The mysteries of ancient civilizations have fascinated archaeologists and scholars for hundreds of years. Ancient Egypt has certainly proved to be a gift that keeps on giving in this regard. Although countless of precious artifacts have been stolen or destroyed by tomb raiders over time, many others remain quietly hidden with their secrets intact.
With today’s technology, it has become much easier for archaeologists to find likely areas to search for long lost tombs and ancient cities and when they find such a site, the excitement must be great, the speculation rife! Which is exactly what happened when, during a routine inspection by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities at a construction site in early July 2018 where they discovered an ancient tomb. A team of archaeologists were called in to dig up the large black sarcophagus.
Scientists speculated whether it could be the remains of Alexander the Great, who died in 30BC and whose remains have never been found. Such a discovery would indeed solve one of the great mysteries in antiquity. The locals, on the other hand, worried about the possibility of releasing an ancient curse if the coffin is opened.
Unopened black granite sarcophagus discovered recently in Egypt, weighing many tons and is the largest sarcophagus to ever be unearthed in Alexandria
The opening of the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922 were followed by several deaths of those involved in the discovery and opening of the pharaoh’s tomb, ultimately strengthening the belief that those who dare to disturb the resting place of kings and pharaohs will suffer severe consequences. However, there was no curse inscribed in the tomb of Tutankhamen and the cause of death of those involved in the excavation and removal of the pharaoh were due to various reasons, including ill health, infections, accidents and even an assassination, a murder and a suicide.
The Alexandria black granite sarcophagus has no inscriptions at all and is enormous, measuring 6ft tall, 8ft long and 5ft wide, making it the largest found in the area. Discovered 16ft underground, with an alabaster head of an unknown man beside the giant coffin.
According to archaeologists, the sarcophagus dates back to the Ptolemaic era, 305 and 30 BCE and the thick layer of mortar between the lid and the coffin suggests it was sealed in antiquity and remained sealed and untouched for 2,000 years.
The Ptolemaic era ended with the death of Cleopatra when Alexander the Great died in 30 BC and if it proved to be the remains of Alexander the Great’s remains, one of the greatest mysteries in antiquity would be solved. Historians have never reached agreement on how Alexander died or where he is buried.
These days, it is rare to find an unopened sarcophagus and in order to avoid damage to the contents, the plan was to use x-rays to find out what the contents are, what they found were the skeletal remains of what is believed to be that of three Egyptian soldiers, submerged in liquid sewage. After draining the liquid, the remains and sarcophagus were transferred to the Alexandria National Museum for conservation and further study.
And so, the death and burial ground of Alexander the Great remains a mystery, a 2,000 year old cold case waiting to be solved.