One of the most important and best-preserved Macedonian tombs discovered so far is the so-called Tomb of Judgement. Its name derives from the painted representation of the judgement of the dead, unique in antiquity. The tomb lies with other similar funerary monuments along the road connecting the town of Mieza with Pela, the capital of the Macedonian Kingdom. Dated to the last quarter of the fourth century BC, it has a particularly imposing fa?ade and is the largest known Macedonian tomb.

The monument is a typical double-chambered Macedonian tomb with barrel-vaulted ceilings, buried under a tumulus 1.50 metres high and 10 metres in diameter. The two-storeyed fa?ade, which combines both Doric and Ionic styles, is crowned by a pediment and gives the impression of a two-storeyed building. The 'ground floor' is Doric with four engaged columns in antis supporting a Doric entablature of triglyphs and metopes. The eleven metopes preserve part of their polychrome decoration with representations of the battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths, a popular theme. A band of pegs and another with painted flowers and volutes separate the metopes from the Ionic frieze above. This bas-relief frieze with stucco figures depicts a battle between Greeks and Persians. The 'second storey' has six Ionic engaged columns, 1.46 metres high, alternating with false doors, and was surmounted by a pediment. The pediment, of which only fragments survive, had painted decoration. On the 'ground floor', between the antae and the engaged columns are four painted panels representing the judgement of the deceased. The dead soldier is lead by Hermes Psychopompos ('guide of the souls') before the judges of the Underworld, Aiakos and Rhadamanthys. This theme, known from Plato's Gorgias, is extremely rare in iconography. Differences in the rendering of the figures indicate that two painters worked on the composition. The ante-chamber, though not fully excavated, does not appear to have had painted decoration. The interior of the burial chamber, however, with its ornate architectural features recalls the houses at Pella and Delos. It has a toichobate, a wall proper, antae at each corner, an entablature and a vaulted ceiling. The walls are painted deep blue, red and white, and the architectural members are decorated with painted Ionic kymatia, rosettes and bands.

The Tomb of Judgement was discovered during road construction in 1954 and was excavated by Professor Photios Petsas in 1954-1964. Both the ante-chamber and the fa?ade were severely damaged in antiquity. The monument was re-excavated in recent years by L. Stephani and restored in 1998. An access ramp for visitors with ambulatory difficulties is currently under construction.
I. Psarra, archaeologist
Mythological / Historic Persons