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VERGHINA (“Balla”) Macedonia, Greece.

In the modern nome of Emathia (capital, Veroia) in the region of ancient Pieria, S of the Haliakmon river. Remains of an ancient city stretch between it and the town of Palatitsa, ca. 2 km to the E. The most notable remains are: (a) an extensive prehistoric cemetery, (b) remains of the city and acropolis, (c) a Macedonian palace, and (d) two “Macedonian” tombs. The name of the ancient city to which these remarkable ruins belong is not certainly known. The excavators of the area, however, from the time of the French archaeologist Leon Heuzey (first visit 1855) and K. A. Romaios (who began excavations in 1937) to the present, all scholars consider this to be the city of Balla (Steph. Byz. s.v. Βάλλα, Οὐάλλαι, Ptol. 3.13.40 [Nobbe]; Vallaei, Plin. HN 4.34).

The prehistoric necropolis, which extends for ca. one km, contains over 300 graves. About 100 of these have been excavated. Some contain only burials of the Early Iron Age (11th-7th c. B.C.). In other graves of this period there are burials also from the Hellenistic period, while others, finally, belong entirely to the early Hellenistic period. The prehistoric tombs are separated in groups, and since each tomb contained several burials (the richest having up to 50) it is probable that each tomb belonged to a family, and each group to a larger single community. The offerings in the tombs were mainly pottery, metal ornaments, and weapons.

The remains of the acropolis and settlement are known only from surface exploration and from more or less chance finds. The investigator traces with difficulty the remains of the acropolis walls in the thick brush growing over the hill which lies S of and above the cemetery. It appears that the settlement extended between the acropolis and the cemetery, and probably continued from the 11th c. B.C. to the Roman period, as indicated by various chance finds. The post-Byzantine Chapel of Haghia Triadha was in a ruinous state at the time of Huezey's first visit in 1855. It stands on the site of the palace, from whose ruins it is largely constructed, as are Haghios Demetrios of 1570 A.D. and other churches in the neighborhood, and the houses of Palatitsia.

The palace (105 x 89 m) is located in a splendid site between the acropolis and the cemetery, on a small plateau, which is probably in part artificial. Recent excavations to N and W have established that there were additions which enlarged the whole dimension of the complex. The building material is largely poros stone from Mt. Bermion. Mudbrick was used for the upper parts above the orthostates. Marble was used only for the thresholds. Shining stucco covered the walls, columns, etc. The plan of the palace was basically that of the Hellenistic house with peristyle, but enriched in an unusual way. One entered by the E wing through a Doric stoa with a pediment and then, through a triple porch arrived at a square, central peristyle court (45 m on a side) with 60 Doric columns, 16 to a side. Around the court were arranged stoas and rooms, one of which, a circular tholos for some religious purpose, is worthy of special note, as are rooms in the S wing with pebble mosaic floors. In places there was a second story. The abundance of Doric and Ionic architectural fragments and terracotta elements allows for restoration and, in many places, some reconstruction. The other small finds were oddly few in number, which hinders the understanding of the palace both as a whole and in particular areas. Only quite recently was a single significant inscription found in the area of the circular tholos, a dedication to Herakles Patroos. The palace dates to the time of Antigonos Gonatas' long reign (274-239 B.C.) or a little earlier.

The two tholos tombs of Macedonian type are standard underground tomb buildings. They are largely built of poros stone from Bermion, covered by stucco on which are painted decorations in color. They have a temple-type facade, two vaulted tomb chambers, marble doors and furniture. One of the two has fallen into ruin since excavation. The other, also excavated, has an Ionic temple-type facade and, in addition to the marble door, it has a unique marble throne.

The small finds from the area are mostly to be found in the Museums of Thessalonika and Beroia.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

L. Heuzey & H. Daumet, Mission archéologique de Macédoine (1876) 175-238MPI; K. A. Romaios, μακεδονικός τάφος τῆς Βεργίνας (1951); M. Andronikos et al., Τό ἀνάκτορον τῆς Βεργίνας (1961); Andronikos, Vergina: The Prehistoric Necropolis and the Hellenistic Palace (1964)PI; id., Βεργίνα I: Τό νεκροταφεῖον τῶν τύμβων (1969)MPI; Ph. M. Petsas, Ἀνασκαφή νεκροταφείου Βεργίνης 1961-62, Deltion 17 (1961-62) 218-88PI; 18 (1963) Χρονικά 217-32PI; id., “The Multiple Brush . . . ,” in Essays in Memory of Karl Lehmann (1964) 255-58MI; id., “Verghina,” EAA VII (1966) 1135I; id., Χρονικά Ἀρχαιολογικά, Μακεδονικά 7 (1967) 324-33PI; 9 (1969) 193-95; N.G.L. Hammond, A History of Macedonia, I (1972).

PH. M. PETSAS

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