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Alexander’s Tomb

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  Quote The Guardian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Alexander’s Tomb
    Posted: 03-Aug-2005 at 13:02
Where is it?Anybody know about it?
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  Quote conon394 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Aug-2005 at 14:57

It was at Alexandria. I imagine the tomb is not in the harbor somewhere along with a lot of the rest of the ancient city.

Ptolemy I had Alexanders body shipped to Alexandria; I believe Perdiccas (as regent) was trying to send it back to Macedonia to be buried at Vergina

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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Aug-2005 at 15:50

There are some theories but personally i find more convincing the assertion that Alexander's Tomb is at the Siwa Oasis.

A Greek archaelogist Liana Souvaltzi and her team started in 1989 at Siwa Oasis, excavations, in her own expenses bringing to light an unknown tomb. Soulvatzi was convinced that the tomb was the one of Alexander but unfortunately in 1996 the excavations were forced to stop as the Egyptian government didnt renew her permission - there were many indications of political motives behind with a possible interference of the Greek Gov.

Anyway here are some pics from the excavations of 1995 at the tomb of Siwa Oasis.

Inscription "A" 

(Refers to "Alexander Ammon Ra")

 

 

This inscription above refers to "the God who drank the poison." [Some scholars conjecture that Alexander was poisoned.)

One pic taken from the first year of excavations.

The rest of the pics can be found here.. http://www.souvaltzi.gr/anaskafes.htm

Here is a conventional reconstruction through computer how the tomb could look like inside. 

http://www.souvaltzi.gr/reconstruction.htm

And a quite interesting essay from a professor of classical Archaeology with very good points for the possibilities of being Alexander the Great's Tomb.

http://www.grecoreport.com/proofs_regarding_the_tomb_of_alex ander_the_great_at_siwa_oasis.htm

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  Quote conon394 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Aug-2005 at 16:22

But the overwhelming weight of evidence from the classical sources (Strabo, Suetonius, Curtius Rufus, Diodorus, Aelian, Dio Cassius) locate the tomb at Alexandria.

Professor  Angelos Papaiounnou is using a bit of slight of hand with his quotes.

First from Diodorus, he notes:

Arridaios was responsible for the construction of the funeral carriage and the transport of Alexanders body to [the oracle at] Ammon. [Diodorus Siculus XVIII 3, 5]

He has omitted the following statement:

He was met in Syria by Ptolemy, who escorted it with military honors to Alexandria, where he deposited it in a sanctuary specially prepared for it,

His other two quotes from Pseudo Callisthenes and Justinus simply note the decision to have the body sent to Syria for preparation and to be buried handled by Egyptian priest, neither provide any indication of tomb location.

After that he largely notes evidence for dating the structure to the late 4th century and some evidence of Macedonian symbols. One could make the same argument for a number of the tombs at Vergina, and make the statement  Alexander was buried there.

 



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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Aug-2005 at 17:03

"In the 3rd century under Claudius II (269), Aurelian (273) and Diocletian (296) terrible repression against the population of Alexandria destroyed nearly the whole of the city29."

 http://www.greece.org/alexandria/tomb2/destruction.htm

 Examples of the kind of destruction Alexandria suffered many times, much of the city was destroyed, its little wonder Alexanders tomb hasnt been found, the city has been practically levelled and rebuilt numerous times much has been destroyed from attacks on the city, rioting, earthquakes etc.

 Its hard to say exactly when the tomb itself disappeared as theres references to it from only a few hundred years ago even though most of them are references to possible locations and buildings believed to be associated with the burial site.

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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Aug-2005 at 17:49

Another interesting and quite informative article from the work "In search of Alexander the Great" by Nermin Sami.

Despite scientific progress in research and continuous excavations, the mystery of Alexander the Great's tomb still has not unraveled, and locating the burial of Alexander seems to have become an impossible mission for archaeologists. 

 

The problem of locating the place where the body of one of the worlds most famous individuals was buried first came into focus when, in the 4th century AD, St. John Chrysostom, the Bishop of Constantinople (347-407), asked his people, "Tell me where is the Sema of Alexander?". His real purpose was to emphasize the futility of the world where even the greatest of men became lost in history. He was quite sure that no one would be able to answer this question, but in asking, it became clear that the tomb of Alexander had completely vanished. No one can claim to have seen this tomb after the end of the 4th century.

Time has made it difficult to distinguish the historical facts from the legends surrounding Alexander the Great's tomb. However, there are four theories concerning its location:

Asia : Two countries in Asia, Indonesia and Turkey, lay claim to his tomb mostly because they were a part of his extensive Empire. However, archaeologists have generally rejected this claim and no historical evidence has ever been discovered to substantiate this possibility.

Macedonia : Some believe that he may have been buried in Aigai, which was the capital city of the Macedonian Empire where some of his ancestors were laid to rest. Certainly, some modern historians have made a plausible and attractive case for this possibility, though no evidence exists to further these claims, other than ancient texts that indicates his funeral procession was probably, at some point headed in the direction of Aigai.

Alexandria : Many, if not most archaeologist are convinced that Alexander was buried in the city that he founded in Egypt on its northern Mediterranean coast, named for the great ruler. There is considerable ancient material about his funeral in Alexandria, after his body was taken there from Memphis. Other ancient texts refer to various important personalities, including Roman emperors and scholars, who visited his tomb in Alexandria.

The Siwa Oasis : The last theory concerns the story that Alexander the Great asked, while on his deathbed, to be buried at the Ammoneion in the Western Desert Oasis of Siwa, near the temple of the god Amun. This story is told by the historians, Diodoros, Curtius Rufs and Justin, who were not contemporaries of Alexander.

The story of Alexander the Great's Death


According to the ancient texts from such sources as Strabo, Diodorus and Plutarch, Alexander the Great left Egypt in 331 traveling to Babylon (modern Iraq). There, he became ill, perhaps from malaria, though some sources tell of his poisoning, and on his way back to Macedonia, he died suddenly. On his deathbed he asked for his generals after which Alexander supposedly gave his ring to one named Perdikkas. Hence, the general was appointed regent of his huge empire until Alexander's queen, Roxane, gave birth to their child. This child was Alexander IV, who inherited his father's Empire, though apparently only briefly.


Arrhidaeus was the general who had been chosen by the Macedonian army to be in charge of Alexander's funeral arrangement. Two years were required to prepare for Alexanders funeral convey, though its original destination seems to be a matter of speculation. Many scholars believe that indeed, his body was to be sent home to his ancestral burial grounds in Macedonia.

However, the years between 323 to 301 BC were troublesome, with endless conflicts among Alexander the Great's successors. Initially, Alexander IV and his mother were assassinated by Cassander who usurped the throne my marrying Thessaloniki, Alexander the Great's sister. In the ensuing conflict between Alexander's generals for succession, the body of the conqueror played a symbolic role which influenced the power struggles of these men.

Perdikkas, is thought to have at first sent the mummified remains of Alexander the Great on their way to Aigai, the old Macedonian capital, for burial. He had a magnificent funerary cart constructed for this purpose. The body was placed in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus which was then encased in a second gold casket and covered with a purple robe. Alexander's coffin was placed, together with his armor, in a gold carriage which had a vaulted roof supported by an Ionic peristyle. The decoration of the carriage was very rich and is described in great detail by Diodoros. An interesting reconstruction of the funerary cart has been developed by the modern archaeologist Stella Miller, who makes no claims as to its accuracy, so that scholars may visualize what Diodoros described.

The tomb of Alexander the Great in Alexandria, where his body probably lay in public display, was visited by important personalities, scholars, as well as common tourists. We hear that Alexander's body was originally laid to rest in a golden sarcophagus, but Strabo, who visited Alexander's tomb himself in the first century AD, tells us in his reports that king Ptolemy IX (116-107, 87-81 BC), one of the most infamous successors of Ptolemy I, replaced Alexander's sarcophagus with one made of glass. Supposedly, Ptolemy IX melted down the original gold sarcophagus in order to strike emergency gold coinage.

Dion Cassius, a historian who lived between 155-235 AD and who was also consul of Africa in the reign of the Roman emperor Septimus Severus, reported Augustuss earlier request to see the body of Alexander. As he bent over the body to kiss the great conqueror, Augustus accidentally broke Alexander's nose. When Augustus was asked if he wanted to visit the tombs of the Ptolemies, he refused, saying that, I came to see a king and not dead people .

Several other Roman emperors reportedly visited the tomb of Alexander in Alexandria. Even prior to Augustus, the tomb was visited by Julius Ceasar in 45 BC. Later, the Roman Emperor Caligula went to Alexandria to visit the Sema and left with Alexander's cuirass (armor breastplate).

Septimus Severus (early third century AD) eventually closed the tomb to the public out of concern for its safety because of the hoards of tourists who visited the site. He is even said to have placed in the Mausoleum many secret books, reportedly so none could read the books nor see the body.

The last reported imperial visit that we know from ancient accounts, according to Herodian, was made by Caracalla (3rd century AD), who believed that he was Alexander's reincarnation. This emperor dedicated a treasure of offerings to the body of Alexander, including his tunic, ring, belt and other jewelry.

It is mainly because of these historical accounts, including visits by the ancient authors themselves, that most scholars believe that Alexander was laid to rest in Alexandria.

In our search for the tomb of Alexander the Great, it should be noted that the ancient city of Alexandria has been sacked many times which, together with other calamities, led to its eventual and almost total decline. Caracalla sacked the city in 215, but apparently respected the Mausoleum of Alexander the Great. Others to do so in the third century included Claudius II (269), Aurelian (273) and Diocletian (296) resulting in a terrible repression against the population of Alexandria which destroyed nearly the whole of the city.

We must not forget about the natural disasters that contributed to the devastation of the ancient city, including plague and particularly an earthquake during the 4th century which resulted in much destruction, especially to the Royal palaces. It toppled the Pharos lighthouse and the Ptolemaic Royal quarter was deserted, and probably the Royal cemetery was affected as well.

There is no recorded of violent action against the tomb of Alexander the Great during the late Roman period, but some historical sources report considerable destruction in Alexandria during the reign of Emperor Theodosius (379-395) after Christianity became the state religion. Then, after the Arab conquest, the city lost much of its importance, as well as its population and in the 15th century, the Turks almost finished off the city. For five centuries afterwards we hear no more about Alexanders tomb and the Soma totally vanished.

The rest of the article can be found here:

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/alexandersearch.htm

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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Aug-2005 at 18:24

Conon,

Althought I agree with you that the quotes used by professor Papaioannou couldnt be convincing (here i have a small objection to your post... Curtius Rufus and Diodorus do mention that Alexander requested to be burried in Ammoneion which is close to the spot Souvalntzi made the excavations) I tend to give more ground to the theory of Siwa in comparison with the rest theories from the Architectural description of the monument.

As all the descriptions point out the Siwa Oasis tomb is a Macedonian tomb and furthermore its 13 times larger than the Royal Macedonian tombs of Vergina. Moreover we have the discovery of the inscriptions..One of them make a clear reference to Alexander- Ammon Ra. The second one is refering to "the God who drank the poison" but this one i dont find it holding much ground as a persuasive factor.

From the lions found outside of the tomb we have to assume this is a Royal tomb. After all of these, surely we cant be 100% certain that its Alexander's Tomb but certainly we cant preclude also it isnt. Whether or not finally its Alexander's tomb i believe it would be best for archaeology and not only, the Egyptian authorities to allow the opening of the tomb.



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  Quote conon394 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Aug-2005 at 23:30

I just dont really much convincing evidence for rejecting the literary verdict:

What I see lacking for example is any analysis of letter forms on the inscriptions as a means of setting a date on the site. Most of the evidence noted merely suggests the structure is Hellenistic in date (the mishmash of Greek, Macedonian and Eastern symbols, etc); at best it seems to me it sets a terminus at the late 4th century.  A shrine of some sort to Alexander could have been built at any time during the Ptolemaic Kingdoms existence, without necessarily being his tomb. The Ptolemies were generous in there dedications and donations to famous Greek sites and cites (say Athens) it is not really much of a stretch to suggest they might have erected some kind of showy structure at Siwa as well.

Curtius Rufus and Diodorus do mention that Alexander requested to be burried in Ammoneion

True, but both Curtius and Diodorus subsequently note that Ptolemy did not in fact implement those wishes but instead kept Alexanders body at Alexandria. Siwa was pretty remote, and Alexander was the source of legitimacy for Macedonian rule in the former Persian Empire. Alexandria was a very useful place to have such a talisman if you will, that buttressed the rule of the Ptolemaic dynasty. 

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  Quote Cyrus Shahmiri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Aug-2005 at 08:11
Tomb of Alexander is in Ecbatana, people of Ecbatana called this tomb as "Tomb of Alexander" even those times that they didn't know their city was once the summer capital of Persian and Macedonian empires.
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  Quote azimuth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Aug-2005 at 08:19

 

where is that?!

i heard that the lebanese found a tomb under a church or something and said that it belonged to Alexander then it was found out that it belonged to one of his generals or something.

a glass made cofin i think.

 

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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Aug-2005 at 09:19
Originally posted by Aeolus


 
Time has made it difficult to distinguish the historical facts from the legends surrounding Alexander the Great's tomb. However, there are four theories concerning its location:

Asia : Two countries in Asia, Indonesia and Turkey, lay claim to his tomb mostly because they were a part of his extensive Empire. However, archaeologists have generally rejected this claim and no historical evidence has ever been discovered to substantiate this possibility.

 

Indonesia? Do you mean India?

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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Aug-2005 at 09:09

Although it rebuts my previous point about Siwa, i will paste an excellent must-read article from Andrew Chugg called The Tomb of Alexander the Great in Alexandria - the best so far i read with a wide variety of informations about Alexander's Tomb.

Alexander's Final Resting Place
Andrew Chugg pinpoints the Emperors long-lost tomb.

The 120-foot Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was ostensibly a representation of the sun god Helios. It is now believed to have been modelled on the features of Alexander the Great, whose conquests had irrevocably altered the course of history mere decades before its creation. The image of the Colossus towering over the harbour of Rhodes provides an apt metaphor for the way Alexanders achievements loom over the history of the ancient world. Partly for reasons of his historical importance and partly for the romance of his glamorous career, the hunt for Alexanders mysteriously vanished tomb has come to be regarded as the archaeologists analogue for the Arthurian quest for the Sangrail. At its crudest there are elements of the excitement and drama of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I myself got some sense of this from the violent reverberations of a dilapidated taxi during a 90mph ride along the desert road from Cairo to Alexandria in my search for his tomb. On arrival among the recently rain-drenched streets of the great port city, it transpired that the wiper blades of our vehicle existed for ornamental purposes only. As the traffic dodging around us disappeared behind a veil of fine spray, I too began to feel a certain affinity with the perilous life of Indiana Jones.

Since the middle of the nineteenth century a succession of more or less dubious characters have been associated with the hunt for Alexanders tomb, and in the process have lent a faint air of disrepute to the enterprise. In around 1850 a part-time tourist guide called Ambrose Schilizzi introduced a persistent red-herring into the mystery by claiming actually to have seen Alexanders corpse at the end of a passage beneath the Nabi Daniel mosque in central Alexandria. Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy and Mycenae, was taken in by this tale and sought permission to excavate beneath the mosque, but was thwarted by the local religious authorities. However, Evaristo Breccia, the Director of the Greco-Roman Museum of Alexandria, conducted thorough investigations beneath the mosque between 1925-31 and found nothing of interest.

Another famous hoax was perpetrated in 1893 by a M. Joannides, who claimed to have found the tombs of both Alexander and Cleopatra in the Chatby necropolis in the north-east district of the ancient city. More recently, in the 1960s, Stelios Komoutsos, a Greek waiter in Alexandria, used his tips to invest in the finance of a fruitless series of arbitrary excavations in the streets of the modern city. More recently still, in the mid-1990s, Liana Souvaltzis claimed to have found Alexanders tomb at the Siwa oasis in the desert to the south-west of Alexandria; but her evidence collapsed when subjected to serious scrutiny and the Egyptian authorities withdrew her licence.

Only one twentieth-century theory concerning the tomb retains any serious academic credibility and even this is highly tenuous. In 1907 Breccia discovered what appears to be the alabaster antechamber of a Macedonian-style tumulus tomb in pieces in the modern Latin Cemeteries, which lie within the western districts of the ancient city. Achille Adriani subsequently reconstructed the chamber and proposed that this Alabaster Tomb might have been part of Alexanders sepulchre. However, there is no evidence specifically connecting it with Alexander and, despite recent re-excavation, no more of the structure has been found.

A plethora of ancient accounts survive concerning Alexanders tomb, which enable us to reconstruct its story with reasonable confidence. Following Alexanders death in Babylon in June 323 BC steps were taken to preserve the corpse and a team of artists and engineers spent around eighteen months preparing a magnificent catafalque. A cavalcade escorting the catafalque set out late in 322 bc, supposedly heading for Aegae, the ancient burial place of Macedonian royalty. However, according to several sources, Alexander had asked for his body to be taken to Ammon in Egypt, and Arrhidaeus, the commander of the escort, conspired with Ptolemy, then governor of Egypt, to bring this about. When it reached Syria, Arrhidaeus diverted the catafalque south through Damascus and Ptolemy came north with an army to meet it. Perdiccas, the regent of the Empire, sent his lieutenants Attalus and Polemon with a contingent of cavalry in hot pursuit. They may have clashed with Ptolemys troops, but failed to recapture the body. Consequently, Perdiccas took the Grand Army into Egypt in the spring of 321 BC aiming to punish Ptolemy, but his own officers assassinated him after he failed to force the crossing of the Nile, with disastrous loss of life.

Ptolemy proceeded to entomb Alexander at Memphis, where the corpse remained for about four decades until Ptolemys son Philadelphus transferred it to the new capital at Alexandria. The fourth Ptolemy, called Philopator, built a magnificent new mausoleum in the centre of Alexandria in which he placed the remains of Alexander and his own ancestors in about 215 bc. In 89 bc Ptolemy X stole Alexanders original coffin of hammered gold fitted to the body in order to pay his troops, replacing it with a glass substitute. In 48 bc Julius Caesar marched through Alexandria with the full pomp of a Roman consul to visit the tomb and honour his hero Alexander. Similarly, Augustus viewed Alexanders corpse in 30 bc, strewing it with flowers and placing a crown upon it, but inadvertently breaking off a piece of the nose in the process.

The next visitor we know of was Emperor Septimius Severus in AD 200, and Severus son Caracalla made the final recorded visit in AD 215, when he left his rings and his belt as tokens of his esteem. The mausoleum may have been destroyed in one of several episodes of warfare in the later part of the third century ad, but Ammianus Marcellinus refers to a splendid temple and tomb of the Genius of Alexandria in AD 361. The tomb may have been demolished by the earthquake and tidal wave that struck the city in AD 365, since John Chrysostom asserted that the tomb was unknown to Alexanders own people in about AD 400. Theodoret, writing in the early fifth century, also listed Alexander among famous men with unknown tombs.

Continued...

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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Aug-2005 at 09:10

Around 1517 Leo Africanus visited Alexandria and later wrote that he had seen a Tomb of the Prophet and King Alexander in a small house in the form of a chapel. The sixteenth-century Braun & Hogenberg plan of Alexandria also marks a Domus Alexandri Magni (House of Alexander the Great) at its exact centre. The location and the adjacent minaret suggest that this was what became the Attarine Mosque, in the courtyard of which scholars accompanying Napoleons invasion of 1798 found a chapel containing an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus. When the English defeated the French in Egypt in 1801, Edward Daniel Clarke recovered the sarcophagus and shipped it to the British Museum, having been told that it was the tomb of Alexander.

In 1822 Champollion deciphered hieroglyphics, and it was realised that the sarcophagus bore the cartouches of Nectanebo II, the last native pharaoh of Egypt, for whom it must have been made. However, Nectanebo had fled from a Persian invasion into Ethiopia in 341 bc, so his sarcophagus was probably still vacant when Ptolemy buried Alexander at Memphis in 321 BC. If Ptolemy did use this splendid relic to accommodate Alexanders remains, then it would explain how the sarcophagus subsequently found its way to Alexandria, a city not founded in Nectanebos day.

In 1851 Auguste Mariette excavated a temple built by Nectanebo II at the Serapeum in the Memphite necropolis at North Saqqara. Its entrance was guarded by a semi-circle of statues of Greek poets and philosophers presided over by Homer, Alexanders favourite author, and its side entrance was guarded by a group of four Greek-style lions. These sculptures appear to date from the reign of the first Ptolemy and are therefore contemporary with Alexanders Memphite tomb. Was the first tomb located within the Nectanebo temple? The connections between the Attarine sarcophagus and a possible site for Alexanders first tomb at Memphis are certainly intriguing. It is virtually impossible for any forger to have known about these links. The issue could be pursued through re-excavation of the Nectanebo temple.

Several ancient writers refer to Alexanders tomb as existing within a memorial building, and Zenobius, who wrote in the first half of the second century AD, specified that it lay at the centre of Alexandria, had been built by Philopator c.215 bc and incorporated the tombs of the earlier Ptolemies. What did this building look like and where was the tomb located within it? The most important clues on its form come from the Pharsalia, a Latin poem by Lucan, composed during the reign of Nero. This recounts Julius Caesars victory over his rival Pompey at the battle of Pharsalus and Caesars ensuing pursuit of his opponent to Egypt. In two crucial passages Lucan describes Alexanders body preserved within a consecrated grotto, which had been hewn out for a tomb and into which Caesar descended. The remains of the kings were resting within a loftily constructed crag/edifice and were covered by indignant pyramids and Mausoleums.

These remarks tend to focus consideration on two possibilities: either a simple Giza-style pyramid or a splendid mausoleum-temple in imitation of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (another of the Seven Wonders). Alexander is said to have planned a tomb comparable with the Great Pyramid for his father and there is a small pyramidal tomb in Rome dating from the Augustan age. However, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus fits Lucans words with remarkable accuracy, for it is known to have been an impressively tall structure with a pyramidal roof and a subterranean burial chamber. Furthermore, Halicarnassus was part of the Ptolemaic empire in 215 BC and numerous surviving monumental tombs of the period followed the Mausoleum model, including several funerary monuments in a Ptolemaic cemetery within ancient Alexandria.

Strabo, who saw Alexandria in 25 BC, describes Alexanders tomb as a walled enclosure within the city and called it the Soma. Diodorus also spoke of a sacred enclosure and added that it was of a size and construction worthy of the glory of Alexander. The enclosure of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was 100m x 250m, but Alexanders enclosure should have been bigger, since Alexandria was far larger and Alexander a much greater king. The sacred enclosures of Memphis, which was the capital of Egypt before Alexandria superseded it, were the most immediate inspiration available to Alexandrias architects, and they stood half a kilometre square.

Achilles Tatius, who probably wrote in the third century ad, mentioned a district around the central crossroads of Alexandria which was named after Alexander. He described it as a second city and implied it was enclosed by walls. The Alexander Romance, compiled around the same time, stated that Alexandria comprised five quarters, which was confirmed by Philo, but the Romance also named the first quarter after Alexander. The location of this district of Alexander at the centre of the city concurs with the location of the tomb at the centre described by Zenobius. Its size is consistent with Diodorus emphasis of the enormity of the tomb enclosure. Furthermore, it shows how Strabos assertion that the Royal District amounted to around a quarter to a third of the entire city can be true, for he incorporated the Soma within it. Everything suggests that the district of Alexander and the tomb enclosure of the Soma were one and the same.

In 1865, before the modern city spread to seal over the ancient ruins, Mahmoud Bey, a French-trained engineer, was commissioned by the Khedive to excavate the site in order to draw up a plan of the ancient city. The map he produced remains the key reconstruction of ancient Alexandria. In particular, it defines the location of the central crossroads mentioned by Achilles Tatius and Strabo.

For the Soma to agree with all the ancient accounts, we must seek an enclosure on a scale of half a kilometre, which encompasses the crossroads and abuts the royal palaces on the coast to the west of the Lochias promontory. A black line on Mahmouds map indicates the medieval walls of Alexandria, which can be seen more clearly in a map of 1798 from the Description de lEgypte. The eastern section of these walls forms three sides of an enclosure of about 600m x 800m with Mahmouds central crossroads just within its eastern end.

Arab accounts and inscriptions attribute the finalisation of the medieval walls to Sultan Ahmed Ibn Tulun in the late ninth century, but existing walls may have been incorporated into his fortifications. In most places the medieval defences were a double circuit with interior and exterior walls, which had evidently been constructed in different periods. There are many reasons to believe that the outer curtain in the eastern sector was much older than the inner and that it had its origins in the ancient city. For example, the Reverend Richard Pococke, who paced around the walls in 1737, stated that the outer circuit appeared ancient and of very high-quality workmanship, but the inner was obviously medieval and of a lower standard. The French artist Louis-Franois Cassas visited Alexandria in 1785 and noted the disparity in the epochs of the two walls in his map published in 1799. The stylistic differences to which they refer can be glimpsed in plates from the Description de lEgypte, which show sometimes perfectly round arches and huge immaculate blocks of masonry and elsewhere pointed arches and smaller stones in less regular arrays.

continued...

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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Aug-2005 at 09:13

The medieval walls were substantially remodelled in 1826 and largely destroyed in the 1880s during the spread of the modern city. However, a magnificent aquatinted engraving by Luigi Mayer depicting the Rosetta Gate in the late eighteenth century shows an apparently ancient portal flanked by columns with Corinthian capitals, seemingly made of the polished pink granite used extensively for the public architecture of ancient Alexandria. A statue niche in the wall beside it would make a date after the Arab conquest most unlikely, because of the Islamic ban on graven images. The same gate is shown from the outside in an engraving made from a drawing by Cassas. Furthermore, a small section of a tower in the outer wall survives today a couple of hundred metres north of the site of the Rosetta Gate. Some of its blocks are more than a metre wide and it is generally considered to be of ancient construction.

Further indications that the outer circuit was ancient come from the observations of D. G. Hogarth for the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1895. Though the walls themselves had largely vanished, the ditch that ran in front of them was still apparent over a stretch from the harbour to south of the Rosetta Gate. Yet Hogarth found scarcely any traces of ancient masonry in the banks of this ditch, which should have cut through ancient foundations, had it been excavated in a new line in the ninth century. Finally, the 1798 map appears to show vestiges of a gateway in the outer wall at a short oblique section where it was cut by the ancient street labelled R3 by Mahmoud. All this evidence suggests that the eastern section of the medieval walls had previously formed a huge enclosure at the heart of ancient Alexandria. This explains why the medieval city incorporated these eastern districts, though they seem to protrude oddly from its overall plan.

If we accept the evidence of an ancient enclosure around the central crossroads, then it is extremely likely that this was the Soma of Alexander. The entire area is now heavily built-up, but Mahmoud Bey stated that the number of columns and the size of the foundations he found in this vicinity indicated that the grandest buildings of the ancient city had once stood there. Only small-scale excavations are feasible in the area at present, so any new dig would have to be carefully focused.

The ultimate question in this enigma must be the fate of Alexanders actual body. The evidence suggests that we should pursue any ancient mummified corpses that appeared within the immediate vicinity of Mahmoud Beys central crossroads in the late fourth-century ad. This seems a fairly tall order, yet a single set of human remains seems to fill the criteria.

According to various Christian sources, the church in Alexandria was founded by St Mark the Evangelist in the mid-first century ad. In the Late Roman period a church and tomb of St Mark became one of the key religious sites in the city. The oldest reliable historical reference is found in The Lausiac History of Palladius, who wrote in the early fifth century ad of a pilgrimage to the Martyrion of Mark at Alexandria, which took place at the end of the fourth century. There is also a legendary account of the martyrdom and entombment of St Mark in an apocryphal document known as The Acts of St Mark, which may well have been composed in Alexandria in the late fourth century. According to the Acts, the pagans attempted to burn St Marks body, but a miraculous storm intervened and doused the flames, allowing the Christians to snatch back the corpse and convey it to their church beside the sea in a district of Alexandria called Boukolia. The oldest versions of the Acts mention that the Christians entombed the body in an eminent location in the east of the city. Although later writers have often assumed that the location of St Marks tomb (and the associated church) was at the site of the church in Boukolia, the Acts did not actually state this. An alternative Christian tradition in Dorotheus, Eutychius and the Chronicon Paschale states that St Marks body actually was burnt, so perhaps the miracle in the Acts was contrived to explain a fabricated tomb.

In AD 828 a pair of merchant-adventurers from Venice stole the saints supposed remains from beneath the noses of the Arab authorities in Alexandria and returned with them to their native city. The event is recorded in numerous chronicles as well as in mosaics within the basilica which the Venetians erected to accommodate St Marks relics. The chroniclers speak of a corpse sealed in linen, which exuded a pungent perfume when disturbed. However, the evidence of special interest for our story is a short legend in the Braun & Hogenberg map of Alexandria, which identifies the location of a stone just inside the Cairo Gate (later known as the Rosetta Gate) of Alexandria beneath which the Venetians are stated to have discovered St Marks body. An account of a pilgrimage to Alexandria by a certain Arculfus in about ad 680 seems to locate the church of St Mark just inside this gate. A medieval poem recounting the capture of Alexandria by the King of Cyprus in ad 1365 indicates that the Gate of St Mark was then an alternative name for the Cairo Gate. Yet Bernard, a French monk who visited Alexandria in about ad 870, wrote that the church of St Mark lay close by a monastery of St Mark, which was located just outside the Eastern/Cairo Gate. The earliest surviving map of Alexandria was drawn by Ugo Comminelli in ad 1472 and this also shows some kind of religious establishment dedicated to St Mark outside the eastern gate. Nevertheless, this does not exclude the possibility that the church lay just within the gate, while the later monastery lay just outside it, so the location specified by the Braun & Hogenberg map may well be correct.

If so, then the tomb of St Mark was located very close to Mahmoud Beys central crossroads of ancient Alexandria, which was also the likely location of Alexanders mausoleum. Is it possible that some fourth-century patriarch of the Alexandrian church recognised an opportunity, through a small act of duplicity, both to preserve the corpse of the citys founder from the most fanatical of his own followers and to furnish Christianity with a potent relic to encourage the devotion of the faithful?

The evidence that the body of St Mark in Venice is actually that of Alexander himself is essentially circumstantial: it simply defines a close coincidence in time and place between the disappearance of Alexanders corpse in the late fourth century and the appearance of St Marks remains on the historical stage. It does no more than establish a possibility that the two mummified bodies are one and the same. But this need not be the end of the story, for the corpse of St Mark survives beneath the high altar of the Basilica of St Marks in Venice, whither it was transferred from the crypt in 1811 to preserve it from the threat posed by the citys continual floods. The science of forensic archaeology has recently achieved such a degree of proficiency that a detailed investigation of the remains could reveal their true provenance. Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, for the story of Alexanders tomb without the body is like Hamlet without the Prince The rest is silence.

For Further Reading:

Andrew Chugg The Tomb of Alexander the Great in Alexandria American Journal of Ancient History, New Series 1.2 (2002) [2003] (Rutgers University Press); Andrew Chugg, The Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great? Greece & Rome, Vol. 49, April 2002 (Oxford University Press); Jean-Yves Empereur, Alexandria Rediscovered (British Museum Press, 1998); Mary Renault, The Nature of Alexander (Allen Lane, Penguin Books, 1975).

http://www3.oup.co.uk/gromej/hdb/Volume_49/Issue_01/ 

A mathematician is a person who thinks that if there are supposed to be three people in a room, but five come out, then two more must enter the room in order for it to be empty.
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