The Holy Grail of World Archeology

If we take into account that the empire of Alexander the Great had from end to end something like 6,000 kilometers, and that he died (in 323 BC) about 2,200 from home, we can begin to understand that his grave has never been found; if we also take into account the blood feud that was opened after his death among those who disputed his legacy, we can understand that there are at least four places where he could be buried; If we add that both could die from malaria as poisoned by the flower of the Veratrum (one petal would suffice …), we will conclude that finding the body of Alexander the Great would be a real mine of ideas for archaeologists and that is why this is one of the great pending challenges of archeology.

Where is Alexander? Under the crypt of the Nabi Daniel mosque in Alexandria? Hidden among the thousands of golden mummies of the Bahariya oasis? Crumbled into a thousand relics and amulets of late antiquity? The whereabouts of the body and the grave of the greatest conqueror in the world are unknown. Since he died and was embalmed in Babylon in 323 BC until in 2002 an extravagant aerospace expert, Andrew Chugg, proposed that Alexander lay under the high altar of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice (!), Passing through 1995 , when the dubious Greek archaeologist Liana Souvaltzi announced the discovery of her sepulcher in the oasis of Siwa – it was not true: it was one of the great disappointments of archeology – the history of the remains of the Macedonian king and the monument designed to contain them, the Soma, is wrapped in wonder, mystery and legend. Even Hamlet speculated on the subject.

We must start from a premise. One thing is the grave and the other is the body. Alexander dies in Babylonia in June of the year 323, when the area is already very hot and there are outbreaks of malaria. On May 31 of that year, 2,340 years ago, he faints during a night party after suffering a stinging in the back. It is not known if this was due to drinking, because as the sensational Alexander the Great, conqueror of the world, collects

(Cliff, 2007), Robin Lane Fox, the king was apparently a good drinker and fell to the ground after toasting the 19 guests who accompanied him. But this information was divulged by Efipo, apparently a precursor of the fake news: a charlatan. In Lifes of Alexander y Caesar (Acantilado, 2016), the Greek historian Plutarco explains that the great emperor «was less fond of wine than is generally supposed». Beyond the causes, we are interested in who the other 19 were. The list took only about ten years to get to know each other, and that is why it would be important to find the body, rather than the sarcophagus: was it poisoned?

For the professor of British archeology Andrew Chugg, one of the greatest experts and popularizers of the figure of Alexander, is «incontestable» that was transferred to his great creation, Alexandria, because this was reported in immediate years by figures such as Julio Caesar, Caesar Augusto , Septimio Severo and Herod, among others. The problem is that with the revolts against Christians of the centuries after Roman rule, it is not known what happened to the body. Also in Alexandria lies the professor of the University of Bristol Nicholas Saunders, another of the world’s leading experts in this historical episode, but «the fact that we have so little real evidence means that a can be everywhere or in any «, the Mint.

Chugg is clear, if not where it is, what should be done first: «The mummy of San Marcos Evangelista appears at the end of the fourth century AD, more or less when the body of Alexander disappears. San Marcos founds the Christian church of Alexandria, a city founded by Alexander. There are documents that say that while the body of San Marcos was burned by the pagans, Alexander had been deified, he was a kind of pagan god, just when the pagan cult was forbidden. What do you do with the body of a pagan god who is the founder of your city if you are a Christian leader of the city where the cult has been declared illegal? One possible answer is that you pretend that this is the lost body of a Christian saint who wrote a gospel and founded a Christian church in your city. And the Christians changed many pagan festivals into Christian feasts … the supposed body of St. Mark was taken to Venice in 828 AD by two merchants. It still lies in a sarcophagus. It would be easy to check if it is Alexander, because he had suffered wounds in the sternum and in the lower part of the leg. Less than one in a million would have those wounds. But the Church has rejected the idea. »

«It’s different if we talk about body or grave. The tomb probably remained many meters below the current Alexandria. The body could well have been destroyed during Christian revolts, either having been hidden somewhere, perhaps in the Bahariya cemetery, in the Valley of the Golden Mummies.

My favorite speculation is that it was sold as a relic in pieces, as a talisman, to the Alexandrians, «explains Saunders. Both believe that there are no important projects behind Alexander. «There is always someone looking for him, in strange places like Jordan, Greece or the US … but to my knowledge there is no serious investigation at this time,» says Chugg.

And it’s a shame, he predicts, «because it would be the greatest discovery in history, greater than that of Tutankhamun or Pompeii, because its historical importance is much greater. He would give us information about his appearance and ethnicity, we would get his DNA and we could know what relationship he has with the 60-year-old woman whose skeleton appears in the tomb of Amphipolis in 2014 and which I believe is his mother, Olympia. »

In Alexandria, Venice or broken into pieces? Where does the king lie? We may never know it, which further increases its mysterious aura.

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