Kom al-Shawqafah (Mound of Shards)

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the Kom al-Shawqafah (Mound of Shards), a 2С AD burial site. Inside the enclosure are four porphyry sarcophagi and numerous architectural remains lie scattered over the area, but there has been a great deal of quarrying at the site. The main tomb lies to the NE. It consists of a complex of subterranean burial-chambers executed in a very unhappy marriage of Egyptian and classical Greek canons. Discovered in 1900, when a donkey fell into one of the tombs, they were originally private tombs later enlarged to serve the whole community. The mound received its name from the thousands of sherds found at the site, the remains of the dishes used by mourning relatives at funeral and anniversary feasts.

Kom al-Shawqáfah (Mound of Shards)
Kom al-Shawqáfah (Mound of Shards)

Entrance is via a circular Stairwell (A) leading at the bottom into a passage, on either side of which is a shell-hooded niche. To the left is a later Burial-Chamber (B). The passage leads into a rotunda with a central dome resting on eight pillars. To the left lies the Banqueting Hall where relatives visiting the tombs would dine. Four pillars support the roof and stone couches rest against three of the walls. To the right is a small room (C) surrounded by burial niches. A breach in the wall leads to several large chambers; the Hall of Caracalla when opened contained skeletons of men and horses, while to the right is the Painted Tomb with paintings on stucco of various Egyptian funerary deities and sphinxes.

From the rotunda a stairway (D) roofed with a stone shell ornament leads down to the second level, dividing halfway down (around another stairway to the third level; flooded and inaccessible). At the bottom is a Vestibule (E) with roof supported on two pillars with Late Egyptian foliate capitals and two square piers with papyrus capitals. Above is a frieze of falcons and a winged disk. In each of the niches on the right and left walls of the vestibule is a statue, a man and a woman, both in Egyptian dress.

Kom al-Shawqafah
Kom al-Shawqafah

On the far wall guarding the entrance to the next chamber are carved two bearded serpents wearing the pschent, encircling pinecones and caducei; above each is a medusa-headed shield. Above the door, the cornice contains a winged sun disk flanked by uraei. Immediately inside the Burial Chamber (F) to left and right are engaged statues in Roman military costume, that on the right of Sobek with a cloak and on the left Anubis with shield and sword. The chamber contains three rock-cut niches with false sarcophagi decorated with masks, ox-skulls and festoons. The walls of the niches are bas-reliefs of offering scenes with various deities, Anubis, Thoth, etc., portrayed in Greco-Egyptian style. Around this central chamber on three sides is a burial corridor lined with 91 niches each fitted to hold three bodies, many with the name and age of the deceased written in red paint. Beyond is a small chamber (G) containing three burial niches and to the left a passage leads to a series of four rooms (H), each with several niches for bodies.

Also on the site is a Hypogeum discovered in 1952 at ‘C1eopatra’s Beach’ and reconstructed here. It contains nearly 40 wall-paintings. There are various other sarcophagi and sculptures found in the area.

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