In an announcement that makes me very giddy, archeologist Kostas Sismanidis has stated there are strong indications that a peculiar ancient tomb found in the area of Stagira, in central Macedonia, is the tomb of the Aristotle. The Archaeological News Network reports this after the announcement was made during an international conference on the famous philosopher in Thessaloniki.

Sismanidis, whose team has spent 20 years digging in the area, said the horseshoe-shaped domed building unearthed in the middle of the south side of the Stagira hill was just a few dozen meters from the agora arcade. The tomb had a tiled roof made at the royal pottery workshop, affirming its public function. A two-meter-wide raised, processional, built road lead to the monument entrance that was accessible to people offering bids.

Artefacts, pottery and more than fifty coins found in the area date the tomb and the altar at the times of Alexander the Great. The top of the dome is 10 meters high and there is a rectangular marble floor surrounding a Byzantine tower. Aristotle, considered as one of the most important philosophers, was a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. 

Sismanidis cited two literary sources that in his view indicate the people of Stagira may have transferred Aristotle's remains from Evia, where he died in 322 BC, to his birthplace. The manuscripts he referred to are from The Marciana Library and an Arabic biography of Aristotle from the second half of the 11 century BC. According to the latter:

"...when Aristotle died, the people of Stagira sent and brought back his ashes to their home, placed it in a copper urn and then deposited this urn in a location called ‘Aristotelion’. Every time they had important issues and wanted to resolve difficult problems, they convened their assembly in this place."

Addressing the “Aristotle World Congress”, Sismanidis, upon explaining these sources, stated the following on the transport of Aristotle's remains and a potential hero cult that was formed after his death:

"Based, therefore, on the above written sources, we believe that we cannot challenge the information they give us concerning the transport and burial of Aristotle's remains in the city of Stagira, on the establishment of an altar at the tomb of the philosopher, on the posthumous honours and on the establishment of the annual ‘Aristotelian’ celebration. We believe, but without having proof, just strong indications, that all evidence contribute to this version."

The possibility of a hero cult in honour of Aristotle in his hometown is not far-fetched. We know of many people who inspired or protected a town who, upon death, recieved these honours. The Erkhian calendar, for example, lists many heroes who recieved annual sacrifice but were worshipped nowhere else, at least not in such a way. It is the first time actual evidence has been brought to bear, however, in connection to an actually plausible location of his tomb. Of course, this evidence was immedietly challenged. The major pain points?

- The structure has been standing at Stagira for 20 years, why did Sismanidis wait so long to make his revelation? The announcement was quickly dubbed the “Amphipolis of the Left.”

- The area is found just a few kilometers away from the controversial Skouries mine, a high-grade gold-copper porphyry deposit located in the Halkidiki peninsula that was planned to operate as an open pit mine for about seven years, followed by approximately 20 years of underground development. However, in January 2016, Eldorado Gold suspended work on the controversial Skouries mine, with the decision coming after a year of confrontations with the Greek government that included permits being revoked and delayed by the state multiple times, principally due to environmental concerns, and local opposition. An important finding such as Aristotle’s tomb in the area would further weigh the balance against the operation of the mine.

- Though archaeologists point to Sismanidis as a respected scientist, they are critical of his decision to make his announcement at a conference where the findings would not be put to tough scrutiny by archaeologists but at an event of a philosophical character.

So there you have it. As with many archaeological finds, most likely only time will tell. For now, I love the idea and I'm rolling with it. Call it the privilage of the unscientific.