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Archaeologists say tunnel discovered under Egyptian temple may lead to Cleopatra’s tomb

written by Christian Edwards, CNN

Archaeologist Kathleen Martinez of the University of Santo Domingo has been searching for Cleopatra’s lost tomb for nearly two decades. Now she believes she has made a pivotal breakthrough.
Martinez and her team have discovered a 1,305-meter (4,281-foot) tunnel located 13 meters (43 feet) underground, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities recently announced.

Martinez told CNN, “Excavations have yielded three sanctuaries, a sacred lake, over 1,500 objects, busts, statues, gold flakes, and a vast collection of coins depicting Alexander the Great, Queen Cleopatra, and Ptolemy. A huge religious center was revealed.

Kathleen Martinez discovers a tunnel that could lead to a lost tomb. credit: Kathleen Martinez Nazar / Tapasilis Magna Project

“The most interesting discovery is a complex of tunnels and sunken structures leading to the Mediterranean Sea,” she added. Exploring these underwater structures is the next step in the search for the lost tombs of Egyptian queens, which began in 2005.

“My perseverance and obsession cannot be confused. I admire Cleopatra as a historical figure. She was a victim of propaganda by the Romans to distort her image.” Martinez said.

According to Martinez, “She was an educated woman, probably the first to study formally in the museums of Alexandria, the cultural center of her time,” she said, referring to Cleopatra as a student, linguist and Her mother said she respected him as a philosopher.

When her husband, the Roman general Mark Antony, died in her arms in 30 BC, Cleopatra immediately took her own life. That moment has been immortalized in art and literature, but more than 2,000 years later, little is known about the whereabouts of their remains.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and Richard Burton as Mark Antony.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and Richard Burton as Mark Antony. credit: 20th Century Fox

A series of clues led Martinez to suspect that Cleopatra’s tomb was located in the Temple of Osiris in the abandoned city of Taposiris Magna, on the northern coast of Egypt, where the Nile River meets the Mediterranean Sea.

The main of them was the name itself. According to Martinez, Cleopatra was thought to be “the human embodiment of the goddess Isis” in her time, as Antony was thought to be the embodiment of the god Oresis, husband of Isis.

Martinez suspects that Cleopatra chose to have her husband buried in the temple to reflect this myth. Of all her 20 temples around Alexandria that she studied, Martinez said, “No other site, structure or temple has as many conditions as Taposiris Her Temple of Magna.”

Excavations to date have unearthed more than 1,500 ancient artifacts.

Excavations to date have unearthed more than 1,500 ancient artifacts. credit: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism

In 2004, Martinez communicated her theory to Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass, who was Egypt’s minister of antiquities at the time. Her project was approved a year after her.

After years of searching, Martinez feels he’s getting closer.

Excavations so far have revealed that “the temple was dedicated to Isis,” which Martinez believes is another sign that the lost tomb is nearby. .

A search for lost tombs has taken Martinez beneath the Mediterranean Sea.

A search for lost tombs has taken Martinez beneath the Mediterranean Sea. credit: Kathleen Martinez Nazar / Tapasilis Magna Project

Currently, Martinez said he is “at the beginning of a new journey” of underwater excavation.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the coastline of Egypt has been ravaged by earthquakes for centuries, causing parts of Thamposiris Magna to collapse and sink beneath the waves.

Here’s what Martinez and her team are looking at next. “It’s too early to know where these tunnels will lead,” but she’s hopeful.

If the tunnel leads to Cleopatra, “it will be the most important discovery of this century,” she said.

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