© Ministry of Culture and Sports

One of the significant and most impressive Macedonian tombs in the Thessaloniki metropolitan area is situated in Phinikas settlement, to the southeast of the town. This is the oldest tomb in Thessaloniki and the surroundings, one of the earliest of its type, giving full expression to the Doric order. Despite the lootings, both its form and the excavation evidence prove that it was prepared with great care during the last quarter of the fourth century BC to host an undoubtedly renowned defunct, probably a senior official of the Macedonian army and his wife.

This is an impressive single-chambered building of poros stone plastered with lime mortar. A stepped way hewn into the rock leads to the tomb entrance, sealed with six successive blocks. Internally it closed by a wooden double-leaf door. The fa?ade, almost entirely preserved, is very impressive: 4.96m wide and 5.68m high, it is covered with white stucco. The Doric order is sumptuously emerging as the architectural elements of the superstructure are highlighted with colourful mortars. Dark-blue triglyphs flank white metopes ornate with the repeated motif of a metallic gold-painted phiale. The decoration of the fa?ade was brought to completion through the painted representation on the pediment; unfortunately, the latter was largely worn out due to the destruction of the gabled cornice by antiquities looters. The internal shape of the burial chamber, dominated by two altar-like pedestals on rectangular bases, is truly unmatched. The impressive pedestals of multicolour linear decoration upon black background had been also damaged by illicit antiquities traders, who removed the burial urns and dispersed the ashes of the deceased. The picture also captures two stone-built benches for the placement of offerings to the defunct.

The monument was uncovered in the spring of 1987, right behind the Agios Pavlos (St. Paul) Hospital, where the east ring road would pass according to schedule. After the excavation, the road was completed and the tomb was sheltered under a slightly elevated bridge. Today, the accordingly arranged subterranean space includes an exhibition of visual material about the excavation of the monument and the wider area, and a presentation of known and unknown Macedonian tombs located within Thessaloniki prefecture, in order to provide a complete picture to the visitor. A few metres to the southeast of the tomb stood a burial tumulus earlier known as ?Toumba Kis?: it makes part of the surrounding cemetery dated to the Classical and Early Hellenistic periods, which was destroyed by arbitrary earth clearings in previous decades. Despite the destruction, the preservation efforts made by the sixteenth Ephorate for Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities bore fruits, i.e. uncovered several non-looted tombs of the fourth and third century BC.