Despite being considered one of the greatest thinkers of all time, surprisingly little is known about the personal life of Aristotle, the Ancient Greek philosopher. Born 2,400 years ago, the student of Plato not only developed the theories of logic, but is considered by some to be the first genuine scientist, as he studied everything from physics to biology. Now, a Greek archaeologist claims to have discovered the tomb of Aristotle, not far from where he was born in the Greek region of Macedonia.
The not uncontroversial claim has been announced during a conference in Thessaloniki, Greece, to commemorate the great scholar’s birth in 384 BCE, and comes after excavations at Aristotle’s birthplace, which have been ongoing for the last 20 years. “I have no hard proof, but strong indications lead me to almost certainty,” says Kostas Sismanidis, the archaeologist who made the announcement. The tomb was actually discovered years earlier, but only now have they made an official presentation of the site, along with ancient texts, which apparently corroborate the conclusions.
The researchers think that the location of the tomb, commanding panoramic views of the surrounding coast, and its architecture highly suggest that this is indeed the site where the ashes of Aristotle came to rest. But with few exact details about his death surviving from the period, the evidence is currently just circumstantial. They argue that the building was originally built as a monument, erected near his birthplace in honor of the man after his death.
But two ancient texts apparently record that after his death in 322 BCE, the ashes of Aristotle may have been transferred from where he died (and was originally thought buried) and placed in the monument in Stagira. The new building unearthed is thought to have had a domed ceiling, and contained a square marble floor dating to the beginning of the Hellenistic period (323 – 31 BCE), along with an alter. In association with the building, they also uncovered coins and royal pottery dating to the time of Alexander the Great, who was one of Aristotle’s pupils.
According to Sismanidis, this “all lead[s] to the conclusion that the remains of the arched structure are part of what was once the tomb-shrine of Aristotle.” Needless to say, with no further evidence, there is really no way to corroborate whether or not the building was indeed the tomb of the greatest scholar in history, or just another shrine of which many exist from that period.