The Art Archive/Bibliothèque des Arts Décoratifs Paris/Dagli Orti

Mariette uncovered “stelae of the temple of Nectanebo” near the Serapeum, as shown in the 19-century engraving. Small temples and chapels had been erected during Ptolemaic times (after Alexander’s death in 323 B.C.) directly above the rock-hewn burial chambers of the Serapeum. The underground complex of corridors and niches originally contained the mummified remains of dozens of Apis bulls, which were buried in massive stone sarcophagi weighing between 65 and 80 tons. Only one bull was venerated at a time, so burials occurred about every 14 years.