Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, Alexandria Egypt

Where are the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, Alexandria?

The Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa is a rock-cut tomb similar to the Pharaonic Tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Kom El Shoqafa tomb is located in Alexandria Egypt to the south of the Mina El Basal district. The tomb is the largest Roman Cemetery which is consisting of three levels cut in the rock under the ground level. Catacombs date back to the Greco-Roman era and it was cut in the rock to a depth of 35 meters.

The Origin of the Name Kom El Shoqafa

In Arabic, Kom means Mount and El Shoqafa means Shards, and seems the reason for the name is a large number of terracotta jars, plates and pottery remain that were accumulating in this place.

 Why are the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa famous?

The Catacomb is famous due to its architectural and decorative uniqueness, which is reflected in the architectural planning with its unique architectural elements. as well as the multicultural nature of the tomb, which gives evidence and concepts of faith and belief that did not appear in another necropolis from the same period

In other words, the Catacomb is famous for its Hellenistic, Egyptian, and early Imperial Roman architecture featuring dozens of chambers adorned with sculpted pillars, statues, and other syncretic Romano-Egyptian religious symbols.

Who built the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa?

The Catacomb was for an aristocratic Roman family living in Alexandria in the middle of the second century AD. That wealthy family spent time designing the tomb in a pharaonic style. so, they hired engineers to dig the tomb and build the well, and professional painters to erect murals on the rock with pharaonic and Roman drawings.

How were the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa discovered?

The Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa were found by chance on September 28, 1900. It is worth mentioning that excavations began in this area in 1892, but it was not found until 1900 by chance.

this coincidence was made by a donkey, as the donkey fell into the main opening of the cemetery at a depth of 12 meters therefore, they knew that there are traces in this area and they are looking for the cause of the fall of the donkey.

How big are the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa?

Catacomb is a type of compound tomb carved into the rock under the surface of the earth and was used during the Roman period on a large scale in Rome. The period extends from the end of the second century AD to the sixth century AD. Kom El Shoqafa is the largest Roman cemetery and it was cut in the rock to a depth of 35 meters. The tomb consists of three stories the 3rd in baton fleer is Completely drowned with water.

The Catacomb Layout

Kom El Shoqafa Catacomb follows the Catacomb architectural style and consists of three underground levels. The main cemetery is on the ground level and the cemetery can be descended by a spiral staircase that revolves around a shallow cylindrical well. its diameter is about 6 meters, and its current depth is about ten meters.

The ladder is a building of square stone blocks in which round windows are formed from the top. The width of the ladder is about one meter and twenty centimeters, and its ceiling is in the form of a vault, built of 5 rows of stone pieces. It is noteworthy that the lower stairs are higher than the upper steps, and the secret is that the ascender from the cemetery after completing the visit is more active and capable at the bottom, but he gets tired as he approaches the surface of the earth and therefore the upper steps appear as a road A slight spiral, not an actual ladder.

The First Level of the Catacomb

After the stairs, we reach the first level which contains an entrance on either side of two large semicircles. A round hall called the Rotunda and the three-sofa triclinium hall, which is known passingly as the Banquet Hall.

Caracalla Hall

In addition to the hall, which is mistakenly known as the Caracalla Hall.  This Hall was wrongly known as the Caracalla Hall, and the reason for this name was the discovery of a large number of bones.

Some thought that they were the bones of humans who were killed during the Caracalla massacre in Alexandria in the year 217. This place, after her death in the sports races, also revealed an inscription of the goddess Nemesis, the goddess of sports, and therefore this hall was a hall for sacred horses and not for humans.

The staircase leading to the main burial chamber: It is located at the end of the round hall on the west side. It is a staircase designed with a steep slope. It consists of 15 wide steps, the first four of which are two meters and twenty centimeters wide, and the remaining steps are less wide. We note that the ceiling of the peace is decorated with the same shell decoration.

The Vestibule

This vestibule is followed by another vestibule on both sides of it, two hollows in the form of a sarcophagus containing two statues of a man and a woman made of white limestone, and they undoubtedly represent the owner and owner of the tomb, and they are in terms of movement and clothing in the Egyptian style, in front of them in terms of facial features and hairdressing, and they are predominantly Roman in character

Catacomb burial chamber

consists of an Egyptian door above a Pharaonic-style cornice, with a winged sun disk in the middle, and ending at the top with a row of the sacred royal uraeus decoration.

The burial chamber is square and has three recesses, one facing the entrance and two on the side. We note the presence of two prominent carvings on the back wall of the chamber representing the Egyptian idol Anubis, but with completely Roman features.

The burial chamber consists of three main coffins inside a spacious room surrounded by rock pillars carved with various drawings. The main coffin was dedicated to the father, the second to the mother, and the third to the eldest son or daughter.

The wall carvings behind the main coffins represent figures of Pharaonic and Roman deities on the rock with high skill and accuracy, and each shape indicates a legend or religious wisdom accompanying the deceased after he was buried next to his holdings of gold and precious stones

The sarcophagus in front of the entrance is represented by an ornament of olive and laurel arcades from which two masks hang. Under the bed are three canopic jars to preserve the organs.

usually four, and the absence of the fourth vessel, perhaps ignorance of the artist or perhaps the narrowness of space, or perhaps this is the most likely that the god Anubis performed both roles, the role of the god of embalming on the one hand and the role of one of the sons of Horus on the other hand and confirms this the non-existent vessel was the figure of Anubis.

The funerary bed is surrounded by a rock-carved statue of the god Horus. Next to him is the god “Anubis” who supervises the mummification process. There is an offering scene for Isis.

The right Sarcophagus

In the center of its facade is a bull’s head symbolizing sacrifice or offerings, and on both sides of it are two clusters of grapes in the middle of them from the top of the head of the Medusa. The Winged may be the goddess Isis.

The restoration of the Kom El-Shoqafa archaeological site

Catacombs are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World. The site also contains several remains from the Greek and Roman eras. The renovation process included lowering underground water that was threatening the relics in the tomb

The restoration was conducted with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Authority for Potable Water and Sewerage (NAPWAS). USAID granted the renovation with a total of $5.7m in order to facilitate the process and shortens its required time.

Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa opening hours

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Kom El Shoqafa entrance fee

You can purchase an Entrance ticket for the Catacomb of Kom El Shoqafa from the Ticket window which is facing the entrance of the visitor center.

Adult: EGP 80 (4 $)

Students with valid cards: EGP 40(2 $)

Children aged 6-12 years: EGP 40 (2 $)

Children under 6 years: FREE

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa Opening Hours

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa is almost open all week from 09.00 AM to 17.00 PM

For more information about the foundation of Alexandria and Alexandria’s top tourist attractions, you can read about

Qaitbay Citadel

The Roman amphitheater 

Pompey’s Pillar

The Serapeum of Alexandria