The Politics Buried in the Amphipolis Tomb and Macedonia

If in fact a relative of Alexander The Great or one of his generals is buried in the tomb, Greek pride over Macedonia will skyrocket, adding more political losses to Antonis Samaras in the case he accepts a name that includes the word “Macedonia” for FYROM.

As days go by and the mystery of the Casta hill tomb in Amphipolis remains unsolved, new questions and conspiracy theories arise. The “who is buried in there” has now become “why now and not earlier” in the minds of many, as the public keeps getting bombarded by all kinds of theories and personal opinions.

The “reserved optimism” Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras suggests lately is interpreted in many different ways. In fact, it sounds rather suspicious, given the high tones he used himself when he visited the tomb site shortly after the discovery. As the excavation progresses and the discoveries become less conclusive about the monument, the tones get lower. And as the indications that the site is looted become more and more apparent, the previous optimism has been replaced by an uncomfortable silence.

Yet, the unearthing of the undoubtedly great monument may have political and historical significance given the timing and its location. As more and more archaeologists express their certainty that inside the tomb lies a member of Alexander the Great’s family, our northern neighbors of FYROM rush to add wax figures of Alexander the Great and Philip II in the Skopje Archaeological Museum. And it’s no surprise that Skopje had the outrageous demand to participate in the excavations, as Amphipolis is part of Macedonia! Athens denied the request of course.

The latest desperate efforts of the Skopjans to claim Macedonia as their “home” and Alexander the Great as their ancestor coincide with their efforts to win the country’s naming dispute with Greece. United Nations Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz is currently pushing the two countries to come to a mutual agreement over the name. Greece has already lost the battle over the “Macedonia” compound in the name. What Greek politicians are struggling for now is to have the word “Macedonia” along with a qualifier, such as a geographical specification.

Nimetz allegedly proposed the name “Upper Macedonia” to FYROM’s President Nikola Gruevski after his mid-October visit to the neighboring country. The UN Envoy will soon call the two countries for a meeting in New York in order to try to resolve the ongoing naming dispute one more time.

Imagine what would happen then if the tomb’s resident is a prominent member of Alexander the Great’s family. Along with the Philip II tomb in Vergina, the Amphipolis tomb would be further proof that Macedonia belongs 100% to Greeks, and Greece would go to the negotiations with an extra negotiating tool.

Unfortunately, our NATO and EU allies openly support FYROM’s membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions. Kostas Karamanlis was allegedly “pushed out” from the Greek premiership when he said “no” to FYROM by blocking Skopje’s accession to NATO in 2008. Also, German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems keen to accept FYROM in the European Union arms while it was reported that the Greek Ambassador to Germany resigned over this particular issue in September.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched for one to suspect that NATO and EU are putting pressure on the Samaras government to delay the excavations until after the negotiations between Athens and Skopje. It sounds suspicious indeed that archaeologists knew about the tomb for decades and did not proceed sooner. The fact that works have cost only 590,000 euros so far (250,000 of which are donations) makes it even more suspicious; the Greek state has been far more generous on far less important discoveries.

Certain analysts say that the Amphipolis tomb has been used to allay outbursts of national pride since the early 1990s, when the problem with Skopje first appeared. It is said that both PASOK and New Democracy governments cut funding on excavations in the area or ordered to stop them altogether. Even in times of great prosperity for Greece, very little or no funds were going the Amphipolis way. It is said that Kostas Simitis, Prime Minister between 1996 and 2004, had put a stop on all works in the area, and works started again in 2009 after great pressure from archaeologists.

As for the initial enthusiasm on the part of the Greek government, that was a convenient distraction for Greek people at a time when the new property tax was implemented and New Democracy was plunging in the intention to vote polls.


  1. FYROM and the rest of EU and NATO can cry all they want but at the end of the day for FYROM to have memberships to the EU and NATO ect, they need to find a solution with Greece on its name. Greece need to stand even stronger then before and say NO to FYROM using the Greek name of Macedonia. Ancient Macedonians have always claimed to be Greeks and spoke Greek, FYROM are mixed of Albanians and Bulgarian Slav and they even speak Bulgarian, they have nothing to do with the real Macedonia. There is only one Macedonia and it is in Greece as it always been for over 4000 years.

  2. Acts Chapter 20 v 1-3

    1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul
    called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go
    into MACEDONIA.

    2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into GREECE,

    3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as
    he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through

  3. There has been no news since they started to dig out the vault, what is going on. I think it was nothing and if people knew they would stop following thats why nothing has been said

  4. Concur! I just wonder how they a going to convert a Macedonian general(and of course if he is) into an athenian???

  5. ancient Macedonians were not greek. Macedonia was a kingdom centuries before Greece became a kingdom in1832 in ancient times there was no such country as Greece only city states. alexander created an empire for Macedonia as he was king of this country.this part of Macedonia was ceded to Greece in`1913 so you cannot say its been greek for 4000years rather belonged to the macedons for over 4000years .no one is claiming that all people in fyrom are macedons like all people claiming to be greek are not hellenes given the history of this area which became part of the roman empire then part of the Turkish empire who can say with certainty what is their ethnic dna most likely both hellenes and macedons have become extinct and each country has an assortment of hybrids from many ethnic groups.language does not determine ethnicity.greeks are well known for their distortion of the truth

  6. it is a pity that the greeks continue to claim alexander as greek but their distortion of history knows no bounds even in the present day how many greeks know they invaded smyna in 1919 causing that catrastrophe or that they caused the division of Cyprus because they wished to unite an independent island with is a pity that ancient Macedonia is spread now between Greece Bulgaria and fyrom and each claim the ancients sites as theirs when it is not their heritage.

  7. Electra, the Greeks, and all other tribes that referred to themselves as Helenes (which included Macedonians) always referred the land where Greeks lived as Greece. The fact that a modern nation with defined borders wasn’t recognised in modern standards, does not mean Greece started to exist as of 1821. That is like saying, Macedonia didn’t exist till the 1990s.
    It is true that the origins of the Macedonians are not set in stone, but they did in many occasions refer to themselves as Helenes. The Athenians, Spartans, Cretans as well as Cypriots of antiquity did as well. The only difference is they adopted and we’re united via democratic city-states and considered the Macedonian monarchy way of life “barbaric”.
    Alexander was not taught Greek, he already spoke it, he was taught in Greece. As to date, there is no hard evidence that the Macedonians spoke anything other than Greek. It is certainly possible they spoke a different language before they adopted Greek, but one thing is for sure, they certainly embraced hellenism and hellenisized the east, that is an undisputed fact.
    That’s the Macedonian legacy that modern Greeks keep alive, and why we have pride when Alexander’s name comes up. Why would you side with FYROM. That land is not ancient Macedon, they don’t speak the language of the ancient Macedonian, heck they don’t even name their kids ancient Macedonian names. Greeks do all the above.

  8. I do not side with anyone just interested in history and facts that can be proved was dna taken from the tombs of vergina and will it be taken from amphipolis. how many greeks here today do you think have lineage from ancient greeks

  9. Why would we not have a lineage to the ancient Greeks? We live in the same region they did, speak the language and have struggled to keep their (our) legacy alive for centuries. (we’re obviously not 100% or maybe even 60%, who really knows and why would we even care).
    If you are only interested in facts, there is many DNA studies out there that prove that there is a common continuity with ancient and modern Greeks.
    There is also much more accepted historical evidence that suggests the Macedonians were viewed as Hellenes by themselves and other people.
    Of course you’ll find the exact opposite views out there, so that’s why I just use common sense.
    Other than Slavic and other minor colonization in the balkans, the Ottomans never colonised the balkans, they just converted (islamisized) the native populations and they in turn were referred to as “turks” by the locals. This is why modern day turks (primarily western ones) resemble like Balkan people.
    I truly believe the same goes with any other inhabitants anywhere. Populations don’t just disappear. Native Indians, aboriginal Australians and even modern day Turks, Bulgarians, Albanians and fyrMacedonians are descendants of people of their region.
    Look at the Americas, after many more centuries of persecution, colonization and plagues, there is native Indian and blacks that have a lineage to their Ancient roots. Why would the Balkans, who had it much better be any different?

  10. The real nail on the coffin was when Greece agreed for Macedonia to keep its name Macedonia(FYROM)
    It is a forgone conclusion,Macedonia is not Greece and Greece is not Macedonia,we are two distinct identities period!!

  11. Yap,Greece also thinks all 12 stones in Australia are located in Greece,ha ha ha!!The headliner says it all “once a thief always a thief”,need I say more?

  12. Pantelis,did you ever learned history?Macedonians never spoke “Greek”.There was no Greece those days for them to refer themselves as Greeks.
    During the reign of Alexander the Great,the Macedonians spoke their own native language.The question of the use of the Macedonian language was raised by Alexander himself during the trial of Philotas,one of his generals accused of treason.
    The other reason is the letter of Isocrates to Philip.
    If you ever learned history,you should know in both instances what was said.
    You should go back to your teachers and ask them for the true history,not politics.

  13. because they want to claim the glory of alexander the great as theirs when he was the king of a different country and created the Macedonian empire yes he spread Hellenism throughout his empire but that did not make it belong to greece

  14. Hi Electra, it is obvious from your response that you don’t know much about archaeology in general or the history of the area. I would advise you to buy a good book and visit the sites themselves. I have been to see them and they look different. The ones in Greece look distinctly Greek the ones in Bulgaria don’t. I don’t want to write an archaeological treatise here and as I said you can find books on this to read. The tombs you are referring to in Bulgaria are actually called Thraco-Macedonian by archaeologists. This is because they were built during a time that Thracians were under Macedonian rule and cultural influence, hence the similarities, beside both peoples are Indo-European. But the Thracian tombs do not have Greek temple facades or other marks of Greek culture and indeed you could not mistake them as Greek-Macedonian. Sorry, but it is very obvious from the archaeology that this is not one and the same people.

  15. With regards to appearance, I wouldn’t like to comment on anyone in specific, but there were people with blue eyes in ancient Greece as well, as obvious by the mosaics and statues left behind. By studying them one comes to the conclusion that although this was rare, there were people with blue eyes. Have a look at the latest mosaic discovered at Zeugma in Turkey, an ancient Greek town. I have to be honest though this conversation reminds me of a certain German that was in power a few decades back.

  16. Damon, I think you are hilarious!!!
    Going back to what the scripture has said in acts 20 v 1-3, how would you describe the two geographic areas that is written in the bible. Let me say this. The Bible is not up for election nor is it running in any ballot just because you would love it to read otherwise. If you wanted it your way, then it would just simply read and say Greece since Macedonia would have been in Greece. But my dear friend, that scripture has been written as history also. IT CANNOT BE BROKEN. Macedonia was and is separate to Achaia Greece.

    You also claim that there were prominent God fearing greeks in Thessaloniki which according to the Bible there were. And if we also look and consider Acts 17v13 there were also Jews in Thessaloniki. So now what??? Do we make this immediate area Macedonian, athenian or Jewish?

    Damon, i honestly think your overlooking Macedonian and Greek history. Below the roman senate placed a protectorate over Achaia(Greece) from Macedonia DURING THE SECOND MACEDONIAN WAR. I honestly don’t know how your going to alter this history from the Britannica.

    The First Macedonian War (215–205 bc) occurred in the context of the Second Punic War, while Rome was preoccupied with fighting Carthage. The ambitious Macedonian king Philip V set out to attack Rome’s client states in neighbouring Illyria and confirmed his purpose in 215 by making an alliance with Hannibal of Carthage against Rome. The Romans fought the ensuing war ineffectively, and in 205 the Peace of Phoenice ended the conflict on terms favourable to Philip, allowing him to keep his conquests in Illyria.

    Philip then began harrying Rhodes, Pergamum, and other Greek
    city-states of the Aegean. The Second Macedonian War (200–196) was
    launched by the Roman Senate against Philip after he refused to
    guarantee to make no hostile moves against these states. (((((((((Philip’s forces
    were badly defeated by the Romans and their Greek allies in a battle at
    Cynoscephalae in 197. The terms of peace included the loss of most of
    his navy, payment of a large indemnity to Rome, and the loss of his
    territories outside of Macedonia. Rome subsequently established a
    benevolent protectorate over Greece)))))))).

  17. Alexander never said he is Greek.Are you not shamed to falsify history?My guess is,you have no morals to be ashamed. An Australian said it right; “Once a Thief always a Thief”.”The Greeks have been accused of a cultural theft,from different nation (Macedonia) this time,after stealing an image of one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks for a promotional video,reads The Telegraph”.
    Damon,this incident and what one of the fathers of USA John Adams said on July 14th 1783 is as follows; “Greeks are corrupted in their morals to such a degree,as to be faithless,perfidious race,destitute of courage…”
    Doesn’t your conciseness bother you for lies that you are spreading?
    Pantelis,the region was called Athens,Thebes,Sparta,but never Greece.
    Philip united these City States after 338 BC.
    How is it when talking about the region it refers as Greece,but when talking about Macedonia region is not Macedonia.Philip invaded the City States,don’t you know Chaeronea 338 BC?
    Don’t you remember history of the battle between Alexander and Darius and the 50 thousand Hellens fighting against Alexander.Don’t you know anout the Teban uprising against the Macedonian domination over the City States.Don’t you know what Plutarch wrote?
    Finally,Macedonians used translators to communicate with Hellens.
    Do you know Greek historian Arrian(Lucius Flavius Arrianus Xenophon,92-175 CE)?You who wants to be the 21st century historian,you first must learn ancient history as being written in those days,not during Samaras reign in Greece.

  18. Well first of I said Alexander I, not Alexander the Great (III). He said as follows:

    “For I (Alexander I) myself am by ancient descent a Greek, and I would not willingly see Hellas change her freedom for slavery.”
    (Herod. IX, 45, 2 [Loeb])

    As for Alexander the Great and the Greeks who fought as mercenaries, lets hear what Alex himself had to say about that:

    “Our enemies are Medes and Persians, men who for centuries have lived soft and luxurious lives; we of Macedon for generations past have been trained in the hard school of danger and war. Above all, we are free men, and they are slaves. There are Greek troops, to be sure, in Persian service — but how different is their cause from ours! They will be fighting for pay — and not much of at that; we, on the contrary, shall fight for Greece, and our hearts will be in it. As for our foreign troops — Thracians, Paeonians, Illyrians, Agrianes — they are the best and stoutest soldiers in Europe, and they will find as their opponents the slackest and softest of the tribes of Asia. And what, finally, of the two men in supreme command? You have Alexander, they — Darius!”
    – Addressing his troops prior to the Battle of Issus, as quoted in Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian Book II, 7.

    Clear Greek self-identification if I ever saw it from both these gentlemen.

    As for Greece stealing culture from “Macedonia” that is just bull. Macedonia has been the bastion of Greek culture for thousands of years my friend, there is nothing to steal. Macedonia is Greek in origin, in evolution and in the future it will continue to be Greek.

    I can see that you are confused about all of this and have taken the bait hook, line and sinker about your transformation from Bulgarians to “Macedonians”, so I will leave of with a quote from page 588 in the supplement to the 1824 Encyclopedia Britannica, which I feel shows you perfectly both the truth about your ethnic origin and has a nice description of your peoples character:

    “The mountainous districts in the north of Macedonia are inhabited by Bulgarians, who occupy the whole region, from these parts to the Danube, and the neighbourhood of Constantinople. They are a people of Sclavonic origin, profess the Christian religion, and have a language distinct from that of the other people settled in Greece. They live chiefly by their flocks, are rude and ignorant[!], but brave.”

  19. Oh and I almost forgot, you seem to be confused about the definition of Greece in ancient times and it is understandable because it changed over time as these things do. Below is a clear description of the evolution of the geographic meaning of ancient Greece taken from the supplement to Encylopeadia Britannica from 1824:

    “The name of Greece was originally restricted to a small territory northward of the gulf of Corinth, also called Hellas. afterwards it included Attica, Euboea, Peloponnesus, Epirus and Thessaly; and ultimately Macedonia and Crete.”
    – page 564

    The people were first and foremost loyal to their own city (yes even the Macedonians, read more about politic structure in Macedonia before centrslisation under Phillip II and compare with that of Thessaly if you have a lot of free time), then to their tribe (one of 4, Dorian and Ionian are two examples) and only lastly as Greeks.

  20. You need to get a good quality book, Electra, but, more than anything else, let the archaeology speak to you!

  21. Cyprus belonged to the uk until1961 when it gained it’s independence from Britain as long with the terms it remained an independent island .probably before you were born but I remember EOKA who were greek terrorists killing british soldiers there.greece caused the island to be split and the uk still keeps sovereign territory on the island which if these bases had not been there turkey would have taken the whole island but they did not wish to fight with the british. fyrom should join nato and the eu it would make the region more stable as the biggest danger is from Putin .he has a large naval base in Syria has taken the crimea to gain naval bases in the black sea and gives loans to Serbia.why do so many greeks go to fyrom to buy things and get their teeth done .

  22. But they were allowed. The judges of the Greeks made the ruling that Alexander was Greek and allowed to compete after ONE sour loser questioned his lineage. In addition to Alexander many Macedonians competed in this Greek-only event over houndreds of years. As for barbarians, the Athenians called the Spartans, Acheans and some Greeks over in Anatolia barbarians as well and is not really of relevance since we know all of these people to be Greek through a multitude of sources.

  23. Macedonia is just a name.
    The Republic of Ghana is a long way from the ancient Empire of Ghana, and has little connection with it. Nobody has a problem with this – the name was up for grabs.
    The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a long way from the ancient Kingdom of Mauritania – ditto ditto- no-one has a problem with it.
    Let this little Balkan country call itself what it pleases.

  24. Did you forget dear Electra, that Alexander the Great was not allowed to participate in the Olympics, until he proved he was of Greek nobility the Argead Family. He won an Olive Wreath in the Hippodrome. My problem is not the fact that you have the name, I couldn’t care less about the name. My problem is that you are claiming our history and culture. And also since the “Ancient Macedonians” did not speak Greek, what did they speak? They did not speak the language you speak today that’s for sure, because you speak Slavic. There is no evidence of a “Macedonian” language. the ancient Macedonians were just as Greek as the Athenians, one must remember that the Athenians have always been bigots. They refer to the Spartans as barbarians, does that mean they are not Greek? But anyhow these arguments are fruitless you guys are a by-product of Tito propaganda, your former prime minister even said that you are Slavs not Macedonian.

  25. You have to be totally shameless to even manipulate the New Testament to suit your political propaganda….but I think a lot of it is down to genuine ignorance. The majority of these people are Australians coming here to teach us European history without being historian or archaeologists…I don’t think they realise how it makes them look…