Found: The bones of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great?

More than four decades ago, archaeologists uncovered the skeletal remains of three individuals within a tomb located near the small town of Vergina in Macedonia, Greece. The bones, which were found scattered along the floor of what is described to be a comparatively modest tomb associated with the Great Tumulus, the resting place of some of the Kingdom of Macedonia’s most iconic early royal families, were identified to be those of an adult male in his 40’s, a young adult female, and a newborn infant. Arguably the most intriguing skeletal remains were those of the adult male, however — and more particularly two bones — a left femur and a left tibia, both of which showed signs of having fused together over time after an apparent severe wound to the knee caused by a sharp instrument, such as a spear. 

These characteristics, along with a host of other circumstantial findings within the tomb, along with historical accounts, seemed to point, according to scientists who recently studied the bones and the tomb, to a tantalizing conclusion — that the bones, and the true resting place of King Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, had been found. But not all scholars are on board with the conclusions. Debate continues, and further studies surely follow.



 Left leg showing the massive knee ankylosis (fusion of the joint). Image courtesy of Javier Trueba


Much more about this discovery can be found in an in-depth feature article published in Popular Archaeology.


Cover image, top left: Hades abducting Persephone, fresco in the small royal tomb (Tomb 1) at Vergina, Macedonia, Greece. Wikimedia Commons


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 This richly illustrated issue includes the following stories: Recent findings shedding new light on the whereabouts of the remains of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great; how an archaeologist-sculptor is bringing bones of the dead back to life; archaeologists uncovering town life at the dawn of civilization; an exclusive interview with internationally acclaimed archaeologist James M. Adovasio about what makes the Meadowcroft Rockshelter prominent in the ongoing search for the first Americans; what archaeologists are finding at the site of the ancient city of Gath, the home town of the biblical Philistine giant, Goliath; and how scientists are redrawing the picture of human evolution in Europe.  Find it on