Page 1

Alexander the Great’s Tomb

Nourhan Tarek 900113300 Spring 12’ RHET 201-27 Professor Michael Gibson i-Search Paper


To begin with, this portfolio is a grouping and gathering of all researching I have been conducting for my I-search paper. Thus it is divided into the paper , the work cited , annotated bibliography and an annex with my visual power point presentation. I am organizing it that way as the paper is the most important part of the i-search project . Followed by the annotated Bibliography as an analysis of sources. Then the presentation for visual and easier understanding of the topic and not the researching process. I have also merged my journals in the i-search paper to have a more accurate data about the process. By the time I am writing this , I have came to the end of the semester, I would like to shed the light about the course. Unlike many others, this course was fun and informative. I have managed to learn a new way of researching my findings and that reflected upon my I-search paper and how intriguing its process is. However, unfortunately by self evaluating myself I think I could have put more dedication into it, but I was just horrible with time managing this semester. Not an excuse though, but I had to honestly judge myself.


Table of Contents Introduction …………………………………………………………………….. P 4 Story of my research ……………………………….……………………………P 5 What I found ……………………………….…………………………………….P8 Annotated Bibliography and Journals…………………………………………….P11 Annex ……………………………….……………………………………………P18


Introduction : It all started on our first class on a Wednesday,unless my memory tricks me. I thought to myself “oh this must be another traditional rhetoric class” . But actually it wasn’t; Professor Gibson introduced us to a new way of researching. A method that doesn’t rely on the result as much as it does on the approach. I found that really interesting and a great opportunity for me to investigate something I have always been intrigued about. Furthermore, ever since I was 10 years old and I have been fascinated by history and mysteries. Thus I grew up with a passion and interest towards one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries : The location of Alexander the Great’s tomb. This topic has always allured me but I never had the chance to really work upon it . Thus I found it to be a great opportunity to do my I search paper about it. Especially that the approach used to find archaeological monuments is always as vital as the result, which is similar to the paper’s purpose. I have to be realistic the purpose of this paper isn’t to exactly find the tomb because I do not possess the experience nor the professionalism to find the tomb literally. But I’d rather be able to collect enough data and use my knowledge to be able to determine the country of the tomb. Moreover, according to some speculations the tomb is believed to be in several countries. However the strongest argument is that it is located in Egypt. Thus I chose the theory evolving Egypt to be the center point of my research question for two reasons. Firstly, because I am Egyptian and being in the country where my topic of interest is believed to be helps me understand all the data I will found easier and be more critical of them as I know the place well. Secondly, because of my previous knowledge about the tomb I am among the believers that it is located in Egypt. However my paper will be very objective upon the results I will find on my


way. The story of my search: In the beginning, I went to the library and looked up some books. As a result I found my primary source a book called Alexander's tomb : the two thousand year obsession to find the lost conqueror by Nicholas J. Saunders. This book would later on help me find a lot of information in a very easy and narrative way. I had already some information in mind about Alexander’s tomb and his death. I knew he died in Babylon and at some point was brought to Egypt. However I was completely clueless about how the tomb got lost over the years. Thus it became very important to work on the weakness in my knowledge that is the story of tomb itself. In order to do so I had in mind a vague plan. My plan was to read my main resource the book by Nicholas Saunders and to search for other researches made by archaeologists; in addition to get old maps of Egypt to help me understand the geographical status back then. I would also filter my results and confirm them with an interview with a professor from the history or Egyptology department. So as the weeks went by I was on my plan, I was reading several books and articles and surfing some websites. As I have expected this controversial topic had several information that are different from one another. Thus I had to find a way to filter them and to make them valuable to give me one sole answer. I thought about several ways like putting them all together, and democratically choose the one idea that is supported by the most. However that had a flaw that is some of the writers aren’t real archeologists. Consequently I decided I will first filter the resources by the most valid authors and then I will compare the information of these latters in order to get the facts most of them agree about. Thereby I made a plan for checking if the source


is bias or not. Furthermore, I faced a problem that slowed down my research and forced me to repeat my journals three times, my laptop got fried. To overcome such problem I had to balance my work I started using my sister’s laptop and re-doing the journals as soon as possible so that I wouldn’t forget what I have already written. I also took it as a chance to increase my reading of Alexander’s tomb book. Thus I managed to move faster in the book that is the most important resource for me. Another problem I have faced was the interview. I firstly went to the history department and asked if there are any professors who are interested in antiquity history. But unfortunately there wasn’t any according to the lady there so I went on next to the Egyptology department. I asked there about professors who would be interested in Ptolemaic times and Alexander the Great. I was guided to a female professor whom I cant remember the name. I asked her for an appointment and 5 days later I visited her. My visit wasn’t very prominent, she didn’t have any information about the tomb and even thought I am doing a hopeless research about an illusion that eluded many archaeologists for years. (it wasn’t motivational at all , however she told me about another professor who would help me, the head of the department). So I went to the head of the department and ironically she told me she doesn’t know much about the tomb and consequently cant help me. However for my luck, the woman sitting next to her told me that there is a certain professor called Professor Swanson who is interested in the tomb and might help me , but I will have to wait till after the spring break as he was travelling abroad. I must admit I was excited I finally found someone who won’t think I’m crazy and daydreaming. Ergo, I waited till my break was over then I visited the professor in his office and took an appointment. However, everything started crumbling and I got caught up in several midterms and I had to 6

manage my time with the professor, but unfortunately it didn’t work out and I couldn’t manage to interview the professor. As a consequence I lost a vital resource I was counting on and I had to find a substitute for I was going to use the interview as a validation to my information. Thus my list of sources was :

Websites: 1- Bianchi , Robert. “ Hunting Alexander’s tomb”. Archaeology. The archeological institute of America. November 11 2004. Web . Accessed on the 10th of February 2012 2- Chugg , Andrew Michael “Alexander’s Tomb”,n.p ; 2005-2012. Web .The 10th of February 2012 3- Kosmetatou, Elizabeth “ in search of Alexander’s Tomb”. Greece. Hellenic Electronic Center, 1998. Web. The 10th of February 2012. Books:

1- Saunders ,Nicholas J, Alexander's tomb : the two thousand year obsession to find the lost conqueror. American university in Cairo Press, 2006. Book. 2- Clarke , Edward Daniel. The tomb of Alexander: a dissertation on the sarcophagus brought from Alexandria and now in the British museum. Cambridge. 1805. Dissertation. Documentaries: 1- Michael Wood in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Dir: David Wallace. Perf: Michael Wood. BBC. 1998. Electronic Documentary.

I also did a survey in order to see the information of the AUC students community about the tomb and I went around and asked them to choose one of four locations that have several theories about including the tomb : Egypt, Macedonia, Rome and Afghanistan. 7

What I found : I must shed the light about the way in which I have decided to present the information I found . I firstly established the concept to limit the theories to the most relevant, famous and approved upon that circulate about Egypt. As it is very vague to do all the theories about different countries, not to mention that my thesis statement is about Egypt. Thus the further paragraphs are about the three most famous theories about the tomb and Alexander’s death. I have also used the process of constantly analyzing and comparing my resources. In addition for my power point presentation, I turned the three theories into a time line and formulated them as bullet points in order to make it easier for my audience to understand the topic and the history of the tomb’s locations. To begin with I have found a lot of information about Alexander’s death. So I had to filter my results in order to get the one common thing they all say about his death. What I have found is that all sources agree that he died in Babylon around the 10th of June 323 B.C.E. However no resource could tell for sure the cause of death, the assumptions are Malaria, West Nile Fever, Typhoid or that he was poisoned. Then all sources agree that from 323- 321 B.C Alexander’s body was mummified and lay in state in Babylon while his Hearse was being prepared. Only one resource was mostly helpful about the last previous statement and that is the book Alexander’s tomb. As Saunders explained the story behind this year and the political situation back then and the fight between Ptolemy and Perdiccas over the tomb. As having the latter will legitimatize their reign on whichever part they took of the kingdom. It was interesting to know that from the book as other resources didn’t discuss in details the conflict between the two generals, which I believe was very important to understand the first discovery of the tomb. I


drew this conclusion and connected in evaluating the resources as the first discovery of the green tomb of Nectanebo II in 1801 by the English Scholar Edward Daniel Clarke and identifying it as Alexander’s tomb is explained by the conflict between Ptolemy and Perdicas. However in 1822 after that Champollion have deciphered Hieroglyphs the greenstone sarcophagus was announced to belong to the Egyptian Pharoh Nectanebo II and not Alexander’s. Furthermore, Ptolemy rushed to Egypt and had to burry the king as soon as possible to legitimize his reign , ergo he put him in Nectanebo’s sarcophagus. In addition to the fact that Saudners also mentioned that Alexander’s mother Queen Olympus had a legend surrounding her that Alexander was the son of Nectanebo II . Thus on the evaluation of resources Saunders book referencing such two information was very helpful to understand the history of the tomb. The second important information I have found to be very relevant was the moving of the tomb to Alexandria. In consequence, the ancient Mediterranean city has became of interest to study it’s ancient geography and the movements of the tomb in it. The tomb was moved to Alexandria in 298-283 B.C.E. Then it was moved in 215 B.C.E to a second tomb in the Soma Funerary Park by Ptolemy IV Philopater. By that time , it was important to study the history of the city and its kings to understand the movements of the tomb. So I started doing a research for more specific resources like : El falaki, Mahmoud Bey , Memoire sur l’antique Alexandrie, Copenhague ,1872this resource was important to understand Alexandria,in addition that the author himself was an Egyptian archaeologist who was interested in the where about of the tomb so his Memoire is focused on the several past locations of the tomb. Ergo, this memoire helped me have a general idea of the city ‘s geography. Moreover, there was a map made by George Braun and Frans Hogenberg in 1573 C.E. The map had featured in it a place called the House of Alexander. It is believed to be the tomb of the emperor. Thus many archaeologists use this map as another evidence that the tomb is in


Alexandria. Additionally in 1850 Ambroise Schilizzi announced the discovery of Alexander’s mummy and tomb in the Nabi Daniel Mosque. He confirmed what Mahmoud Bey el Falaki have believed before him that it lies underneath the historical mosque. However none of that was proven, as it is based on tales by the two gentlemen about glimpsing the tomb. In addition to the fragile condition of the mosque they cant dig underneath it or it will collapse. Actually all excavations in the mosque have been forbidden. Furthermore, several archaeologists came with different theories about Alexander’s tomb location . the latest among them was Liana Souvaltzi who announced in 1995 that Alexander lays in the Oasis of Siwa. In order to research this information, I found the website that supports the Siwa theory of the professor with her hypothesis and I compared it with my secondary website Alexander’s tomb and my book by Saunders. The pro-siwa theory website : Kosmetatou, Elizabeth “ in search of Alexander’s Tomb”. To conclude, Liana didn’t found the tomb ad her permission to excavate was ended before she got any further in her research. Thus it became another dead end to the quest of the tomb. To conclude, after filtering the information I found into the three major theories of the locations of the tomb I have managed to answer my thesis question that most probably the tomb is located in Egypt. Although I have been expecting this result at the beginning but thanks to my research and constantly comparing the resources I have managed to say that I have proof now for the assumption that it is in Egypt.

During the survey I have conducted to see if the AUC students know anything about the location of the tomb, I was expecting that one might at least heard a urban legend about the 10

tomb, as it is most probably in Egypt. However the results were astonishing. I have chosen the four locations in which all archaeologists assume the tomb is Egypt, Rome, Macedonia and Afghanistan. As a result that’s the number of students and their guesses. Choice Egypt Rome Macedonia Afghanistan

Number of Students who chose it 35 42 43 20

The conclusion I drew from this survey is that most students believe it is in Macedonia for two reasons : 1- it sounded like the most intriguing country name 2- some of them remembered Colin Farell ‘s movie “Alexander” and presumed he was buried were he was born. Thus after I have asked each of them I told them that it is mostly in Egypt and they were stupefied.

Annotated Bibliography and Journals: Annotated Bibliography Bianchi , Robert. “ Alexander’s Tomb..Not”. Archaeology. The Archeological institute of America. November 11 2004. Web . Accessed on the 10th of February 2012 This article discusses in detail the quest for the tomb in the Oasis of Siwa by Lina Souvaltzi. This article is good for my paper as it presents one of the excavations in Egypt. The author is also a reliable source and a professional.

Bianchi , Robert. “ Hunting Alexander’s tomb”. Archaeology. The Archeological institute of America. November 11 2004. Web . Accessed on the 10th of February 2012


Robert Bianchi’s article presents several examples of individuals trying to find the tomb. The composition generally presents each research and states its consequences. The arguments represented believe that the tomb is in Egypt. The author doesn’t discuss any other possible countries in which the tomb might be found. This article is helpful as it gives a general idea about some excavations for the tomb, however its bias as it discusses only the tomb to be in Egypt. Furthermore, it has some negativities such as its lack of details about Alexander’s death. It is also the only source that says that Alexander want his body to be thrown in the river. I believe that it’s a good source to start my research with as it’s general image will guide me when discussing the matter of the tomb being in Egypt. It is also helpful because it has information about recent excavations and people hunting for the tomb. In addition it guided me to have further researches on some data it represented as my paper generally discusses the tomb’s existence in Egypt.

Chugg , Andrew Michael “Alexander’s Tomb”,n.p ; 2005-2012. Web .The 10 th of February 2012 This website contains several information about Alexander’s life and his tomb. The author Andrew Micheal Chugg has written several books about Alexander and researched his tomb and even wrote about his journals. The website represents in a quasi general way some facts about the tomb. In addition, the website contains the most recent information about anything related to Alexander. Like for example: the possibility of discovering his son’s tomb in 2009. This source is very helpful as it contains recent discoveries and it’s updated frequently. However the author doesn’t have a degree in archaeology or history which makes his words not very reliable because he isn’t a professional. Moreover this source confirms some facts I have already found about the tomb’s excavations and that’s good for my research as it proves the information from several sources. Clarke , Edward Daniel. The tomb of Alexander: a dissertation on the sarcophagus brought from Alexandria and now in the British museum. Cambridge. 1805. Dissertation. This dissertation discusses Edward Clarke’s discovery of the sarcophagus in Alexandria. The author and the whole world believed in early 1800s that this was Alexander’s tomb. However after the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs the sacraphagus belongs to king NecataneboII. I used this source in a different way than the normal. To explain , this dissertation is about a tomb that belongs to another king however I have used the information in it to be able to draw a picture of Alexandria at that time so that in my own research I can have a better image of the city 12

in the past before any urbanization that might have destroyed evidences about the tomb. It also helps me draw a general timeline of the several quests of the tomb. El falaki, Mahmoud Bey , Memoire sur l’antique Alexandrie, Copenhague ,1872. Early Gaelic Book Collection, web. 20 march 2012 This book contains old information about ancient Alexandria. It also has information about the excavations in Nabee Daniel Mosque. Mahmoud el falaki was an archaeologist who did a lot of research about the tomb’s location. This source is helpful for me to draw an image of ancient Alexandria where the tomb is believed to be by a lot of archaeologists.

Kosmetatou, Elizabeth “ In search of Alexander’s Tomb”. Greece. Hellenic Electronic Center, 1998. Web. The 10th of February 2012. This website discusses the assumptions and facts about the tomb to be located in the oasis of Siwa in Egypt. The professor Elizabeth Kosmetatou is a history teacher who have been interested in Alexander and the Hellenic studies. Her detailed quest for the tomb in Siwa is one of the most recent researches for the tomb. This source is very helpful for me as it explains in details the quest for the tomb in Siwa. In addition that it is one of the most recent researches for the tomb thus the author is updated with all the past discoveries. It is also very interesting for my paper as I discuss the existence of the tomb in Egypt. Michael Wood in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Dir: David Wallace. Perf: Michael Wood. BBC. 1998. Electronic Documentary. This documentary explores the route taken by Alexander in his conquers and life. It is very useful as it draws an image of Alexander’s life thus helping me to understand how his life was and the people around him who later on took his body. This source is the only visual one I am using in my research and this diversity is very motivational and inspirational. Because it doesn’t simply represent the information differently but also helps me imagine the life of Alexander. It is also reliable as it’s author is a famous archaeologist.


Saunders ,Nicholas J, Alexander's tomb : the two thousand year obsession to find the lost conqueror. American university in Cairo Press, 2006. Print. This book discusses the mystery of the tomb in the past two thousand years in a very scientifically way. Nicholas Saunders introduces in his book several attempts and quests to find the tomb in addition to a detailed chapter about Alexander’s death. The author discusses the existence of the tomb in several countries. Thus increasing the possibilities of whereabouts of the tomb. The author is a famous archaeologist thus the source is very reliable. This book is perfect for my paper I consider it to be my main source. Because it has enough information about several attempts to find the tomb in addition of being written by a professional. Thompson ,Jonathan and Nicholas Pyke, Does the Tomb of St Mark in Venice Really contain the bones of Alexander the Great?, The independent UK, 2004.Web 30th of march 2012 This article discusses the discovery made at St Mark in Venice. It proves that the tomb discovered there isn’t Alexander’s resting place. Thus it helped me to prove more my research question that it is in Egypt. University of Bristol, Archaeology and Anthropology Staff, University of Bristol, Web.N.D. 17 march 2012 I used this website to get information about the author of my primary source Professor Nicholas J Saunders. I didn’t use this source’s information in my paper directly but rather as an assertion about my source so that I can know it’s reliable.

Journals: Here is the Journals I managed to save from the fried laptop in addition to the entries I haven’t merged in the “what I found “ part .

Wed 8th of February:


I thought about my topic. I had in mind several ones. They were mainly my interests. Then I decided I would write about alexander the great’s tomb. I have always been fond of this mystery also because it would be a great opportunity to find answers myself, especially that I can interview history teachers at uni, visit alexandria’s library. So it will be great to discuss that topic and work on it.

Sat 11th of February: Today I started searching for sources, I chose two websites who discus Alexander’s tomb’s mystery from different perspectives. I have also ran into a great book in the library who talks about the quest for the tomb. In addition a documentary about Alexander’s life so that I can have a bigger image of his life and history.

Wed 15th of February: Today we discussed in class annotated bibliography, however I don’t think I will start on it now because I haven’t dug deeper in my sources to analyze him better.

Before I begin, let me be honest with you journals this is the second time that I have to write due to an unfortunate event that basically ended up in having my laptop fried . ( awesome!!)


Day1: Professor Gibson started the course by introducing the syllabus , I was actually surprised to find out that we are going to do the “ I search “ project. I was honestly expecting another boring course about how to make an argument and how to research. But I like the idea it’s like the personal project that we had in IB. Furthermore, I’m also excited about the topic, I ll do it on something I have always want to research .

Day2: We went to the library today, it was great I love the library. Also, I had the chance to tell my professor about my topic and he approved on it.(yaayyy)

Day3: So I m going to research Alexander the Great’s tomb , I have already borrowed a book about that mystery from the library before the winter break , so now I ll actually have the motivation to read it. In addition , I have started searching for sources . I want to diverse as possible so I chose a documentary , dissertation, book , articles and websites. I have also made it a diversity on the topic. To emphasize that, Ithe documentary is about Alexander’s life and the dissertation about a specific tomb that was suspected to be Alexander’s. Also I believe the authors of the websites have different backgrounds ( nationalities ) so that would add up to the diversity of the sources. ( I look into that when I do the annotated bibliography )


Day 4: So I started reading the book , not the same rhythm I expected but better than nothing . Day 5 : Today I have decided to skip read some stuff on the website and the book to add some rhythm to the research. As a result I ended up deciding to define several periods and to get the map of Egypt in each period so that I can draw a comparison between it and modern times borderlines and geographical changes. To exemplify , im going to look up the where at of siwa in ancient times because it’s believed that Alexander might have been buried there as he had a very significant visit to siwa’s oracle. Moreover, the map of Alexandria and to compare it to nowadays to try and understand where the tomb was located and whether he was hidden somewhere near the sea ( which mean it’s underwater now). Day 6 : Doing the research without my laptop is a harder than I thought, I really hope I don’t lose these journals too. Also the professor talked about the annotated bibliography today. It’s basically the analysis of the sources. I m thinking about doing it by the end of my project because I believe I cant judge any source unless I have fully used it rightly. Day 7 : I m still reading the book , it’s really nice . However I have to find away to skip read it so that I can be able to finish reading all my sources .


Annexes :

















Alexander the Great tomb