‌Wrong! X-Ray Finds That Remains Thought To Alexander The Great’s Father Is Actually His Brother ‌

Recent study disputes tomb identification, revealing Philip II of Macedon’s location in Vergina.

<p>Alexander Instructing his Soldiers, from The Deeds of Alexander the Great, 1608. Artist Antonio Tempesta. HERITAGE ART/HERITAGE IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES. </p>

A recent study says that the remains of Alexander the Great’s father have been identified by X-ray analysis in a Greek tomb after having long been confused with those of his brother.


Though he died in 323 BC, Alexander the Great continues to fascinate us and his life has been the recent focus of a show on “Netflix.”


According to Live Science, a new international study that is expected to spark controversy claims that archaeologists previously misidentified Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, as being in a tomb in Vergina, Greece. Historians have long recognized that in fact three graves from the fourth century B.C.E can be found at the site. 

The study first appeared in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports’ December issue. The researchers reported that King Philip III Arrhidaeus, the half-brother of Alexander the Great, and his teenage son, Alexander IV, were also buried in the three tombs, in addition to Alexander’s father, Philip II of Macedon. 


Though not as famous as his son, Philip II of Macedon built a small empire and instituted many practices later copied by his more famous son prior to his assasination.

Originally called Aegae, Vergina served as the capital of Macedonia in ancient times. According to Live Science, the archaeologists obtained x-rays of the bones in the graves and matched them to comprehensive accounts of the Macedonian royals, including physical characteristics like weight, height, and injuries of the bodies.


The report, which was obtained by Live Science, stated that the knee damage on Alexander’s father’s remains was “consistent with the historic evidence of the lameness of King Philip II.” 

The study found that he was not in Tomb II as he had previously believed, but rather in what is known as Tomb I. Since the 1970s, the location of the Vergina site has been the subject of controversy regarding which royals are interred in each tomb.


The study’s lead author, Antonios Bartsiokas, a professor of anthropology and paleoanthropology at Democritus University of Thrace in Komotini, Greece, told Live Science that the research “was like a fascinating detective’s ancient story.” 

In Tomb II, the researchers discovered King Philip III Arrhidaeus, the half-brother and heir of Alexander the Great. 

“His skeletal evidence and the pattern of his cremated bones have been shown to be consistent with the circumstances of the death of King Arrhidaeus and his wife. Tomb I was a very small and poor tomb and Tomb II was very big and rich. This ties with the historical evidence that Macedonia was in a state of bankruptcy when Alexander started his campaign and very rich when he died. This is consistent with Tomb I belonging to Philip II and Tomb II belonging to his son Arrhidaeus,” said Bartsiokas according to Live Science.  

(Additional reporting provided by Miriam Onyango)