An Egyptian journalist, Omar Le-Cheri, spend his holidays at Alexandria when he finds himself embarked in one of the most famous quests in archeology: the lost tomb of Alexander the Great! From mosques to cemeteries to the catacombs Omar leads the investigation, but he does not yet know that in the shadows a mysterious sect is ensuring that the tomb is not discovered ... A general public adventure, accompanied bya file by French archaeologist Jean-Yves Empereur to learn more about the history of this tomb and the research it sparks in Alexandria.
A new adventure by Omar Le-Chéri
You will surely be amazed to hear about a "new" adventure from Omar Le-Chéri, because it implies that it is not the first and there is a good chance that the name of this character will not appeal to you. say nothing… And yet Omar Le-Chéri is already well known… In Egypt! The character, whose name is inspired by that of the famous Egyptian actor Omar Sharif (Omar El-Sharif in Arabic), was born in 1991 under the pencil of the French Gilles Kraemer. His stories are published in the youth supplement of the French-language daily Egyptian progress, this as part of a program by the Egyptian Ministry of Education and the French Cultural Service to revitalize the teaching of French in schools. The adventures then take the form of a story, with an illustration and a lexicon. Herald of the Francophonie, Omar Le-Chéri is known to tens of thousands of Egyptian students learning the language of Voltaire and teachers who do not hesitate to use it in class, in the same way as Spanish teachers in France appropriate the character of Mafalda. Omar Le-Chéri, however, already took his first steps in France a few years ago, in 1997, by giving his name to an association chaired by the Alexandrine and former journalist of the World : Paul Balta. The Omar Le-Chéri association runs journalistic writing and blogging workshops for all young French-speaking people in the Mediterranean basin. In 2011, twenty years after the character was created, Damir Niksic (originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina) transposes the adventures of Omar into a comic book. The publication of the adventure is a little delayed because of the Egyptian revolution, but Omar Le-Chéri in a comic series nevertheless appears in this troubled context, from February to August, in the French-language weekly Al-Ahran Weekly. The same year, an exhibition of comic strips opens the Fête de la Francophonie at the National Gallery in Sarajevo.
In this adventure, journalist Omar Le-Chéri takes a few days of vacation in Alexandria when he learns with surprise that we are talking about the probable discovery of the tomb of the charismatic founder of the city: Alexander the Great! Arrived at the French Institute of Alexandria, he accidentally meets a German tourist, Klaus Meyer, himself in search of the famous lost tomb. So begins for the two men a frantic investigation that will lead them from the Nabi-Daniel mosque to the catacombs of Kôm el-Chougafa through the Latin cemetery of Terra Santa ... But the mysterious sect of Alexanders takes care to keep secret the location of the remains of the greatest of conquerors.
At first glance, with a cover design well below what is done today in France for adventure comics (in terms of dynamism, coloring ...), and a very classic black and white design which is reminiscent of that of Mafalda, this comic may not attract at first glance the average French reader who knows nothing about the character.
The story itself, which is about forty boards, is focused on the duo Omar / Klaus, two men with very different characters who are reminiscent of other famous comic duos such as Tintin and Haddock or again Blake and Mortimer. There are also many commonplaces of this type of mainstream adventure comic: a mysterious hidden treasure, an investigation in a picturesque town and mysterious individuals who try to prevent the two heroes from achieving their ends. We also find everything that makes these comics for the general public: no explicit violence, no vulgarity (apart from a few quotes from Cambronne…) and even less sexuality. So parents and grandparents can offer this comic without hassle and eyes closed, just as they would with the reporter to the powder puff they know best.
For the French reader, "The lost tomb of Alexander the Great" is a real invitation to discover Alexandria, its noisy streets, its notorious corruption (the traditional baksheesh ...), its history, its culinary specialties such as Molokheya and its great sites. historic sites such as catacombs, mosques, cemeteries or even the fort of Quait-Bey on the exact site where the 7th wonder of the ancient world was located: the famous lighthouse of Alexandria. In order not to get lost, the comic includes a map of Alexandria where the main sites are located. For the Egyptian reader, it is an opportunity to enrich his French language, to discover the riches (heritage and historical) of his country, but also to become aware of the many cultural collaborations between Egypt and France, through the Omar Le-Chéri association, through the French Institute in Alexandria, but also through the research of archaeologists such as Jean-Yves Empereur. Indeed, Jean-Yves Empereur, well known in France since very publicized, especially a few years ago during his exceptional underwater discoveries of the remains of the ancient lighthouse, is the author with Charis Tzala of a documentary file of around thirty pages dedicated to the tomb of Alexander.
In this particularly clear and synthetic file, we learn that there is not a tomb of Alexander, but certainly three: the first in Memphis carried out by Ptolemy I, the second in Alexandria carried out by the same Ptolemy who became king of Egypt, and a third finally produced by Ptolemy IV anxious to reunite his ancestors and the illustrious conqueror. Three tombs mentioned by the sources (Strabo, Pausanias, Zenobia, Sozomenos ...), but also many other speculations which place the tomb in Macedonia or in Syria ... The opportunity to come back to the internal struggles between the Macedonian generals to have them buried in their area of influence the mummy of the deified hero, the opportunity also to take an interest in the cult dedicated to him and the illustrious visitors who went on pilgrimage to his glass sarcophagus (Julius Caesar, Octave Augustus, Caligula who stole the armor, Septimius Severus, Caracalla…), but also the opportunity to focus on the disappearance of the tomb in the 4th century AD when the edict of Theodosius I prohibited pagan worship. Taking up various sites mentioned in the comic strip, Jean-Yves Empereur explains what made the success of the Nabi-Daniel mosque while demonstrating that it could not house the famous tomb, unlike the alabaster tomb in the Latin cemetery which, him , could possibly be one of the two tombs of Alexander in the Ptolemaic capital.
To conclude, "The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great" plunges us into one of the greatest archaeological quests in a very educational way. Between this picturesque description of Alexandria, this promotion of the Francophonie and this dossier by Jean-Yves Empereur who brilliantly popularizes the state of our knowledge on the subject, Omar Le-Chéri is positioned as a great figure in the promotion of Mediterranean culture. !
- The lost tomb of Alexander the Great
Screenplay: Gilles Kraemer
Drawing: Damir Niksic
File: Jean-Yves Empereur & Charis Tzala