During the 8th and 7th century BC the area around Vergina was ruled by Illyrian tribes. Most scholars now believe that the Macedonians expelled the Illyrians and then established their capital at Aigai.
According to some ancient sources the Argeads, an ancient Greek royal house led by Perdiccas I, fled from Argos in approximately 650 BC. Aegae is said to mean "city of goats", and the capital city of the Macedon kings was so called by Perdiccas I, who was advised by the Pythian priestess to build the capital city of his kingdom where goats led him.
However, ancient sources often give conflicting accounts of the origins of the Macedonian dynasty. Alexander I is the first truly historic figure and, based on the line of succession, the beginnings of the Macedonian dynasty have been traditionally dated to 750 BC. From archaeology it now seems certain that Aigai developed and remained until the end an organised collection of villages spatially representing the aristocratic structure of tribes centred on the power of the king. Indeed, Aigai never became a large city and most of its inhabitants lived in surrounding villages.
From Aigai the Macedonians spread to the central part of Macedonia and displaced the local population of Pierians.
From 513 to 480 BC Aigai was part of the Persian Empire, but Amyntas I managed to maintain its relative independence, avoid Satrapy and extend its possessions. The city wall was built in the 5th century probably by Perdiccas II. At the end of the 5th century Archelaus I brought to his court artists, poets, and philosophers from all over the Greek world: it was, for example, at Aigai that Euripides wrote and presented his last tragedies.
At the beginning of the 4th century BC, Archelaus transferred the Macedonian capital north-east to Pella on the central Macedonian plain. Nevertheless, Aegae retained its role as the sacred city of the Macedonian kingdom, the site of the traditional cult centres, a royal palace and the royal tombs. For this reason it was here that Philip II was attending the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra to King Alexander of Epirus when he was murdered by his bodyguard in the theatre. His was the most lavish funeral ceremony of historic times held in Greece.
Laid on an elaborate gold and ivory deathbed wearing his precious golden oak wreath, the king was surrendered, like a new Hercules, to the funeral pyre. The bitter struggles between the heirs of Alexander, the Diadochoi, in the 3rd century adversely affected the city. In 276 BC the Gauls of Pyrrhus plundered many of the tombs.
After the overthrow of the Macedonian kingdom by the Romans in 168 BC both old and new capitals were destroyed, the walls pulled down and the palace, theatre and all other buildings burnt down. In the 1st century AD a landslide completely destroyed the city.However excavations prove that parts were still inhabited in the 1st century AD. Between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD the population progressively moved down from the foothills of the Pierian range to the plain, and all that remained was a small settlement whose name, Palatitsia (palace), alone indicated its former importance.