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Macedonian vaulted tombs  

Olga Palagia

Macedonian vaulted tombs are underground chamber tombs usually covered by an artifical mound and accessible through a corridor. They are built of ashlar masonry and were provided with stone or wooden furniture and luxurious burial goods. They often served for family burials and there is some evidence that their façades remained visible. Their inception and origin are controversial; their dates range from approximately the 330s to the mid-2nd century bce.

Underground built chamber tombs covered with a barrel vault first appeared in Macedonia at some point in the 330s bce or after; they ceased to be erected after the Roman conquest of Macedonia in 168bce, though there are at least two Roman imitations built in Macedonia in the 1st century CE.1 They are characterized by their barrel vault (Figure 1a), artificial mound (tumulus), façade and dromos (built corridor leading to the entrance) and are called Macedonian tombs to distinguish them from cist tombs which are also underground chambers but have flat roofs and are accessible from above.