Archaeologists in Egypt claim to have uncovered a previously unknown ancient tunnel, and there is speculation that this passageway may eventually lead to the long-lost tomb of Queen Cleopatra.
Before the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 B.C., Cleopatra served as the country’s final monarch.
An Egyptian Dominican archeological mission from the University of San Domingo discovered the roughly 4,300-foot tunnel approximately 40 feet below the surface of the ground at the ruins of the Temple of Taposiris Magna near Alexandria, Egypt, last week, according to an announcement made by Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
There has been some speculation that the tunnel may lead to the last resting place of Queen Cleopatra, who was Egypt’s last monarch before the Romans took control of the region and lived between the years 69 and 30 B.C.
It is “noteworthy,” according to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, as archeologists at the site had previously discovered objects with the picture and name of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great, in addition to statues of the goddess Isis. These discoveries were made in the past.
“Her royal dynasty had built their tombs in their capital city, Alexandria,” said Roland Enmarch, a senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool.
“Ancient writers tell us that Cleopatra actually went and took shelter in her [already constructed] tomb when the Romans captured Alexandria,” said Enmarch. “And it was probably there that she famously committed suicide to avoid being paraded in chains on the streets of Rome in Octavian’s triumph,” he continued.
During the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egypt’s history, Taposiris Magna was described as an “important religious site,” and Enmarch referred to the newly discovered tunnel as a “fascinating discovery.”
Enmarch continued, “If the famed queen Cleopatra were to be buried at Taposiris Magna, it would be exciting, but it would also be somewhat surprising.”
According to Egyptology specialist Eleanor Dobson, “If Cleopatra’s tomb is indeed there, this would be a discovery on a par with or probably even exceeding that of Tutankhamun in 1922.”
“There are so few photographs of Cleopatra from her own time, that to gaze upon her remains, to witness this famous queen, would utterly dominate the media,” he remarked.
Dobson admitted that there are no “solid suggestions” as to where Cleopatra is buried, but he claimed that eventually identifying her last resting place would be “sensational.”
Cleopatra’s burial location has been a mystery for centuries. The announcement by renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass that he might find the tomb near Taposiris Magna, an Osiris temple west of Alexandria, Egypt, was the subject of reports in 2008 and 2009.
Ten Egyptian noblemen’s mummies were discovered during Kathleen Martnez’s excavations in 27 different tombs, along with coinage featuring Cleopatra and engravings of the two sharing a kiss. The tomb itself has so far eluded researchers, but work on the temple continues, and in 2011 ground-penetrating radar was used to find further places below ground.
According to comments made by Zahi Hawass at a conference at the University of Palermo in January 2019, there was disagreement over the potential that the tombs will soon be discovered.
In an article published in the newspaper Al-Ahram, the Egyptologist denied the reports, stating that Kathleen Martnez, not he, was the one who had proposed the theory that the tombs were in Taposiris Magna.
He added that he did not accept Martnez’s theory because “the Egyptians never buried inside a temple,” as “the temples were for worshipping, and this was for the goddess Isis. It is therefore unlikely that Cleopatra was buried there.”
However, this latest discovery has inspired hope among some archeologists.