Archaeologists Just Uncovered The Bathroom And Combat Gym Of Alexander The Great At The Palace Of Aigai

Published May 10, 2024

The communal bathroom, where Alexander the Great likely bathed with his close friend and suspected lover Hephaestion, was attached to a gymnasium where the men trained in sports and combat.

Archaeologists at the Palace of Aigai in northern Greece have just discovered the bathroom and combat gymnasium of Alexander the Great.

Alexander The Great Bathroom

robertharding / Alamy Stock PhotoThe Palace of Aigai where Alexander the Great was crowned the King of Macedonia.

As part of a 16-year renovation project, experts are painstakingly excavating and restoring the ruins of the great ancient Macedonian palace to better understand the life of one of history’s most influential figures, and this discovery is one of the most exciting yet.

Alexander The Great’s Bathroom At Aigai

The Palace of Aigai was constructed in the heart of the Kingdom of Macedonia at the request of Philip II, who ruled from 359 B.C.E. to 336 B.C.E. It was three times the size of the Parthenon in Athens.

At 162,000 square feet, the palace featured a theater, places of worship, a courtyard, royal tombs, and a giant wall. This was the home of Alexander the Great, the young king of Macedonia.

Between 336 B.C.E. and 323 B.C.E., Alexander created one of history’s largest empires, which stretched from Greece to parts of India and Africa. As one of the greatest military leaders of all time, researchers are eager to learn more about him.

Alexander The Great Mosaic

Public DomainA mosaic of Alexander the Great.

For the past 16 years, archaeologists have been conducting extensive renovations of the palace, restoring more than 15,000 square feet of it so far.

Now, researchers believe they have discovered the bathroom and an adjacent palaestra, or gymnasium, of Alexander the Great. The team plans to show off the rooms for the first time on the series Bettany Hughes’ Treasures of the World, which will air on May 11, 2024.

“There’s a massive drain cut into the rock and a communal bathroom,” said Hughes, as reported by Daily Mail. “This would have been where Alexander the Great bathed with his companions — his famous favorite Hephaestion and all those young men who then traveled with him on campaigns and after his death squabbled over his empire.”

Learning More About The Life Of The Legendary Conqueror

Researchers are ecstatic about the opportunity to learn more about one of history’s most important people. For one, Alexander the Great lived and trained at the Palace of Aigai, making it an incredibly important place in his life.

While at the palace, Alexander would have trained extensively in the combat gym with his friends, including his future second-in-command Hephaestion.

Alexander The Great And Hephaestion

Public DomainAlexander the Great and Hephaestion were rumored to be lovers as well as close friends.

“There were all these rites of passage [Alexander and his friends] went through. They were incredibly active in the gym, fighting and wrestling. They were trained to hunt,” Hughes stated.

“It is a really visceral moment to be there imagining Alexander bathing in a lovely homo-erotic way with his teenage, testosterone-filled companions,” she continued.

Now, archaeologists state the next step in the renovation process is finding Alexander the Great’s childhood bedroom. That discovery, coupled with his bathroom and combat gym, will help experts better understand how one of history’s most influential figures lived his life before setting out to conquer the world.

After reading about the discovery of Alexander the Great’s bathroom, dive into the story behind his puzzling death. Then, read the mystery behind his elusive tomb.

Amber Morgan
Amber Morgan is an Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
Cara Johnson
A writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina and an assistant editor at All That's Interesting, Cara Johnson holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in English from College of Charleston and has written for various publications in her six-year career.
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Morgan, Amber. "Archaeologists Just Uncovered The Bathroom And Combat Gym Of Alexander The Great At The Palace Of Aigai.", May 10, 2024, Accessed May 23, 2024.