In the Greco-Roman catacombs of Alexandria, uniquely decorated tombs from the time when religious boundaries blurred and syncretistic beliefs flourished have long been known. But it was only in 1993 that researchers discovered faint traces of paintings on walls previously thought to be blank, or underneath other painted scenes: the hidden scenes could be partly made out and photographed using ultraviolet light. Then in 2012, new computer technology was used to reveal the lost images—and colors—even more clearly. Here the team present, examine, and interpret what they found, teasing meaning and intent from the alternating scenes of Greek and Egyptian mythology, as employed by the citizens of a multicultural Alexandria at the beginning of the second century CE, in pursuit of a happy afterlife.
Resurrection in Alexandria
The Painted Greco–Roman Tombs of Kom al-Shuqafa
In the Greco-Roman catacombs of Alexandria, uniquely decorated tombs from the time when religious boundaries blurred and syncretistic beliefs flourish
Anne-Marie Guimier-Sorbets is professor emerita of archaeology and Greek history of art at the University of Paris-Nanterre and a specialist in Greek architecture and architectural décor. In collaboration with the Centre d’Etudes Alexandrines over a period of some twenty-five years, she has authored numerous studies on Alexandrian archaeological material of domestic and funerary contexts. Since 2015, Guimier-Sorbets has served as president of the International Association for the Study of Ancient Mosaics.
Based in Alexandria, ANDRÉ PELLE is a specialist in archaeological photography with France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Born in Alexandria and now based in France, GEORGES MOUSTAKI is a singer and performer who has recorded numerous albums and composed music for films.
Jean-Yves Empereur was born in 1952 and studied Classics. He is a former secretary general of the French School at Athens and in that capacity served as field director of excavations, particularly on underwater sites, in Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. He is director of research at the National Center for Scientific Research and director of the Center for Alexandrian Studies, which was founded in 1990.
Colin Clement is a writer and translator who lives in Alexandria.