ANCIENT CEMETERY OF ARCHONTIKO | Pella | Macedonia | Golden Greece
ANCIENT CEMETERY OF ARCHONTIKO | Pella | Macedonia | Golden Greece
ANCIENT CEMETERY OF ARCHONTIKO | Pella | Macedonia | Golden Greece
ANCIENT CEMETERY OF ARCHONTIKO | Pella | Macedonia | Golden Greece
ANCIENT CEMETERY OF ARCHONTIKO | Pella | Macedonia | Golden Greece
ANCIENT CEMETERY OF ARCHONTIKO | Pella | Macedonia | Golden Greece
ANCIENT CEMETERY OF ARCHONTIKO | Pella | Macedonia | Golden Greece



The settlement of Archontikos is located at a distance of five kilometers from Pella and ten kilometers from Axios.

In the area of ​​Archontiko Pella, the most important settlement of the country of Pella is being excavated even today, which during the Hellenistic and Roman years belonged to Pella, the capital of the Macedonian state and then to the Roman colony of Pella.

Inhabitation in the area had started from prehistoric times, the earliest Neolithic period (6th millennium BC) and continued until the late Byzantine years (14th century AD). The name of the ancient settlement in the place where the Pella Mansion is today is not yet known. Archaeologists assume (since no inscription has yet been found that leads to its identification) that it is the ancient city of Tyrissa, the city of cheese.

Systematic excavation began in 1992 and revealed a Tomb Hero, a prehistoric tomb and bank as well as the cemetery of the ancient settlement. The total area of ​​the settlement together with the cemetery is about 200 acres.

The Burial Hero with a diameter of 50 m and a perimeter of 160 m in which no burial was found consists of a circular platform 5 m high which surrounds the mound, which was to cover a monumental Macedonian tomb.

However, although the site of the tomb was prepared, it was ultimately not built, possibly due to political unrest. The Burial Hero dates back to the 3rd century BC. 

The cemetery of the settlement has an area of ​​approximately 60 acres. of which only 10% has been investigated so far, yielding surprising findings.

Use of the cemetery can be seen during the iron, archaic, classical and early Hellenistic periods, while based on the findings so far, archaeologists place the demographic heyday of the settlement mainly in the archaic years.

The excavation hoe brought to light warrior graves from the Archaic times, which are decorated with gold, iron and bronze weapons and ornaments (warrior masks, helmets, plates), while the jewelry in the female burials is impressive.

The findings attest to the prosperous society of the Manor, but also to the heroic character and leadership role of certain families of the military aristocracy who apparently exercised control and regulated the exchange of goods. The prominent mistresses of the settlement were buried in their wedding attire, accompanied, among other gifts, with gold, silver, copper and iron jewelry.

The dead who belonged to the same social groups were buried according to family groups - homelands and clans - confirming the existence of "social" and "economic" distinctions more than 25 centuries ago. Most of the grave clusters include, in addition to Archaic burials (580-480 BC), burials from the late Iron Age (second half of the 7th - beginning of the 6th century BC) but also from the classical and early Hellenistic periods. (480-279 BC).

Based on the data from the excavations so far, the research archaeologists conclude that the Macedonian advance to Axios took place much earlier and not after the Persian Wars, as was claimed until recently. In fact, according to Thucydides, the Macedonians initially expanded to lowland Pieria and then (after the middle of the 7th century BC) to Vottiaia, the country of the Bukolons, i.e. the plain between the rivers Aliakmona and Axios.

From the archaeological findings, it was established that there was a burial ritual which reveals social organization, cohesion and stratification. The type and quality of the offerings demonstrate the financial capabilities and social status of the dead, to whom great respect is expressed. The armed burials show variations in the archaic male society of Archontikos, while the dead were placed in wooden sarcophagi.

Among the warrior tombs, some impress with their wealth and symbols of supremacy, the technology of their armament, the type and quality of the gifts, excellent examples of tombs of the Archaic period in the Macedonian area. Weapons, jewels and the rest of the gifts constitute evidence of a high standard of living and personal-social prestige, underlining the wealth, heroic character and leadership of certain families, two centuries before the time of Philip II and Alexander III. 

The dead were interred in all periods of the cemetery by family clusters and clans, while some clusters revealed richly endowed graves, defined by corridors and served by intermediate roads.

Of the male burials, which the differences in weaponry and offerings classify into four categories, the most notable are:

The tomb of the warrior T 280 (dated to the middle of the 6th century BC). The deceased wore a peculiar golden mask with a printed floral decoration and an opening for the nose. His finely crafted bronze helmet and garments were decorated with gold bands. Three swords, lances and daggers, as well as an argent shield with gold bands on its leather suspension straps completed his armament.

Warrior T 279 was accompanied by a gold mask and helmet decorated with gold foil and incised seated lions. On the inside of his shield were found gold bands coming from the suspension straps. In the trapezoidal plates, which frame the ochan (the projection of the front part of the shield), traces of a chariot are preserved. A special piece of art were the bronze banquet vessels at the feet of the deceased.

An inscribed Attic beetle from the beginning of the 5th c. BC determines the dating of the tomb of the warrior T 383, where, in addition to the weaponry, the number of bronze vessels, clay and faience vessels, but also clay plastics and non-figurines is impressive.

The warrior of grave T 145, in addition to the weapons (bronze helmet with gold bands, iron sword and spears) and gold jewelry, was decorated with a bronze shield (diameter 0.38 m).

The warrior of tomb T 443 was decorated with a bronze helmet and shield of the "heart guard" type and an iron sword with gold plating on the hilt, lances, a knife and four daggers, gold jewelry, a double iron fork with a gold plate on the head, gold plates on the footwear and a large number of vessels. In tomb T 132, an Attic black-figure goblet of 530/20 BC stands out, bearing on both sides Theseus among young men and women killing the Minotaur.

The female death costume was probably similar to that of the wedding. Women's heads are decorated with diadems or fashionable ribbons with rosettes. Golden syringes have also been found around the face. In two cases the face of the deceased was covered by a golden mask. In other female tombs the presence of an eye effigy or eyes on plates, in addition to the gold mouthpiece, confirms that these replaced masks.

Unique are the earrings (earrings) in the shape of oysters. On the women's shoulders were found gold rosettes, one or more pairs of forks to hold the garments, but also necklaces or chains, which decorated the chest. The simplest forks are the iron ones, which had amber votes passed through the upper part, but there are also many types of copper ones. The most impressive are the golden prongs, which bear a double spherical head with a peak in the form of a flower or are gilded. The chests of dead women are also adorned with simple votive necklaces of amber, faience, glass or single periaptas. In rich burials the votives are gold and between them there is a single pyramidal periapto. Women's grave jewelry also includes gold or silver rings and bracelets with snake heads on the ends. In addition to jewelry, the garments were decorated with gold rosettes, gold bands and other gold foils, with representations of sphinxes or rosettes. Small rosettes located in the area of ​​the feet decorated the footwear.

Editor: Fotini Anastasopoulou