal woman in ancient Greece. Schatzker type IV fractures result from bad falls at which the medial condyle of the femur shatters the medial part of the tibial plateau damaging its eminence, ripping ligaments of the knee joint (meniscus, cruciate, medial collateral) and causing severe complications involving the peroneal nerve and popliteal vessels (Markhardt et al., 2009). Leg shortening, atrophy, knee disfiguration and lameness are consequences of such fractures and carry the worst prognosis even today despite the enormous progress of orthopaedic surgery and fixation techniques unknown in the fourth century BC. The shorter, narrower left greave affirms that it was custom-made to fit her leg."

So as I read it, their main evidence is that the cremains in the antechamber belong to a woman who wore greaves and spent a lot of time riding, and the most plausible candidate is the nameless daughter of King Athelas who married Philip II after his mysterious Scythian expedition, in which case we would expect the person buried in the main chamber to be her husband. Do you see anything else?

Re: New Finds from the Cremains in TombII at Aegae Point to Philip II and a Scythian Princess

Posted: Fri May 26, 2017 4:05 pm
by sean_m
It also makes me think about what different people decide is worthy of commemoration. In the first century CE, even women slaves who spun wool from the imperial household got a tiny little plaque with their name on their grave. But the later Argeads and later Achamenids were not interested in labelling their graves or their grave goods, even though they were so stunningly rich.

Re: New Finds from the Cremains in TombII at Aegae Point to Philip II and a Scythian Princess

Posted: Mon May 29, 2017 3:24 am
by Xenophon
That paper and the Antikas paper were discussed in some detail back in 2015, on the "Lameness of King Philip II " thread, pp 4 ff, but it is a useful reminder to draw attention to Jolene McCleod's excellent paper, and also remind ourselves that osteological evidence cannot of itself positively identify someone, though it can eliminate individuals - as here where Philip Arrhidaeus' wife Eurydike is eliminated on age and other grounds, which in turn eliminates Arrhidaeus as a candidate for the tomb's main occupant.

For the sake of completeness we should perhaps include Alice Riginos' paper "The wounding of Philip II of Macedon: fact and fabrication" readily available online.