Books and Articles
Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great
Andrew Michael Chugg
Periplus under their Richmond Editions imprint in London
80 illustrations, most in full colour
"Flexibind" binding (Plastic reinforced flexible cover with end-flaps)
Size: 21.5 x17 x2.5 cm
The disappearance and fate of the tomb of Alexander the Great in Alexandria is among the most momentous and tantalising of all the mysteries we have inherited from the ancient world. Generations of archaeologists and historians have succumbed to the allure of the quest; yet have failed significantly to elucidate the enigma. Now with the dawning of the 21st century new research is revealing hitherto unrecognised evidence and providing fresh insights, creating a frisson of renewed excitement in academic circles.
Biography of Author:
The author has been actively researching the history of Alexander's tomb since 1998, including visits to Alexandria and Saqqara in Egypt. He has recently published academic articles on the subject in the classics journal Greece & Rome and in the American Journal of Ancient History. He has also written pieces on this theme for Minerva and History Today. He read Natural Sciences at Trinity College in the University of Cambridge, graduating with honours in 1985, and currently works as a Technical Expert for MBDA in Bristol.
Amazon UK for £17.50 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/ (search on 'Tomb Alexander')
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Also available from the French, German, Canadian and Japanese Amazon sites (all Amazon sites, in fact, except the US site at Amazon.com)
Oxbow Books http://www.oxbowbooks.com/ and search on 'tomb Alexander'
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This site incorporates an option on the home page for a US distributor (David Brown Book Company)
Further stockists: http://www2.addall.com/Used/ (search on 'Tomb Alexander' for a selection of sellers and distributors)
Reviews of The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great
Pothos Forum on Alexander the Great, Review of The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great by Susan Holmes, one of the moderators, available online at: http://www.pothos.org/alexander.asp?paraID=83&keyword_id=4&title=Books:%20Diadochi
To quote from the blurb on the back of the book: "The disappearance and fate of the tomb of Alexander the Great in Alexandria is among the most momentous and tantalising of all the mysteries we have inherited from the ancient world. Generations of archaeologists and historians have succumbed to the allure of the quest; yet have failed to find convincing answers. Now with the dawning of the 21st century new research is revealing hitherto unrecognised evidence and providing fresh insights, creating a frisson of renewed excitement in academic circles. This new title combines a detailed chronological account of the history of the tomb with the first publication of new discoveries. Finally, an intriguing new possibility is explored regarding the whereabouts of Alexander's mummified remains."
This is an authoritative book on a subject that has only been scantily covered previously - the location of the resting-places of Alexander's body since his death. It starts at the point where most modern & ancient sources end: at Alexander's death, and it concentrates heavily on the geographical and topographical (layout) aspects - using lavish illustrations of ancient, medieval & modern plans, charts & engravings.
Alexander's tomb was mentioned by many classical writers over a period of several hundred years, and this book does the excellent service of collecting these quotations in one place, and analysing them as a whole, so that a complete picture emerges.
The main account is chronological, starting with Alexander's death in Babylon; speculation on where he wanted to be buried, description of his catafalque & account of Ptolemy's hijacking. He was initially entombed at Memphis, and Mr Chugg makes suggestions about the tomb's appearance & location, and the possible present-day location of the sarcophagus. A later Ptolemy moved it to Alexandria and constructed the Soma or tomb; its appearance can be gleaned from mosaics and other tombs of the same period. Romans emperors were fascinated by Alexander, and used him as a prop for their imperial ambitions and grandeur. Mr Chugg describes their visits, including Caesar, Caligula & Hadrian and then tracks down the last references from late classical writers. Sometime towards the end of the 4th century, the location of Alexander's tomb was lost. Mr Chugg speculates on how and why this might have occurred.
There are a few references under the Arab rulers, then the Renaissance brought renewed interest in locating Alexander's tomb. Interest in the topography of ancient Alexandria has grown since then, partly spurred on by Napoleon. Modern archaeological discoveries are adding to the picture.
A key point to determining the site of the Soma is its position close to the central crossroads of ancient Alexandria. The city's layout has changed greatly over the centuries, and Mr Chugg attempts to unravel the different phases of building, courses of the walls and topography, in order to try to pinpoint the Soma's exact location.
The book then discusses recent developments and myths - for instance the Alabaster tomb, the Greek waiter who spent all his hard-earned money on searching for it; the rumour of the underground crypt at Nebi Daniel - and puts them on a rational footing. It ends with speculation on where Alexander's body might be today - a surprising twist which deserves further investigation.
I think that the book's strengths are:
1) the splendid quality and relevance of the illustrations, maps and old engravings. Including reconstructions of Babylonian ziggurats, Hephaestion's pyre, mosaics of Alexandria, Ptolemaic wall-fragments
2) the arguments are based on clear reasoning and backed-up by hard evidence with full references. Speculation is clearly separated from evidence - the evidence is exhaustive and well-structured
3) quotes, mosaics, oil lamps, medieval maps all add to the picture
4) it covers an area that is previously little-explored - I can't recall there being a study of Alexander's tomb in such depth before
5) it has an easy reading style, and wears its learning lightly.
It is an essential book for serious Alexander historians and library collections; and general readers will learn about new aspects of Alexander, Alexandria & the classical world. It will appeal to anyone interested in what happened to Alexander after his death, and how his glamour & legend persists until today. It adds depth to the study of Alexander's legend after his death, but graphically showing how his memory lived on in Alexandria for over two thousand years.
It deserves to become the definitive work on the subject.
New Scientist, 18th December 2004
The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great was among four Alexander books reviewed by Nicholas Saunders, an anthropologist at University College, London:
"Caesar visited Alexander's tomb, as did Octavian and Caligula, yet no trace of it has ever been found. In The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great, Andrew Chugg explains why and offers his own theories. He identifies a location in downtown Alexandria where archaeologists should look, and suggests that Alexander's mummified remains may have been passed off as those of Mark the Apostle around AD400 and now lie in St Mark's Basilica in Venice."
Oxbow's review states:
"The disappearance of Alexander the Great's tomb and mummified remains from Alexandria, where they had been objects of great veneration, is one of the biggest mysteries of the ancient world and the subject of rigorous archaeological investigation for years. In The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great Andrew Michael Chugg claims to have solved this most tantalising of puzzles once and for all. It is a beautifully presented book, a ‘soft hardback', full of colour photographs and maps, which follow the clues across Roman Egypt. The mystery, though, begins in Babylon with Alexander's death. Unlike other recently published books, which confidently proclaim Alexander a murder victim, this book identifies the symptoms as those of cerebral malaria. Drawing on ancient accounts, the book constructs in detail the days after Alexander's death, the carriage that drew his body, the games that honoured him and the squabbles over his corpse. Chugg goes on to identify the possible location and design of Alexander's mausoleum, visited by a succession of Roman Emperors and generals. But what happened to the remains, with their elaborate armour, weaponry and adornments, which disappeared from trace during the earthquakes and tidal waves of the 3rd century AD. Chugg has some intriguing theories, which end in some surprising places, notably Venice. A real treat."
Noel Turnbull in his Miscellany column at crikey.com.au:
"One of the silliest legal cases for many a year is the attempt by some Greek lawyers to take action against the new film about Alexander the Great because it portrays Alexander as gay. Now this is one thing which is not very mysterious about Alexander - at least not as mysterious as the fate of his body and tomb in Alexandria. Over the years there have been a number of theories - and some hoaxes - about the body and the tomb. There were many descriptions of it and Augustus visited it in 30BC inadvertently breaking off the corpse's nose while placing flowers and a crown on it. Now an historian, Andrew Chugg, has published a book about the tomb and the corpse - The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great. Chugg postulates - supported by circumstantial but persuasive evidence - that the Alexandrian corpse disappeared around the late fourth century just when St Mark's corpse appears on the historical scene and that there is an explanation linking both events. The argument is too lengthy to summarise here, but basically suggests that if you hop along to Venice to see St Mark's tomb you could well be worshipping the body of one Alexander the Great. One of those stories which, if it isn't true, ought to be. And, somewhat more plausible than legal actions against allegations that Alexander was gay or the contention that modern inhabitants of Greece have some identity in common with the inhabitants of ancient Greece."