Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Royal Tomb Robbery Volume 54 Number 6, November/December 2001
by Mark Rose

A Greek archaeologist taking government officials through the royal Macedonian tombs at Vergina discovered that at least seven marble figurines had been taken from the "tomb of Eurydice." Found by Manolis Andronicos in 1987, the tomb was identified by him as that of Eurydice, one of the wives of the Macedonian king Amyntas III, mother of Philip II, and grandmother of Alexander the Great. Eurydice was born ca. 410-404 B.C., but the date of her death is unknown. An inscribed pot fragment in the tomb dates it to 344/3 B.C. at the earliest, but its precise date and the identity, even gender, of its occupant are debated.

During the summer, an evening guard shift was dropped because of staffing shortages. Environmental monitoring equipment in the tomb is checked on a monthly basis; this makes it possible to date the theft to between August 13 and September 9. Because the tomb is not open to the public and there was no sign of a break-in, security guards were questioned on the possibility it was an inside job. The objects are well-known and can't be sold openly but could fetch a high price on the black market; the thieves were either stupid or had a buyer lined up ahead of time.

This is not the first robbery of the tomb. It was partially plundered, probably soon after burial, but the ancient looters came to grief, as evidenced by two skeletons found there.

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America