|Location:||Alexandria, in Karmouz, a poorer area in south-west Alexandria. Near Pompey's Pillar.|
|Open:||All year daily 9-16. |
|Fee:||Adults LE 12. |
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Address:||Tourist Office, Midan Sa'ad Zaghloul, Alexandria, Tel: +20-03-807-985.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|2nd century||graves dug.|
Kom es-Shouqafa, often called Catacombs of Alexandria, are the graves of a single family. This family, being very wealthy and still practicing the ancient Egypian religion built this graves following the old traditions. So the graves represent the last existing major construction for the sake of the old Egyptian religion. However, they could not turn back time, and the architects and artists they assigned were schooled in the Greco-Roman style. By trying to create pure ancient Egyptian funerary motifs they instead invented an amazing and unique integrated art.
The main chambers of the grave are the Vestibule and Central Tomb Chamber. The center of the facade shows a frieze of serpents, below the solar disk. Left and right are two serpents wearing the crowns of upper and lower Egypt. In the Tomb Chamber, attended by Horus, Thoth, Anubis, and other familiar funerary deities, surrounded by funerary equipment, the dead lies on a lion-shaped bier. Canopic Jars are four containers which stored organs and viscera, believed to be essential for the dead person's afterlife.
The system of catacombs has three levels. A winding staircase descends with little chapels branching off, furnished with benches to accommodate visitors or mourners bringing offerings. There are niches cutout to hold the sarcophagi, all in all the catacombs had room for 300 deads. The lowest level, about 35 m deep, is today flooded by ground water and not accessible.
Kom es-Shouqafa was discovered by a donkey that had the misfortune of falling into a 15 m deep shaft. It is said that donkeys often contributed to archaeological discoveries in Egypt in this way.