The ancient Macedonian tomb of Lyson and Kallikles at Leucadia

ancient Macedonian tomb

The Tomb of Lyson and Kallikles is one of the four Macedonian tombs of Lefkadia, built along the ancient road connecting the town of Mieza with Pella, the capital of the Macedonian Kingdom.

The pottery discovered inside the tomb and the prosopography of the deceased indicate a date from the late third to the middle of the second centuries BC.

Although the small tomb of the group is distinguished by its ornate interior, it belonged to the family of Aristophanes, of which five generations were buried here.

Their names are inscribed inside the rectangular niches in two superimposed rows along the walls.
The tomb consists of a narrow ante-chamber and a north-south rectangular burial chamber. The burial chamber was entered from the south through a double door.

The ante-chamber has a flat ceiling, and its walls have painted representations of a sprinkler and an altar.

Over the door leading into the burial chamber are the names of the first two deceased, Lyson and Kallikles, sons of Aristophanes.

The burial chamber has twenty-two niches, of which seventeen received the ashes and grave gifts of deceased family members. The trompe-l’oeil Ionic antae give the impression of a true peristyle inside a garden.

A continuous garland of leaves, pomegranates and ribbons crowns the peristyle. At the same time, the tympana on the short sides have paintings of weapons like those often placed as grave gifts – helmets, swords and two different types of Macedonian shields.

The vividness of the colours and good state of preservation of the wall paintings are since the earthen tumulus covering the tomb was not removed after the monument’s discovery, thus keeping the temperature and humidity inside the tomb stable.

The stylistic similarities between the paintings of this tomb and the Second Pompeian Style indicate the close contact between Hellenistic Greece and Republican Rome; this particular style (dubbed ‘Architectural Style’ by the archaeologist Stella Miller) may be the beginning or may have inspired the Second Pompeian Style.
The tomb was discovered by chance in 1942 and was excavated by Charalambos Makaronas, who published a brief report. Stella Miller thoroughly studied it.

The monument is closed to the public to preserve the stable conditions, allowing for remarkable preservation. A metal shelter was built over the tomb in 1999 for additional protection.