Where is Alexander’s tomb?
In Miriam’s time, during the first century CE, Alexander the Great’s mausoleum was located in the center of Alexandria, at the junction of the Canopic Way and the Street of the Soma. Miriam tells us all about it in THE DEADLIEST LIE: The Soma is the magnificent walled precinct around the mausoleum itself, a funereal temple built of the finest Greek and Egyptian marbles and furnished with the most exquisite mortuary relics. The body of Alexander was interred under the temple in a cool recess at the end of a long, sepulchral anteroom called the Place of Lamentation, a flight of steps down from the temple’s colonnaded courtyard. Although it became the resting place as well for the later Ptolemies, the Soma was dedicated to the worship of the divine Alexander. Symbolic of the absolute monarch, Alexander’s mummy was an object of admiration and inspiration to the many Roman emperors who visited the tomb. Augustus is said to have placed flowers on the tomb. Unfortunately, while also placing a golden diadem upon Alexander’s mummified head, he accidentally crushed part of Alexander’s nose. (See my blog of February 17, 2015.) And, as if that wasn’t insult enough, according to ancient gossip, Caligula visited the tomb and stole Alexander’s cuirass so he could wear it himself. But almost a century after Caracalla’s visit in 215 CE, any reference to the location of Alexander’s tomb disappeared from Roman records.
Two years ago, a team of archeologists and historians from the Polish Center of Archeology found something in the crypt of an ancient Christian church in the heart of downtown Alexandria. Could the team have stumbled upon Alexander’s long-lost tomb? The Egyptian Supreme Council for Antiquities would say probably not given that it has already recognized more than 140 unsuccessful searches for the site of Alexander’s final resting place. Still the Council might be surprised as carbon dating and other tests determine whether these bones are indeed Alexander’s.