Alexander's tomb dug up in video shops

Alexander the Great's final resting place: you've seen the photographs; you've read the news articles; now rent the action video. The "discovery" last week of the lost tomb of Alexander in a remote Egyptian oasis by a controversial Greek archaeolo gist was the stuff movies are made of. Maybe too much so.

According to the British screenwriter Jesse Graham, the purported find of the resting-place of the Macedonian warrior-king in Siwa by Liana Souvaltzi mirrors an Indiana Jones-style adventure film that he wrote in 1987.

Out of Time was filmed in Siwa and other locations in Egypt and Greece in 1988 and released direct to video in1992. The central plot is the discovery of Alexander's tomb, not in Alexandria, where historical evidence had always placed it, but in Siwa, 330miles away in the desert.

"My brief was to write an Indiana Jones-style action thriller set in Greece and in Egypt with the lost treasure of Alexander the Great as the prize everyone is chasing,'' Mr Graham said from his Los Angeles home. "I decided to put the tomb in Siwa, but it was a writer's notion, not an archaeological basis. In 2,300 years of scholarly work, you will not find anywhere the indication that Alexander is buried in Siwa until I wrote the script. While I would be flattered to believe I had beaten every expert in the world in predicting where Alexander's mortal remains might be found, I find it very suspicious.''

Greek experts who visited the Siwa excavations also found Ms Souvaltzi's discovery suspicious. The Greek Culture Minister, Thanos Mikroutsikos, said on Monday that the experts had seen nothing to indicate that Alexander was buried there.

He said they asked Ms Souvaltzi to present any other evidence she may have "to protect herself and archaeology".

Ms Souvaltzi, who last week said she relied more on her "instinct and intuition" in selecting the site for excavation, insists that she has uncovered Alexander's tomb and will prove it once and for all when excavations resume after the Muslim Ramadan festival. The Egyptian government said yesterday it would send a team of experts within a week.

No matter what the outcome, Anwar Kawadri, the producer-director of Out of Time is thrilled: "Its wonderful,'' he said in London yesterday. "I'm very proud that our predictions have come true. Maybe it's time we gave this film, which is an intellectual adventure, the theatrical release it deserves."

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