Two headless sphinxes emerged from a massive burial site in northern Greece as archaeologists began removing large stones from the tomb's sealing wall.
The headless, wingless 4.8-foot-high sphinxes each weigh about 1.5 tons and bear traces of red coloring on their feet. They would have been 6.5 feet high with their heads, the Greek Culture Ministry said in a statement.
The statues are believed to have been placed there to guard the burial, which is the largest tomb ever uncovered in Greece.
The tomb dates back to around 325-300 B.C., at the end of the reign of warrior-king Alexander the Great. It lies in the ancient city of Amphipolis, in Greece's northeastern Macedonia region about 65 miles from the country's second-biggest city, Thessaloniki.
The city, an Athenian colony, was conquered by Philip II of Macedon, Alexander's father, in 357 B.C.
Prominent generals and admirals of Alexander had links with Amphipolis. It's here that Alexander's wife Roxana and his son Alexander IV were killed in 311 B.C. on the orders of his successor, King Cassander.
Archaeologists began excavating the site, a huge mound complex, in 2012. They revealed a circular tomb measuring 1,600 feet across which featured a 10-foot high perimeter wall. This was built of marble brought from the island of Thassos.
The burial complex site was possibly built by Dinocrates, a famous architect of the time and a close friend of Alexander. It is 10 times larger than the tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, which was discovered in Vergina, central Macedonia, in the 1970s.
A wide path leads to the tomb whose entrance is guarded by the two sphinx statues.
"Pieces of the sphinx's wings were found at the site, allowing for a full restoration," the Greek Ministry of Culture said.
"Part of the back of the statue of the Lion of Amphipolis was also unearthed at the site," the statement said.
Work led by Katerina Peristeri, the archaeologist in charge of the dig, proved the impressive 16-foot-tall marble lion statue which now stands on a pedestal three miles from the excavation site, once crowned the monumental tomb.