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The despairing cry of the tomb of Alexander the Great from the desert at Siwa Oasis

The despairing cry of the tomb of Alexander the Great from the desert at Siwa Oasis


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The following is an article written by Liana Souvaltzi, Archaeologist and Director of the Greek Mission at Siwa Oasis, who we invited to report on her research regarding the discovery of a large monument in the Siwa Oasis that she maintains is the tomb of Alexander the Great. It follows an earlier article about her discovery, which we would recommend reading first – Tomb of Alexander the Great already found, archaeologist claims, but findings have been blocked by ‘diplomatic intervention’ .

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The decision to write this article is not an easy one to make because it hurts me so much… My aim is to give the public the opportunity to understand that it has been a crime against this unique monument from the political background of the year 1996, which dealt a fatal blow to this discovery and the scientific work.

The discovery of the Tomb of Alexander the Great, cannot be considered a chance event but it was the result of many years of study and research into a remote area, where no one had previously searched for his tomb.

It took around twenty years of study to find the magic key that would resolve the great mystery of the location of the site of the tomb; this was the wish of Alexander to be buried at the Oasis of Ammon. This wish and desire had been reported in the texts of the historians of the time of Alexander, such as Callisthenes, Aristobulus, Ptolemy and later writers such as Diodorus and Plutarch.

How would it have been possible for anyone not to carry out an order from the King or not to accomplish the wish of ‘the god’ Alexander?

Valuable information was also obtained from the ascetics of the desert, who reported the existence of the tomb at the oasis and the worship of Alexander as a god, together with Ammon, like Abu Sisoes in the 4 th century AD. Dorotheus, the Bishop of Tyre in the 5 th century AD, and Procopius, a historian of the 6 th century AD, also mention this information.

The excavations, which were purely financed by our team, started in 1989 and the work was stopped in 1996.

The archaeological site is 15 kilometers west of the Ammon Temple, which is in the town of Siwa. The area where the tomb is located is named El Maraki. The tomb complex covers an enormous area of 12,000 square meters, of which 5,000 square meters were excavated.

From the size of the tomb itself, which is 51m long and has an outer width of 10.25m, it is obvious that it could only have been destined for use as a burial monument for the worship of a very important person, such as a king.

The tomb sits on a rock, underneath which lies an enormous gold mine, the first found in the western desert. It consists of an entrance, corridor, and three chambers.

The presence of corner triglyphs reflects the Greek nature of the monument. The architectural features found in the area of the three chambers and the corridor, indicate that the corridor had been built on the inside and had been vaulted and that the roof on the third chamber had probably graded upwards in a form of a pyramid-like shape at the top of which a huge lion was standing.

Corner triglyph found in the monument at Siwa Oasis. Credit: Liana Souvaltzi

The decorative sculptures of the monument are unique and an excellent example of Classical Greek Art. Representative classical themes were present, such as the astragal, the egg and dart, the eight-petal rosette, leaf-like pieces, and open and closed anthemia.

The lintel from the burial chamber of the tomb showing the eight-petal rosettes, a symbol of Macedonian royalty. Credit: Liana Souvaltzi

The presence of special symbols denoting Alexander were also present, such as the hologlyph lions, the eight beamed star, the disk with the snakes, the acorn tree and the Macedonian shields.

Lion head found inside the tomb. Credit: Liana Souvaltzi

An important point was that many of the architectural features that were found, such as the triglyph and horizontal cornice with the mutules (rectangular block above the triglyph), had maintained their original colours – in this case, blue. Some of the metopes (spaces between two triglyphs on a Doric frieze) had maintained their terracotta colour. A few pieces of the friezes saved from the inside of the corridor maintained the colour on the green leaves and the blue on the anthemia which were similar to lotus flowers on a white background.

The corridor of the tomb revealed several new elements. The symbols and the ceremonial objects found in the corridor indicate that the area of the corridor was the telesterion (initiation hall), where mystical sacred and closed ceremonies were held in honour of ‘the god’, Alexander.

The enclosed long corridor, 31.32m long and 7m wide, extended from the gates at the main entrance of the tomb. The corridor had three diametrically opposite doors, all built-in, and there was a low parapet, with a height of 31cm and breath of 13cm, which divided the corridor into three zones where the various symbols and emblems were distributed. The central area of the corridor, 2.3m in width, was the main passage and ended in a T shape at the entrance to the three chambers. The symbols in this central area are the Eye of the Sun and the Fire. In the right and left area of the corridor were the altars with double funnels in front of the gates.

Cleaning up the corridor leading to the tomb. Credit: Liana Souvaltzi

The south eastern gate (No. 3 door), contains the symbol of the constellation of the centaur (nowadays the Southern Cross) and the altar. To the right and left of the entrance of the corridor were two small shrines and the area in between was enclosed by two diametrically opposite double doors, the thresholds and bases for the hinges of which have been preserved. This area was 3.24m long and 2.08m wide.

From the type of symbols found at the tomb, and the study of their mystic meaning, we concluded that particular rituals were practiced in honour of Alexander.

Finally, we found three different honorary inscriptions written in Greek uppercase letters. The first inscription could be dated from its text to between 290 and 284 BC. The first line of the inscription bore the name ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ ΑΜΜΩΝΟΣ ΡΑ (ALEXANDER AMMON RA).

The second inscription can be dated between 108 and 115 BC and is an honorary inscription and was placed by the Emperor Traianus in honour of Alexander, whom he admired and respected as a god.

The third inscription is a fragment which indicates the number of the inhabitants of the oasis and the army, which was a part of the military forces assigned to guard the royal tomb of Alexander the Great.

The discovery of these inscriptions and their meanings was announced in the course of the Italian – Egyptian Congress in Rome on 15 November 1995.

When an archaeologist discovers inscriptions with a name, it leaves little room for doubt – Alexander was buried in his beloved oasis, as he wanted, near his ‘divine Father’, Ammon Zeus.

Symbol of Ammon Ra found inside the tomb, the sun with the cobras. Credit: Liana Souvaltzi

All these terrible years that have passed since the work of the Greek Mission at the site of the tomb of Alexander the Great was halted at the request of the Greek Government of that period, have resulted in the destruction of the monument and many of its unique and priceless findings.

Today, the situation at the tomb and the surrounding area is unacceptable. It has been turned into a rubbish dump and the underground water has moved much closer to the surface, destroying the monument.

A large section of the East and West wall of the main tomb has collapsed and the paving in the corridor, which was in a very good condition, has now been completely destroyed, as have the stones, which separated the corridor into three parts for the various ceremonial uses.

The altars in front of each entrance have also been destroyed. The two sanctuaries east and west of the propylon have tilted to a large degree. The floor and inner decoration of the east sanctuary has also been destroyed.

What else to add for the destruction of the tomb of Alexander? Writing this, I feel pain deep in my heart and I am hearing a voice coming from the Tomb, saying SAVE ME.

The destruction has also extended to the wonderful lintels and to all the architectural features of the tomb, which were decorated with wonderful sculptures.

A lintel from the chamber of the tomb. Credit: Liana Souvaltzi

Why such a hatred against this monument? I cannot understand it, even if people do not want to accept that the tomb of Alexander the Great is located in Siwa Oasis, is that any reason for this Greek monument to be left in the hands of a destructive fate?

I have fought hard and will continue to fight for our work at the tomb of Alexander for as long I live, as it is morally and emotionally part of our past, our history, and our legends.

We will never forget the day when the Egyptian Government announced that the tomb of Alexander was found in Egypt, at Siwa oasis on January 29, 1995. That day remained a very happy memory for all of us, full of smiling faces and emotions, though it was not without its dark faces, those who were cooking up their plans.

That day marked the beginning of many changes to come at the oasis. The oasis of Siwa was beginning to emerge from the dark age of obscurity to enter a new period, and this little dot on the map of the world was the centre of the attention for the whole world.

Over the years, the oasis has changed, losing forever its mysterious and ancient form. It is now a modern oasis with tourist shops and many luxurious hotels, all in the name of civilization and financial wellbeing.

When we too have become grains of sand, maybe our souls will be around the beautiful, courageous world of the oasis to salute to those qualities lost forever in the oasis of Ammon and Alexander.

Featured image: Reconstruction of what the monument in the Siwa Oasis would have once looked like. Credit: Liana Souvaltzi.

By Liana Souvaltzi


Posted: 09/16/2014 6:39 pm EDT Updated: 09/16/2014 6:59 pm EDT

The recent discovery of a unique burial monument in Amphipolis of Macedonia in Greece, has made everyone thinking that maybe this is the long lost tomb of Alexander the Great. The disclosure of the remains of the great conqueror and demigod to many, Alexander, is nothing less than a dream-discovery to the archaeologists and historians around the world.

After conquering all the known world of his time, Alexander the Great died in Babylon on the 10th of June 323 BC. The legend says that the ambitious young king wept when he realised there were no more lands to conquer.

Although Alexander himself had expressed his desire to be buried at the temple of Zeus Ammon at Siwa Oasis, his body was transferred by Ptolemy in Alexandria. Later, his body will disappear so that no man could ever find it.

A place fit for a king

Alexandria lies between the Nile delta, the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mariout (Mareotis in ancient times). Near the eastern seaport there is an area known as Brucheum. Here, were palaces –including the royal palace of the Ptolemies — gardens, temples and a zoo. It occupied a large part of the northern and central area of the city and was clearly the most beautiful part of Alexandria.

One could find here the Musaeum (University) with its famous Library, the Polytehneio and the Herophilus Medical School. And one could also find here the Sema or Soma (Body), the tomb of Alexander, who’s remains had been brought to the city by Ptolemy I Soter and were placed into a magnificent gold coffin. Some time later, when there was a shortage of money, the gold coffin was replaced by an alabaster one by Ptolemy IX.

It was here that in 30 BC, Octavian Augustus actually saw with his eyes the body of Alexander, which was brought to him from the sanctuary of the temple. Octavian paid his respect to the great man by placing a golden diadem upon his head and flowers on his body. When asked if he would like to see the body of Ptolemy, he replied that his desire was to see a king, not corpses. (Suetonius, Book II, XVIII).

Because the country had taken the side of Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian downgraded Egypt and declared it a province of the Roman Empire. Later, in 200 AD, Egypt will regain its previous status and be self-governed again under the reign of the Emperor Septimius Severus.

Septimius Severus who ruled from 193 to 211 (not to be confused with Alexander Severus who ruled from 222 to 235), visited Alexandria after the victorious campaign against the Parthians in the East. He was accompanied by his wife, Julia Domna, the senator and historian Cassius Dio, who was a friend and mentor, and the secretary of Julia, sophist Flavius Philostratus.

Journey down the Nile

During his visit, Severus wished to travel down the Nile, as he had a special task to complete. Without the historical account by Dio Cassius who wrote in Greek, we wouldn’t know anything about this strange journey, which would not be an exaggeration to say that sealed the fate of mankind. And it’s strange how it has so far escaped the attention of archaeologists and historians. This is how Dio Cassius describes the events that took place in Egypt (Roman History, Book LXXVI, 13, 2, Loeb Classical Library):

After conducting the siege (of Hatra) for twenty days, he then went to Palestine, where he sacrificed to the spirit of Pompey. Thence he sailed to Upper Egypt, passing up the Nile, and viewed the whole country with some few exceptions for instance, he was unable to pass the frontier of Ethiopia because of a pestilence. He enquired into everything, including things that were very carefully hidden for he was the kind of person to leave nothing, either human or divine, uninvestigated. Accordingly, he took away from practically all the sanctuaries all the books that he could find containing any secret lore, and he locked up the tomb of Alexander this was in order that no one in future should either view Alexander’s body or read what was written in the above-mentioned books.

What Dio tells us is that Severus and his company visited those places along the Nile where in the old days the priests of Egypt conducted the sacred Mysteries. Places like Heliopolis, Sais, Abydos, the underground crypts of Memphis and Thebes and Philae (an island of the Nile river) near the first waterfall.

Severus therefore gathered all written material of the sacred knowledge from the remote antiquity and safely sealed it inside the tomb of Alexander the Great, so that it would not fall into the hands of the profane or the uninitiated. One of these books was reportedly the “Book of Thoth”, where one can find the secret of immortality.

From Dio’s words, but also from Suetonius’ account that the body of Alexander the Great was brought “from the depths of the temple” for Augustus to see, we conclude that the tomb of the Macedonian king was not in common view, as the Mausoleum of Lenin in the Red Square, for instance. Instead, it’s location was kept secret and no one could visit it.

It is in this secret place that Severus felt confident that the ancient knowledge was safe. This is because neither the location of the tomb was known nor one could go there by chance. Maybe it was a labyrinth — Egypt, after all, was famous for its underground tunnels that stretched for hundreds of kilometers below the surface.

The end of an era
At the time of Severus (200 AD) the decline of the ancient world is almost complete. It had began five hundred years ago, shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, and ended with what is known to historians as the “crisis of the 3rd century”. This will lead to the fall of the Roman Empire and the birth of the Dark Ages.

So, unlike previous years, there were no longer hierophants able to explain to the candidates the Mysteries of cosmogony and nature. Genuine mystics were rare and, just like today, the Sacraments were nothing more than mere imitation of a ritual without meaning. The Mysteries had either been lost or could no longer be understood.

History has reserved Severus the strange fate of concealing the Mysteries and protecting the true knowledge from the gradual deterioration caused by human perceptions, superstitions and falsehoods.

The tomb of Alexander the Great seems to be the perfect hiding place, since it is hidden itself. And, after all, who else could be a better guardian of this valuable knowledge, other than the pupil of Aristotle who tried to unite all people under a universal idea?


Tomb Dating From the Time of Alexander the Great Found in Northern Greece

For the past two years archaeologists have been excavating a massive burial mound complex near the ancient city of Amphipolis in Greece’s northern Macedonia region. On Tuesday, the Greek prime minister visited the archaeological site 370 miles north of Athens and announced it to be an “extremely important” discovery dating from the era of Alexander the Great, which sparked speculation about whether one of Alexander’s military commanders or family members is buried inside.

After touring the Kasta Hill archaeological site with his wife and government officials, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told reporters, “It is clear that we stand before an extremely important finding.” According to Samaras, since archaeologists began their excavation work in 2012, they have unearthed a massive burial mound ringed by a 1,600-foot-long, 10-foot high circular wall constructed from white marble imported from the nearby island of Thassos. A broad, five-yard-wide road leads to the tomb entrance, which is guarded by two headless sphinxes. Marble decorations and frescoed walls adorn the tomb, which was partially destroyed during the Roman occupation of Greece but apparently has survived without looting for more than 2,000 years. Archaeologists believe the 16-foot-tall marble Lion of Amphipolis, which was discovered a few miles away in the bed of the Strymonas River in 1912, once crowned the massive grave.

Lead archaeologist Katerina Peristeri dates the burial tomb to between 325 B.C. and 300 B.C., in the era at the end of the reign of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian warrior-king who rose from the surrounding land of northeast Greece to establish an ancient empire that touched three continents and stretched from the Danube River to India. “It looks like the tomb of a prominent Macedonian of that era,” an official from the culture ministry told Reuters. The newly unearthed burial site is believed to be the largest ancient tomb ever discovered in Greece, dwarfing those of Macedonian royals, including Alexander’s father Philip II, buried more than 100 miles west of Amphipolis in the small town of Vergina.

Still unanswered is whose tomb it is. “Regarding the key question, the excavation will reveal the identity of the deceased,” Samaras said. “The tomb is definitely dated to the period following the death of Alexander the Great, but we cannot say who it belongs to,” Peristeri told Agence France-Presse.

The tomb is almost certainly not the resting spot of Alexander the Great, who died in Babylon, modern-day Iraq, in 323 B.C. He was believed to have been buried in Egypt after his corpse was stolen en route to his homeland by Ptolemy, one of his former generals. Some have speculated, however, that the Amphipolis tomb could have been originally constructed with the intention of holding Alexander’s body.

A more likely explanation is that the grand tomb was built for one of Alexander’s commanders or family members. The empire forged by Alexander quickly crumbled into warring factions following his death, and blood drenched Macedonia’s arid hills from the infighting. Amphipolis, a former Athenian colony conquered by Philip II in 357 B.C., did not escape the violence. It was there that Alexander’s wife, Roxana, and his son and rightful heir to the throne, 12-year-old Alexander IV, were murdered by Macedonian general Cassander in 311 B.C. It’s possible that the tomb was built for either or both of them.

Another theory is that the massive grave belonged to one of Alexander’s numerous generals and admirals who lived around Amphipolis. Lion monuments were often used to commemorate dead soldiers, and some have theorized that the Lion of Amphipolis once marked the grave of Laomedon of Mytilene, one of Alexander’s military commanders who governed Syria after the king’s death.

“The excavation will continue at a pace dictated by the finding as well as the scientific ethics,” the Greek prime minister announced, but archaeologists are hopeful to enter the tomb by the end of August to determine exactly who is buried inside. The archaeological work continues under heavy police guard.

“The land of Macedonia continues to move and surprise us, revealing its unique treasures, which combine to form the unique mosaic of Greek history of which all Greeks are very proud,” Samaras said. Archaeologists are hoping that the ancient ground of Macedonia holds at least one more surprise that will soon be revealed.


Shovels, pumps, and persistence

Hope of a historic find keeps Papakosta digging, guided by ancient accounts and a 19 th -century map of Alexandria before its boom. She also uses modern technology, such as electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), to determine where to dig. ERT passes an electrical current into the soil to measure resistance and detect subsurface objects. So far, her team has identified 14 anomalies that may be structures far beneath the ground.

Using these and other methods, Papakosta is uncovering more and more of the city’s ancient royal quarter—including a Roman road and the remains of a massive public building that could point to Alexander’s tomb.

But each discovery is hard-won. “I’m happy that I did not give up when I first arrived at the water table,” says Papakosta, who had to engineer an elaborate system of pumps and hoses to keep the site dry enough to excavate. “I was insistent and continued. I go on.”

That persistence over many years of slow, muddy work sets Papakosta apart, says Hiebert. “It's rare in my experience to find someone who's stayed at a single site for 21 years.” He compares Papakosta to a boxer who falls down, then dusts herself off and goes back into the ring. “She goes the full nine rounds.”

Over the years, Papakosta has become increasingly convinced that she’s closing in on Alexander’s lost tomb. She tempers her optimism, though, with a healthy dose of realism.

“For sure, it’s not easy to find it,” she says. “But for sure, I am in the center of Alexandria in the royal quarter, and all these possibilities are in my favor.”


Greek Experts Dispute Claim That Tomb Is Alexander the Great's

1995-02-06 04:00:00 PDT Cairo -- A high-level archeological team from the Greek government, investigating claims that the tomb of Alexander the Great had been discovered in Egypt's western desert, visited the site yesterday and said they saw no evidence that the tomb had been found.

Archeologist Liana Souvaltzi announced last week that she had discovered the tomb outside the oasis of Siwa, saying it was built in Macedonian style and that three tablets uncovered at the site provided the archeological proof.

But the Greek team, headed by the general secretary of the Ministry of Culture, George Thomas, said it is unclear whether the structure is even a tomb.

He and members of the team said the style of the complex is not Macedonian, and added that the fragments of tablets they were shown do not support any of the translations Souvaltzi provided as proof of her discovery.

The team members also said the fragments they saw were from the Roman period, 300 years after the death of Alexander in 323 B.C.

"We are not sure if the complex is a tomb or a temple," said Yanni Tzedakis, the director of antiquities for the Greek government, "although there are elements of the Hellenistic period in the rubble. It appears, however, to be from a later period."

Souvaltzi has refused to allow the visiting team to read her report on the excavations. She has also refused to brief the team on her work.

Souvaltzi, who has an archeological degree from the University of Athens, has been excavating in the area around Siwa, 50 miles east of the Libyan border, for the past four years.


Team Claims To Find Tomb Of Alexander In West Egypt

The leader of a Greek archaeological team said today that she believes the scientists have found the tomb of Alexander the Great in the Western Desert of Egypt near the Siwa oasis, close to the Libyan border.

"We are sure," said Liana Souvaltzi, head of the team that has been digging at the site since 1989. "We have a unique monument. There is no such monument in all of Egypt, not even Greece. It is royalty, it is really Macedonian."

The team has found carved oak leaves worn in the crowns of Macedonian kings and an engraved eight-pointed star -- Alexander's own symbol.

Alexander, a king at age 20 who conquered most of the ancient world from Greece to India, died in Babylon in 323 B.C. at 33. Where he was buried, however, has been a mystery for more than 2,300 years.

Contemporary accounts say a procession set out with his body in a magnificent funeral cart that was met in Palestine by Ptolemy, his lieutenant in Egypt, who succeeded Alexander as king. One version has it that the body was interred in Alexandria, the Mediterranean port that Alexander founded.

"I never in my life believed that Alexander was buried in Alexandria," the 47-year-old Ms. Souvaltzi said. "He wanted to be buried in Siwa. Here we have the proof."

Ms. Souvaltzi said the important finds are three broken limestone tablets written in Greek, which were unearthed in front of the tomb's gate at a depth of about three yards.

One was written by Ptolemy. A smaller tablet was commissioned by the Roman emperor Trajan, who visited the site centuries later. The other fragment is of unknown date and authorship.

The tablet of Ptolemy says he brought to Siwa his master's body, "which was so light," suggesting that the corpse was mummified.

The archaeologists began digging out a tunnel they believe leads to the burial chamber, but seeping water forced them to cease temporarily. They expect to resume after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began today.

"Of course we'll find the body," Ms. Souvaltzi said. "In what condition we'll find the body after so many thousands of years, I cannot say."


Egypt breakthrough: 'Precise location' of Alexander the Great’s tomb revealed by expert

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Alexander the Great: Egyptologist on location of his tomb

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Alexander the Great was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty, widely regarded as one of history&rsquos most successful military commanders. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, and by the age of 30, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. In 332BC, at just 24 years old, Alexander was crowned pharaoh in Memphis and visited the Temple of the Oracle of Amun in the Western Desert of Egypt and was declared the son of the god Amun.

Related articles

According to Egyptologist Chris Naunton, this experience was life-changing for Alexander, who would go on to be buried in his own city.

Speaking on Dan Snow&rsquos History Hit podcast in February, Mr Naunton said: &ldquoAfter the end of pharaonic history, beyond the end of the 30th dynasty, two of perhaps the most famous figures from anywhere in the ancient world &ndash not just Egypt &ndash but we can be pretty sure they are buried in Egypt &ndash Alexander The Great and Cleopatra.

&ldquoBoth, I think, were buried in Alexandria and yet we have &ndash other than descriptions &ndash not really a shred of archaeological evidence for either of them.

&ldquoI think in that case, there are two factors that are making things difficult here is there was an earthquake in fourth-century AD which had the effect of bringing a huge amount of seawater into the cities on the coast.

Alexander the Great's tomb could still be in Egypt (Image: GETTY)

Alexander the Great became pharaoh of Egypt (Image: GETTY)

We think, probably, Alexander was buried in Memphis, to begin with, and the precise location could have been in Saqarra

Chris Naunton

&ldquoThis permanently flooded the coastal area of Alexandria, where we know a lot of the royal monuments were, probably including Cleopatra and Alexander.&rdquo

During his two-year-reign as pharaoh, Alexander founded the city of Alexandria &ndash which is now the second-largest in Egypt.

Mr Naunton thinks there are tonnes of ancient tombs hiding below the modern settlement.

He added: &ldquoThe classical texts tell us that a mausoleum was built to house everybody and we can assume that remained the case until the reign of Cleopatra.

&ldquoThis mausoleum has never been located and in that case, its location probably lies under the modern city.

The empire of Alexander the Great (Image: WIKI)

Related articles

&ldquoAlexandria was unencumbered by modern buildings until the last couple of decades of the modern century, which is just the moment people were beginning to wake up to the possibility, but suddenly you have urbanisation.

&ldquoBut masses are still under there, I&rsquom sure of it.&rdquo

Mr Naunton went on to theorise why he thought Alexander would have requested to be buried here.

He added: &ldquoAlexander visited Egypt as part of his pursuit of the Persian&rsquos empire.

&ldquoHe visited Memphis and was completely taken with its veneration of its gods &ndash he was a religious man.

His body may have been buried in Saqqara (Image: GETTY)

The modern city of Alexandria could be hiding many secrets (Image: GETTY)

&ldquoHe was compelled by this very deep sense of religious belief and he was encouraged to visit the oracle of the god Amen in the Siwa Oasis and was greeted by the priest of the temple there with the words &lsquoyou are the god&rsquo.

&ldquoIn fact, we think this was a mistranslation and Alexander misunderstood what the priest was trying to say, but he was pretty happy about it.

&ldquoSo this convinces him that he is divine and although he left Egypt not long after this and died in Babylon about a decade later, his body was mummified.&rdquo

Mr Naunton even went on to give a &ldquoprecise location&rdquo to where he thought the original burial was.


The Mystery of the Tomb of Alexander the Great

The recent discovery of a unique burial monument in Amphipolis of Macedonia in Greece, has made everyone thinking that maybe this is the long lost tomb of Alexander the Great. The disclosure of the remains of the great conqueror and demigod to many, Alexander, is nothing less than a dream-discovery to the archaeologists and historians around the world.

After conquering all the known world of his time, Alexander the Great died in Babylon on the 10th of June 323 BC. The legend says that the ambitious young king wept when he realised there were no more lands to conquer.

Although Alexander himself had expressed his desire to be buried at the temple of Zeus Ammon at Siwa Oasis, his body was transferred by Ptolemy in Alexandria. Later, his body will disappear so that no man could ever find it.

A place fit for a king

Alexandria lies between the Nile delta, the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mariout (Mareotis in ancient times). Near the eastern seaport there is an area known as Brucheum. Here, were palaces --including the royal palace of the Ptolemies -- gardens, temples and a zoo. It occupied a large part of the northern and central area of the city and was clearly the most beautiful part of Alexandria.

One could find here the Musaeum (University) with its famous Library, the Polytehneio and the Herophilus Medical School. And one could also find here the Sema or Soma (Body), the tomb of Alexander, who's remains had been brought to the city by Ptolemy I Soter and were placed into a magnificent gold coffin. Some time later, when there was a shortage of money, the gold coffin was replaced by an alabaster one by Ptolemy IX.

It was here that in 30 BC, Octavian Augustus actually saw with his eyes the body of Alexander, which was brought to him from the sanctuary of the temple. Octavian paid his respect to the great man by placing a golden diadem upon his head and flowers on his body. When asked if he would like to see the body of Ptolemy, he replied that his desire was to see a king, not corpses. (Suetonius, Book II, XVIII).

Because the country had taken the side of Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian downgraded Egypt and declared it a province of the Roman Empire. Later, in 200 AD, Egypt will regain its previous status and be self-governed again under the reign of the Emperor Septimius Severus.

Septimius Severus who ruled from 193 to 211 (not to be confused with Alexander Severus who ruled from 222 to 235), visited Alexandria after the victorious campaign against the Parthians in the East. He was accompanied by his wife, Julia Domna, the senator and historian Cassius Dio, who was a friend and mentor, and the secretary of Julia, sophist Flavius Philostratus.

Journey down the Nile

During his visit, Severus wished to travel down the Nile, as he had a special task to complete. Without the historical account by Dio Cassius who wrote in Greek, we wouldn't know anything about this strange journey, which would not be an exaggeration to say that sealed the fate of mankind. And it's strange how it has so far escaped the attention of archaeologists and historians. This is how Dio Cassius describes the events that took place in Egypt (Roman History, Book LXXVI, 13, 2, Loeb Classical Library):

After conducting the siege (of Hatra) for twenty days, he then went to Palestine, where he sacrificed to the spirit of Pompey. Thence he sailed to Upper Egypt, passing up the Nile, and viewed the whole country with some few exceptions for instance, he was unable to pass the frontier of Ethiopia because of a pestilence. He enquired into everything, including things that were very carefully hidden for he was the kind of person to leave nothing, either human or divine, uninvestigated. Accordingly, he took away from practically all the sanctuaries all the books that he could find containing any secret lore, and he locked up the tomb of Alexander this was in order that no one in future should either view Alexander's body or read what was written in the above-mentioned books.

What Dio tells us is that Severus and his company visited those places along the Nile where in the old days the priests of Egypt conducted the sacred Mysteries. Places like Heliopolis, Sais, Abydos, the underground crypts of Memphis and Thebes and Philae (an island of the Nile river) near the first waterfall.

Severus therefore gathered all written material of the sacred knowledge from the remote antiquity and safely sealed it inside the tomb of Alexander the Great, so that it would not fall into the hands of the profane or the uninitiated. One of these books was reportedly the "Book of Thoth", where one can find the secret of immortality.

From Dio's words, but also from Suetonius' account that the body of Alexander the Great was brought "from the depths of the temple" for Augustus to see, we conclude that the tomb of the Macedonian king was not in common view, as the Mausoleum of Lenin in the Red Square, for instance. Instead, it's location was kept secret and no one could visit it.

It is in this secret place that Severus felt confident that the ancient knowledge was safe. This is because neither the location of the tomb was known nor one could go there by chance. Maybe it was a labyrinth -- Egypt, after all, was famous for its underground tunnels that stretched for hundreds of kilometers below the surface.

The end of an era
At the time of Severus (200 AD) the decline of the ancient world is almost complete. It had began five hundred years ago, shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, and ended with what is known to historians as the "crisis of the 3rd century". This will lead to the fall of the Roman Empire and the birth of the Dark Ages.

So, unlike previous years, there were no longer hierophants able to explain to the candidates the Mysteries of cosmogony and nature. Genuine mystics were rare and, just like today, the Sacraments were nothing more than mere imitation of a ritual without meaning. The Mysteries had either been lost or could no longer be understood.

History has reserved Severus the strange fate of concealing the Mysteries and protecting the true knowledge from the gradual deterioration caused by human perceptions, superstitions and falsehoods.

The tomb of Alexander the Great seems to be the perfect hiding place, since it is hidden itself. And, after all, who else could be a better guardian of this valuable knowledge, other than the pupil of Aristotle who tried to unite all people under a universal idea?


THE TOMB OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT AND THE COPTS I: INTRODUCTION

The tomb of Alexander the Great (r. 336-323 BC) has always been a matter of great interest to historians and archaeologists. Theories abound on the whereabouts of Alexander’s tomb. Alexander occupied spread his empire deep and wide, and in 332 BC he annexed Egypt. When in Mesopotamia he died in its capital Babylon in 323 BC at the young age of 32. There, Egyptian priests who were accompanying the Macedonian army, embalmed his body for posterity, and kept it in a coffin of “hammered gold” and as his generals fought in between themselves over his inheritance, they also fought over his body. Possessing Alexander’s corpse was a unique symbol of status and conferred much legitimacy upon its possessor.[1] Alexander had wanted his body to be buried at Siwa Oasis in Egypt, where at the temple of Amun an oracle allegedly had declared him a divine personage and the legitimate Pharaoh of Egypt, but some of his generals wanted it buried at Aegae (modern Vergina in Greece), the first capital of Macedonia. Eventually, in 321 BC, two years after Alexander’s death, it was decided that the body should be buried in the latter, and as the body was being transferred to Greece in its richly decorated canopy, Ptolemy (later, Ptolomy I Soter, d. 282 BC), who had secured Egypt for himself after Alexander’s death, hijacked it in Syria, and took it to Egypt, but rather than taking it to Siwa, he took it to Memphis where he displayed it there before it was finally moved probably by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (282 – 246 BC), the second of the dynasty, in c. 280 BC, during the Ptolemaic dynasty to Alexandria, the Ptolemaic glorious capital. Later Ptolemy IV Philopator (221 – 204 BC), the fourth in the dynasty, placed Alexander’s body in the Sema (Greek words meaning ‘tomb’ also sometimes called ‘Soma’, meaning ‘body’)[2], a temple and mausoleum where other Ptolemies were entombed, to be displayed there to visitors for hundreds of years to come. Notable visitors who have been reported to have visited the Sema and paid respect to Alexander the Great include: Julius Caesar (49 – 44 BC), Augustus Caesar (27 BC – 14 AD), Septimus Severus (193 – 211 AD) and Caracalla (211 – 217 AD). Thereafter, the tomb of Alexander the Great with his mummified body seem to have gone missing and its location became shrouded in myth. As Robin Lane Fox says in his Alexander the Great:

It will never be seen again. Despite fitful rumours, modern Alexandria has not revealed the site of its founder’s remains probably his corpse was last visited by Caracalla and was destroyed in the city riots of the late third century A.D.[3] [4]

The late third century in the Roman Empire, a period that extended from 235 to 284, was marked by widespread chaos, political instability and insecurity, riots, barbarian invasions (in Egypt, the Blemmyes), civil wars, increased taxation, frequent fighting between claimants to the throne, and severe natural disasters such as the plague and famine. The trouble is called The Crisis of the Third Century, and Alexandria was particularly affected, its governance suffered greatly and its population considerably declined, while the chaos and riots that ensued led to destruction of much of its edifice and monuments.[5] In 270 AD, the army of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra invaded Egypt, and Alexandria and Egypt was annexed to the Palmyrene Empire which had Syria, Judea and Arabia Petrae already in its grasp. Queen Zenobia thus became Queen of Egypt too. The fighting in Alexandria destroyed most of the Greek or Royal quarter, Brucheion, which contained the Sema. In her war against the Romans over Egypt, Zenobia was aided by the Blemmys. The Roman Empire did not regain Egypt again until 272, when Aurelian defeated Queen Zenobia. But Egypt’s woes did not end by the ascension to power of Diocletian in 284: in the period 297 – 299, in response to Diocletian’s new tax reforms, many cities in Egypt, including Alexandria, were destroyed and reduced to rubble.[6] What remained of the Brucheion was destroyed by Diocletian, who erected as a token of his victory the famous pillar wrongly known as Pompey’s Pillar in front of the Serapeum. The Greek or royal quarter of Alexandria, Brucheum, in particular was completely destroyed by Diocletian. It is during that period, called “The Crisis of the Third Century”, which in the case of Egypt must be extended to the end of the century, that the Soma was most probably destroyed or disappeared. Did the mummified body of Alexander the Great, and the treasures that were most probably buried with him, suffer the same fate? What can Coptic literature help us in answering the quest for Alexander the Great’s tomb? We shall see. But before that it will be good to explore the plan of Alexandria and its main streets and monuments, which is important in our further study. This, I will do in the next article.

[1] Robin Lane Fox, Alexander the Great (Penguin Books, 2004), p. 477.

[2] See: Egypt from Alexander to the Copts, ed. by Roger S. Bagnall and Dominic W. Rathbone (London, The British Museum Press, 2004), p. 57.

[4] For more on Alexander’s tomb, see: Saunders, Nicholas, Alexander’s Tomb: The Two-Thousand Year Obsession to Find the Lost Conqueror (New York, 2007).

[5] Stephen Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery (London, 1985), pp. 15 – 23.


The tomb was destroyed by Christian Fanatics

There is a rather pessimistic theory that claims that Alexander’s tomb was destroyed by Christian fanatics, because it was a pagan monument. It is widely known that religious fanatics were vandalizing Greek monuments because they considered them paganistic. It is also believed that these people had burned many ancient texts of famous philosophers for the same reason.

These were the main theories about Alexander’s tomb. I hope you liked this article. Bye bye guys!

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Comments:

  1. Archer

    Sounds quite seductive

  2. Kolten

    I would like to say a few words.

  3. Stephen

    Not in it the essence.

  4. Kazrarr

    Excuse for that I interfere... At me a similar situation. I invite to discussion.



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