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Excitement Builds Around Finding Tomb of Antony and Cleopatra

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Several sensational claims have emerged recently stating that archaeologists have finally uncovered the long lost tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Others say experts are practically at the door of the famous couple’s final resting place. Unfortunately, neither statement seems to be true. While there’s a chance that archaeologists may be searching in the right area, Antony and Cleopatra’s tomb has not been discovered yet.

Excitement about Cleopatra and Antony’s Long Lost Tomb

Many news reports assert the well-known Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass became excited about the imminent discovery of the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony during a recent lecture in Palermo, Italy. They have attributed the following statements to him:

“The long-lost tomb of Antony and Cleopatra will be eventually uncovered. The burial site has been finally estimated to be in the region of Taposiris Magna, 30 kilometers away from Alexandria. I hope to find the tomb of Antony and Cleopatra soon. I do believe that they are buried in the same tomb. We are so close to discover the accurate location of the tomb; we are on the right way. We know where exactly we have to dig.”

Tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, illuminated manuscript of Boccaccio, miniature by the Boucicaut master, 1409 AD. (Public Domain)

Tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, illuminated manuscript of Boccaccio, miniature by the Boucicaut master, 1409 AD. ( Public Domain )

Contradictions

Sounds amazing, no? Especially the imminence of the find hinted at by that last line. But unfortunately, the claims are said to be untrue. Live Science received a contradictory message in their own correspondence with Hawass. He told them, “This is completely false information; [there is] nothing found at all about the tomb.”

Dr. Zahi Hawass at the British Museum - Speaking at the Reception. (Ann Wuyts/ CC BY 2.0 )

It seems the false news has taken Hawass’ discussion of Kathleen Martinez’s work with her team at Taposiris Magna out of context. While Hawass said he did mention Martinez’s idea and excavations underway at the site, Live Science asserts he “never said that archaeologists are close to finding the tomb.”

Pylons of the Temple of Osiris, Abu Sir (Taposiris magna), Egypt. (Roland Unger/CC BY SA 3.0)

Pylons of the Temple of Osiris, Abu Sir (Taposiris magna), Egypt. (Roland Unger/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

What Has Been Found at Taposiris Magna?

Kathleen Martinez is the head of the Dominican mission at Taposiris Magna. Martinez's idea of Cleopatra and Antony’s tomb being located in Taposiris Magna has been floating around for years now and have garnered much attention, both for the archaeologist and the site.

Taposiris Magna is located 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Alexandria and excavations began there in 1998. Several discoveries have been made over the years: sections of the city, a huge Greco-Roman necropolis, Egyptian, Byzantine, and Roman artifacts such as coins, and a large headless granite statue possibly depicting Ptolemy IV have all been unearthed. Dr. Hawass has also been accredited with having led an expedition which discovered 27 tombs at the site.

The Hidden Location of Cleopatra and Antony’s Tomb?

As previously reported , one of the interesting elements about the burials is that “The mummies of people who were buried there had their faces turned towards the temple.” Archaeologists saw this as a clue that they may be facing a more important tomb inside the temple dedicated to Isis and Osiris – possibly even one of a significant royal person. Perhaps there are even two significant people, if Plutarch's assertion is true that Octavian allowed the couple to be buried together after they committed suicide in 30 BC .

North View of Taposiris Magna’s Osiris Temple, the site where Cleopatra and Antony’s tomb may be located. (CC BY SA 3.0)

North View of Taposiris Magna’s Osiris Temple, the site where Cleopatra and Antony’s tomb may be located . ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

Martinez made the association between the site and the lost tomb of Antony and Cleopatra by combining some of the following pieces of evidence: a Cleopatra bust, 22 coins with her image, amulets, a headless statue dating to Cleopatra's reign, and a mask depicting a man with a cleft chin – who some suspect is Mark Antony. As Martinez has said :

 “The strong evidence that Taposiris Magna was a crucial site to Cleopatra is represented through the many depictions of the queen, among them the statues of Isis, coins and inscribed stelae amongst other objects.”

Most tantalizing is the discovery of a 34 meter (111.5 ft.) deep shaft, which doesn’t end with a chamber. This suggests the existence of another shaft, one which perhaps hides a very important tomb.

One of the treasures discovered at Taposiris Magna by Dr. Kathleen Martinez. ( YouTube Screenshot)

One of the treasures discovered at Taposiris Magna by Dr. Kathleen Martinez. ( YouTube Screenshot )

Top Image: NYC - Bloomingdale's 2009 Holiday Window - Dynamic Duos - Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Source: Wally Gobetz/ CC BY NC ND 2.0

By Alicia McDermott

Comments

What constitutes and "english" sounding name? What a racist and narrow minded statement. No one should do the same as you.

Years and years ago, I saw a special on a Fox network in which he "opened" a shaft of some sort and it was supposed to be live TV. My husband sat right there beside me, watching intently, then proceeded to pick apart every move Hawass made, including that someone had been in the chamber before the special aired and had prepped it for Hawass' "discovery." That was the first time anyone ever told me that Muslims can lie to any non-Muslim and it is not a sin for them to do so. I have not trusted anyone with a non-English sounding name since and every American like me should do the same. Anyone who trusts a word he says is an idiot.

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