Forgotten head of Alexander found in Macedonian museum

A long forgotten marble head of Alexander the Great has been rediscovered in storage at the Archaeological Museum of Veroia in Macedonia, Greece, announced Angeliki Kotarides, head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Imathia. It was found in a corner of the museum’s warehouse, hidden between crates of pottery, old masonry and dust. It had suffered damage from centuries of rough treatment, but Kotarides immediately recognized the “the leonine mane, the dreamy eyes, the ineffable gaze” so characteristic of the iconography of Alexander the Great.

Veroia was an important city in the Macedonian kingdom. Under the Argead dynasty (Philip and his son Alexander were the 5th and 4th to last Argead kings), Veroia was the second most important city after the capital of Pella. Philip’s resplendent tomb in Vergina is just 7 miles southeast of the center of Veroia. Classical and Hellenistic era cemeteries from the 5th through the 2nd century B.C. practically surround the town. Rock-cut tombs, pit and cist graves have been unearthed in cemeteries in northeast, southeast and southwest Veroia.

The museum is small but dense with exceptional artifacts excavated in the area that date from the Neolithic through the Ottoman period, with particular emphasis on its rich Classical and Hellenistic history. The Hellenistic-era sculpture of Alexander was discovered in the 1970s in a rubble pile near the town in the Imathian plain. It had been reused as building material centuries ago.

After conservation and cleaning, the rediscovered Alexander will go on display at the museum in 2020. It will join another fine sculpture, a 2nd century B.C. head of Medusa, that was discovered in construction rubble, believed to have been reused in the city’s north wall.