Alexandria catacombs; Coincidence, History and Art

Added on Jun 06, 2018

The city of Alexandria was originally established by Alexander the Great, the most famous Greek King and army leader, in 332 BC and soon became the cultural and commercial center of the Mediterranean Sea region.

According to legend, a donkey dragging a cart filled with stones in Alexandria; accidentally fell into a pit in the ground. If true, the donkey may have earned the honor of discovering one of the most fantastic sites in history. Namely, we are talking about the Kom El Shoqafa here, ancient catacombs unlike any other in the world of antiquity.

According to archaeologists, the catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa resemble the largest burial site dating from the Greco-Roman period. Discovered in Alexandria, a particularly interesting city of antiquity, it was no surprise that what was hidden in the underground burial tunnels for centuries was a blend of different ancient arts and cultures.

The name Kom el Shoqafa itself is derived from the ancient Greek, translating to “Mound of Shards” as the area used to contain piles of shattered pottery.

These catacombs make up the largest-known Roman burial site in Egypt and one of the last major works of construction dedicated to the religion of ancient Egypt. Demonstrating Alexandria’s hallmark fusion of Pharaonic and Greek styles, the architects used a Greco-Roman approach. The catacombs consist of three tiers of tombs and chambers cut into bedrock to a depth of 35m.

The Catacombs (meaning underground tunnels) lie in the district of Karmouz to the east of Alexandria. The area was called Kom El-Shouqafa or a pile of shards.

The cemetery dates back to the 1st century A.D and was used until the 4th century A.D.

The Catacombs in Alexandria are so called because the design was very similar to the Christian Catacombs of Rome. The Alexandrian catacombs was most likely a private tomb, later converted to a public cemetery and It consists of 3 levels cut into the bedrock, a staircase, a rotunda, the triclinium or a banquette hall, a vestibule, an antechamber and the burial chamber with three recesses on it; in each recess there is a sarcophagus.

The Catacombs contains as well, a large number of grooves cut in the rock, where coffins are stored.