History's Greatest Mysteries (2020) s05e11 Episode Script

The Search for Alexander the Great

A century's old mystery
surrounding the most celebrated
warrior king in history,
Alexander the Great.
Alexander set off on
an audacious campaign
to conquer what
is the known world.
His army stormed
east through Turkey,
Iran, Iraq, and down into India.
Alexander dies at the age of 32,
presumably buried in Alexandria,
the city that bears his name.
His mummy is visited
by a virtual who's who
of ancient history.
But then his remains suddenly
disappear without a trace.
We don't know where he went,
and he's lost to time forever.
It's as if one of
the greatest treasures
of the ancient world
vanished into thin air.
Now, we explore the top theories
surrounding the disappearance
of the conqueror's remains.
Boats topple over on their sides
and fish are kind
of flopping around,
and then all of a
sudden this huge wave
wipes everything out.
Alexandria is a
hotbed of religious upheaval,
change, violence.
Now the Christians are
gonna do to the pagans
what the pagans have
been doing to them.
These Venetian merchants,
they literally hijack
this sarcophagus.
It's like something
out of a thriller.
What happened to the mummy
of Alexander the Great?
Ancient Babylon,
modern-day Iraq.
The year is 323 BCE, and
Alexander the Great is sick.
Wracked by pain and
barely able to speak,
he lingers for two weeks.
As his generals wonder who
will inherit his empire,
he utters his final
words, "To the strongest."
On June 11th, 323 BCE,
Alexander takes his last breath.
The greatest conqueror the
world has ever known is gone.
Alexander the Great dies
and his death is going to send
shockwaves around the world.
In life, he had been this
invincible military conqueror
who had taken over
so much of the world.
He was also viewed by so
many people of the time
as a literal deity.
Alexander is born in Macedonia,
a small kingdom in
today's northern Greece.
He is the son of King Philip II.
Alexander's father is
a formidable general,
who manages to conquer
a great deal of territories.
So Alexander already has a
great deal of power there.
Alexander becomes
king at 20 years old.
Two years later, he has
ridden off into battle
with the ambition of
conquering the entire world.
His armies topple
the Persian Empire
that had been the bane of
the Greek states for so long.
He conquers Egypt.
He marches his armies
all the way to India.
And he's gained many
titles along the way.
He became the grand
pharaoh of Egypt.
He became the emperor of Greece.
He became the king of Persia.
And he did it all in 10 years.
Alexander never
loses a major battle.
Suddenly though, he dies
when he's visiting Babylonia
of some mysterious ailment.
It might be typhoid,
it might have been a
neurological disease.
We don't know.
In keeping
with Egyptian tradition,
Alexander's body
is then mummified.
As ruler of ancient Egypt,
he is a deity in
the ancient Egyptian pantheon.
So they dry him out with salt,
they remove his internal organs,
they add spices and
aromatic resins,
and they make him
smell like a god.
He is placed in a
golden sarcophagus
and then he's put
inside a funerary bier.
This bier, or this
funerary cart,
is designed like an
ostentatious temple.
The entire structure is so heavy
it has to be pulled
by a fleet of mules
who are also beautifully adorned
in precious cloths and jewelry.
Two years after his death,
Alexander the Great's
funeral procession
finally leaves through the
famous gates of Babylon.
This carriage is taken
on an amazing procession
all the way westward, presumably
to Greece, to Macedon,
where he'd be interred with
the rest of the royal family,
including his father, Philip II.
And as it goes westward,
it's going through the cities
of Alexander's new empire
and crowds are coming out
to see it, we are told,
lining up, wishing it well.
It must have been amazing.
Of course, when
Alexander passes,
he's not really counting
on dying so early,
so there's a power vacuum
and all of his generals
want to grab as much land
and as much
legitimacy as possible.
At some point, as it
is passing through Syria,
one of the generals, Ptolemy
I, hijacks Alexander's body
and takes it back
with him to Egypt
where he sets it up in a
royal city called Memphis.
Ptolemy wants Alexander's body
because he feels it shores
up his own power in Egypt,
which he's now kind of
have taken over for himself
since Alexander's now dead.
Alexander's mummy
remains at Memphis
for an unknown amount of time,
perhaps several decades.
Finally, it's moved
to Alexandria,
which was the city that
Alexander himself founded
precisely as a city
on the Nile River,
right where it meets
the Mediterranean Sea.
We know about the
Library of Alexandria,
essentially the world's
first university.
It wasn't just a
collection of books,
this is where all
the scholars came.
So this became the intellectual
center of the world.
And how do you really
drive that idea home?
You bring Alexander's body
and you put it in this
beautiful mausoleum.
And now Ptolemy can claim,
"I am the true successor
to Alexander the Great.
Here's his shrine.
Here's the library.
Alexandria, the new
center of the world."
Historical accounts will
say that Alexander's body
remains in Alexandria's Royal
Quarter for hundreds of years.
The Greek historian, Strabo,
who's writing 300 years
after Alexander's death
will speak about
visiting the tomb.
In the ancient world,
anybody who is anybody goes
to visit Alexander's tomb.
They want to really pay
homage to this great man
and they want to link their
own power bases to him.
We have eyewitness
evidence from Cleopatra,
Julius Caesar, Mark Antony.
Seems the whole world traveled
to go visit Alexander
the Great's tomb there.
It was like a
festival every time.
But late in the fourth century,
all the historical writings
about Alexander's tomb
stop abruptly.
The last known reference
to Alexander's body
being in Alexandria comes
from about 700 years
after Alexander's death.
The tomb is
mentioned in a letter
by the Roman teacher
and traveler, Libanius,
who will speak of Alexandria,
where the tomb of
Alexander is to be seen.
But then just 20 years later,
one of the early leaders
of the Christian Church,
John Chrysostom, was
specifically going to Alexandria
to go visit Alexander
to Great's tomb.
He wrote, "And I was
met with blank stares."
So from Libanius' letter
to John Chrysostom's visit,
we go from having the tomb
of Alexander the Great
to nothing.
It's like one of the
Wonders of the Ancient World
just vanishes from
the face of the earth.
But what could have happened
to destroy all traces
of Alexander's tomb
and his remains?
We have a record in history
from about the year 365 AD
of a massive earthquake that
hit the island of Crete,
which is about a
couple of hundred miles
away north of Alexandria.
Scholars believed that that
earthquake was so damaging
that it could have reached
8.5 on the Richter scale.
8.5 is nearly five
times the power
of the 1906 San
Francisco earthquake.
If an earthquake like that
could have taken place
in the Mediterranean,
it could have raised a tsunami
on Alexandria's shores.
As a matter of fact,
we have one piece of
eyewitness evidence
from a nobleman
who lived in Egypt.
Ammianus Marcellinus, who's
a historian and a soldier,
and what Ammianus says is
that there was a earthquake
and that the seas receded.
Boats topple over
on their sides,
and fish are kind
of flopping around,
and everybody is running
out and gathering fish up
with their hands
out on the shore
and then all of a
sudden this huge wave,
the tsunami, right,
kind of recoils back
and wipes everything out.
And it inundates
the entire harbor,
if not the entire
city of Alexandria.
You can see ships ending up
on the tops of buildings.
Ancient writers describe
widespread death
and destruction.
So this tsunami would've
absolutely devastated
the quarter that contained
Alexander's tomb.
And if it wasn't destroyed
by the initial flooding
and the tsunami,
it would've certainly been
destroyed by the after effects,
by the receding of the water,
by the collapse of the building,
by the mud that
would've buried it.
I mean, this is a
devastating event
that destroyed pretty
much everything there.
In the 1990s,
archeologists discover
what could be the remains
of the Royal Quarter
just off Alexandria's coast
Because of earthquakes
over the centuries
and shifting coastlines,
at least part of the
ancient city of Alexandria
now lies underwater.
They went down there
with scuba gear
and discovered
incredible remains
attesting to at least
part of a royal palace.
They find statues of
gods, of pharaohs,
and it's possible, therefore,
that the tomb of Alexander
might today still
exist, but underwater.
You are going to find
hundreds of thousands of relics
off the shore of Alexandria.
For one, it's a city built on
a shoreline next to a delta.
These cities tend to
flood and sink a lot.
We should expect to find
all kinds of artifacts
off the shore of Alexandria.
The question is, did a tsunami
come in and flood the city
and destroy the tomb
of Alexander The Great?
Throughout history,
cities have come and gone
due to the forces
of mother nature.
But was ancient Alexandria
really devastated by a tsunami?
Marcellinus' eyewitness evidence
is not historically
the most accurate.
He copied the material
from other eyewitnesses
that have actually
visited the place.
And Marcellinus was
strongly religious
and his religious bias could
have played a massive role
in exaggerating what that
God's wrath of a tsunami
would've hit Alexandria with.
In the late fourth century AD,
historical records show a
tsunami engulfed Alexandria.
In addition to this
natural disaster,
the city is in political
and social turmoil.
Christianity spreads
throughout the Roman Empire
at the end of the
first century AD,
but it's met with repression.
The Romans don't
like new religions,
so they're basically turning
the Christians into martyrs.
An early
and prominent Christian,
the apostle Mark,
is martyred here.
Mark was an evangelist who moves
into the city of Alexandria
and begins missionizing,
begins converting people.
And it's in that city
where he is martyred
and he's buried in the church
that he himself founds.
It was called the
Coptic Cathedral of St. Mark.
Christianity continued to spread
because as the saying goes,
the blood of the martyrs
is the seed of the Church.
And because of gospels
like that of St. Mark,
and because of his martyrdom,
the tables have
completely turned.
And by the end of
the third century,
the Christians are in control.
As Christianity gains strength,
conflict between the pagans
and the followers of this
new religion intensifies,
turning pagan landmarks, like
Alexander the Great's tomb,
into targets.
In the fourth century,
Alexandria is a hotbed
of religious upheaval,
change, violence.
The reality is that the
rise of Christianity
and its movement into power
is threatening any trace
of the old pagan past.
Alexander was a
very religious man.
He venerated Greek gods,
but also venerated
the gods of Egypt.
Particularly after his death,
he came to be venerated
as a kind of demigod
or even a god himself.
Alexander believes he's
a descendant of the gods.
His mother, Olympias, claimed
that he actually was
not the son of Philip,
but he's the son
of Zeus himself.
Alexandria had been a very
pagan city for a long time,
where the Greek gods
and Egyptian gods
were honored side by side.
But by the fourth century AD,
the Christians are
beginning to really
kind of take over the city.
What the Christians
don't really like
is how pagan the
city's past really is,
and they set out to
kind of purge Alexandria
from its pagan trappings,
to turn it into a new Christian
city as much as possible.
In 380 AD,
Emperor Theodosius
mandates Christianity
as the official religion
of the Roman Empire.
Rome is now a Christian empire,
and now the Christians
are gonna do to the pagans
what the pagans had
been doing to them.
We know that in certain
areas, Christians rioted,
they laid waste
to pagan temples,
tombs, other signs
of the old ways.
So, you can imagine
an old pagan temple,
or an old pagan shrine,
even pagan tombs,
these things were
ripe for destruction.
In 391, the emperor
at the time, Theodosius,
starts to enact a
series of decrees
to really stamp out any
kind of pagan behavior.
So he bans sacrifices.
He also orders the closure or
destruction of pagan temples.
It's interesting how
this is the year 391,
which is right in the
period when we last hear
of Alexander's body
being in Alexandria.
It's that time
that also we think
that the Great Library of
Alexandria is also burned.
Rampant destruction
across the city.
Could it be that
if Alexander's tomb
still was established
in the city,
it's still visible in
the city at that time,
that that was when
it was destroyed?
That would seem to make
good sense of the timing
because it was really
only nine years later
that Chrysostom
enters into the city
and looks for Alexander's tomb
and no one knows where it is.
In Alexandria, there was
probably few greater reminders
of the old ways than
the tomb of Alexander,
and he might have
been the target
of any Christian attempt to
erase traces of other religions.
There are no explicit
records out there
of Alexander's tomb or
the area being destroyed.
So, if you wanna look at what
the historical record says,
we can't definitively say
that the tomb was
destroyed at that time.
Perhaps it was already gone.
Ancient historians tell us
that Alexander the
Great was buried
in his namesake city
of Alexandria, Egypt.
References to Alexander's tomb
stop after a series
of natural disasters
and riots devastate the city.
But some believe his remains
could still be hidden
in Alexandria today.
In 1850, a tour guide by
the name of Ambroise Schilizzi
takes this group of
tourists down into a mosque
in the old part of Alexandria.
The mosque is called
the Nabi Daniel Mosque.
When Schilizzi goes down
into the substructures
underneath the mosque,
he sees something that
really piques his curiosity.
He sees at the
end of one corridor,
an old, worn wooden door.
The story goes that when he
came upon this wooden door,
he looked through the
cracks of the door
and that's when he sees
this mummified corpse
with a golden crown on it.
Schilizzi is absolutely
convinced that he has seen
none other than the mummy
of Alexander the Great.
The officials at the
mosque hear what's going on
and he is immediately removed
and nobody believes him
'cause he is a tour guide.
So everyone thinks that he
is just doing this for money.
He's actually
completely shut down.
He's not allowed to go
back into the crypts.
But 15 years later,
a second witness brings
Schilizzi's story
back into the public eye.
15 years later, somebody
else goes down into the mosque.
This is a very
different character.
This is an esteemed,
very highly respected,
Arab engineer by the name
of Mahmoud Al-Falaki.
He is in charge of
mapping the ancient district
of Alexandria and
the Royal Quarter,
and he's doing so for
the Viceroy of Egypt,
so he gets special permissions
that nobody else gets.
And as part of
this mapping effort,
he gets to go down
and look to see
what's part of
these substructures
under the Nabi Daniel Mosque.
When he goes under there,
he sees very finely
crafted corridors
that are leading off
into four directions.
Al-Falaki finds tunnels,
passageways, large open areas
that appear to be
important tombs,
structurally made of
good, quality stone.
But he finds that the
tunnels are too dangerous
and he can't fully
explore the area
and answer the questions that
people have had for ages.
Al-Falaki notices that
a lot of the farther parts
of the corridors are
really kind of dilapidated.
They're starting to cave in,
and it's very dangerous
to press on any farther.
He wants to go
back and see it again
and do further investigation,
but he's denied and is never
able to get access again,
as these passageways
are walled up.
Even Al-Falaki, who
has the best permissions
in Egypt at the time,
is forbidden from
going any farther.
So the question is, is there
some sort of a coverup?
Why can't he go any further?
Why aren't people allowing the
excavation of this territory?
Though there's no hard proof
that Alexander's mummy
is under the mosque,
speculation grows.
Strabo tells us that
Alexander was entombed
in the Royal Quarter
of Alexandria.
The Nabi Daniel Mosque is in
that same general vicinity
that we think is where
the Royal Quarter was.
Nabi Daniel in Arabic
is the prophet Daniel,
and Daniel is sacred in Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam,
and he's famous for surviving
the night in the lion's den,
among other great miracles
of being a devout man of God.
However, Muslim
accounts of the Daniel
entombed in the Nabi Daniel
Mosque is one of a conquerer.
This tradition also said
that the prophet Daniel
comes victorious
against his enemies
and founds the
city of Alexandria.
This doesn't match Daniel
of the Bible at all.
Who does it sound like?
Hmm, who do we know
who goes into Babylon
and who's victorious
over his enemies?
Who do we know founds
the city of Alexandria?
So some strange thing has
happened, it seems to be here,
and conflating the figure
of Daniel the prophet
with the figure of
Alexander the Great.
Also, in local Arabic tradition,
the crypts underneath
the mosque of Nabi Daniel
are called the shrine
of the double-horned.
The double horn is a reference
to Alexander the Great
because he worshiped Amun
and Amun had rams horns.
Alexander is often depicted,
for example in later coins
struck by his successors,
with horns, rams
horns on his head.
So if this is the shrine
of the double horned,
it leads one to believe
that this is perhaps
a resting place of Alexander.
But the question remains
whether Alexander
the Great really lies
under the Nabi Daniel Mosque.
Other people
request to investigate
the subterranean crypts,
including the famous
Heinrich Schliemann,
who discovered, we think,
the remains of
ancient Troy and Mycenae,
but he too is denied by
the authorities there.
Since the end of
the 19th century,
nobody has actually really
been able to get down there
and explore to see what
further they might find
under this mosque.
But even if Alexander
the Great's remains
are under that mosque,
there is no way that permission
is ever going to be granted,
nor should it be,
for anyone to go digging in
that area to look for this.
While it seems suspicious
that they won't let anybody
excavate under this,
it is actually not very strange
that they would refuse
to allow excavations
under a mosque which
contains sacred land.
So it's not a grand conspiracy
saying we don't want to
discover Alexander's tomb.
It's just that in their
minds the people there
are protecting something
which to them is more sacred
than Alexander's remains.
After Alexander the
Great's body disappears
from the historical
record in 391 AD,
many wonder if the
remains of the warrior
are not in Egypt at all,
but somewhere else entirely,
someplace like Italy.
Located 1,300 miles
from Alexandria
and founded 750 years
after his death,
Venice may seem an unlikely
place to look for Alexander,
but some believe the
search should begin here.
The Basilica of
St. Mark in Venice
is said to hold the remains
of St. Mark the apostle.
One researcher
thinks it might hold
the remains of
Alexander instead.
The theory goes all the
way back to the early years
after Alexander the Great died.
Writer Andrew Chugg has a theory
that the remains of
Alexander the Great
and not of St. Mark
were actually moved
from Alexandria to Venice in
a mix-up of epic proportions.
Before Alexander
took rule of Egypt,
it was ruled by the Persians,
and before the Persians,
the last native ruler of
Egypt was Nectanebo II.
According to this theory,
when Alexander's body is
brought to Memphis by Ptolemy,
he reuses a sarcophagus that
was intended for Nectanebo II.
Chugg believes that
Alexander's body is interred
in Nectanebo II's sarcophagus.
And at this time period,
there were Christians
rioting in the streets.
So, Chugg believes that
to protect Alexander,
his coffin and mummy were
absconded to a safer place
where there was less upheaval.
If you're going to hide
something from the Christians
so that they don't destroy it,
what better place to hide it
than literally in plain sight?
So Chugg believes
that the sarcophagus
was taken to the
Cathedral of St. Mark,
where the Christians would
never dream of looking for it
because that's where the remains
of their precious
evangelist actually lay.
There the remains of the two men
would have lain
together for centuries,
but it's at the time
that Islam comes to Egypt
that potentially
Christians viewed
this particular site as
especially threatened
and would've been very
interested in evacuating
the very important relics there.
According to
an 11th century manuscript,
two Venetian merchants
launch a daring operation
to rescue what they believe
to be St. Mark's remains.
It's like something
out of a thriller.
You have a group of
merchants who sneak their way
into Alexandria precisely
to snatch the body of Mark
and protect it and
bring it back to Italy.
In 828 AD, these Venetian
merchants sail to Alexandria,
they go into where the
Cathedral of St. Mark is,
and they literally
hijack this sarcophagus
and they take it back to Venice
with them for safekeeping.
- The Basilica of St.
- Mark in Venice holds
the remains of the Apostle Mark,
but there's something that
potentially doesn't quite fit
with the idea that
Mark is the body there.
People notice
something really unusual
issuing forth from
this sarcophagus.
It has a beautiful smell.
It is noted that the body
actually has this
really powerful aroma,
an aroma that smells like all
of the spices in the world.
And the idea is that St. Mark
wouldn't have been mummified,
but Alexander would have been.
Mark was martyred
in the first century.
The custom at the time
would've been cremation.
And so what they would have
would not have that
same beautiful scent.
It would just be bone and ash.
In addition
to the unexpected scent,
Chugg points to clues in
the sarcophagus itself.
Within the basilica in Venice,
Chugg recognizes that there
is an eight-pointed star
carved into the rock.
Now, an eight-pointed star
is this ancient Greek symbol
that's associated with Macedonia
and with Alexander's family.
Chugg believes that that stone
came from Nectanebo's
repurposed sarcophagus.
But this
theory may remain a mystery
for the foreseeable future.
This is a very creative theory
and I fully believe that
strange things happen
over the course of history.
The only way that this
could actually really be
conclusively solved is
if the Catholic Church
were to allow any carbon
dating of Mark's remains
underneath the cathedral.
Will they do that?
They have no interest in doing
that kind of carbon
dating of relics.
It serves them in
no way to do so.
The search for
Alexander the Great's remains
has been guided by the
king's ancient biographers.
Most point to Alexander being
buried in the city he founded,
but they also suggest
he had his own ideas
of where he wanted
to be laid to rest.
One Greek archaeologist thinks
that's where he is today.
Liana Souvaltzi believes
that the Oasis of Siwa
in northwest Egypt held
the most important place
in Alexander's heart.
It's also the place
that Souvaltzi thinks
he is most likely to be buried.
In 331 BC, when he's
about 25 years old,
Alexander the Great embarks
on a treacherous journey
across the desert to Siwa
and he's looking for
the Oracle of Amun.
In antiquity, people put
great stock in oracles,
essentially people who
know about your future.
And Alexander wanted to
know about his future,
and so he went in
search of this oracle.
It's very, very far away.
It covers about 1,100
miles that he goes
just to go and
consult this oracle.
This particular
oracle was understood
to be the oracle
of a hybrid deity,
two of the most powerful
deities of the two cultures,
Zeus, chief deity of the Greeks,
and Amun, one of the
chief Egyptian deities.
When Alexander actually
arrives at the temple,
his trek turns out
to be quite worth it.
He finds the oracle
who tells him
that, in fact, Philip,
his biological father,
is not his real father,
it is in fact Zeus-Ammon
who is his father.
That would make
Alexander divine.
From that point,
Alexander is changed.
He sees himself and his
mission in a different way.
He adopts the double
horns of Zeus-Ammon,
puts it on his coins,
and that seems to
really indicate that
the oracle told him,
"Yes, you are the son of a god."
So this is a watershed moment.
Now, he has the
power of divine rule
and he values Siwa
throughout his life.
In 1989, Egyptian authorities
grant Souvaltzi permission
to start digging
for Alexander's tomb
in the Siwa Oasis.
The temple ruins
at the Oasis of Siwa
are still standing today.
And Liana Souvaltzi
maintains that the oasis
was always very close
to Alexander's heart
and it makes complete sense
that he would want
to be buried there.
Most other pieces of
historical evidence we have
completely disagrees with
Liana Souvaltzi's theory here,
except for one.
One piece of writing
that she leans on
from a Roman historian
named Curtius.
He wrote that in
Alexander's heart
he wanted to be buried in
one place and nowhere else.
It's the place where
he received the oracle.
After unbelievably only
one week of excavations,
Souvaltzi says she's
made this discovery.
She's found a large
chamber under the temple
that actually has the
remains of lion statues
that are guarding something.
This underground chamber
has statues of lions,
which are linked to Alexander,
which are linked to royalty,
and which are also
in Egyptian ideology
linked to the underworld.
They're the guardians
of the liminal space
between this world and the next.
Up to this point,
it was believed
that all we had
at the Siwa Oasis
was the remains of a temple.
So this was a new discovery,
if what she had really hit upon
was a set of monumental tombs.
And the digging keeps
going on for years,
and she finally discovered a
full 5,000-square-foot room,
which she believes could be
nothing else but a royal tomb.
Souvaltzi is
convinced she's found the tomb
of Alexander the Great.
She sees carvings of oak leaves
that really resemble the sort
of oak leaves that are used
in the crowns of
the Greek kings.
She finds an eight-pointed star,
which looks very similar
to the eight-pointed star
of Vergina that's associated
with a Macedonian royal family.
Nine feet down, she
finds a limestone tablet
which has a long
inscription in Greek.
How she translates it is
that somebody has brought
his master's body to Siwa
in order to be buried.
The tablet states that
the body was moved to Siwa,
and the body was
actually really light.
So this would give a hint
that the body was mummified.
- The text itself is anonymous.
- We don't know who wrote it,
but she's absolutely sure
that this was about Ptolemy
and he was writing
it to talk about
moving Alexander's body to Siwa,
the place where Alexander
himself had wished to be buried.
After several years of digging,
Souvaltzi's convinced she's
on the edge of a breakthrough,
but when archeologists
from the Egyptian
Antiquities Organization
come to Siwa,
they spot a flaw in her work.
Archaeologists examined the
inscription written in Greek
and they conclude that
it's not about a king.
They also note that the
style of the chamber
is not actually Greek at all,
but it appears to be Roman.
So the more that they learn and
the more that they excavate,
the more skeptical they become.
The experts found
that Souvaltzi's
translation was in error
and that the tablets don't
refer to Ptolemy at all.
Partly due to this,
the Egyptian government
distances itself
from Souvaltzi's work
and pulls her permit to dig.
Souvaltzi spends
the next two decades
trying to seek the government
of Egypt's permission
to keep digging.
They turn down her requests.
But even if Souvaltzi is wrong
about where Alexander
was truly buried,
many scholars are
intrigued by the idea
that perhaps where Alexander
wanted to be buried
mattered ultimately.
And if we rule out Siwa,
there was one other site
that would have been
very important to him.
Alexander the Great
came from ancient Macedonia
in today's northern
Greece and the Balkans.
Historians say that his father
was buried under the ruins
of a town known as Vergina.
And tradition holds
that Alexander
should also have
been buried there.
In the 1970s, a
Greek archaeologist
named Manolis Andronikos
excavated a tumulus,
a large burial mound there.
And he discovered a tomb
which had not been looted,
miraculously enough,
and which he identified
for various reasons
as the tomb of Philip II.
There were other bones
buried in this tomb.
So hopes run high that what
they found is Alexander's tomb.
However, they find no
additional evidence
that can really support this.
And so they move to
a different site,
this time they go excavate
at an ancient city
called Amphipolis.
Amphipolis is
located in northern Greece
about 100 miles from the tomb
of Alexander's father, Philip.
Amphipolis was a city that
was conquered by Philip II
in 357 BC and Amphipolis
was also the place
where Alexander
the Great prepared
for his most important
battle in Asia.
In 2012, while
archaeologists were digging,
they found another tomb.
When they go down the staircase,
they find a series of tomb
chambers, very ornate.
The first chamber
contains two large
and headless
figures of sphinxes.
The second tomb chamber
contains an elaborate mosaic
and it depicts a scene
from Greek mythology.
The mosaic
depicts the arrival of death,
and the elaborate
style of the tomb
would be typical of
monuments to royalty.
When they go further in,
they find a third tomb chamber,
and they go into
that and they find
more evidence of human bones.
They discover the body
of a 60-year-old woman,
the body of an infant,
the body of a 30-year-old man,
the body of a man
in his forties,
and the body of
another individual
whose bones are
so badly degraded
that they can't
actually tell very much
about how old this
person would've been.
The woman's bones
are the same age
as Alexander's mother when
she died at the age of 59,
and the mid-thirties bones
are obviously the same age
as Alexander the Great
was when he died.
Greek researchers
plan to submit the bones
for DNA testing to see if
these people were related.
So it's possible that they
could be Alexander's bones.
However, there are still
some issues with that.
The 30-year-old man's bones
show cut marks to the chest,
and we know this is not how
Alexander the Great died.
And also, these bones were found
in a cheaply constructed box,
and these are not
the kinds of vessels
that we would expect
to find the remains
of one of the greatest kings
to ever walk the
face of the earth.
It is also possible that the
tomb was built for Alexander,
but he was never entombed there,
having been taken down
to Egypt by Ptolemy.
The tomb appears
to have been looted
at some point in antiquity,
which is really a shame,
because we've lost any
other pieces of information
that might be able
to solve the mystery
of who was actually
buried in this tomb.
Optimistically, the
fact that we haven't found
Alexander's body means that
there's hope that one day
it may yet be found,
that it's somewhere out there.
And there are going
to be more theories,
more suggestions of
where that could be,
which we can bring to bear
in archaeological research.
To find this tomb with this
enormous figure from history
who's super important in uniting
the ancient world
for a period of time.
It's kind of every
Egyptologist's dream
to find the tomb of
Alexander the Great.
Today, the search
for Alexander's mummy
continues to make
headlines around the world.
Whether Alexander's body lies
silently under a great city
or has been obliterated by
the forces of man or nature,
one thing is certain.
The story of his life
still stirs fascination
more than 2,000 years
after his death.
I'm Laurence Fishburne,
thank you for watching
"History's Greatest Mysteries."
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