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Egypt: Archaeologist Could Have Discovered the Tomb of Alexander the Great

April 29th, 2014 | by Barbara Johnson
Egypt: Archaeologist Could Have Discovered the Tomb of Alexander the Great
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Alexandria| A team of archaeologists and historians from the Polish Center of Archaeology, that were conducting some research in the crypt of an ancient christian church, have revealed a mausoleum made of marble and gold that could well be the long lost tomb of Alexander III of Macedon,  who went down in history as Alexander the Great. The site is situated in an area known as Kom el-Dikka in the heart of downtown Alexandria, only 60 meters away from Mosque of Nebi Daniel, where Arabic tradition maintained the tomb was to be found and where many excavations had already been conducted.

A famous site of pilgrimage in Antiquity, the tomb is notably known to have been visited by many Roman emperors, including Julius Caesar and Gaius Octavius, better known as Augustus, who is said to have placed flowers on the tomb and a golden diadem upon Alexander’s mummified head. The last recorded visit to the tomb was made by the Roman emperor Caracalla in A.D. 215, less than a century before it disappears from Roman records.

The large monument, apparently sealed off and hidden in the 3rd or 4th century AD, possibly to protect it from the christian repression and destruction of pagan sites after the change of official religion within the Roman Empire. The entire site is a testimony to the multicultural nature of Alexander’s empire, combining artistic and architectural influences from both Greek, Egyptian, Macedonian and Persian origins. The inscriptions, mostly in greek, but including also a few egyptian hieroglyphs, mention that the Mausoleum is dedicated to the “King of Kings, and Conqueror of the World, Alexander III”.

It held a broken sarcophagus made of crystal glass, possibly damaged during the looting that took place during the political disturbances that ravaged Alexandria during the reign of Aurelian shortly after A.D. 270. It also held 37 bones, mostly broken or heavily damaged,  presumably all from the same adult male. A carbon-dating analysis is already under way to determine the age of the bones, and a battery of other tests also await to determine if the bones could be those of the Macedonian king. Other than that, the site held only a small number of artefacts, mostly broken pottery, dating mostly from the Ptolemaic and Roman eras.

The Egyptian Supreme Council for Antiquities had already officially recognized more than 140 unsuccessful searches for the site of Alexander’s third and final resting place, built by Ptolemy Philadelphus around 280 BC. Many astounding theories had been elaborated by various historians to explain the fact that the archeological excavations had come up empty-handed. Some historians had even evoked the possibility that his body could have been unintentionally stolen from Alexandria by a pair of Venetian merchants, taken to Venice, mistakenly renamed and venerated as St. Mark the Evangelist in Basilica di San Marco (Venice, Italy).

The actual facts however, seem to have been a lot closer to what had been corroborated by many authors of Antiquity and the Middle Ages, such as Plutarch,  Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam, Al-Massoudi and Leo the African. In 321 BC, on its way back to Macedonia, the funerary cart with Alexander’s body was hijacked in Syria by one of his generals, Ptolemy I Soter.  Ptolemy then diverted the body to Egypt where it was interred in Memphis, the center of Alexander’s government in Egypt. Then, in the late 4th or early 3rd century BC, Alexander’s body was transferred from Memphis to Alexandria, where it was reburied.

By the fourth century A.D., the tomb’s location was no longer known, if one can trust the accounts of several of the early Church Fathers. However, creditable Arab commentators, including Ibn Abd al-Hakam (A.D. 871), Al-Massoudi (A.D. 944), and Leo the African (sixteenth century A.D.) all report having seen the tomb of Alexander, but none of them specified its exact location.

This new discovery by the Polish Center could certainly be one the most important ever made in the country, despite the already immense wealth of archeological treasures it has yielded. The site itself is a masterpiece of architechture and craftsmanship, and containing many possible new details about the great king. Should the bones turn out to be those of Alexander, the importance of this incredible find would certainly skyrocket, making it one of the greatest in history of archeology, if not the greatest.

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  1. JImmy says:

    Could be Alexander’s tomb. Does not look Ancient Egyptian.

    • doug l says:

      Well, considering the time frame of Alexander’s reign and the subsequent period of his veneration it shouldn’t look “ancient”. It should look ‘hellenistic’ in the classical ptolemaic sense…and it does in this photo with a mixture of cosmopolitan and oriental elements. That’s not to say I’m convinced based on just this report but it is an intriguing possibility.

    • Hani El-Masri says:

      Alexander is not Macedonian now… Nor greek… He was crowned king of Egypt, and if this turns out to be true, he is buried in Egypt… So we claim Alexander an Egyptian.
      Want him ? Come n’ get him !

    • HENRY says:

      To read the many comments that many perfectly stupid left, we can understand why the war has not been eradicated from our planet …

    • Georgia says:

      To Heni El-Masri, Great Alexander Will always Be Greek And always be Macedonian! And if they found his body it should be returned to Greece. As if one day the find Cliopatra would you want her back home or the English to take her and say it there’s too!

    • Bob says:


      Cleopatra was Macedonian, as well.

    • Bob says:

      The priests of Amun did declare Alexander to be the Son of Amun, when he was given the crown of Egypt largely as thanks for ousting the Persians. So, today, perhaps we should give his bones to the Sufis of Luxor, as they are open minded and do not quarrel about such things.

    • Rob says:

      Hani El-Masri, The ancient Egyptians were not the same people that live in Egypt today. So really, your claim to owning antiquity just doesn’t hold any water.

    • Dr. Andrew Yiannakis says:

      Folks, I’m sorry to say that the comments on this site reflect a lot of misinformation and ignorance. Let’s set some things straight.

      Was Alexander Greek? He certainly considered himself to be Greek, he spoke Greek and he had Aristotle as his tutor.
      You have to understand that it was Athens who rejected him as being Greek
      but that position was politically motivated. Of course this issue raises the question of how we might ethnicity
      but keep in mind that Ancient Greece was not a unified country but a collection of city states that shared a common language (with variations), shared religious beliefs (Zeus and the Olympians), enjoyed the same philosophers and playwrites and were culturally more similar than dissimilar. I would say he was just as Greek as the Spartans, the Athenians, the Thessalians, the Argives and the Thebans, among others.

    • Dr. Andrew Yiannakis says:

      Doug is right on the mark. I would add one more item. If you vist the tomb of Alexander’s father in Vergina you will notice the remarkable similarity between his father’s tomb and Alexander’s. The major difference is that Alexander’s tomb in Egypt is more ornate and bears the symbols of the fusion of Greek, Egyption and Persian cultural forms.

      This recent discovery may at last be the true final resting place of the Great King.The crystal glass found in the tomb is a dead giveaway because Roman Emperors who visitedhis tomb reported that the mummified body was encased in crystal glass.

      To be absolutely sure however we must await the results of DNA and radio crbon dating. I hope the bones in the tomb match the bones in his father’s tomb in Makedonia.

    • Susan Llewellyn says:

      The image accompanying this article is not a photo of the tomb; it is a photo of the catacombs in Alexandria, which are already open to the public.

    • Phil Osman says:

      PhilMabrouk as they say in Egypt sincerely I hope that is a real good news.
      It has been a long time and decades since people have tried to Kate Alexander the Great Tomb. If it is prove d correct this discovery will be a great historical event

    • Reuters says:

      Proof of Macedonian Ethnicity found on Alexander’s Tomb!

      Reports from the excavation site say that the tomb is finely decorated with Macedonian Pikemen doing what is commonly known as the “Slavic-Squat”.

      Squatting is a posture where the weight of the body is on the feet (as with standing) but the knees are bent either fully (full or deep squat) or partially (partial, standing, half, semi, parallel or monkey squat).

      Professor Adams, who is leading the expedition, had this to say: “There is no doubt about it, these carvings of soldiers are clearly Alexanders bodyguards accompanying him in the after life. Well, since that’s a pretty long amount of time, his bodyguards need to be comfortable, and that is why the artists chose to depict them as squatting.”

      When asked about whether this means Alexander was not Greek:
      “Clearly! The squatting position is a distinctive ethnic characteristic of the Slavic people. It’s really touching, as it bridges the ancient with the modern world. I can imagine Alexander today, not much different from your ordinary macedonian slav, wearing Adidas tracksuits, drinking ракија, and of course, squatting in a corner somewhere with his buddies. A beautiful image!”


    • Hennie says:

      Maybe this could be Alexander’s tomb. Kind of looks like it.

    • jery says:

      If Alexander was greek, then way did he fight against greeks, he was macedonian, but after wining greece he adopted the language because it was easyer to adopt than to form a new alphabet.(macedonians had thair language, but not alphabet). sorry for my english.

    • David G. Springall says:

      Alexander’s sarcophagus was stipped of it’s Gold and also Alexander was reburied with his father.One of the Ptolemies took the gold and was murdered by the people whop rioted.
      Isn’t it strange how Alexander is hated by the Persians when they themselves(The Persian’s)tormented the Egyptians?I suppose it came back to them,as things did in this tose days and still do.
      I’ve got say this is one the things I have been longing to know,ie. where The Tomb and resting place of Alexander is,in fact for 40 years,of course I don’t always think about it all the time but it has been my hearts longing.
      This is wonderful news and my congratulations to the team who found it.
      By the way I will be disappointed if rthe tomb was not for Alexander,but I’ll take it on the chin if that is so.

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  5. stephen says:

    I have been watching docos for years, the building of tombs, pyramids and other big stone things, and it is quiet obvious these ancients had verrry large 3D printers

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