AT the May meeting we were treated to a lecture called “Philip II of Macedonia: why
AT the May meeting we were treated to a lecture called “Philip II of Macedonia: why was he so important to Greece?” by Derek Toms, one of our members, who recently participated in a study tour of that region of Greece.
The highlight of the tour, and the lecture, was the Great Tumulus of Aegae at Vergina, the location of the royal tombs of Macedon.
This site was excavated in 1977 and was found to contain several, virtually intact burials, including that believed to be of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.
Other burials include that believed to be of Eurydike, Philip’s mother.
The tomb of Philip was identified through the pre-mortem damage to cremated bones found in the ossuary, or larnax, and the design of the greaves, or leg armour, found in the tomb, which were designed for someone with the recorded injuries of Philip. The rectangular larnax is of gold and bears on its lid the star emblem of the Macedonian dynasty.
Further treasures in the tomb include a golden oak wreath, a golden panel (part of a quiver) depicting battle scenes, an iron cuirass with gold ornamentation and a silver wine jug with a magnificently crafted head of Silenus.
Philip was the conqueror of much of what is present-day Greece. He did this initially through diplomacy — he made peace with neighbouring invading states by promising tribute — and military tactics — subsequent invasion of these states using the innovative phalanx, a mass of infantry troops armed with 6m long spears used with devastating effect against troops armed with shorter weapons.
Philip did all the work to allow his son Alexander to expand the influence of Greece; without this, Alexander would have been less great.