The ancient city lying on the north slopes of the Pierian mountains is securely identified as Aigai, the capital of the kingdom of Lower Macedonia. Archaeological evidence prooves that the site was continuously inhabited from the Early Bronze Age (3rd millenium BC) while in the Early Iron Age (11th-8th centuries BC) it became an important centre, rich and densely inhabited.
The city reached its highest point of prosperity in the Archaic (7th-6th centuries BC) and Classical periods (5th-4th centuries), when it was the most important urban centre of the area, the seat of the Macedonian kings and the place where all the traditional sanctuaries were established. Moreover, it was already famous in antiquity for the wealth of the royal tombs which were gathered in its extensive necropolis. The finds from the excavations are exhibited in the protective shelter over the royal tombs of Vergina and in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
The first excavations on the site were carried out in the 19th century by the French archaeologist L. Heuzey and were resumed in the 1930's, after the liberation of Macedonia, by K. Rhomaios. After the Second World War, in the 1950's and 1960's, the excavations were directed by M. Andronicos, who investigated the cemetery of the tumuli.
At the same time, the Palace was excavated by the University of Thessalonike and part of the necropolis by the Archaeological Service of the Ministry of Culture.
In 1977, M. Andronicos brought to light the royal tombs in the Great Tumulus of Vergina (Megale Toumba). The most remarkable of these was the tomb of Philip II (359-336 B.C.) and its discovery is considered to be one of the most important archaeological events of the century. Since then, acontinuing excavations have revealed a series of significant monuments.