Dedicated by Philip III Arrhidaios and Alexander IV
Pentelic and Thasian marble on top of foundations composed of limestone
ca. 11.01 m x 8.95 m at the stylobate
An impressive Doric building constructed of marble took the place of the Fieldstone Building along the northwestern side of the Theatral Circle early in the last quarter of the 4th century B.C. Although eventually overshadowed by the Propylon of Ptolemy II, at the time of its construction, this hexastyle prostyle monument would have been the first major building to come into view as visitors entered Sanctuary. Rising some nine meters in height and oriented in an easterly direction, the facade would have welcomed pilgrims into the Sanctuary as they crossed the eastern torrent. A dedicatory inscription preserved on two epistyle blocks and on other smaller fragments proclaiming, ΒΑΣΙΛΕ|ΙΣΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΣ|Α[ΛΕΞΑN]Δ[Ρ]|Ο[Σ ΘΕΟΙΣΜΕΓ]|Α[ΛΟΙΣ] (Kings Philip [and] Alexander to the Great Gods) commemorates the donation of this building by Alexander the Great’s successors: his half brother, Philip III Arrhidaios, and his posthumous infant son, Alexander IV. The inscription provides critical evidence for the date of the building, as this pair ruled coevally, each with the title Basileus, between 323 and 317 B.C.
The building was composed of two different types of marble, worked by two different sets of masons maintaining their local traditions of construction. The façade, from the six columns to the raking geison at the top of the pediment, was constructed entirely of Pentelic marble from Attica. A material less common on Samothrace, the Pentelic marbe links the Dedication with important Attic monuments, most notably the contemporary Choregic Monument of Nikias. The krepis, back, and side walls were constructed of Thasian marble quarried on the nearby island of Thasos. This material was more widely employed on Samothrace. With returning steps behind the antae of the prostyle porch, the Dedication fit nicely into the topographical constraints of the Eastern Hill, while ultimately emphasizing the facade of the building. The open interior chamber preserves a mosaic floor with a central panel made up of finely worked marble rhomboids, surrounded my more irregular chips in trapezoidal fields.
In terms of function, the Dedication seems to have served chiefly as a pavilion on the Eastern Hill. The donation of this major monument by the Macedonian kings (or someone acting on their behalf), was a tangible effort to reinforce the legitimacy of Alexander the Great’s natural successors. Significance was also conveyed through material. The thoughtful selection of Pentelic marble for the façade of the Dedication makes reference to the great monuments city of Athens, as well as Athenian dedications in other locations. In the context of a growing Sanctuary with visitors from across the Mediterranean, the Dedication is a symbolic claim to the legacy of mainland Greece on the part of its Macedonian donors.
Lehmann, K. 1998. Samothrace: A Guide to the Excavations and the Museum. 6th ed. Revised by J. R. McCredie. Thessaloniki, pp. 96-100.
McCredie, J.R. 1968. “Samothrace: Preliminary Report on the Campaigns of 1965-1967,” Hesperia 37, pp. 216-233.
Wescoat, B. D. et. al. forthcoming. Samothrace. Excavations Conducted by the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, Vol. 9, The Monuments of the Eastern Hill.