Archaeologists believe they’ve found Aristotle’s tomb in Stagira, a town in central Macedonia in northern Greece. A team of researchers say the 2,400-year-old tomb was excavated as part of a 20-year exploration of the site of ancient Stagira, where one of the world’s greatest philosophers was born in 384 BC.
The discovery of the tomb of Aristotle was announced by archaeologist Kostas Sismanidis, according to whom the findings from the 1996 excavation lead to the conclusion that the tomb belongs to Aristotle.
Aristotle was born in Stagira in 384 BC and died in Chalcis, Evia, at 322 BC. The great philosopher was originally believed to have been buried at Chalcis, however, archaeologists are now certain that the tomb they have found belongs to Aristotle. Two literary sources indicate that the people of Stagira may have transferred his ashes to his birthplace.
The tomb was in a structure unearthed in the ancient village of Stagira, where Aristotle was born, about 40 miles east of Thessaloniki. According to Mr. Sismanidis, the structure was a monument erected in Aristotle’s honor after his death in 322 B.C.
“We had found the tomb,” he said. “We’ve now also found the altar referred to in ancient texts, as well as the road leading to the tomb, which was very close to the city’s ancient marketplace within the city settlement.”
Although the evidence of whose tomb it was is circumstantial, several characteristics — its location and panoramic view; its positioning at the center of a square marble floor; and the time of its construction, estimated to be at the very beginning of the Hellenistic period, which started after the death of Aristotle’s most famous student, Alexander the Great, in 323 B.C. — “all lead to the conclusion that the remains of the arched structure are part of what was once the tomb-shrine of Aristotle,” Mr. Sismanidis said.
"In the Middle Ages, they built a medieval tower inside the tomb, so this is why a lot of the archaeology data was destroyed," said Sismanidis.
According to findings and research, “an altar was in the middle of the building where Aristotle’s grave was found.”
Aristotle’s was born in 384 BC and died in 322 BC. Citing Middle Age scripts based on ancient sources, Sismanides notes:
“When Aristotle died in Chalkida, in October 322 BC, the people of Stagiara brought his ashes back to the place where he was born. They put the ashes in a bronze urn and placed the urn in a place they called ‘Aristotelian.Every time they had to solve important issues and difficult problems they used to convene the assembly in this Aristotelian place.”
Researchers said the leaders of ancient Stageira built a monument over the tomb where the philosopher’s ashes were placed, immediately after his death in the southern Greece city-state of Chalkida. Aristotle was honored as his hometown’s hero, savior, law-giver and second “founder”, given that he mediated with Philip II of the Macedon to re-build the city (340 BC), after it was razed to the ground by the same ruler nine years earlier.
Aristotle, was a student of Plato and is regarded as one of history's greatest philosophers. He is credited with radically transforming many fields of knowledge, particularly in physics, metaphysics and logic.
An aerial view of the dig site. Photograph: PR
Remains of that complex were accidentally unearthed in 1996 during construction work for a site then earmarked for a new museum of modern art. From under the unpaved parking lot the fabled Lyceum emerged, replete with a central courtyard and wrestling area, or palaestra.
Northern Greece has been the scene of several discoveries, though not all of them have been well received. In 2014, amid great fanfare, a tomb initially believed to be the long-sought burial place of Alexander the Great was found in Amphipolis, also in central Macedonia.
Scholars subsequently agreed it was not related to the Macedonian warrior king, with many accusing authorities of deliberately overplaying the discovery to distract Greeks at a time of economic and social hardship.
The findings were presented at the 'Aristotle 2,400 Years World Congress' which is currently underway in Thessaloniki, Greece.
References: NY Times, Greek Reporter, CNN, Keep Talking Greece, Naftemporiki, The Guardian
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