More finds at Vergina, ceremonial capital of Macedonia

The digging season at Vergina is over for 2009, and it has been an eventful one. The latest information to be revealed is that the substantial remains of the town's defensive wall have been discovered.

A team from the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki have been excavating the North East section of the wall, which is situated in privately owned land. This particular part of the wall is in an excellent state of preservation and at times reaches a height of 1.90m.

Some of the wall-towers reach a thickness of 2.80m: evidence of a very substantial fortification built to withstand threat from siege engines. Stone stairs gave access to the second storey. An interesting feature are the small protected gateways next to the towers, which perhaps allowed the defending troops to make forays against their attackers.

Of further interest is the fact that much of the construction material of the wall appears to be re-used masonry from public buildings in the ancient city. Thorough examination of this masonry should add to our knowledge of the city in the period prior to the wall's construction, which, from the dating of small finds and other evidence, is thought to be of the time of Cassander, or the early 3rd C BC. This was a time when Macedonia experienced unrest due to both civil conflicts and external invasions. The city had a strategic position on the route from the ports of Pydna and Methone to Upper Macedonia and this may have contributed to its need for fortification, in addition to its status as ancient capital and royal burial ground.

Apart from the discovery of the fortifications, a number of artifacts threw further light on city life during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, including food residues such as the seeds of legumes, cereals and olive stones.