Such Disrespect! First Used as a Building Material and Then Lost in a Warehouse, an Ancient Bust of Alexander the Great Is Found

"I saw him… despite the wounds left on his beautiful face by the ages and ignorance," says the museum director.

Alexander the Great. Photo by Angeliki Kottaridi.
Alexander the Great. Photo by Angeliki Kottaridi.

Greek archaeologists have announced the discovery of a rare and ancient bust of Alexander the Great—and all they had to do was look through the unexplored corners of the storage in one of their own museums. Forgotten for decades, the sculpture is believed to date from the second century BCE, or about 200 years after Alexander’s death in 323 BCE.

The marble statue was spotted amid crates of ceramics in a “lost in a dark corner of the warehouse” of the Archaeological Museum of Veroia in Macedonia, Greece. The find was revealed by the institution’s director, Angeliki Kottarid, on Facebook, who touted it as a “‘brand new’ Portrait of Alexander, still unknown to archaeologists and art lovers.” Kottarid also serves as director of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

Alexander the Great continues to capture the imagination even to this day. The Macedonian ruler conquered large swathes of Asia and north Africa, consolidating a massive empire through an unprecedented military campaign before his death at just 32. The discovery in 2018 of a massive granite sarcophagus in Egypt led to widespread speculation that archaeologists had at last discovered Alexander’s final resting place, but instead proved to hold evidence of ancient brain surgery.

View of the 2nd Room, image from the Archaeological Museum, Veroia, Central Macedonia, Greece. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

View of the 2nd Room, image from the Archaeological Museum, Veroia, Central Macedonia, Greece. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

At the Veroia museum, Alexander’s likeness was a little bit the worse for wear, having been used as a building material in the Greek town where it was originally discovered amid some rubble. Nevertheless, Kottarid was able to identify the figure as the legendary Alexander when she took a fresh look at the bust.

“I saw him… despite the wounds left on his beautiful face by the ages and ignorance,” she wrote, telling Athens-Macedonian News Agency that the artwork is one of only three known ancient portraits of Alexander in the Macedonia region.

The more than 2,000-year-old statue, which has since been cleaned and restored, is due to go on display at the archaeological site of Aigai, at the Museum of the Macedonian Royal Tombs in Vergina, Greece, where Kottaridi is also director, at the end of 2020.


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