700 BC - 310 BC

Δυναστεία Τημενιδών

The Temenid dynasty

The Temenid kings

The names of the Temenids denote the virtues that every Macedonian king should have. He is clever, as the founder of the dynasty, Perdiccas –his name deriving from perdika, ‘partridge’, which was considered to be the most clever bird-, fast like the wind, as Argaios – argos meaning ‘fast’ - and Aeropos –‘he who has the look of the wind’-, a great horseback rider, as Philip –‘he who loves horses’-, he is strong, like Alcetas – from the word alki, which means ‘power’ -, a leader, like Archelaos – archoι, meaning ‘to rule’ + laos, meaning ‘people’-, but above all protector of his people, Amyntas –whose name derives from the word meaning ‘defense’- and Alexander –whose name derives from alexomai, meaning ‘to protect’ + andra ‘man’.

The glory and the political intentions of their fathers is often denoted by the names of the royal daughters, such as Stratoniki, meaning ‘victory over the army’ (daughter of Alexander I), Cleopatra, ‘glory of the homeland’, Thessaloniki, ‘victory over the Thessalians’.

7th - 3rd century B.C.
The Temenid kings

The founding of Aigai

As the plural of its name denotes, Aigai, like all the old Greek centres, whose beginning is lost in the mist of the myth –Athinai, Thivai, Mycenae, Amyclae, Ferai etc.-, was an ‘open’ urban amalgam of small and bigger settlements scattered around a central nucleus, the asty (city).

Centre of a state with primeval structures, reminiscent of the society of the Homeric epics, Aigai stayed until the end a city organised kata komas (as a collection of villages), an urban group that evolved organically, without a strict prior plan depicting in space the image of a society based on the aristocratic structure of clans consistently centered around the figure and the power of the king.

mid 7th century B.C.
The founding of Aigai

Macedonia becomes part of the Empire of the Great King of the Persians

513 B.C.
Macedonia becomes part of the Empire of the Great King of the Persians

Amyntas I

From 513 BC until 480 BC Aigai belong to the Empire of the Great King of the Persians. Under the remote dominance of the distant ruler, Amyntas I, thanks to his smart political manipulations, manages not only to preserve the relative autonomy of his state, which is not turned into a Satrapy, but also to extend its possessions.

540 - 495 B.C.
Amyntas I

Alexander I

In the first half of the 5th century, the dominant figure is Alexander I, the king who made the Macedonians dominant over the land that was named after them. The kingdom is expanded to the east, north and west, and all the related, but until that time independent, tribal kingdoms of the area become «allies and subjects» of the Temenid ruler. Now Aigai is the first city of Macedonia, centre of the most important Greek state of the north.

498 - 454 B.C.
Alexander I

Perdiccas II

Among other enemies, Perdiccas II has to confront also the expansionism of Athens, while he tries his best to avoid the deadly grip of this super power. At that time, in Aigai, where among other distinguished men Hippocrates will spend time as a guest, anything related to Attica becomes fashion. Relief and written funerary steles (singular: stele, an monumental or commemorative slab) make now their first appearance in the necropolis of the Temenid capital and the white lekythoi (singular: lekythos, vessel used in funerary rituals) from Attika appeal to the taste of the Macedonians. Most probably during the reign of Perdiccas II and definitely before the end of the 5th c. BC, the city of Aigai obtains a wall.

454 - 413 B.C.
Perdiccas II

Archelaus I

A man of extraordinary intelligence and insight, Archelaus «modernises» his state, by opening it up to the artistic and intellectual quests of his time. The Aigai court is proved to be a hospitable harbour for intellectuals and artists, who find in the face of the Temenid ruler a fervent Maecenas, as does Zeuxis, the most important painter of the time, who will decorate the new palace of Archelaus, and Euripides, who will become a royal partner and write here his last tragedies.

413 - 399 B.C.
Archelaus I

Amyntas III

In the tormented period that followed the assassination of Archelaus, Amyntas III (393-368 BC), in order to face the tremendous pressure exerted by the various enemies that invaded the kingdom from west, north and east, started to spend more time in Pella, a city that, being the most important port of the north shores of the Thermaikos gulf, was developing very fast. Most probably, it was Amyntas the first king to build a palace in Pella, the memory of which persisted until the time of Justinian in the place name vasileia Amyntou “kingdoms of Amyntas”.

392 - 370 B.C.
Amyntas III

Perdiccas III

368 - 360 B.C.
Perdiccas III

Defeat of the Macedonian army by the Illyrians

359 B.C.
359 BC The Macedonian army is defeated by the Illyrians

Philip II (359-336 BC)

Philip II an “enlightened leader” according to the Platonian model, sets the base in Aigai for the tradition that will seal the image of the royal cities of the Hellenistic era and will culminate in Alexandria, with the foundation of the legendary Library and the Musaeum, the first University that the world has seen. A source of power, the king and his entourage, becomes the centre of production of ideology and knowledge and this is something that determines the use of space, but also the new trends of art. The entourage of the Macedonian king becomes for art and culture what was Athens of Pericles a century before, and the once conservative kingdom, under the enlightened guidance of the king and of his son, will evolve into a radical lever that will change the ancient world.

359 - 336 B.C.
Philip II

The prime of Aigai, mid-4th c. BC

mid-4th century B.C.
Important construction activity in the capital of the Macedonians

Battle of Chaeronea 338 BC

338 B.C.
Panhellenic alliance

Congress of Corinth 338 BC

337 B.C.
Philip II is declared a hegemon (ruler) and supreme commander of all Greeks.

Congress of Corinth 338 BC

336 B.C.
Philip II is declared a hegemon (ruler) and supreme commander of all Greeks.

Alexander III (the Great) (336-323 BC)

336 - 323 B.C.
Alexander III (the Great) (336-323 BC)

Alexander IV (323-310 BC)

323 - 310 B.C.
Alexander IV (323-310 BC)

The Antipatrid dynasty

After the assassination of Philip II, Alexander the Great proclaimed Antipater regent of the Macedonian Kingdom, a position held by him until the end of the Alexander’s campaign in Asia. After Alexander’s death, Antipater was recognised by all the other Macedonian generals as General Emperor of Europe. Antipater’s son, Cassander succeeded his father in the position of king of Macedonia, founding the short-lived Antipatrid dynasty. However, the event that marked his reign was the foundation of the city of Thessaloniki, named after his wife and half-sister of Alexander the Great.

310 - 294 B.C.
Dynasty that was named after Antipater, a general and loyal friend of Philip II

Antigonid dynasty

294 - 168 B.C.
Antigonid dynasty

Demetrius Poliorcetes

294 - 288 B.C.
Demetrius Poliorcetes

Plundering of the Necropolis

The unprecedented plundering of the Aigai necropolis by the Gaul mercenaries of Pyrrhus in 276 BC left deep marks all over the site; however, even though most of the tombs are looted, there is an abundance of findings providing material proof in favour of the view that Aigai was the centre of the Macedonian kingdom until the end of the classical era.

276 B.C.
Plundering of the Aigai necropolis by the Gaul mercenaries of Pyrrhus

Antigonus II Gonatas

Despite the devout care of Antigonus Gonatas after the plundering by the Gauls, the city will never actually recover. Having lost its central position on the geopolitical map of the new Hellenistic world, Aigai during the reign of Antigonus II Gonatas begins to occupy a more and more marginal role.

276 - 239 B.C.
Antigonus II Gonatas

Philip V

221 - 179 B.C.
Philip V

Perseus of Macedonia

179 - 168 B.C.
Perseus of Macedonia

The battle of Pydna (168 BC)

After the defeat of the last Macedonian king, Perseus, by the Romans in 168 BC, both the old and the new capitals are destroyed. The walls are levelled to the ground, the palace, the theatre and all the other buildings are burnt and pulled down. The destruction is total and affected not only the settlements and villages forming Aigai, but also the settlements of the Pieria mountains.

168 B.C.
Destruction of Aigai by the Romans.

Destruction and depopulation of Aigai

After the sudden landslide that occurred in the 1st c. AD, Aigai is completely destroyed and abandoned by its population.

In the 1st century of our era, a terrible landslide of the slope overlooking Aigai will put a sudden and definite end to the city. Its inhabitants create a new settlement in the plain, to the northeast of the old necropolis. An early-Christian basilica with baptistery reveals the fact that this was the administrative centre of the area, but the name ‘Aigai’ ceases to exist. The cradle of Temenids fell into oblivion and only the memory of the old palace remained to haunt the medieval name of a small village, ‘Pallatitsia’, which survived to our days.

1st century B.C - mid 19th century
Ancient ruins were used in the construction of the Aghios Dimitrios church.

Destruction and depopulation of Aigai

In the 1st century of our era, a terrible landslide of the slope overlooking Aigai will put a sudden and definite end to the city. Its inhabitants create a new settlement in the plain, to the northeast of the old necropolis. An early-Christian basilica with baptistery reveals the fact that this was the administrative centre of the area, but the name ‘Aigai’ ceases to exist. The cradle of Temenids fell into oblivion and only the memory of the old palace remained to haunt the medieval name of a small village, ‘Pallatitsia’, which survived to our days.

Ancient ruins were used in the construction of the Aghios Dimitrios church.

After the sudden landslide that occurred in the 1st c. AD, Aigai is completely destroyed and abandoned by its population.

The first excavation in Aigai

Excavation on the east side of the palace by Leon Heuzey and the architect Henry Daumet. Discovery of a Macedonian tomb next to the village of Palatitsia.

1861
Excavation on the east side of the palace by Leon Heuzey and the architect Henry Daumet. Discovery of a Macedonian tomb next to the village of Palatitsia.

Vergina

On the northeast side of the palace, the village of Vergina is founded by Asia Minor Greek refugees. The ancient ruins provide a source of material for the construction of the new village.

1922
On the northeast side of the palace, the village of Vergina is founded by Asia Minor Greek refugees. The ancient ruins provide a source of material for the construction of the new village.

The excavations of Konstantinos Romaios

Konstantinos Romaios, professor of archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, starts again to excavate the palace and reveals a Macedonian tomb.

1937 - 1940
Konstantinos Romaios, professor of archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, starts again to excavate the palace and reveals a Macedonian tomb.

The first excavations of Manolis Andronikos in Vergina

Manolis Andronikos as an antiquities curator undertakes a systematic excavation in the cemetery of the tumuli area.

1949 - 1960
Manolis Andronikos as an antiquities curator undertakes a systematic excavation in the cemetery of the tumuli area.

Rescue excavation along the country road crossing the necropolis.

The excavation is carried out by the antiquities curator Fotios Petsas.

1961 - 1962
The excavation is carried out by the antiquities curator Fotios Petsas.

The excavation of the Palace is completed.

The English historian N.G.L. Hammond makes the postulation that the ancient city lying between Vergina and Palatitsia is Aigai.

1961 - 1970
The English historian N.G.L. Hammond makes the postulation that the ancient city lying between Vergina and Palatitsia is Aigai.

The Great Tumulus

In this year, Manolis Andronikos begins to excavate the Great Tumulus.

1976
In this year, Manolis Andronikos begins to excavate the Great Tumulus.

The big discovery

The pickaxe of Manolis Andronikos meets history at the Great Tumulus of Aigai. The ancient treasures come to light again. The media awaken the attention of the global public opinion, by naming this discovery as the ‘finding of the century’. A new chapter opens in the study of ancient Greek art and history.

1977
The pickaxe of Manolis Andronikos meets history at the Great Tumulus of Aigai. The ancient treasures come to light again. The media awaken the attention of the global public opinion, by naming this discovery as the ‘finding of the century’. A new chapter opens in the study of ancient Greek art and history.

The tomb of Alexander IV

Discovery of the intact tomb of Alexander IV. Exhibition of the found treasures at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

1978
Discovery of the intact tomb of Alexander IV. Exhibition of the found treasures at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

The discoveries continue

Discovery of the theatre, the Eucleia and Kybele sanctuaries, three Macedonian tombs at the Bella tumulus, excavation at the acropolis and in various buildings of the city.

1980 - 1986
Discovery of the theatre, the Eucleia and Kybele sanctuaries, three Macedonian tombs at the Bella tumulus, excavation at the acropolis and in various buildings of the city.

The burial cluster of the queens

Discovery of the tomb of Queen Eurydice, excavation at the burial cluster of the queens.

1987 - 1990
Discovery of the tomb of Queen Eurydice, excavation at the burial cluster of the queens.

Death of Manolis Andronikos

The great archaeologist leaves his last breath at the age of 73.

1992
Death of Manolis Andronikos

The excavation surveys continue

The university excavation continues at the Eucleia and Kybele sanctuaries, the acropolis and the east wall, and is completed in the area of the Bella burial cluster.

The 17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities continues the surveys and the excavations in the whole area of Aigai and the vast necropolis with more intensity. More than one thousand graves come to light, various districts, farm houses, cemeteries, roads, sanctuaries and fortresses are found, the history and the shape of the city become clearer. Important milestones in this activity are the discovery of the royal burial cluster C in 1993-1996, the discovery of the northwest gate and of the older city wall in 2003-2004, the discovery of the ancient necropolis of Aigai in 2004-2008 and the new findings discovered in the palace from 2007 until 2011.

1992 - 2011
Current archaeological work in Aigai

10th – 7th centuries BC

Early Iron Age

Early history of Aigai

The oldest known settlement in the area of Aigai is in the plain, near the Haliacmon river, at a toumba (tumulus) dated to the Early Bronze Age. By the end of the Bronze Age, following the general trend of that time, the settlement was moved to the foot of the mountain, in the west of modern-day Vergina.

The impressive cemetery of the Early Iron Age, a unique monument of its type, but also several settlements and cemeteries of the same period, scattered across the plain and mainly on the hills, at a radius of 2-7 km around it, witness the intense use and the dense habitation of the area, which was a very important and populous centre since the beginning of the last millennium before our era.

8th century B.C.
Findings of the Late Bronze Age

The chronicle of the Macedonian kingdom

An interactive tour in time through personalities and events that have defined the history of Aigai from its foundation to this day