Tomb of Alexander the Greats mystery lover discovered after 2,300 years

Tomb of Alexander the Great's mystery 'lover' discovered

The tomb of one of a prostitute who seduced the elite “during Alexander the Great’s campaigns” has been discovered after 2,300 years.

The remarkable discovery was made south of Jerusalem, Israel, and contained the cremated remains of a young woman.

Accompanying the remains was a rare box mirror that looks “as if it was made yesterday”.

Archaeologists believe the remains belong to a hetaira – a high-class escort from ancient Greece, who offered elite clients not only sex, but also companionship and intellectual stimulation.


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They also say she may have worked with the armies of Alexander the Great, or those who warred for his vast empire.

A study by archaeologists at Tel Aviv University outlines the fascinating find. Co-author Guy Stiebel says it is the earliest evidence of cremation found in Israel from the Hellenistic period.

The study concludes: “It is most likely that this is the tomb of a woman of Greek origin who accompanied a senior member of the Hellenistic army or government, during Alexander the Great’s campaigns or more likely during The Wars of the Diadochi (successors).”

Dr Stiebel said the mysterious nature of the tomb initially raised questions.

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He said: “The most stimulating one was: what is the tomb of a Greek woman doing on the highway leading to Jerusalem, far from any site or settlement of the period?

“The tomb particularly intrigued us, also in light of the fact that the archaeological information regarding Jerusalem and its surroundings in the early Hellenistic period is very scarce.”

The rare box mirror proved crucial to unravelling the mystery.

Liat Oz, who directed the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and also co-authored the new study, emphasised how exclusive the item was.

She said: “This is only the second mirror of this type that has been discovered to date in Israel.

“And in total, only 63 mirrors of this type are known around the Hellenistic world.

“The quality of the mirror is so high that it was preserved in excellent condition, and it looked as if it was made yesterday.”

Mirrors such as the one found in the tomb are usually associated with Greek women. They are decorated with idealised females or goddesses like Aphrodite – the goddess of love.

However, because the remains were found at a roadside location, it is thought the person buried was traveling with an army on the move – something Greek wives rarely did.

This is why they believe the remains belong to a hetaira.

Dr Stiebel said future tests could reveal precisely whose army the woman was escorting.

He said: “There are several possibilities ranging from the time of Alexander, through to the Diadochi and the first Syrian Wars.

“For all there are various hints in both the archaeological and historical records.

“It is still too early a stage for us to pinpoint the exact ruler.

“We do hope that, in the near future, archaeometallurgic tests will shed more light on the narrative of this fascinating burial and mirror.”

IAA director Eli Escusido said: “This is an example of the combination of archaeology and research at its best.

“The study of a seemingly simple object lead us to a new understanding and a narrative that opens a window for us to a forgotten and vanished ancient world.

“These days, researchers are using more technologies to extract more information, and maybe we will be able to get to know that lady and her culture better.”

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