Amphipolis (Grèce): Third chamber at tomb deemed unstable

Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports

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Archaeologists entering the third chamber of the ancient tomb at Amphipolis are facing problems with the structural integrity of the third chamber, such as around the marble pillars where a visible portion of the vertical walls have detached from the main structure, according to the Ministry of Culture.

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The inner dome is made of limestone as in the previous chambers [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]

The Ministry of Culture stated in a press release that members of the scientific team entered the third chamber from the existing hole in the third sealing wall in order to document and determine the structural integrity inside so as to implement the necessary support measures.

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The dome appears on the verge of caving ins [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]

The site observation revealed that the level of sandy soil is lower than at the previous two chambers and natural sediments containing shell fossils from the natural terrain were found.  

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The dome structure is weakened as a result of having lost a great deal of mass [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]

They found that the arched dome of the third chamber is on the verge of collapse, showing deep and extensive cracks on either side. The detached sections are believed to be the result of immense pressure to the structure, possibly due to the tall embankments on either side of the dome. In particular, the southern part of the chamber is burdened by terrain 2 metres in height and 12 to 13 metres in the northern section.

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The inner portion of the lintel [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]

Inside, the arched dome is constructed of limestone, like the previous two chambers. There is a repeated pattern on the visible part of the three vertical walls to the east, west and north. Similar to the previous two chambers, there are pillars with a crowned ionic architrave.

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The limestone covering is coated with red paint  [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]

The visible part of the south wall on the right and left of the door frames shows that marble lining continues, with the overlying limestone covered with red paint. The inner portion of the lintel has fallen. 

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Axonometric view of the Amphipolis tomb revealed thus far  [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]

The debris is being removed slowly and systematically to ensure that the dome does not collapse.