second largest city in Egypt


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Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa

These catacombs were probably carved out to be a single wealthy family's mausoleum, and later expanded to take other elite funerals, from the 2nd to 4th C CE. The name "Kom el-Shouqafa" means "mound of shards" as people brought offerings to the dead here in earthenware bowls, then smashed the empties before returning home. They are composed of a ground level construction that probably served as a funerary chapel, a deep spiral stairway and three underground levels (the lowest now flooded by groundwater) for the funeral rituals and entombment. The place was discovered in 1900 when the ground gave way under a donkey.Built as a separate (and older) catacomb, the Hall of Caracalla became linked when energetic tomb-robbers tunnelled through. It seems to have been a burial place for the Roman emperor's horses, as horse bones predominate. No, not the donkey's.The catacombs are interesting for their plan and for their decoration, as the last of the pharonic burials transitioned into Grecian and Roman styles. But if you've seen the richly decorated burial chambers around Luxor, this one will suffer by comparison.