Macedonia

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology—Styberra, Center of Devriop

Styberra—Center of Devriop

The ancient city of Styberra is located 16 km south-west of Prilep, in the immediate vicinity of the village Chepigovo. The town is spread on the hillside Bedem, the surrounding plateau towards the river Blato, the area between it and Crna Reka, as well as on the hill Bakarno Gumno.  Styberra was an important urban center that existed for a long period of time from the end of the 4th century BC to 4th century AD. It is assumed that one of the main reasons for the city’s collapse was the raid of the Goths in 267/8 or 268/9, during the reign of Emperor Gallienus.

In the ancient written sources about the Roman – Macedonian wars, it is recorded that during the expedition of the consul Sulpicius against the Macedonian king Philip V (200 BC), the Roman  armada withdrawing from Link, arrived in Styberra, where they renewed their supplies with grain. According to the same records, we also learn that the last king of ancient Macedonia, Perseus in the year 169 BC organized his military command post in the city of Styberra, from where he started conquering the territories of neighboring Penesti, who fought with him during the battles against the Romans.

After the conquest of the city of Uscana (Kicevo), the king returned to Styberra where he sold the captured Penesti and Illyrians as slaves. Later records point to the ubication of the city in the region of Devriop on the river Erigon (Crna Reka) and that it was on the ancient road communication Stobi – Heraclea.

Between the two world wars small excavations were undertaken by Nikola Vulić, while the first more serious archaeological excavations at the site Bedem – Styberra were realized by the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia in 1953. In 1959, there were excavations by the National Museum of Prilep. After a long pause, starting from 1983 until this day the National Museum of Prilep is excavating this site.

In the past archaeological campaigns, parts of the city wall from the time of the rule of the Macedonian kings were discovered, while all other discovered buildings were from the Roman Imperial Period, i.e. from the time of the great prosperity and flourishing of the empire (the Antonine and the Severan dynasties – II century and the first half of the III century).

The city walls from the Macedonian period were found in the northern part of the hillside Bedem and were 3 m. wide and 30 m long, while in its western part the wall extends parallel to the later roman gymnasium and is recorded in the length of 63 m.

The Gymnasium complex was a public building in which the young men – ephebe were educated and millitary-trained. It was erected on the lowest terrace in the western foothill of the hill Bedem, which mildly descends to the Blato River. A large courtyard was discovered – perisitil with atrium and vestibule-proatrium where public lectures were held, an exedra, a heroon- sanctuary, a small square with a drainage channel and a small part of the athletic path.

A number of movable artefacts were also discovered, objects for everyday use, as well as  marble altars, a herma and inscriptions with writing about the functioning of the Gymnasium. Comparing the number of the mentioned ephebes on the epigraphic monuments, we can calculate the number of inhabitants in the city, that is, we can see that the city of Styberra was a large city for that time with about twenty thousand inhabitants. Certainly, according to the importance, a large number of marble findings discovered in the Gymnasium stand out – statues of meritorious citizens, statue of the emperor and sculptures of deities (Asclepius, Nike, Mercury).

The temple of the goddess Tyche, the protector of the city, is located on one of the terraces on the hill Bedem which descends from east to west. From the west end, one can enter a room with dimensions of 10 x 10 m. The walls were made of crushed stone and bricks, connected with lime plaster. In the eastern wall of the room there is a central semicircular niche, and on the side walls there are three niches. In the interior, a well was discovered, most probably used for cultic purposes. From the inscription in the central niche we found out that the temple was restored in 126 BC, while from the inscriptions in the other niches we can read the names of the people whose busts were in them. The busts of the father Orestos and the son Philoxenus were discovered, they were members of the family who founded/sponsored the temple, as well as a small statue of a young Dionysus.

This year, during the excavations an adjacent building to the temple was discovered in which we assume that some ritual processions that preceded the main ritual activities in the temple were taking place. A few facts point to this assumption. In particular, the walls of the building are three times narrower than those of the temple, which of course ranks the two buildings in their importance. The width is 13 m, which means there was a sufficient space where a large number of people who participated in the ritual can be gathered, unlike the smaller space in the temple, where only a handful of citizens and the presets could enter.

In the central part there is a platform with marble floors and fencing blocks – parapets and a well in the middle, with the same depth as the one in the temple-up to 3 m. Only one part of the well was explored, so future excavations will confirm our assumption for its purpose, which was probably cultic. Another room, a workshop for terracotta figurines of deities and ceramic oil lamps, excavated in the last two years was also a part of this adjacent building of the temple. Also a large number of pits and four furnaces, used in the production process were discovered.

Latter in the 3rd century AD, a shrine of a God with a bird face was built above the workshop. It was modest in size, with only two rooms, with poorly constructed walls of crushed rock mixed with mud. This sanctuary was in use at a time when the city of Styberra started to lose its glow as an urban Roman regional center. But its great scientific significance is that it was intended for worshiping a deity with bird attributes, whose relief was discovered on a marble plaque, part of a small “house”.

Beside the “small house” with the relief, two more small “houses” from marble plaques were found, all radially positioned towards the platform in the western wall of the building. According to the symbol of a great eye shown in profile, the deity is similar to the Egyptian god Horus. But our God has bird claws on it arms and legs, whereas Horus has human limbs. We can chronologically place this sanctuary at a time when the cults from the East are spreading to this part of the Empire, including the ones from Egypt, such as the cults of Isis and Serapis.

If this is not a representation of Horus, then it would be an indigenous local deity with bird attributes. Previous research in our country, but also in the wider Balkan region have not confirmed a similar deity, so in this case this finding from Styberra would be a unique and rare scientific discovery.

At about 60 m. north from the temple of the goddess Tyche another very important building was discovered. A monumental structure which according to its size and the discovered findings in it, was probably a building of a public character. The front room with a width of 17 m. had walls decorated with an imitation of a monumental opus isodonum performed in a stucco technique. This decoration was divided by a horizontal line, where the upper part was comprised of several light-colored fields, while the lower part was painted in red. Also a low platform and several altars were erected beside the eastern wall.

A statue of an important citizen and a several marble fragments from the building were discovered inside. The upper room, which was only partially excavated, had walls and floors paved with decorative marble plaques with floral ornaments. Beside all of the abovementioned findings, the most valuable discovery was the epigraphic monument with an inscription that mentions the city council of Styberra. A finding like this suggests that the building was the assembly (Bouleuterion) of the city, which would make it the first of its kind in our country.

Unfortunately, the building had to be buried again, because the plot where it is located, as well as all the other plots in the area are privately owned. We are currently in the process of finding a positive solution for the legal status of this property so we can continue our research in the future.

With the archaeological excavations of the ancient city of Styberra so far, a very small percentage of the city is covered.  However, the discovered buildings and findings point to the high status that the city held, especially in the Roman Imperial Period. Also a very significant data about the history and the development of the city has come to light through the inscriptions and the altars discovered. With its 20,000 inhabitants, a number obtained by comparing the records of the number of ephebes in a particular year, Styberra was, of course, a significant urban center in the Devriop area. The rich findings and the high cultural and spiritual level of development are presented through a very beautiful portraits and cult marble statues, due to which the city rightly deserves the epithet “Macedonian Pompeii”.

Duško Temelkovski

 

From Monumental War to the Monuments of War – Archaeology of the Great War in the Republic of Macedonia

Couple of weeks ago I went on a field trip to Mariovo region (Novaci municipality) for searching the remains of the First World War in the Republic of Macedonia. Field activities were based on surface prospecting of the Macedonian front remains during the Great War. The visit included the 1050 elevation, the upstream of the Black River (Crna River today or ancient Erigon), the villages Skochivir and Slivnica where the hospitals were settled during the WW1 and the field near the village of Bach which was used by the Air Forces. Immense photo and video documentation for some future research was made.

Oh, no, I am not a historian, nor will ever be engaged in modern history, since I am a prehistoric archaeologist and I love working with stone tools. But I am a director of HAEMUS, which is a very big center for scientific research and promotion of the culture based in Skopje and I manage many projects on different heritage topics, including this one about the WW1.

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Regarding the Great War, I could surely say that Republic of Macedonia is definitely an open-air museum. “Eastern Front”, known under many names in historical records but mostly as “Macedonian front”, has great importance for the history of Macedonia and the Balkans. I’ve had to pass through hard battles in the last three years in order to promote the archaeology from the First World War in the Republic of Macedonia. As an organization we’ve ran few projects, public debates and we organized very big conference on topic ”First World War in the collective memory – Exchange of experiences in the Balkans”. Still it wasn’t enough. I was devastated to show to everybody that on the modern territory of the Republic of Macedonia took place some of the biggest battles that killed thousands of soldiers of many nationalities and religions, which today are buried on more conceptual organized necropolises/cemeteries. The architectonic remains in places where battles took place, includes parts of the destroyed complexes of bunkers, positions, machine gun nests and trenches that can be seen today. They comprise the physical remains of significant points in European and world history in order to explain the reasons that led to the creation of ‘Modern Europe’. On the entire front line length of about 450 km there are thousands and thousands of artifacts and monuments everywhere, waiting to be explored, excavated, identified, cleaned, preserved and displayed in the museum, to tell the piece of the unknown European history.

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Archaeology of the First World War in the Republic of Macedonia so far has been completely unknown for both, the public and experts. But we won’t give up so easily from this topic. We are trying to contribute to the creation of some domestic archives of materials, as well as the exchanging of international experiences. Building human capacities who would participate in the dialogue for peace and reconciliation in the Balkan countries through scientific research and understanding of the past of this period, is also one of the aims of our work. We would like to express our gratitude to the of Embassy of France in Skopje, the French Institute in Skopje, cooperation Normandie/Macédoine, many municipalities, the citizen associations and all those scientists who actively helped us with own research or as logistics. And we are very happy bringing on daylight a topic less known but very challenging for many colleagues.

Vasilka Dimitrovska
Director of HAEMUS
Center for scientific research
and promotion of culture

For more info check: ww1conference2015.com

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This article was written as part of the action for ‘Day of Archaeologists’ (August 04, 2016). The goal is to raise public awareness of cultural heritage and the responsibility that archaeologists have about it.

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – “Arheo Park Brazda” (VIDEO)

This short documentary about the first archaeological park in R. Macedonia “Arheo Park Brazda” was recorded for the celebration of international day of archaeology “Day of Archaeology 2014” by association “Archaeologica” ‘with the support of Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia, Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, Cultural heritage protection office and Via Magna.

Realization:
association Archaeologica

Interlocutors:
Goran Sanev, MA
Irena Kolistrkovska Nasteva
Radomir Ivanovic

Camera, Assembling, Music, Graphics:
Jane Kacanski

Author – Screenwriter – Producer
Radomir Ivanovic

Organization
Elena Karanfilovska

Arheo Park Brazda

Skopje, July 2014

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Promotion of the new archaeological website www.konjuh.mk

For our anniversary, 15 years of continuous archaeological excavations at the site Golemo Gradiste, near the village Konjuh, we have recently created a website www.konjuh.mk. Through the website we wanted to convey the magic of Golemo Gradiste and its beautiful surroundings to all interested professionals and admirers of natural and cultural heritage. It’s my pleasure to present our new web site at this occasion of the Day of Archaeology because in this way it will be presented to the right audience.

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I would like to point out that as an international project, which was realized with Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, USA, and the Museum of Macedonia, today Archeological Museum of Macedonia, the research conducted at Golemo Gradiste it’s a project with the longest continuity in our country. This is due primarily to the great scientific potential of the site was recognized from the start and funded jointly by Gettysburg College, Dumbarton Oaks, the Getty Foundation and the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia.

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The archaeological site of Golemo Gradiste at Konjuh is a rare example of a city founded in the late 5th or early 6th century in the province of Dardania within the Eastern Roman Empire. Situated on a high and elongated acropolis; a broad, gently sloping terrace between the northern foot of the acropolis and the Kriva River; and a narrow area at the south foot of the acropolis, the city represents the late phase of Roman urbanism, heavily fortified and significantly altered by the insertion of ecclesiastical architecture. Its municipal plan, fortifications, and churches represent the early phases of development of European urbanism and religious heritage. Covering an area of ca 17 ha, Golemo Gradiste near Konjuh is the largest and so far best investigated town from the 6th century AD in the north-eastern part of R. Macedonia.

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On the naturally fortified acropolis, an even stronger fortress was created in the 6th century. There, through archaeological excavations 1998-2004, were revealed also gates, streets, stairs, and several residential and public buildings founded on the soft bedrock. A number of them, e.g., a large cistern for water, are visible today. With its dominant position overlooking the wider area, the hill of Golemo Gradiste was of stratigic importance for the safety of the city and its inhabitants during the restless times of the 6-th century. The site is also famous for the numerous chambers cut in the rock, found on the southwestern side of the hill. It is believed that they served as cells for monks in the past.

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Excavations since 2005 on the northern terrace have revealed two large residential complexes. One was a multi-unit structure, in which dwellings, storerooms, and workshops clustered around an internal courtyard. The second residence, displaying several spacious rooms, a kitchen area, and a colonnaded courtyard, undoubtedly belonged to a member of the elite. Between the two residences, a large, three-aisle basilica (35 x 15 m) with various unusual features came to light. Among its annex rooms a piscina for baptism is located in an apsidal hall. Fragments of exquisite relief sculpture found in both the Rotunda and the basilica point to a local, mid-6th century workshop.

Goran Sanev, MA – NI Archaeological Museum of Macedonia

 

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology

Archaeologists in Macedonia, under the leadership of Association Archaeologica, have joined together for the third time to celebrate the International Day of Archaeology 2014.

The purpose of this event was to promote archaeology and present current archaeological excavations throughout Macedonia.

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The Day of Archaeology is an annual event that is celebrated worldwide. The project aims to provide a window into the daily lives of archaeologists from all over the world. On this day we ask people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate by recording their day and sharing it through text, images or video. The resulting Day of Archaeology project demonstrates the wide variety of work our profession undertakes day-to-day across the globe, and helps to raise public awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology.

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For that purpose, “Archaeologica “ organized an event in the cinema hall of the Museum of Macedonia where there were series of lectures in various topics of archaeology, presentation of documentary film, photographs, exchange of ideas and experiences, as well as some music and entertainment in front of the museum.

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“Archaeologica” invited several archaeologists from the country to present their current work.

The event was attended by: Pero Ardzanliev, MA , Archaeological Museum of Macedonia – “The golden faces of the Macedonian aristocracy: from finding to presentation”, Goran Sanev, MA, Archaeological Museum of Macedonia – Promotion of the new book “Ancient Demir Kapija” by Phd. Victoria Sokolovska and the new web site for archaeological site Golemo Gradiste, v. Konjuh, Dejan Kebakoski, MA, Institute for Оld Slavic culturein Prilep – Antique period in Pelagonia, Dejan Gjorgjievski, Museum of Kumanovo – The period between VI and III century BC in Kumanovo, Radomir Ivanovic, Association Archaeologica – “Arheo Park Brazda” (VIDEO), Igor Tolevski – Retrospective of antiques from the village of Dobri Dol, Karshijak, Sopiste Municipality, Ph.D Lidija Kovaceva – Forms of fatalistic beliefs among ancient Macedonians, Mimica Velkova Graorkovska – Epigenetic features of the medieval population of Crkvishte village, Morodvis, Elena Karanfilovska, Assotiation Archaeologica – “Archaeology in Progress 2014

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Also, during the event, there was a small exhibition of photographs from the current archaeological excavations on the sites “Antique Theater in Scupi”, Skopje; “Gradishte”, Mlado Nagoricane and “Stybera”, v. Cepigovo.

This event was funded by the National Cultural Programme for 2014 of the Ministry of Culture and was supported by the Museum of Macedonia.

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A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Promotion of the new book “Ancient Demir Kapija”

Promotion of the new book of PhD Viktorija Skolovska “ Ancient Demir Kapija“.

PhD. Sokolovska is well known name in Macedonian Archaeology, first as curator at the Archaeological Museum in Skopje, then as a director of Museum of Macedonia from 1991-1995, that all her professional life she devoted to research the antique period in Macedonia and published in more than 90 texts.

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The book has a volume of 118 pages, 110 illustrations, including 7 maps, 84 photographs in color and black and white, 4 plans, 6 boards, 9 drawings and findings. The content is organized into two major parts.
This is the link where you can download the book

A day with Macedonian Archaeology – Exhibition of working archaeological photographs – “Archaeology in Progress” (PHOTO and VIDEO)

“Archaeology in Progress” is one of the Association Archaeologica projects, where through a new and creative way we try to promote and present archaeology. We wanted to bring archaeology closer to the people by providing a window into the daily lives of archaeologists. We decides to make an exhibition of working archaeological photographs and to let everybody see what is happening behind closed doors at the archaeological digs. Exhibition of this kind was a novelty in our country, the photographs were showing the preparations and the actual work at one archaeological dig. The motives were exclusively archaeological and showed the most interesting moments that occur at the archaeological excavations. The main goal was to promote the archaeology and to present the best photographs taken in the last couple of years on the archaeological sites in our country. The exhibition presented pictures from professional photographers who have participated at archaeological digs, and from amateur photographers who are usually the archaeologist taking the role of a photographer. Participation was open to all the people who have worked on archaeological sites, archaeologists and archaeology students from the country and abroad and all the admirers of archaeology and photography. Everybody who have worked on a research or at some archaeological site and had an interesting archaeological photo could participate in the announced competition. The exhibition aroused great interest among the experts and the general public. A great number of photographs came on the competition organized on the social networks, the best 30 were selected by a professional jury, and by giving  votes on the Facebook page of our association – Archaeologica. The best three photos were awarded with symbolic prizes.

The first awarded photograph titled “Circle of Life” – archaeological site “Kokolov Rid” near Vinica, Maceodnia

The second place : “Geometry of space” – arcaheological site Moravske Toplice, Murska Sobota, Slovenia

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The third place : “Diligency” – Archaeological site Skupi, Macedonia

Through these archaeological photographs we wanted to present the real situation of archeology in Macedonia, to give incentive for the development of the culture, to increase the offer of cultural events in our country and if we are able to, to create a traditional exhibition that will be held every year. This year association Archaeologica is organizing a second exhibition of working archaeological photographs  – “Archaeology in Progress – Volume 2”, that will be held in September. Again a Competition will be announced to collect photographs made ​​during the archaeological excavations of various sites in the country and abroad. The competition will be public and will take place on the social networks  – on the Facebook page of Archaeologica.  All the photographs that we will receive will be published in an album where you can vote simply by pressing the Like button. A jury and the votes from the people will choose the best 50 photographs This exhibition will be a collection of the best archaeological photos and a celebration of the Macedonian archaeological culture. The video is the catalogue from the previous Archaeology in Progress exhibition. Elena Karanfilovska

Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Forms of Fatalist Beliefs in Ancient Macedonians

The most eminent mysteries of the ancient world took place on the island of Samothrace[1], located in the northern coast of the Aegean Sea, once regarded as the center of the mysterious cult of the Cabeiri venerated as protectors of sailors and ships, the meeting place of Philip and Olympias[2] amidst the celebration of the holiday of the Mighty Gods in the period from 365 to 361 BC, as recorded by Plutarch[3]. During the celebration, the ghosts of the dead were called upon and secretive rituals, orgies, purgation and purifications were held that only the immersed and initiated into the mysteries of the Cabeiri attended.The aim of the immersion into the Cabeiri mysteries was to relieve oneself of the past sins and protect oneself from future misfortune.[4] The influence of the Samothrace mysteries[5] and the respect that the Cabeiri enjoyed among the Macedonians of the ancient world is witnessed by the reliefs discovered on the territory of Macedonia. According to V. Bitrakova-Grozdanova, the Samothrace gods, the Cabeiri, were also known in western Paeonia by the name of Dioscuri and in compliance with the samples discovered in Macedonia, it is evident that this cult held a significant place in the religious beliefs of Macedonians in the ancient period.[6] IMG_1143

It is not known why Philip was on Samothrace, but it is known that Olympias was very religious and deeply mystical, having great respect for the orphic rituals and always participating in the holy dances dedicated to the gods of nature with great pleasure, as recorded by Plutarch.[7] She showed greater courage in handling the snakes than most women, a sight that “would make most men tremble with fear”[8] as A. Weigall would record.  It is assumed that her mysterious behavior and wild and untamable nature caught the attention of young Philip, who fell in love with her and married her five years later.

In the ancient period, beside the oracle of Delphi, the oracle of Dodona in Epirus was considered to be the most consulted one. It is the birthplace of Olympias, who is presumed to have been a frequent visitor of this place.The Oracle of Dodona was located in the immediate vicinity of the temple of Zeus, nestled between oak and beech woods whence the responses to prophecies were discerned through symbolic interpretation of the sounds of nature, the whisper of the tree leaves, the cooing of the doves, the babbling of the brooks and the songs of the brass vessels lulling to the wind.  A. Weigall discerns another type of prophesying used in the Oracle of Dodona. This involves a young man hitting a kind of gong with a whip with three chains, and thus the response of the deity corresponded to the nature and degree of the vibrations. [9] Due to simultaneous beginnings, similarity in the prophesying, as well as the choice of location in regards to oracles nestled in woods, the Oracle of Dodona is considered to be a twin-oracle to the Egyptian oracle of Siwa , known among the people as the Place of trees (Sekbet – iemy), located in the Egyptian desert, as recorded by Herodotus.[10]  Since the Oracle in Siwa was dedicated to Ammon, and Dodona dedicated to Zeus, the two Gods were equated into one, Zeus-Ammon and as such was worshipped amongst the peoples of the ancient world.  Philips visits to the Temple of Ammon in Thebes, Boeotia where the statue of this deity inscribed by Pindar was placed, as recorded by Pausanius,[11] as well as Philip’s offering of holy sacrifices at the famous Oracle in the Temple of Ammon in Macedonia, speak volumes of the cult of Ammon in Macedonia and the reverence he enjoyed among the ancient Macedonians.[12] In Donona, Zeus was worshipped under the name of Nayos, god of birth and the fertilizing moist of nature, whereas in Egypt Ammon was likened to Min, god of fertility.  The connection of Zeus from Dodona with Min-Ammon from Egypt is done through the use of a whip with three chains, the most characteristic symbol of Min in the prophesying ceremonies. Its use is also noted in the Oracle in Dodona during prophesying through hitting a gong with this kind of whip.    According to legend, after the arrangement of the wedding of Philip and Olympias, it is most likely that she directed all her prayers to Min-Ammon, god of fertility, whose power amongst the people was experienced through thunderbolts and the shooting stars in the sky. [13]

When weaving the legends of the birth and life of Alexander the Great, apart from the prophecies of oracles,a considerable role was also played by the beliefs in ancient forms of foretelling the future through different occurrences that were believed to be infallible signs or omens.   As the most common form of seeing into the future, prophetic dreams were considered to be the most enlightened and most significant form, followed by prophesying through the flight of the birds, odd signs as well as dream interpretation.    Predicting the future was in the hands of seers, prophets, druids, fortunetellers or astrologers. In the time of Philip and Alexander the great, Aristander was considered to be the most skilful seer.[14]

Legends that refer to the birth of the greatest leader and conqueror of all time, Alexander of Macedon, are most consistently described by Plutarch through the account of Olympias’ dream she dreamt a day before her wedding to Philip as well as Philip’s dream the next night, after the wedding ceremony.[15] The interpretation of Philip and Olymipias’ dreams was in the hands of Aristandar, the seer, who according to Plutarch: considering how unusual it was to seal up anything that was empty, so consluded that Olympias was with child of a boy, who would one day prove as stout and courageous as a lion.[16] The conception of Alexander of Macedon was followed by Olympias’ dream on the same night:  “The night when he was conceived, his mother dreamt that she had laid with a extraordinary serpent; and the dream was not a lie since, in her womb, she was carrying an offspring who was larger than human mortality.”[17] According to Egyptian legends, characteristically, Ammon would visits of the marital beds of mortal queens so as to infuse a certain divinity in the royal blood.  Thus, the legends that explore this dream imply a divine conception between Olypias and Ammon, incarnated as a serpent, as well as the people’s beliefs that she is to bring unto this world a child of Fate, son of Ammon in the role of Min-Ammon, the main god on the Egyptian oracle of Siwa. [18]

According to Plutarch, the weaving of legends about the estrangement between Philip and Olympias, and the dying out of his fiery passion for her are due to the constant presence of serpents in their marital chamber and bed. Olympias could not live without the serpents, but Philip in fear of poison, magic or the belief that she may be enamored by some divine creature, was ever after less fond of her company.   Thence Plutarch’s episode which describes Philip looking through the gap of the door before entering their marital chamber, so as to see whether there are serprents inside: “[he] presumed to peep through that chink of the door, when he saw the god, under the form of a serpent, in the company of his wife. [19]

The fear that Philip felt due to the constant presence of serpents in their bed chamber, as well as the belief he held in her divine conception, brought about an anxiety in him, and according to Plutarch:  Philip sent Chaeron of Megalopolis to Delphi, by whom an oracle was brought to him from Apollo, who bade him sacrifice to Ammon and hold that god in greatest reverence, but told him he was to lose that one of his eyes which he had applied to the chink in the door when he espied the god, in the form of a serpent, sharing the couch of his wife.…” [20]According to folk beliefs this would be his punishment for seeing something that no mortal was ever to see. [21]It is believed that this legend is connected to the later wounding of Philip’s right eye, which took place during the siege of Methone in 354 BC, and which the people interpreted as god’s punishment for the done deed.[22]His return to Pella with a patch on the eye further strengthened Olympia’s beliefs that Ammon did in fact visit her in the marital bed as a serpent and stirred up the precautions from the oracle in Delphi regarding Philip, which are now coming true.[23]

Many historiographers have noted down the legends that depict a series of peculiar omen prophecies which mark the birth of Alexander of Macedon. According to their scripts, the same night when Olympias gave birth, the ancient old temple of Ephesus, dedicated to Ephesian Artemis was engulfed in a fire and burnt to the ground. [24]Althought, Quintus Curtius Rufus gives a rational explanation as to the reason of the fire as an “act of profligate incendiary, who, being apprehended and put to the torture, admitted that despairing of fame by good actions, his view in perpetrating this impiety was to transmit his mane to after-ages by a stupendous crime”,[25] the fatalist belief in prophecies overcame reason among the Magiand the people, as stated by Plutarch: But all the Magi who were then at Ephesus, looking upon the temple’s disaster as a sign of further disaster, ran about beating their faces and crying aloud that woe and great calamity for Asia had that day been born.”[26]The Ephesus soothsayers interpreted this catastrophe as the onset of a great power fatal to the Orient, and according to their words “today there is a torch burning in one part of the world that one day is going to burn the East.”[27]Legends can be found that depict prophecies rooted in astronomical phenomenon which also indicated the future greatness and might of the newborn: “It was witnessed that Alexander’s birth was attended with lightning, thunder, and a local convulsions of the earth.” [28] Quintus Curtius Rufus records the legend of the two eagles sitting on the roof of the house where Olympias gave birth, interpreted by the diviners as a sign that the child born in that house would rule two kingdoms.[29] The legend of the three joyous messages Philip received after conquering the Athenian province of Potidaea, was interpreted as: “…and the seers raised his hopes still higher by declaring that the son whose birth coincided with three victories would never fail to be victorious.[30]

The belief in the divine origins of Philip and Olympias, their meeting of the island of Samothrace, and the influence of the religious beliefs, mysteries and prophecies gave rise to legends of the birth, life and death of their son Alexander III of Macedon, most probably to explain his life accomplishments. Although the story of Alexander of Macedon lives on more than two millennia, his legends in the Macedonian folklore have a national meaning and thence carry messages of the ethnogenesis of Macedonians and comprise the identity of the Macedonian people.

[1]Plutarch, 7, Translated from ancient Greek by Sarakinski, V., comments by Proeva, N. (2008) 183.

[2]Stoneman, R. (1997) 13.

[3]“And we are told that Philip, after being initiated into the mysteries of Samothrace at the same time with Olympias, he himself being still a youth and she an orphan child, fell in love with her and betrothed himself to her at once with the consent of her brother, Arymbas.” Plutarch, 7, 2,Translation by Sarakinski, V., comments by Proeva, N. (2008) 109.

[4]Weigall, A. (2006) 43

[5]Herodotus, II, 51, Translated from ancient Greek, preface and comments to text by Chadikovska, D. (1998) 135.

[6]A series of cult reliefs portraying the Dioscuri or Cabeiri ana a goddess among them have been discovered in western Paeonia in the villages of Zivojno, Krushevjani and Dunje, around Prilep, in addition samples have been discovered from Kavadarci (Sirkovo) to Stobi, from Negotino to Demir Kapija. Bitrakova-Grozdanova, V. (1999) 236 -238.

[7]“Now Olympias, who affected these divine possessions more zealously than other women, and carried out these divine inspirations in wilder fashion, used to provide the revelling companies with great tame serpents, which would often lift their heads from out the ivy and the mystic winnowing-baskets,or coil themselves about the wands and garlands of the women, thus terrifying the men.”Plutarch, 7, 2,Translation by Sarakinski, V., comments by Proeva, N. (2008) 109.

[8]Weigall A. (2006) 45.

[9]Loc. cit. 45.

[10]Herodotus,II, 54-58,  Translation, preface and comments to text by Chadikovska, D. (1998) 136-137.

[11] Paus., IX, 16,1.

[12]Plutarch, 7, Translated from ancient Greek by Sarakinski, V., comments by Proeva, N. (2008) 185.

[13]Weigall, A. (2006) 47-48. Macedonian traditional folklore beliefs that a new star is born on the sky with the birth of each child and said star dies away upon their death are maintained as rudiments from the oldest of times. Kovacehva, L. (2009) 53.

[14]Plutarch, 7, Translation from ancient Greek Sarakinski, V., comments Proeva, N. (2008) 184.

[15]“The night before the consummation of their marriage, she dreamed that a thunderbolt fell upon her body, which kindled a great fire, whose divided flames dispersed themselves all about, and then were extinguished. And Philip, some time after he was married, dreamt that he sealed up his wife’s body with a seal, whose impression, as be fancied, was the figure of a lion.“ Ibidem 109, 184.

[16]Ibidem 109.

[17]Justin, History of Philip,Translation from Hellenic by Basotova, Lj. (2008) 67.

[18]Weigall, A. (2006) 50-51.

[19]Plutarch, 7,2, Translation from ancient Greek Sarakinski, V., comments Proeva, N. (2008) 110.

[20]Ibidem 109-110.

[21]Weigall, A. (2006) 49.

[22] Plutarch, 7, Translation from ancient Greek Sarakinski, V.,comments Proeva, N. (2008) 185.

[23]Weigall, A. (2006)  53.

[24]Alexander was born the sixth of Hecatombaeon, which month the Macedonians call Lous, the same day that the temple of Diana at Ephesus was burnt. Plutarch, 7,3 Translated by Sarakinski, V., comments by Proeva, N. (2008) 110; According to Quintus Curtius Rufus.: “The night when Olympias gave birth, the most famous temple on all of Asia, dedicated to Diana at Ephesus burnt.”  Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History of Alexander, Translation from Hellenic by Basotova, Lj. (2008) 33.

[25]Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History of Alexander, Translation from Hellenic by Basotova, Lj. (2008) 33.

[26]Plutarch, 7,3, Translation from ancient Greek Sarakinski, V., comments Proeva, N. (2008) 110.

[27]Waigall, A. (2006) 52.

[28]Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History of Alexander, Translation from Hellenic by Basotova, Lj. (2008) 34.

[29]It has been recorded, as another remarkable incident, that two eagles set, during the whole day, upon the house where the queen was delivered, a presage that Alexander should become master of the empires both of Asia and Europe.” Loc.cit. 34.

[30] Plutarch, 7,3, Translation from ancient Greek Sarakinski, V., comments Proeva, N. (2008) 110.

By Phd. Lidija Kovacheva

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Archaeological site Stybera, R. Macedonia (PHOTO)

Archaeological site Bedem (Stybera),  near the village Cepigovo, Prilep, Macedonia. Excavations at the ancient city of  Stybera that existed from 3rd century BC to 4th century AD. In previous research campaigns we have discovered a temple dedicated to the protector of the city, the goddess Tihe and a gymnasium complex. In this year excavations we discovered four objects : the city altar, a metallurgy workshop, a sanctuary of the god with a bird face – perhaps Horus and a monumental building  with walls decorated in luxury stucco technique and  a lower zone colored in red – maybe the Bouleuterion of the city Stybera. By Dusko Temelkoski, project manager, NI Institute and Museum Prilep

bulevterion

Bouleuterion

The city altar ( I – II century AD)

The metallurgy workshop ( I – II century AD )

The sanctuary of the god with a bird face – perhaps Horus ( II – III century AD )