For more than fifteen long years, the Greek archaeologist Calliope Limneos Papacosta has been looking for the golden fleece of ancient Greek history, namely the priceless tomb of Alexander the Great.
All these years, she and her team have tirelessly dug in the Shallalat Gardens in Alexandria (Egypt), a city named after the great conqueror.
Struggling with the water that continually flooded the excavation, she and her colleagues dug layer by layer into the history of Alexandria.
They have now reached the founding period of Alexandria, having discovered the first roads built in the city, as well as the foundations of a huge public building more than 200 feet long, yet to be fully uncovered.
Historical records indicate that after his death in Babylon, the body Alexander the Great was mummified and buried in Egypt, in particular, in the temple of Zeus Ammon in the Siwa oasis. This was the desire of the great commander. That is why archaeologists searched for his grave in Egypt and, in particular, in Alexandria.
After years of excavation and the discovery of ancient historical artifacts, nothing pointed to Alexander’s grave, and the Greek archaeologist was poised to stop work in 2018.
But, as if by magic, a flawless white marble hand was suddenly discovered, reviving her hopes. It was as if the buried statue that owned the hand wanted to tell her that she must continue her mission.
Papacosta said on Greek TV in May 2018: “For fourteen years we have searched in vain. I was so tired and one day I said, “That’s it, I’m leaving.” Literally an hour before our departure, after we stopped the excavation, the earth receded and a hand appeared … I was scared. “My Alexandros” is revealed to me. “
The mystery of the grave of Alexander the Great
Alexander asked to be called “Son of Zeus Ammon” and did not want to be buried along with his father Philip in Ege.
According to early historians, when Alexander died suddenly in 323 BC. in Babylon, his body was mummified, as was done with the pharaohs, which he also was, and his mummy was placed in a golden coffin to take him to the Siwa oasis.
However, his wish was not fulfilled. The funeral cart with Alexander’s body was intercepted in Syria by one of his generals, Ptolemy I Soter. In late 322 or early 321 BC, Ptolemy took the body to Egypt, where it was buried in Memphis, which was the center of Alexander’s rule in Egypt. While Ptolemy owned the body of the great conqueror, his generals Perdiccas and Eumenes owned the armor, diadem and the royal scepter of Alexander.
In the late fourth or early third century BC, Alexander’s body was transferred from the tomb of Memphis to Alexandria for reburial by Ptolemy Philadelphus. Later, his successor, Ptolemy Philopator, placed Alexander’s body in the general mausoleum of Alexandria. According to Pausanias, the mausoleum was called “Soma”, which means “body” in Greek.
By 274 BC. it was known that Alexander was buried in Alexandria, and his grave became the focus of the cult of Alexandros the Great.
New discovery confirms information that Alexander the Great is indeed buried in Alexandria
The artifact, discovered on the last day of the excavation by Papakosta and her team, turned out to be an early Hellenistic statue bearing the seals of Alexander the Great. This inspired tireless archaeologists to continue their excavations.
“The statue opened up to me with an outstretched hand!” – Papacosta said then. “I prayed to God to see how the hand turned to find out if it was carrying a spear, to prove that it belongs to Alexandros the Great Spearman, who was created using the same technique as Lysippos, that is, with his head tilted to the side and down.
“As it is written in sources such as Plutarch, Alexandros spoke to Zeus, looking downward and saying:“ I belong to the Earth. You will take care of Olympus, ”she said. Papacosta added: “It is a great blessing that this statue, which archaeologists have been looking for for many years, was found by the Greek espedicia.”
The stunning Greek marble statue that has been widely recognized as depicting Alexander the Great himself is now on display at the National Museum of Alexandria.
Previous discoveries of Calliope Lemneos-Papacosta in Alexandria
In 2015, the Greek Institute for the Study of Alexandrian Culture, led by Papacosta, discovered a large public building from the Ptolemaic period. The opening was a carved tunnel at a depth of 10 meters. “This is an important discovery because this site belongs to the royal palace of the Ptolemies and we have information about these buildings from ancient times,” Papacosta told AMNA.
Two years later, an even larger discovery confirmed the belief that the tomb of Alexander the Great was nearby, as an archaeologist discovered the ancient Alexandrian royal chambers near the crossroads of the ancient city, as she thought.
Funding for the Papacosta excavation is carried out mainly by private organizations and sponsors, the most important of which are the Greek company KLEOS SA and the Egyptian group of companies Reliance, as well as the Moheb Kassabgui Foundation.
The National Geographic Society is also helping with the excavation, providing electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) to help Papacosta identify areas that could point the way to Alexander’s tomb.