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Archaeologists discover 'secret vault' in Alexander the Great-era tomb

Archaeologists discover 'secret vault' in Alexander the Great-era tomb

The ancient burial site in Amphipolis has yielded a number of intriguing finds, and now a secret vault has been added to the mix.

The Amphipolis tomb, in Greece's Serres region, dates to 325-300 B.C.E. and was likely built after Alexander the Great's death. The tomb, which is the largest ever discovered in Greece, has yielded two marble Caryatids, a.k.a. female sculptures, as well as masonry walls and an arch with two sphinxes. The tomb also revealed a mosaic depicting the abduction of Persephone, complete with the Greek god Hermes.

The tomb's inhabitant, though, has remained a mystery. Some experts believe that the tomb was home to Olympias, Alexander the Great's mother, because the rosettes on a marble block in the tomb "strongly resemble" those found on the coffin of Philip II, Alexander the Great's father. A lion statue was also found at the site, which corroborates writings from the Greek Plutarch about Olympias' tomb. Other suggestions about the tomb's inhabitant include Roxane, Alexander's wife, or that the tomb was never occupied and was intended for Alexander himself.

Early last week, the archaeologists announced that the tomb included three funeral chambers, and the remains had been looted from the site. Now, though, the experts have found evidence of a fourth chamber — a secret, "underground vault." Greece's Ministry of Culture confirmed Friday that the third chamber, which was also home to the Persephone mosaic, included an entrance to the secret room, which is 13 by seven feet.

The new vault gives the archaeologists hope that they can still determine the tomb's inhabitant, and whether or not it was, in fact, Olympias. The archaeologists have cleared the surface of the third chamber and are now examining the fourth chamber's contents.