Catacombs Of Kom El-Shoqafa

The Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa are located close to Pompey’s Pillar in Alexandria. The catacombs are huge Egyptian tombs and royal cemeteries with Ptolemaic and Roman influences. The catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa are one the largest Roman burial sites not just in Alexandria but in Egypt. These catacombs started as a private tomb for a wealthy family, then became a public cemetery. The catacombs house more than 300 tombs.

The name of Kom El-Shoqafa:

Catacombs mean underground tunnels. Kom El-Shoqafa means mound of shards because the area used to contain mounds of jars made of clay. These jars were left by those visiting the tombs, who would bring food and wine to dine during their visit and left them there.

History of the Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa:

The Roman Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa is one of the great highlights of the beautiful City of Alexandria. These catacombs were constructed between the 2nd and the 4th century AD, during the Roman era. They were considered one of the seven wonders of the Middle Ages. Scholars believe that the catacombs were made for a single wealthy family, but it is not clear why the site was expanded as a public cemetery. The Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa were discovered when a donkey accidentally fell into the entry of the tomb in 1900.

Description of the Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa:

The Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa are close in their design to the tombs of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. The catacombs were cut into solid rock and consist of three levels. The third level is completely underwater now.

The entry of the catacombs leads to a spiral stairway. This stairway was used to transport the bodies down to the middle level of the tomb by ropes. The stairway leads down into the tombs which date back to the 2nd century. The catacombs have a six-pillared central shaft that opens off the vestibule. On the left is a funeral banquet hall where friends and family of the deceased gather on stone couches at the time of visiting the burial.

The vestibule leads into a hall called “Rotunda”. The rotunda wall leads to the hall of Caracalla in which bones of horses and humans were found. Before the burial chamber, there is a temple-like façade of two columns with lotus, papyrus, and acanthus leaves of ancient Egypt. These columns are supporting an architrave with a relief of the winged sun disk flanked by Horus, the falcon-headed god of protection. Huge snakes are flanking the entrance of the inner tomb.

The burial chamber has three sarcophagi. It is thought that the bodies were inserted into the sarcophagi from behind, using a passageway that runs around the outside of the burial chamber. The sarcophagi are decorated with garlands and heads of Greek gods. Amazing bas-reliefs are decorating the walls around the sarcophagi. On one wall god, Anubis of mummification mummifies the deceased. On another wall the Apis Bull is receiving an offering and goddess Isis is behind him.

The visitors to the Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa can also visit the tiny tombs of Tigrane and Wardian.

The Roman Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa is included in many of our Egypt travel packages. As well as in Alexandria Day Tours.