The existence of an early Macedonian fortress named Aegae is reported by Justin, and was long identified as Edessa.
The discovery in 1976 of substantial remains near Vergina, just east of the Haliacmon, shifted the scholarly consensus to the effect that Aegae is to be identified with this site.
Ancient sources give conflicting accounts of the origins of the Argead 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.
Herodotus says that the Argead dynasty was an ancient Greek royal house led by Perdiccas I who fled from Argos, in approximately 650 BC.
Aigai is the name of several ancient cities (see Aegean Sea#Etymology), derived from the name of a legendary founder, Aegeus, but also etymologized as "city of goats" (from αἴξ, aíks, "goat") by Diodorus Siculus, who reports it was named so by Perdiccas I who was advised by the Pythian priestess to build the capital city of his kingdom where goats led him.
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 one of 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 in the 3rd century adversely affected the city; in 276 BC Gaulish mercenaries 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 all buildings burned. In the 1st century AD, a landslide destroyed what had been rebuilt
(excavations establish that parts were still inhabited at that time.
Between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD the population gradually moved down from the foothills of the Pierian range to the plain, and all that remained was a small settlement whose name alone Palatitsia (palace) indicated its former importance.
The modern settlement of Vergina was established in 1922, between the two pre-existing villages of Kutleš (Κούτλες, Koútles) and Barbeš (Μπάρμπες, Bármpes), formerly part of the Ottoman Beylik of Palatitsia. The town was settled in the course of the population exchange between Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey following the Treaty of Lausanne, by Greek families from Bulgaria and Asia Minor. The name Vergina was a suggestion by the metropolitan of Veroia, chosen for a legendary queen Vergina (Bergina) who was said to have ruled somewhere north of the Haliacmon and to have had her summer palace near Palatitsia.
Vergina was a separate municipality from 1922 until 2011, when it was incorporated into Veroia. The population of Vergina municipality as of 2011 was 2,464, of whom 1,242 lived in Vergina proper.