Fragment from the facade with guttae and traces of paint, Vergina

Landscape view from hill S of palace toward E, Vergina

Landscape view from hill S of palace toward NE, Vergina

Terracotta water pipe SE of palace courtyard, from S, Vergina

Triglyphs and metopes block from S side of central peristyle court, from N...

Overall view of Royal Palace of Palatitsa, from S, Vergina

Summary: Probably the ancient Macedonian capital of Aigai, with Hellenistic palace and important early Hellenistic royal tombs.
Type: Fortified city
Region: Macedonia




South of Beroia (ancient Berea) and the Haliacmon river are the remains of an ancient city believed to be ancient Aigai, the capital of Macedonia. The city has fortifications on an acropolis overlooking the settlement and a Hellenistic palace complex.


The palace is a large complex (ca. 104.5 x 88.5 m.) with rooms arranged around a peristyle court. Many of the rooms seem to have served as dining rooms or androns, many with mosaic floors. On the south side of the palace is a circular room, the "Tholos" which the excavator suggests may have served as a shrine and court of judgement. The complex dates to the end of the fourth century B.C. It appears to have been destroyed by fire in the mid 2nd century B.C. and abandoned. An inscription in the "Tholos" of the palace reads *H*R*A*K*L*H*I *P*A*T*R*W*I*W*I, "(dedicated) to Herakles the Father" — i.e. the father of the Macedonian royal house.

Nearby are the remains of a theater; a small temple of Eukleia; important defensive walls and gates; and Hellenistic houses.

Beyond the palace a large number of tombs, dating from the 10th to the 2nd century B.C. have been discovered. A huge tumulus, 110 m. in diameter and containing at least three Late Classical/Early Hellenistic vaulted tomb chambers, lies on the western edge of the necropolis. Two of the tombs in this tumulus were found unplundered, and Tomb II has been identified as the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. These royal burials, with their well-preserved painted decoration and stunning contents, are among the most spectacular recent discoveries of Greek archaeolog


The earliest excavations were by L. Heuzey and H. Daumet in 1861. Additional excavations were carried out in 1937-1940, 1952-1961, and 1965-1968 by C. Romaios, C. Makaronas, G. Bakalakis, and M. Andronikos. Since 1962 M. Andronikos has conducted excavations, uncovering the royal tombs among other discoveries.

Sources Used:

Andronikos 1984; Rossiter 1977, 530; PECS, 967-968; Leekley and Efstratiou 1980, 104-106

Other Bibliography:

L. Heuzey and H. Daumet, Mission archéologique de Macédoine (1876) 175-238. M. Andronikos, Vergina: The Prehistoric Necropolis and the Hellenistic Palace (SIMA no. 13)(1964 Lund). Reports in: ArchDelt 16 (1960) Chr. 212ff; 17 (1961-2) Chr. 226ff and Mel. 218ff; 18 (1963) Chr. 217ff; 19 (1964) Chr. 366ff; 21 (1966) Chr. 357ff; 24 (1969) Chr. 336ff; 25 (1970) Chr. 390ff; 26 (1971) Chr. 408ff; Balkan Studies 2 (1961) 85ff; 5 (1964) 292ff; BCH (1938) 473; (1939) 316; AA (1939) 257; AAA 9 (1976) 123ff; 10 (1977) 1ff, 40ff; Prakt 1952-1961; Ergon 1957-1962.