Royal Tombs and Cult of the Dead Kings in Early Hellenistic Macedonia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the geopolitical chessboard of the Aegean Sea, Macedonian power emerged and developed thanks to the extraordinary organizational and strategic ability of Philip II, king of Macedonia since 359 BC. Amidst the wreckage of contemporary Hellenistic historiography, only Books 16-20 of the Library of Diodorus Siculus, the historian of the second half of the first century BC, provide the widest and most ancient historical continuum on the years between 359 and 302 BC. In his account of the events, Diodorus sometimes mentions customs typical of the Macedonian tradition, with some references also to the official burial ceremonies for the deceased sovereigns. These references became particularly significative in the last three decades of the twentieth century due to the archaeological discoveries of Manolis Andronikos at Vergina, where, in the excavations of the so-called Great Tumulus, came to light an impressive number of ancient structures: three underground tombs and a surface monument, identified as a heroon, i.e. a sacred building dedicated to the worship of one or more dead people inhumed in close proximity. This paper examines the passages in Diodorus' work dedicated to funeral honours for the deceased sovereigns to prove that such honours were an important step in the legitimation of the new ruler.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAncient Historiography on War and Empire
EditorsS. Müller and R. Stoneman T. Howe
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Ancient world
  • Historiography


Dive into the research topics of 'Royal Tombs and Cult of the Dead Kings in Early Hellenistic Macedonia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this