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Catacombs of Kom El Shuqqafa

The Underground Tombs In Alexandria

The burial tunnel at Kom el-Shuqafa consists of a Graeco-Roman tomb labyrinth dating back to the first two centuries AD. This complex tunnel was discovered at Abu Mansur Street in the Karmouz region in the year 1900. It was carved into the rock underneath the modern city. It has a spiral stairway that leads down to three levels of the tombs dating to different periods in history, but the original tombs may have belonged to one rich Alexandrian family alone.

The main passage connects to the Rotunda which is a secondary shaft with a domed roof and a domed space foyer. A gateway to the left goes into the triclinium, a huge pillared hall with stone seats used for interment ceremonies. Alongside the east of Rotunda is another large hall called the ‘Hall of Caracalla.’ It allegedly contains the bones of young Christians that the emperor massacred in 215 AD, though this has no historical base.

Next to this hall is a mausoleum that decorated in Egyptian style with depictions of Isis and Nephthys defending Osiris’ mummy on a sofa. In the north of the Rotunda, a staircase leads down to a lower level, which houses the most famous graves. This tomb contains several collections of cavities where the dead were laid, and the walls of the main tomb are painted in a mixture of Graeco-Roman and Egyptian styles, which could be traced back to the Trajan and Domitian Emperors. Egyptian icons like the Winged Sun-disk and Uraeus mingle with Hellenistic features like the Dionysus pine-cone staff. The entrance of the tomb is flanked with Seth-Typhon and Anubis carved sculpture, in the form of Roman legionaries. The image of Egyptian deities protecting the dead on a funerary couch adorned with flower arrangement and images of Medusa Head. Near the entrance to the catacombs of Kom el-Shuqafa are the Wardian Tomb and the Tigraine Tomb, which was relocated from the western necropolis complex and reconstructed here, which also contain Greek style and pharaonic decoration.


Updated On April 30, 2020