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The Tomb of the Lost King reopened thanks to the BBC Archive

January 26, 2010

When I was 17 years old I went on a classical tour of the mainland of Greece. A big reason why I was so eager to make the trip was a Chronicle programme by the BBC that I saw as a small child. In 1979, Chronicle screened Tomb of the Lost King and it told a gripping tale of a Macedonian king, buried in gold, and possibly murdered by his own son, Alexander the Great. What caught my attention was the thought that maybe the last person to see Philip of Macedon’s remains, including his armour and gold crowns, was Alexander himself. This thought stayed with me through travels and archaeological jobs around Turkey and Egypt over the years. I’d visit a remote acropolis in the mountains of Turkey and see the remains from an Alexandrian siege below, or, in Egypt, see the mark this Greek pharaoh left in the fabric of ancient temples, in the form of shrines, dedications and works of art.

Philip of Macedon's armour - Vergina

Although there is still debate about the identity of the human remains in the Vergina tomb, The Tomb of the Lost King was a landmark in TV archaeoloogy, and so it was a good feeling to learn that Chronicle, and this episode, has been added to the BBC Archive.

A gold wreath from the tomb of Philip of Macedon, Vergina

And there are other, familiar episodes there waiting to be found by new audiences. In 50 minutes you can get an introduction to the Rosetta Stone, or Sutto Hoo, American slavery, the Minotaur or the Maya. There may have been more recent discoveries, but the excitement and immediacy this series conveyed about the ancient world still around us is as relevant as ever.

Once you’ve finished with these, just take a look around the rest of the Archive, it’ll suck you in.

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