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More Stuff: A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
They were the ancient world's ultimate social climbers. In one generation, the Macedonians emerged from Greece's rustic northern fringes to rule most of the world they knew, funded by the loot of the Persian Empire.

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
Visitors walk behind an ancient marble head of ancient Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great, displayed at the Acropolis museum in Athens, Oct. 12, 2014. Alexander the Great was one of the world's most successful military commanders, who enlarged his father's kingdom to include an empire stretching from modern Greece to India. During his youth, Alexander was tutored by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle until the age of 16 [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A fresco painting of a hunt tops the facade of a tomb believed to belong to the ancient Greek King Philip II of Macedon, at Vergina museum, northern Greece, Oct. 7, 2014. Archaeologists believe one of the figures is Philip's son Alexander the Great, seated on a rearing horse in the center of the painting. According to archaeologist Angeliki Kottaridi, head of the archaeological sites of Vergina and Pella, Philip II was the first to succeed in uniting Greece's squabbling city-states. "Philip effectively received a fractured state when he became king in 359 (B.C.), and, in 25 years, succeeded in creating the greatest power of his time through … substantial military, economic and social reforms," she told the AP [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A schoolteacher explains the myth of Persephone in front of a replica of a mid-4th century B.C. wall painting of Hades abducting Persephone, whose original was found in a looted royal tomb, at the Vergina museum in northern Greece, Oct. 7, 2014. A similar scene has been discovered on a mosaic floor in a newly-excavated Macedonian tomb in Amphipolis, which has revived interest in ancient Greece's Macedonian dynasties [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

In the process, and particularly in the bloodbath that followed Alexander the Great's death at age 33 in 323 B.C., they set new standards for ambition, bloody intrigue and excess that remained unrivalled until the more colorful periods of Imperial Rome.

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
Ancient Macedonian silver coins inscribed in Greek "First of the Macedonians" and "Macedonians" are seen in a display case at the archeological museum of Pella, Greece, Oct. 7, 2014. The city of Pella was the Macedonians' later capital, where the ancient Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. Excavations in recent decades there have uncovered extensive building remains, a rich mosaic floor believed to depict Alexander during a lion hunt, and large cemeteries 
[Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A heavy wreath of gold oak leaves found in the rich, unplundered tomb of Philip II of Macedon, is displayed at Vergina museum, northern Greece, Oct. 7, 2014. Philip reigned from 359 to 336 B.C. expanding his kingdom to include Greece's perennially squabbling city states. His son and successor, Alexander the Great, who distinguished himself in Philip's Greek campaigns, expanded Macedonian rule at the head of a Greek army, reaching as far as the borders of India 
[Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A visitor looks at a display of bronze armor and gold funerary masks and jewelry excavated in rich ancient Macedonian cemeteries at Aigai and Pella, in the archeological museum of Pella, northern Greece, on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. The city of Pella was the Macedonians' later capital, where the ancient Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. Excavations in recent decades there have uncovered extensive building remains, a rich mosaic floor believed to depict Alexander during a lion hunt, and large cemeteries [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

The recent discovery of a cavernous underground tomb in Amphipolis in northern Greece, dating to the twilight of Alexander's reign, has revived interest in the Macedonians.

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A restorer places pebbles into position during work to reconstruct the original mosaic pavements that decorated a room in ancient Greek King Phillip II of Macedon's palace in modern Vergina, site of the ancient Macedonians' royal seat of Aigai in northern Greece, Oct. 8, 2014. Excavations over the past few decades at Aigai have also uncovered the theater where Philip was assassinated in 336 B.C., public and private buildings, and, a short distance away, the rich, unplundered tomb of Philip 
[Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A visitor stands in front of columns from ruined buildings in the archeological site of Pella, northern Greece, Oct. 7, 2014. The city of Pella was the Macedonians' later capital, where the ancient Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. Excavations in recent decades there have uncovered extensive building remains, a rich mosaic floor believed to depict Alexander during a lion hunt, and large cemeteries [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A restorer reassembles fragments of a marble decorative strip from ancient Greek King Phillip II of Macedon's palace in modern Vergina, site of the ancient Macedonians' royal seat of Aigai in northern Greece, Oct. 8, 2014. Excavations over the past few decades at Aigai have also uncovered the theater where Philip was assassinated in 336 B.C., public and private buildings, and, a short distance away, the rich, unplundered tomb of Philip [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

In the late 1970s, a lavishly-furnished tomb in northern Greece belonging to Alexander's father, Philip II - under whom Macedonian expansion began - was discovered. And in recent decades, archaeologists in northern Greece have also excavated the old Macedonian royal seat of Aigai, with its palace and cemeteries, and the later capital at Pella, where Alexander was born.

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A heavy solid gold casket from the rich, unplundered tomb of Philip II of Macedon, which contained the assassinated king's burnt bones, is displayed at Vergina museum, northern Greece, Oct. 7, 2014. Philip reigned from 359 to 336 B.C. expanding his kingdom to include Greece's perennially squabbling city states. His son and successor, Alexander the Great, who distinguished himself in Philip's Greek campaigns, expanded Macedonian rule at the head of a Greek army, reaching as far as the borders of India [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
The gold-decorated iron body armour, sword and ceremonial shield of ancient Greek King Philip II of Macedon is displayed at Vergina museum, northern Greece, Oct. 7, 2014. Philip II reigned from 359 to 336 B.C. expanding his kingdom to include Greece's perennially squabbling city states. His son and successor, Alexander the Great, who distinguished himself in Philip's Greek campaigns, expanded Macedonian rule at the head of a Greek army, reaching as far as the borders of India 
[Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A visitor takes a picture of the facade of a tomb believed to belong to the ancient Greek King Philip II of Macedon, who reigned from 359 to 336 B.C, at Vergina museum, northern Greece, Oct. 7, 2014. According to archaeologist Angeliki Kottaridi, head of the archaeological sites of Vergina and Pella, Philip II was the first to succeed in uniting Greece's squabbling city-states. "Philip effectively received a fractured state when he became king in 359 (B.C.), and, in 25 years, succeeded in creating the greatest power of his time through … substantial military, economic and social reforms," she said while speaking with the Associated Press [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A funerary mask and other gold jewelry excavated in a rich ancient Macedonian cemetery is seen in the archeological museum of Pella, northern Greece, on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. The city of Pella was the Macedonians' later capital, where the ancient Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. Excavations in recent decades there have uncovered extensive building remains, a rich mosaic floor believed to depict Alexander during a lion hunt, and large cemeteries 
[Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

Alexander's Greek armies, which combined heavy infantry formations armed with the formidable Sarissa pike and elite cavalry units, won him an empire stretching from modern Greece to India, where he only stopped because his exhausted veterans decided enough was enough.

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy
A modern bronze statue of Alexander the Great on his famous horse Bucephalus, flanked by copies of round shields and the Macedonian infantry's terrible Sarissa pike, stands under the cloudy sky of the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Oct, 8, 2014. Alexander the Great was one of history's most successful military commanders, who by his death at age 33 had conquered an empire stretching from modern Greece to India [Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris]

But historians also highlight the charismatic youth's political skills and vision, which sought to establish social cohesion in the conquered lands through cultural, ethnic and religious tolerance - the last, remarkably, by a man who shocked his fellow Greeks by demanding honors hitherto reserved for the gods.

Source: Associated Press [November 21, 2014]