In Alexandria, in the area of Kom al-Shuqafa, south of the Mina al-Basal district,
It is considered one of the city’s most significant cemeteries, and because of its large number the area was named after this name The remains of pottery and the quarries that accumulated at this site, The importance of the cemetery is due to its vastness, decorative abundance and the difficulty of its planning.
It is also one of the clearest examples of the connection between antique Egyptian art and Roman art The tomb was located on a road in the town and the most beautiful examples of funerary architecture By chance, it was not discovered until the year 1900 on September 28, 1900, although exploration had begun in this area since 1892,.
Its position and relevance:
Most of Alexandria ‘s Roman-era tombs are located in the western cemetery, with the exception of the “Tigran Pasha Lane” tomb found in the east of the city.
The “Kom al-Shuqafa” Catacombs Cemetery is situated south of the Mina Al-Basal district, and is consideredone of Alexandria’s most significant cemeteries. On the fusion of ancient Egyptian art in Alexandria with Roman art, and the most beautiful examples of Alexandria ‘s funeral architecture.The cemetery was found by accident on September 28, 1900, and it is worth noting that excavations had begun in this area since 1892, but it was only found in the year 1900 by accident.
The layout of the cemetery:
the bifurcation of the tombs, their sequence, and the different decorative elements in them make us believe that this ground cemetery was not created all at once. The cemetery, or rather the oldest part of it (meaning the main cemetery), dates back to the period between the first and second centuries AD (late first and mid-second centuries), which confirms this is the presence of the prominent sculpture that we see in the main cemetery and also the correct Egyptian drawings dating back to the middle of the Roman era
It seems that this cemetery was owned by a wealthy family, then it was used to bury many families after a group of welders took charge of it, and this group added some rooms and dug burial holes in the walls in one or two rows above Each of the other is a four-story cemetery that had a floor above the ground and has disappeared over time, and the fourth floor is now submerged in water as a result of water seeping and leaching from the rocks, and the planning can be summarized as follows: An entrance above the ground and then a spiral staircase leading to (the first ground floor) and consisting in turn of a corridor connected to a round hall with a well in the center (ROTUNA) and adjacent to this round hall (a large rectangular hall equipped with three sofas, which is the banquet hall)
And at the end of the rotunda there is a staircase leading to the (second ground floor), which is the floor where the main part of the burial in the cemetery is located, which is a room with three holes in the wall and two corridors that extend in right angles around the burial room and we find in these two corridors openings and small rooms for burial then We then reach the (third ground floor), which is now flooded with water. It was used for burial in a later era and was part of the original planning of the cemetery. It is believed that this floor had corridors leading to the Seraphium (a temple dedicated to the god Seraphis famous for the city of Alexandria, which is only meters from Katacomb com Al-Shuqafa), but this is not certain
What is a spiral staircase, it revolves around a cylindrical well or a projecting light carved into the rock (about 6 m in diameter) and its current depth reaches 10 meters, and the staircase is built from square stone blocks (Opus Quadratum) in which round windows were formed from the top considered the facade The interior is from the lighting well (the lantern) and the width of the stairs is about 1.20 and the ceiling in the form of a vault is built from five rows of long, contiguous pieces of stone. The earth’s surface)The secret of this, as we know it in many Roman buildings, is that the ascendant after visiting the deceased is more active and capable at the bottom than when he approaches the surface of the earth, as fatigue has been taken from him. (To ensure the comfort of the visitor) As for the lighting of the stairs, it used to come through the openings that were made in Muscat the luminary and through small rectangular niches in the wall on the sides of the stairs, in which pottery lanes were illuminated with oil used to light the rest of the tombs as well as to burn incense, especially on occasions. Important
First ground floor:
1- Entrance: It is a small place covered with a vault at the end of the third lap of the staircase on both sides of the two equal gaps similar to a mihrab and each of them has a semicircular seat that forms the opening and has a ceiling decorated in the form of a shell or a sea shell and it is carved from the same rock and this decoration is Roman in origin that spread during the Antoine era, i.e. the middle The second century AD It seems that these two seats were a catalyst for the comfort of the rookie.
ROTUNDA Round Hall:
The entrance leads to a round hall with a well in the center of a diameter (8.5 m) topped by a dome-shaped roof, and the dome focuses on 6 columns, connecting each column to the last ‘curtain walls’ except for the part facing the entrance. At the bottom of the well were found five marble heads, now on display in the Greco-Roman Museum (the head of one of the priests of Ceramphis – the head of a young man – the head of A boy – the head of a little child) As for the heads on the edge of the circular wall surrounding the well, they are models, and in any case there is doubt as to whether these statues belong to the same cemetery or to another building The method of carving these statues, especially the eyes and hair, indicates that they date back to the period from the end of the first century AD to the second half of the second century AD
On one side of the rotunda there is an entrance that leads to a hall with three terraces in which the people of the deceased used to meet to eat when visiting the cemetery on special occasions. The hall is a large square room approximately 8.50 x 9 m and the ceiling of the room is flat. Perhaps the reason for this difference was an attempt to imitate The well of lighting and its four columns are of Doric style And topped by a polished lintel, we find in the two front pillars an opening and in the hall there are three sofas carved into the rock and two meters wide connected to the bases of the columns and connected to each other in the form of a terrace.Through the inscription we know that these sofas used to have cushions on which visitors could lie down at mealtime, in the Roman way. It is worth noting that the round hall opens to several small rooms and in the burial rooms, openings for placing bodies and incineration vessels.
The second ground floor:
1- ladder: At the end of the round hall on the western side there is a staircase designed with a steep slope and is located in the middle of the sloping corridor towards the second floor in front of the decorative façade, so that it gives an idea or introduction to the burial chamber, which is the heart of the funerary group and the staircase is initially made of 15 wide steps (the steps decrease as we go inside Next, a small flat is divided into two parts (one on the right and one on the left). As for the ceiling of the staircase, it is domed and has shell-shaped ornamental shapes (the same as the previous decoration).
2- The platform: At the end of the stairs we find a platform, from which one can see the burial chamber, and below it there is a ladder that was submerged in water at the time of the discovery of the cemetery and then backfilled and this ladder leads to the third ground floor and bodies were found floating in this groundwater. What is worth noting is that the tilted platform In a direction opposite to the direction of the stairs, it hides a part of the decorative façade for the one looking from the top, and the view becomes complete when the person reaches the end of the stairs.