A ‘Ring of Fire’ solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon that occurs when the moon’s orbit is at its apogee: the part of its orbit farthest away from the Earth. Because the moon is so far away, it seems smaller than normal to the human eye. The result is that the moon doesn’t entirely block out our view of the sun, but leaves an “annulus,” or ring of sunlight glowing around it. Hence the term “annular” eclipse rather than a “total” eclipse.
Is This Alexander the Great’s Tomb?
Archaeologists have just discovered Greece’s largest ancient tomb. As well as attracting international media attention, the find has also had high-level political interest within Greece – the country’s prime minister, Antonis Samaras, has already visited the dig.
The tomb is located near the ancient city of Amphipolis, and archaeologists have been excavating it for the last two years. While there are still plenty of questions unanswered (who it was made for for example), enough has been uncovered to show that this will be a spectacular site. It’s built on an enormous scale, with marble decoration and frescoed walls.
The tomb dates to the period 325-300 BC, and so is roughly contemporaneous with the end of the reign of Alexander the Great (who died in Babylon in 323 BC). But as the archaeologists have been stressing, romantics shouldn’t get their hopes up that this is the tomb of Alexander himself, the location of which is unknown, but was probably in Egypt. However, given the size and decor, the Macedonian tomb’s owner must have been high ranking and incredibly wealthy.
Anyone who has visited the marvellous royal tombs at Vergina (ancient Aigai, the original capital of Macedonia) will already know that this region of Greece stands out for its impressive burial monuments. But in southern Greece, the famous sites that draw tourists tend to be public and religious buildings such as temples. This discrepancy points to what’s so interesting about Macedonia, and what sets it apart from other parts of Greece.