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Title: Larnax  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Vergina Sun, Horns of Consecration, Ancient Greek funeral and burial practices, Philip II of Macedon, Manolis Andronikos
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The golden larnax and the golden crown of Philip II of Macedon, Vergina Museum.

A larnax (plural larnakes; Ancient Greek: λάρναξ, λάρνακες) is a type of small closed coffin, box or "ash-chest" often used as a container for human remains in ancient Macedonia, either a body (bent on itself) or cremated ashes.

The first larnakes appeared in Minoan times during the Greek Bronze Age, when they took the form of ceramic coffers designed to imitate wooden chests, perhaps on the pattern of Egyptian linen chests. They were richly decorated with abstract patterns, octopuses and scenes of hunting and cult rituals.[1]

During the later Hellenistic period, larnakes in the form of small terracotta sarcophagi became popular, some of which were painted in similar styles to contemporary Greek vases.

In a few special cases, larnakes appear to have been made out of precious materials, as in the 4th century BC example found at Vergina in northern Macedonia, of gold, with a sun motif (the source of the Vergina Sun motif) on the lid. The tomb where it was found is thought to have belonged to King Philip II of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great.


  1. ^ Minoan larnax from the Metropolitan; British Museum: Late Minoan larnax from Knossos, Crete
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