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Manolis Andronikos (1919-1992)

Manolis Andronikos was born in 1919 to a family which had lived through the Greek Diaspora from Asia Minor and eventually re-settled in Thessaloniki. He began his studies in 1936 at the University of Thessaloniki’s Faculty of Philosophy. Upon completion of his degree in 1941, he was appointed to the post of philologist at a high school in Didymoteicho. During WWII, he enlisted in the Greek army and served as sergeant in the 8th Battalion of the II Brigade in Tripoli, Cyrenaica, guarding Italian prisoners.

In 1949, Andronikos was appointed curator of antiquities at the Ephorate of Central Macedonia, the start of a string of successful career appointments. In 1952, he was appointed a professor of Classical Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He worked as a lecturer in Archaeology from 1957 and became full professor of the 2nd chair of Archaeology in 1961 and again in 1964.

Andronikos conducted excavations in Veria, Naoussa, Kilkis, Halkidiki and Thessaloniki, although his primary archaeological focus was directed at Vergina, where he had first excavated as a student in 1937 under supervision of his teacher, C. Rhomaios. It was here, on 8th November 1977, that Andronikos made archaeological history when he and his team unearthed the monumental tomb of one of Macedonia’s great rulers, King Philip II (359-336 B.C.).

The Great Tomb of the Vergina Tumulus was replete with incredible artefacts: a golden larnax containing the remains of the legendary ruler; a helmet; a shield composed of ivory, gold, bronze and silver; gilded iron armour; greaves; a wooden couch embellished with gold and ivory; golden diadems, among countless other unique and invaluable works of art.

When Andronikos posited that the tomb was that of the father of Alexander the Great, his claim was met with harsh criticism within his field, and the true identity of the remains unearthed in the tomb was debated for years afterwards. In 2010 and 2016 results of scientific skeletal analysis finally vindicated the archaeologist’s sensational claim: the facial asymmetry of the deceased was found to be consistent with the biography of Philip II, who was hit in the eye with an arrow whilst laying siege to Methone. Irrespective of the identity of the human remains found within the tomb, the discovery of the monument is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century.

British historian N.G.L. Hammond said of Andronikos’ work: ‘During my many visits to Vergina I admired the astonishing skill of Andronikos and his team of archaeologists and technicians, as well as the perfection of their research under his guidance. He was the most outstanding excavator, scholar and art historian of his generation, who radically overturned our perception of ancient Macedonia... As was evident from the letter he sent me, he was an extremely generous colleague, a bold thinker and man of action, to whom ubiquitous scholars must feel a deep debt.’

 

Dr. Raffaele D’Amato


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