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Alexander's Tomb: The Two-Thousand Year Obsession to Find the Lost Conquerer Hardcover – July 3, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although the heroic exploits of Alexander the Great have been memorialized in fiction, films and biographies, the location of his tomb remains a mystery. British anthropologist Saunders (People of the Jaguar), an armchair Indiana Jones, deftly chronicles the various searches for Alexander's tomb by pharaohs, Christian emperors and archeologists from antiquity to the present. As Saunders tells it, while Alexander's corpse lay in state in Babylon in 321 B.C., a power battle among his generals led one of them, Ptolemy, to steal the corpse and carry it to Memphis in Egypt for burial. Later Ptolemy moved the body to Alexandria; 70 years later, one of Ptolemy's sons moved the body yet again to a more ostentatious home in Alexandria. Cleopatra plundered the tomb, and when Christianity became Rome's official religion in the fourth century A.D., Alexander's tomb may have been among the many pagan shrines and tombs destroyed throughout the empire. In 2004, one scholar speculated that Alexander's body lay beneath the altar of St. Mark's Church in Venice, buried by ninth-century Christians who mistook Alexander's remains for those of Saint Mark. Saunders's lively prose draws readers into this compelling tale of conquest, political intrigue and the aura surrounding one of history's great heroes. 16 pages of b&w photos. (July)
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Review

"Alexander's tomb has long been as powerful as an idea as it ever was as a place and (Nicholas Saunders') enjoyable book does justice to the continuing strength of that view." Sunday Times "A tantalising glimpse into the possibilities surrounding Alexander's Tomb." Publishing News" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (July 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046507202X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465072026
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,733,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nadia Azumi on August 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Soma.What is it? It is the name given to Alexander's tomb or Mausoleum.

Were is it, it is a mystery as the mystery of the man itself.

This book narrates the history of the Ptolomaic dynasty what they accomplished and what ruined Alexandria Egypt under their, reign.It further goes to describe the Roman Period, the Ottoman Period the Christian period,and the look for Alexander's Soma.The recent digs in the Oasis of Siwa, to the discovery of the Ptolomaic Alexandria right under the Actual Alexandria only 40 feet under.

HOw through the centuries the Soma appeared and dissappeared from history. Is it still in Alexandria, is it in Memphis,or Siwa? Or is it all together gone? What about the sarcopagus at the Nebi Daniel Mosque,did it containe Alexander's body or not?

This book has been published in 2006, and is incredible the research that the author has done.The latest excavations in the Latin cemiteries in the hope of discovering Alexander.What an astonishing accomplishment this would be, in my opinion better than the King Tut's tomb. Alexander accomplished much more than Tut.I hope that he will soon be found,intact with his glass sarcophagus and his mummified body.

It is a very easy book to read.

5 plus stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fernando Villegas on January 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Entertaining book, no doubt. How the remains of Alexander, his mummy and the place where it lied trough centuries until it disappeared of common knowledge and historic testimonies, are and were very alive trough old and current politics, but also how the obsession to find his body still pervades the mind of scholars and laymen, all of that is certainly a tale worthy of a book and this one fulfill the task very well.

Saunder deliver the merchandise. We see a parade of scholars, amateurs, crazy or deranged people of all description, fake histories, rumors and archaeological discoveries trying to say the last word, but we also see the politics of his age, all kind of kings messing around this famous corpse, making use of it to legitimate patched kingdoms with an artful mixing of myth and legend.

A worthy reading and at last the thought that the aura of Alexander's tomb will vanish -as happened with the Titanic- the very same day it is discovered. Tombs of famous people only lives in imagination if far from museum life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on December 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A puzzling thing is that books about ancient Greece usually end with the death of Alexander in 323 BC. Yet it was after that time -- not before -- that Hellenism became a world civilization. For some reason, however, historians have chosen to rap rhapasodic about the small city of ancient Athens -- and ignore the huge empire of Alexander and his successors. Author Saunders writes about what happened after Alexander's death. That's ground that hasn't been plowed often and is very much worth the effort of learning about it. The story of the diadochi -- the successors of Alexander -- is as dark and bloody as any in history.

The book focuses on what happened to Alexander's body and its significance as a symbol of power and legitimacy for the successors of the great conqueror. It's interesting stuff and the author, with limited material to work with, conjures up a cult of Alexander and his body in Alexandria, as exemplified by his tomb and the visitors who came to pay homage. However, reading this book I came to a conclusion opposite from the author. Within a few decades after Alexander's death, nobody really gave a damn about his remains. His fabled tomb wasn't on the list of Alexandria's major tourist attractions, is rarely mentioned in ancient sources, and disappeared without a trace.

Saunders brings the story up to date with tales of medieval and modern efforts to find Alexander's tomb and remains. This book is worth reading for the well-described and lucid picture it gives of the city of Alexandria and its society in the several centuries after Alexander's death.

Smallchief
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Format: Hardcover
Starting with a fairly sparse history of Alexander's background and career along with the wars of succession, the book covers the hijacking of Alexander's body by Ptolemy I to augment the legitimacy of his claim to Egyptian rule, first as satrap for the remaining royal family members and then as pharoah king in his own right. Alexander's body was moved from Memphis to Alexandria by either Ptolomy or his son. The tomb was plundered by Ptolomy X and Cleopatra VII. The book devolves mostly into a history of Alexandria, emphasizing visits by various Roman princeps.

After passing through the long period of Muslim domination, the book does a good job covering literature and recent research. There is interesting speculation that a tomb in Macedonia, once thought to be that of Philip II, is actually that of Alexander. There's no speculation of how he got there. There's a curious point that much speculation on Alex's whereabouts coincided with a period of war and genocide in Macedonia in the 1990's. In an anticlimactic conclusion the author says that the body might have been burned after anti pagan rioting in 391CE.

This is a fine popular introduction to a historical research topic without pretending to know the answers. It's an interesting book even though it would seem that the search is diverging and perhaps modern interest is waning.
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