Ugarit & Theft of Tomb

CODEX Entry 3203: Ugarit & Theft of Tomb


Alexander the Great’s elaborate funeral carriage, was designed and built over 2 years, as a gold and jewel adorned mobile temple. It’s weight required 64 working horses to pull it¹, and a large team of road repairers to get over many sections of worn and narrow roads. While making its way slowly back to Macedon under the instructions of General Perdiccas, regent to Alexander’s baby son, Ptolemy was preparing secret plans to fulfil both Alexander’s dying wish, to be buried at Siwa, and securing the prestige of his mausoleum within his jurisdiction in Egypt.


With the collusion of General Arrhidaeus, Alexander’s half brother, who was in charge of the procession, a team of mercenaries easily overwhelmed the military guards. Ptolemy used a team of Persian mercenaries so that, in the event the abduction failed, his hands were clean. They turned the mobile tomb back south, but with news of the theft, a detachment of light Macedonian cavalry rapidly took chase, catching up with the slow moving procession outside the ancient port of Ugarit. While the cavalry was kept at bay by hundreds of heavily-armed Persian mercenaries, Ptolemy personally led a diversionary manoeuvre to draw away the Macedonian cavalry². Diodorus’ account of this element of the story must be ignored as his history was sponsored by Ptolemy, who wished to depict this not as a daredevil hijack, but as a stately procession. The corpse eventually reached Egypt, and there is much debate among historians as to whether the corpse was buried in Alexandria, Siwa, Memphis³ or even later stolen and moved to another location, including suggestions it ended up in Venice in the hands of the Roman Catholic church. Ptolemy’s capture of the temple and corpse triggered the First War of the Successors.




¹ Diodorus XVIII

² Andrew Michael Chugg, The Quest for the Tomb of Alexander the Great:

³ Pausanius