A Scythian princess lying with the father of Alexander the Great
Golden larnax and the golden grave crown of Philip II of Macedon.
Vergina (a small town in northern Greece) became internationally famous in 1977 as the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. The finds established the site as the ancient Aigai, first capital of Macedon.
Because my evidence-based history of the divine men of Classical Antiquity begins with Alexander and - in my opinion - becomes intimately tied to Scythia, this discovery could be especially significant:
Study Confirms Remains as Philip II of Macedon
Friday, October 10, 2014
An anthropological team investigating cremated remains found in a royal tomb in Vergina, Greece, has claimed that the remains belong to King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, and an unknown woman warrior. Theodore Antikas, head of the Art-Anthropological research team of the Vergina excavation, suggests that she may have been the daughter of Scythian King Ateas. The tomb was one of three excavated from the same mound in the late 1970s by Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos. This tomb, known as Tomb II, had been intact, and it contained silver and bronze vessels, gold wreaths, weapons, armor, and two gold larnakes, or caskets. Antikas told Discovery News that the identification of the middle-aged, male skeleton was based upon marks on the bones. “The individual suffered from frontal and maxillary sinusitis that might have been caused by an old facial trauma,” he said. Philip II was blinded when his right eye was hit with an arrow during the siege of Methone in 354 B.C. “He had signs of chronic pathology on the visceral surface of several low thoracic ribs, indicating pleuritis,” Antikas added of the warrior’s skeleton, which also showed signs of frequent horseback riding. Traces of an object made of royal purple, huntite, textile, beeswax, and clay had been placed on top of the bones in the gold larnax. A pelvis bone fragment from the other casket indicates that the remains belonged to a woman who died between the ages of 30 and 34. She had suffered a fracture in her left leg that had shortened it. “This leads to the conclusion that the pair of mismatched greaves—the left is shorter—the Scythian gorytus, or bow case, and weaponry found in the antechamber belonged to her,” Antikas explained.
Ateas (ca. 429 BC–339 BC) was described in Greek and Roman sources as the most powerful king of Scythia, who lost his life and empire in the conflict with Philip II of Macedon in 339 BC.Approximate extent of Scythia within the area of distribution of Eastern Iranian languages (shown in orange) in the 1st century BCE:
By the 340s, he had united under his power Scythian tribes inhabiting a vast territory between the Danube and the Maeotian marshes. His purported capital was excavated by Soviet archaeologists near the town of Kamianka on the Dnieper.
Conflict with Macedon
Towards the end of his life, Ateas increasingly encroached upon the Greek-Macedonian sphere of influence in the Balkans. Greek sources record his campaign against the tribe of the Histriani in Thrace. At first Ateas found it prudent to enlist the assistance of Macedon. When Philip's troops arrived to Scythia, they were dismissed with derision: the king of the Histriani had died and military action was no longer on the agenda. Another collision between Philip and Ateas arose during the former's siege of Byzantium, when the Scythians refused to provide Macedonian troops with supplies, citing the barrenness of their land as a pretext.
These petty conflicts with Ateas gave Philip a ground for invading his dominions. The final straw was the Scythians' reluctance to allow Philip to dedicate a statue of Heracles at the Danube estuary. In 339 BC, the two armies clashed on the plains of modern-day Dobruja. The ninety-year-old Ateas was killed in action and his army was routed. Philip seems to have been wounded as well and his horse was killed in the thick of the fray.
Peace was bought at the price of concession of 20,000 Scythian women and as many steppe mares to the Macedonians. In the wake of this defeat, the empire of Ateas fell to pieces. The Scythians are presumed to have lost their dominant position in the Pontic steppe for two centuries, until the reign of Scilurus in the 2nd century BC.
The Scythians – the Greeks' name for this nomadic people – inhabited Scythia from at least the 11th century BCE to the 2nd century CE.[Lessman, Thomas. World History Maps. 2004.] Its location and extent varied over time but usually extended farther to the west than is indicated on the map opposite.[Giovanni Boccaccio’s Famous Women translated by Virginia Brown 2001, p. 25; Cambridge and London, Harvard University Press ".....extending from the Black Sea in a northerly direction towards Ocean." In Boccaccio's time the Baltic Sea was known also as Oceanus Sarmaticus.]
That is, Scythians ruled from Romania to India. This point is critical to understanding the identity of the king named by Josephus as Izates and Izas, son of the queen called Helen of Adiabene (and on her tomb, Sara); they both have important roles in Judea of the early 1st century CE and ca 200 he became divine. He does not exist in any contemporaneous account and I identify him as the Indo-Scythian king known as both Azes I and II (according to Bob Senior).
I bring these (the Scythian princess buried with the father of Alexander, and Izates) together, in order to mark what may be the start of Greco-style divinity associated with Scythian royalty. Alexander's claim to divinity was through his parents, as well as prophecy, and only flourished fully with the Roman Empire, which is when Izates appears, then becomes divine.