The Black Sarcophagus

Ancient Egypt isn’t done divulging it’s secrets.   With as many excavations as have taken place there over the last two centuries, a large number of Egyptologists have speculated that we have found the majority of the interesting stuff in the ground of Egypt…

Until they uncovered a 6 feet long black sarcophagus buried in Alexandria.  When my friend sent me the article, two things immediately came to mind; Ahknaten the Heretic King whose body was lost to history, but as a Pharaoh, he still should have been mummified and put somewhere.  And the son of Cleopatra and one of the Roman leaders.  I forget if it was Cesar or Mark Antony, but she had a son with both of them.  Anyway, we don’t have a record of him living or dying.  He was literally lost to History.

Six feet doesn’t sound very big for a sarcophagus, but it’s the longest ever found in Egypt.  Egyptians were short in the days of the Pharaohs.  It’s only been in the 20th century that men routinely grew to 6 feet tall or taller.  Before then, men like Peter the Great who was well over 6 feet tall were a bit freakish.

Sarcophagi(?) are supposed to be rather form fitting.  You don’t put a mummy that’s only 4 feet tall in a 6 feet long sarcophagus.  Meaning the mummy has to be close to six feet tall.  He was probably around 5’8″ which would still have been tall for an Ancient Egyptian.

As I said, my first instinct was Ahknaten the Heretic Pharoah… We don’t know where he’s buried or if his mummy even exists.  Most Egyptian texts about Ahknaten were destroyed upon his death.  What we do know is that his son Tutankhamen had an elongated skull and reliefs of Ahknaten that survive show him with an elongated skull (enter the Ancient Alien conspirators here).  Along with the black sarcophagus, there is a bust of a head and shoulders in the grave.  If the mummy is Ahknaten, the bust isn’t his.  The bust does not have the elongated deformed skull we associate with Ahknaten and Tutankhamen.  (Side note: Spell Check would like me to change Aknaten to Alienate, which is rather fitting since Aknaten’s desion to make Ancient Egypt a monotheistic religion that worshiped Amen is the reason he is called Aknaten the Heretic King, his alienation of the Egyptian priesthood and the Egyptian people are the reason there aren’t a lot of things left related to Ahknaten and why we don’t know where he was buried or if he was given a proper burial).

So if the black sarcophagus belongs to Ahknaten, we don’t know who the bust is of, but it solves a mystery.  Recent study of Tutankhamen’s tomb reveals that there is a secret chamber that hasn’t been opened and we suspect it may be the final resting place of Ahknaten.  I think tomorrow’s post will be about Ahknaten and Tut, because there are some interesting things about these father/son pharaoh’s stories that most people don’t know.

But there is another Pharaoh option for the black sarcophagus.  Cleopatra was one of the last rulers of Egypt and despite being an Egyptian Pharaoh she was Greek or rather Macedonian to be exact.  Cleopatra returned to Egypt after the death of Caesar.  Where she hooked up with General Mark Antony.  Antony and Cleopatra had three children, possibly: Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus.  Alexander Helios had a twin sister named Cleopatra Selene.  When the Roman general Octavius invaded Rome, he killed Caesarion (Cleopatra and Julius Caesar’s son) and imprisoned Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene, and Ptolemy Philadelphus.  Selene II married Juba II, some non-Roman ruler in a Roman controlled state and the lives of Ptolemy and Alexander Helios were spared as a wedding gift to Selene II and Juba II.  And that is the last history hears of Alexander Helios or Ptolemy Philadelphus.  Historians general speculate that both boys died before reaching maturity and thereby removing themselves from being able to do anything great in their lives.

This almost works, except it is probable that Alexander Helios was an adult by the time his sister marries Juba II.  Octavian gave the child captives to his sister Octavia (who was Antony’s wife) to raise and she raised them alongside her own children, even providing for a royal education in Rome.  But to some degree Helios and his sister Selene II had already received some education in Egypt before being sent to Rome as royal captives.

But Helios still never gets mentioned again.  This has lead to some wild guesses about what happened to him… people have gone so far as to put him in North America at the time of Christ’s birth.  Maybe he designed Oak Island or is responsible for some of the stuff found among Native American tribes (Totem Poles are basically just carved wooden obelisks after all).  I have always figured he found his way back to Egypt, realized his family had been dethroned and basically lived the rest of his life in relative obscurity.  It makes sense.  The death of Helios would have been important, even to Romans, so if he had died, it seems like someone would have noticed.  Same for Ptolemy Philadelphus.  Perhaps one of them is buried in the black Sarcophagus.  That would explain the Roman Style marble bust in the grave and the lack of an ornate tomb as well as it’s location in Alexandria, Egypt, not an area known for being a final resting place of Pharaohs.  Helios spent most of his life in Alexandria as a child, his family had made Alexandria the most important city in Egypt after all.

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