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Alexander’s Tomb

Alexandria - Capital Cities

One of the Outstanding Mysteries left to unravel

in Egypt’s long Ancient History

 

Death

When Alexander died in Babylon it was unexpected at the age of 32 and a fight broke out over where his remains should be homed. Pharaoh Ptolemy won the argument by snatching the body mid funeral cortege. Originally being buried in Memphis, it appears that his body was reinterred within Egypt, but the argument remains as to where, the desert Oasis of Siwa, Alexandria itself or elsewhere?

Image: Alexander’s carriage, according to Diodorus Siculus, 19th-century representation

Visitors

Roman Historians, Quintus Curtius Rufus and Justin report that Alexander wished to be buried in the Amun Zeus Temple at the Oasis of Siwa in Egypt. But ease of location would suggest that he was instead reburied in, or close to, Alexandria, as he was visited by:

  • Roman Emperor Caesar in 48BC
  • Pharaoh Cleopatra took gold to finance her fight against Roman Emperor Octavian
  • Octavian himself after his victory against Pharaoh Cleopatra
  • Reportedly looted by Roman Emperor Caligula who reigned from 37 to 41AD
  • Sealed in 199AD by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus

Would all these dignitaries have travelled from Alexandria to the Oasis at Siwa, a trip of over 400km?

Records about the Tomb vary after 400AD. Archbishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, did not find the location of the Tomb, whereas in 803AD Ibn Abd alHakam and in 896AD al-Masudi reported seeing the Tomb.

Farewell to Alexander the Great

Painted by Karl von Piloty 1886

The Royal Quarter

Archaeologist Calliope Limneos-Papakosta has been excavating Shallalat Gardens, in the middle of Alexandria for over 14 archaeological seasons. She has located buildings, roadways and in 2019 a marble statue of Alexander and is known to be excavating within the Royal Quarter. Belief within the community is that she is close to the supposed location of his Tomb.

Or is it at the Siwa Oasis?

Archaeologist Leana Souvaltzi has discovered a Greek like Egyptian Tomb of a high status at the Oasis of Siwa. Regrettably the excavation of the final parts of the Tomb were prevented, due to political implications at the time. To date the final burial chamber has not been excavated.