The Magnificent Macedonian Tomb at Agios Athanasios in Thessaloniki

Along the east gradient of the tumulus are two non-pillaged cist graves; their investigation offers interesting evidence on the social rank of the defunct and on the burial habits of the time.

The Magnificent Macedonian Tomb at Agios Athanasios in Thessaloniki

At the centre of the enormous tumulus, 12m down its peak, is the small single-chambered Macedonian tomb, robbed but richly decorated with murals preserved in excellent condition featuring surprising colours. This exceptional monument is dated to the last quarter of the fourth century BC.

The face of the tomb is entirely painted. The ornate triangle of the pediment presents mythical griffons with all-golden wings, followed by dark-blue triglyphs and white metopes, while the narrow frieze above the entrance narrates a symposium scene, so familiar in literature or on painted vases, yet for the first time so lively represented before the eyes of the visitors.

The Magnificent Macedonian Tomb at Agios Athanasios in Thessaloniki

Fresco of Macedonian soldiers

At the centre, six wreathed symposium participants lying languidly on anaklintra (couches) enjoy delicious dishes, guitar and diaulos music performed by young women, while men on foot and on horseback make haste to join them. Some hoplites in Macedonian costume, relaxing on their spears and the characteristic resplendent bucklers, are watching calmly.

The Magnificent Macedonian Tomb at Agios Athanasios in Thessaloniki

Banquet scene from a tomb

A moving representation depicts two full-length young men wrapped in long chlamyses standing sorrowful next to the tomb’s entrance, eternal guards of their dead fellow warrior.

The Magnificent Macedonian Tomb at Agios Athanasios in Thessaloniki

Paintings of ancient Macedonian soldiers, shields and sarissas

This is undoubtedly the grave of a renowned Macedonian military, to judge from the remains of real armour found in the burial chamber which was nearly destroyed by antiquity looters.

The Macedonian tomb at Agios Athanasios short documentary