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It is one of the ancient Egyptian sites you’ve probably never heard of before.
The catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa (Mound of Shards) is an ancient site located in Alexandria, Egypt. The catacombs are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.
Parts of the burial site date back as far as 215AD, when the Roman Empire’s control over ancient Egypt was at its peak.
Ever since their discovery, the catacombs had remained plagued by flooding problems for hundreds of years.
But now, thanks to an American government grant, the issues have been solved and their true beauty has been fully restored.
As reported by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the restoration of the Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs, discovered in the first decade of the 20th century have been finalized and are now open to the public.
The catacombs were carved in ancient times into rock on three separate levels. The ground level was heavily damaged by water that had broken into from the outside, originating from a nearby canal, as well as farmlands.
Sewage water made the problem worse.
The catacombs are home to mesmerizing mosaics, extraordinary sculptures and an unprecedented mixture of Egyptian and Greco-Roman architectural styles.
Kom El Shoqafa, meaning Mound of Shards, was given that name because the area used to house a mound of shards of terracotta which mostly consisted of jars and objects made of clay.
The restoration was only possible after the US Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the restoration with $5.7 million, which helped protect the site against water damage. Maintenance costs will also be covered by the funds secured by USAID.
“The antiquity underwent many restoration projects, the most important of which was in the mid-nineties, which was an ambitious project supervised by the Supreme Council of Antiquities,” explained Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani.
“But unfortunately, the water returned once again, and complaints rolled in from parliamentarians, tour guides, and archaeologists, which is what pushed us to act in cooperation with USAID.”
The catacombs were used as a burial chamber sometimes from the 2nd century to the 4th century.
They remained hidden from the world until they rediscovered in 1900 when a donkey accidentally fell into the access shaft.
To date, archeologists have discovered three sarcophagi inside the catacombs, as well as other human and animal remains which are thought to have been added later.
Archaeologists believe that the catacombs were only intended for a single family. It remains unclear as to why the site was later expanded in order to house other tombs.