Alexander’s tomb says that in the recently discovered Greek tomb might be buried the mother of Alexander the Great
The recently discovered sphinxes guarding the entrance to the Lion Tomb beneath the great mound at Amphipolis in Macedonia were unveiled on August 12th 2014 during a visit by the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras. They may be telling us more than has yet been realised about the occupant of this newly excavated tomb and its connections with other important Macedonian tombs of the period. That they are indeed sphinxes, rather than griffins or winged lions, is shown by the fact that both originally had human female breasts in the chest area.
The tomb has been dated to the last quarter of the fourth century before Christ (325- 300BC) by the archaeologists, led by Katerina Peristeri. This was the period immediately following the death of Alexander the Great in 323BC. Sphinxes are not particularly common in high status Macedonian tombs of this era, but, significantly, sphinxes were prominent parts of the decoration of two thrones found in the late 4th century BC tombs of two Macedonian queens in the royal cemetery at Aegae (modern Vergina) in Macedonia. The first of these was found in the tomb attributed to Eurydice I, the grandmother of Alexander the Great. Carved sphinxes were among the decorations of its panels until they were stolen by thieves in 2001.
Secondly, a marble throne was found in another royal tomb close by the tomb of Eurydice I by K. A. Rhomaios in 1938. It was in pieces, but has since been reconstructed and it has sphinxes as supporters for both arm rests and also royal Macedonian starbursts at the head of its back panel. Archaeology has shown that this tomb was never covered by the usual tumulus, so it may never have been occupied. It dates roughly to the end of the 4th century BC. Both of these tombs are from a section of the royal cemetery dominated by high status female graves and therefore known as the “Queens’ Cluster”.
The throne of a late 4th century BC queen from the Rhomaios tomb at Aegae It therefore seems that sphinxes were a particular symbol of late 4th century BC Macedonian queens. But why might Macedonian queens have associated themselves with sphinxes? One possible answer emerges from Greek mythology. Apollodorus 3.5.8 wrote: Laius was buried by Damasistratus, king of Plataea, and Creon, son of Menoeceus, succeeded to the kingdom. In his reign a heavy calamity befell Thebes.