Archaeologist say a burial site in northern Greece has yielded a skeleton dated to the late 4th century B.C., the time of Alexander the Great.

The burial site near the ancient city of Amphipolis, 375 miles north of Athens, is the most extensive ever discovered in Greece.

The large dimensions of the tomb and its lavish decorations suggest the intact skeleton belonged to a "distinguished public figure" from the twilight years of Alexander the Great's reign, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced.

Archaeologists working at the site agreed it was almost certainly someone of power and stature.

"The tomb in all probability belongs to a male and a general," said chief archaeologist Keterina Peristeri.

The skeletal remains were found in a 10-foot by 5-foot grave dug into limestone beneath an inner chamber of the large tomb site, researchers said.

Nails of bronze and iron, along with glass and bone fragments, were found in the grave, probably decorative elements for a wood coffin, remains of which were also found, they said.

That's more evidence that the deceased was someone of importance, says Dorothy King, an archaeologist not involved in the tomb excavation.

"A burial like this in a sarcophagus, a whole body rather than a box with ashes, is unusual in Macedonia," King said.

The three-chambered tomb, one of the largest ever found in Greece, includes statues in marble of young women and sphinxes, and a floor area covered with mosaics.

"It is an extremely expensive construction, one that no single private citizen could have funded," the culture ministry said. "It is in all probability a monument to a mortal who was worshipped by his society at the time."

There has been speculation the tomb may have been built for a member of Alexander's family or a senior official of his Macedonian Kingdom.

Amphipolis was a major city within the empire created by Alexander. That empire stretched from modern-day Greece into India.

Alexander died in Babylon in 323 B.C. and his body was brought back to Egypt to be buried in Alexandria, a city he founded. The exact location of his tomb is a major unanswered question in archaeology.

After his death, generals of his army battled each other for supremacy in the empire, battles which resulted in the murders of Alexander's mother, his widow and his son -- all near Amphipolis.

Specialists will examine the skeletal remains and any DNA material they might retain, the culture ministry said.

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