The 139th attempt to find Alexander the Great has gotten off to a shaky start, and many fear it will end like the previous 138 attempts--in futility.
An Islamic history professor is convinced that the great Macedonian king, who conquered much of the known world before the age of 30 in the 4th Century BC, is buried in a vault beneath an Alexandria mosque, and he has asked the Department of Antiquities for permission to search for the tomb.
The Egyptian professor, Mohammed Abdulaziz, says he has two witnesses who have seen Alexander’s burial place in a cavern deep under the Prophet Daniel Mosque in the historic Mediterranean city founded by the Macedonian king.
However a professor of Greek history has dismissed the claim, saying he personally has explored under the mosque and found nothing more enticing than some water tanks dating from the 5th Century.
The dispute has caused something of a flap among Alexandria residents and the international archeological community. But it is only the latest controversy in an escalating campaign to find the final resting place of Alexander, which is in turn part of a larger campaign to restore Alexandria to its former glory and increase its tourism potential.
Now the Department of Antiquities must decide whether to grant Abdulaziz’s request to probe under the mosque.
The Macedonian king, whose empire stretched from Greece to modern-day India and Egypt, died in 323 BC at the age of 33 in Babylon and was, by historic accounts, buried in a royal cemetery in Alexandria, the city he had founded a decade earlier.
But archeologists say that over the centuries of invasions, fires and reconstruction the exact location of Alexander’s tomb became lost to history.