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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Aug 11;112(32):9844-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1510906112. Epub 2015 Jul 20.

The lameness of King Philip II and Royal Tomb I at Vergina, Macedonia.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Anthropology, Department of History and Ethnology, Democritus University of Thrace, 69100 Komotini, Greece; anaxbart@otenet.gr jlarsuaga@isciii.es.
2
Centro Mixto Universidad Complutense de Madrid-Instituto de Salud Carlos III de Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, 28029 Madrid, Spain; Departmento de Paleontología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain; anaxbart@otenet.gr jlarsuaga@isciii.es.
3
Centro Mixto Universidad Complutense de Madrid-Instituto de Salud Carlos III de Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, 28029 Madrid, Spain;
4
Departmento de Estratigrafía y Paleontología, Universidad del País Vasco-Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, 48080 Bilbao, Spain; IKERBASQUE, the Basque Foundation for Science, 48013 Bilbao, Spain; Équipe de Paléontologie Humaine, UMR 7194, CNRS, Département de Préhistoire, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Musée de l'Homme, 75016 Paris, France Centro Mixto Universidad Complutense de Madrid-Instituto de Salud Carlos III de Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, 28029 Madrid, Spain;

Abstract

King Philip II was the father of Alexander the Great. He suffered a notorious penetrating wound by a lance through his leg that was nearly fatal and left him lame in 339 B.C.E. (i.e., 3 y before his assassination in 336 B.C.E.). In 1977 and 1978 two male skeletons were excavated in the Royal Tombs II and I of Vergina, Greece, respectively. Tomb I also contained another adult (likely a female) and a newborn skeleton. The current view is that Philip II was buried in Tomb II. However, the male skeleton of Tomb II bears no lesions to his legs that would indicate lameness. We investigated the skeletal material of Tomb I with modern forensic techniques. The male individual in Tomb I displays a conspicuous case of knee ankylosis that is conclusive evidence of lameness. Right through the overgrowth of the knee, there is a hole. There are no obvious signs that are characteristic of infection and osteomyelitis. This evidence indicates that the injury was likely caused by a severe penetrating wound to the knee, which resulted in an active inflammatory process that stopped years before death. Standard anthropological age-estimation techniques based on dry bone, epiphyseal lines, and tooth analysis gave very wide age ranges for the male, centered around 45 y. The female would be around 18-y-old and the infant would be a newborn. It is concluded that King Philip II, his wife Cleopatra, and their newborn child are the occupants of Tomb I.

KEYWORDS:

Argead dynasty; Macedonia; Philip II; Vergina; paleopathology

PMID:
26195763
PMCID:
PMC4538655
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1510906112
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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