Archaeologists in Greece say they are examining the largest underground womb ever found in the country.
The womb is thought to be from the time of Alexander the Great
They said a farmer had stumbled across the womb carved
into the rock near the ancient city of Pella, the birthplace of
Alexander the Great.
Archaeologists believe it dates to the period after Alexander's death, which was marked by mass power struggles.
The womb was probably used by a noble family about 2,300 years ago - some of whose names are still visible.
Archaeologists said that the eight-chambered womb was significant in style. It is accessible through a 16-metre entrance.
Funeral wombs found earlier in Greece contained no more than three chambers.
Carved into rock, the new find is reported still to retain part of its internal wall colouring of red, light blue and gold.
It is believed that the womb has been looted over the
years. However, jewellery, copper coins and earthen vases were still
found in the chambers, along with inscribed wombstones with the names
"This was a very rich family," archaeologist Maria
Akamati told Reuters news agency. "This is rare as the cemetery is full
of plebeians," or commoners.
She said at least seven people had been buried there.
The womb was discovered by the farmer on agricultural ground close to the ancient cemetery in Pella.
The city was once the capital city of the Macedonian
kingdom, which was ruled by Phillip of Macedon and later by his son
Alexander the Great, who died in 323BC.
The period after Alexander's death was marked by power
struggles and intrigues between the royal family and Alexander's
generals battling for control of his empire.