Books and Articles

History Today

July 2004, Volume 52 (7), pp.17-23


"Alexander's Final Resting Place"


A general article on Alexander's tomb, discussing events after Alexander's death, the initial entombment at Memphis, the transfer to Alexandria, the appearance and location of the tomb in Alexandria and giving the first publication of the theory that Alexander's remains may have been passed off as those of St Mark in the 4th century AD and are now kept in Venice.

Introductory words from this article:

"The 120-foot Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was ostensibly a representation of the sun god Helios. It is now believed to have been modelled on the features of Alexander the Great, whose conquests had irrevocably altered the course of history mere decades before its creation. The image of the Colossus towering over the harbour of Rhodes provides an apt metaphor for the way Alexander's achievements loom over the history of the ancient world. Partly for reasons of his historical importance and partly for the romance of his glamorous career, the hunt for Alexander's mysteriously vanished tomb has come to be regarded as the archaeologist's analogue for the Arthurian quest for the Sangrail. At its crudest there are elements of the excitement and drama of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I myself got some sense of this from the violent reverberations of a dilapidated taxi during a 90mph ride along the desert road from Cairo to Alexandria in my search for his tomb. On arrival among the recently rain-drenched streets of the great port city, it transpired that the wiper blades of our vehicle existed for ornamental purposes only. As the traffic dodging around ... "



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This article gave rise to significant press and media coverage around mid-June 2004, when this issue of History Today appeared. For example, there was a newspaper story, "Does the tomb of St Mark in Venice really contain the bones of Alexander the Great", in the Independent on Sunday on 13th June 2004 (page 15): e.g. "Paul Cartledge, professor of Greek history at Cambridge and author of Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past, was enthusiastic. 'There's certainly a chance that it could be true, because there's a historical gap that needs to be filled,' he said. 'We all want to explain why the trail goes cold at the end of the 4th century. At that point, Christianity triumphs and nobody has a voice to say where this pre-Christian hero is buried. He just fades away.'"