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Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

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Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • An exclusive article in Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2, which was One Of The Seven Wonders In the Middle Ages.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2


Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • The vestibule leads to a circular hall called the "Rotunda", it's  Latin word, means a circle.
  • In the center of this hall there is a well leading to the 2nd story of the tomb.
  • The well is surrounded by a small enclosure wall called the "parapet", on top of which is a dome supported by six pillars.
  • There were Five heads of statues made out of Alabaster were found in that place, and they now put on display in the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria Egypt
  • To the left of the rotunda there is a corridor which leads to a chamber.

Triclinium (funerary banquet hall)

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • It is located off the rotunda, it was also cut into the rock.
  • It was used by relatives of the deceased to eat meals in the different festivities in honour of the dead, such as the birthday of the deceased and the Festival of Roses.
  • Its ceiling is supported by 4 pillars and contains three benches takes the shape of the U letter.
  • The two pillared that faced the entrance, provided with openings to hold lamp to light the hall.
  • There is a passage around the benches, to allow the servants to move easily (This was some kind of etiquette).
  • In front of the benches there was a wooden table in the middle of the room, but it was completely disappeared now.
  • This was similar to the dining halls of wealthy Roman homes.

The second floor

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • From the central rotunda there are stairs consist of 15 steps, lead down to the second floor to the main burial chamber.
  • The ceiling of the staircase is decorated with a shell symbolizing the goddess Aphrodite.

Façade of  the main chamber in Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • The facade of this main burial chamber was similar to the façade of the ancient temples.
  • There are two composite columns, containing a mixture of Egyptian and Greco-Roman elements, support the façade.

  • The Egyptian elements are the winged sun disk, the Falcon God Horus, and the Uraeus or the cobra.
  • On either side of the burial chamber, are carved two giant serpents called Agathodaemon, holding staff caduceus and wearing the double crown of Egypt.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • The snake-tailed Agathodaemon, meanwhile, is Greek god associated with good food and plenty, which is a reference to funeral rites that included feasting in the tombs, and this was the Greek roman elements in the tomb.
  • Above each one there is a shield decorated with the head of Medusa.

Mythology of Medusa 

  • Medusa was a beautiful girl, but she had sex with Poseidon in the temple of Athena, this made god Athena angry from her, so she turned her into ugly woman, as she turned her hair into snakes, and everyone who looked into her eyes were cursed and were turned into stone.
  • The representation of Medusa here was to protect the tomb from thieves.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • There are 2 niches with two statues on both sides of  the entrance of the main burial chamber, one of them belongs to a man insides a niche and the other is of woman also inside a niche.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • Both statues were sculpted in some features of Egyptian art such as the clothes, and some features of Roman art such as the curly hair style and the Facial features.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

Main burial chamber

  • It considered to be the heart of the place.
  • It is the most luxurious burial unit ever discovered in Alexandria.
  • The owner of the tomb is unknown because there was no inscription in it, but it is possible that he was Alexandria's ruler in the 2nd century because the tomb is unique.
  • The burial chamber has a vaulted roof supported by four square pillars whose capitals take the shape of Papyrus.

The sarcophagus

  • There are three main sarcophaguses in the main burial chamber, the main coffin was for the father, the second for the mother, and the third for the son or the eldest daughter.
  • They were made from sand stone.
  • The sarcophaguses and its lid are cut completely from one block of rock.
Now we have to ask an important question, how they put the deceased in the sarcophagus even it made from one block of stone.
  • The body of the deceased was placed in the sarcophagus through an opening in the back wall, and then it was blocked with stone after burying the body.
  • It was decorated with a skull of a bull which was symbolizing offerings and sacrifice, as well as clusters of grapes as it was intended to bring happiness to the deceased in the eternity life.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • Above the sarcophagus, there is an important scene which representing a funeral bed which take the shape of lion wears the crown of osiris, and between the two legs of the lion there is a feather that symbolizes justice.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • The deceased was placed on it, in order to be mummified.
  • Under the bed a group of pottery vessels were placed in which the parts of the most damaged bodies removed from the body, such as (the heartbrainviscera and lungs) were reserved in these jars which called Canopic jars.
  • Originally there were supposed to be four jars.
  • Most likely the artist did not find enough space to represent the 4th jar, because the body of Anubis is occupying this space. 
  • Next to this bed the god Anubis is holding a jar in his left hand that is supposed to contain some liquids that were used during mummification, while his right hand is touching the mummy
  • Anubis is wearing a Roman dress and on top of his head is the sun disk with a cobra on each side.

  • There is also a scene depicting an emperor, who is offering the feather of Maat (Maat was goddess of justice in ancient Egypt) to a God  Ptah, between them there is an altar in the shape of the lotus flower.
Note:- the feather of Maat was an ostrich feather, because it was the only feather have two equal sides from it's beginning to the end, the ancient Egyptian thought this represent justice.
  • On the right of the coffin, the figure of the deceased appears in front of the goddess Isis to make offerings to her, holding a page of papyrus expressing the good deeds he did throughout his life.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • The walls to the right and to the left represent a Roman emperor wearing his crown and presents the offerings to the bull god (Apis) while Isis, the ancient Egyptian god, is standing with her wings to protect the deceased.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

In the doorway there are two statues of Anubis (the god of the dead), with a dragon’s tail.

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • He holds weapons such as a shield and a spear in his hands to protect the tomb, and turns towards the entrance.
  • It is interesting to know that the atmosphere inside this cemetery is always moderate, even in the winter or summer, and the reason for this phenomenon is not known yet.
  • After getting out from this room, there are 2 corridors, one in the east and the other in the west, each one leading to many Luculi, they are more than 300 (loculi).


Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • It consist of holes in the walls, it was arranged in rows on top of each other, they were like a dead fridge these days.
  • It was used by poor people to have buried there deceased in later era, as they were not rich enough to build their own tombs like the real owner of this cemetery, these loculi were closed by a slab.

Hall of Caracalla

  • Another feature of the catacombs is the Hall of Caracalla.
  • The current entrance of hall Caracalla is not the real entrance, as this part was in ancient time completely separate from the cemetery, what is interesting that  this interconnecting passages, were made by grave robbers.
  • In the current time the original entrance to the hall of Caracalla was closed, because it is completely dilapidated.

  • The Roman Emperor Caracalla, he was famous roman leader, he had ruled Egypt in 215 BC.  
  • Emperor Caracalla was short and fat, he issued many comic laws and this made young Alexandrians mockery from him.
  • This caused the emperor to become angry and decided to take revenge on them by inviting them to a large banquet in Alexandria stadium, and then he order his soldiers to slaughter them all mercilessly.
  • They were completely slaughtered in order to be a lesson to anyone who mocked from the emperor Caracalla.
  • Their number was more than (20 thousand) peopled from Alexandria.
  • Naming this hall  (Hall of Caracalla) was a mistake, as the matter was confused by the discoverers of the place when they found bones that they mistakenly thought that it was belongs to the bones of the Alexandrian people who were ordered to be slaughtered by the emperor.
  • The correct name of this place is the hall of the goddess Nemes, which was the goddes of equestrian and races in the Roman era.
  • There is a glass box full of horse bones, belongs to holy horses won races in the Roman era. 
Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • Inside the hall there is a part without a roof in which there was an altar for offerings (it's  not the original).

Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa 2

  • There are two doors in this hall, one leading outside, and the other leading to a well where rainwater collects, and both of them are now closed.

Some important tips that the tourist guide must say before starting this particular tour.

  • We don’t recommend the visit for people who have problems with narrow and deep areas or claustrophobic problems.
  • The tomb is like a puzzle with many tiny rooms and corridors so make sure to follow the guide so you don’t get lost inside.
  • The Cameras are not allowed inside the Catacombs so you can either leave it on the bus or keep it in the lockbox beside the ticket office.
  • There is no cell phone signal inside the Catacombs so make sure that if you have an important call or SMS to finish it just before you take your first step down.

Entrance fee of Catacomb (Kom el Shoqafa)

  • 80 LE for forigners, 40 LE for forigners student.
  • 20 LE for Egyption, 5 LE for Egyption student.


  • https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-7-wonders-of-the-medieval-world.html
  • https://ask-aladdin.com/alex-travel-information/catacomb/
  • https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Medusa/medusa.html
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canopic_jar
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anubi
  • https://www.egypt-monuments1.website/2020/11/the-miracle-of-mummification.html
  • https://www.britannica.com/topic/Isis-Egyptian-goddess
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caracalla
  • https://www.egypt-monuments1.website/2021/03/pompey-pillar.html


1. د. حسام أحمد المسيري،دراسات في أثار الوطن العربي،الإسكندرية،

2.-عزيزه سعيد محمود، الإسكندرية القديمه وآثارها ،الإسكندرية 2005.

3.جورج بوزنر، معجم الحضاره المصريه القديمه ، القاهره ،1992.