• sulla80

Who is buried in Philip II’s tomb?

Updated: Sep 5

My collecting focus has been the Roman Republic and especially the time period around the career of Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix. I have only have a few Greek coins, and have not studies much beyond the names of the legendary kings they display. This AE coin of Philip II is a favorite for its hard to photograph, perfect, dark green patina, and sharp portrait and obverse. Philip II of Macedon reigned 359–336 BC.

Rev: ΦIΛIΠΠOY, Youth on horseback right; thunderbolt before.

Ref: SNG ANS 880

Size: 17.5 mm (7.41 gm)


A veteran of many battles, in 355-354 BC, while attacking the city of Methone, Phillip’s right eye was injured by an arrow and had to be removed using a Spoon of Diocles. This device was invented by Diocles, a Greek physician from Carystus a city on Euboea, and in the article below we can read: “Celsus says this instrument was developed to remove wide barbed missiles”. This survey of medical implements in ancient Rome – helps to illustrate the torment that medicine offered in Phillip’s time.


This eye injury and other battle wounds of Philip II weighed for both sides in a 30-year debate about remains found in Tomb II unearthed in 1977 at Aegae or Aigai (near modern Vergina) and whether or not the occupant was Phillip II. There is a long (maybe appropriately, torturously long) article of the back and forth here and a 2015 writeup assessing the bones - here.


This last article mentioned, concludes from the remains from Tomb II: the evidence indicates that “the man in the chamber is Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, and the woman in the antechamber his seventh wife or concubine, the daughter of Scythian king Atheas”.

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