For centuries, Cleopatra’s resting location has been a mystery for historians and archaeologists. They now might be closer than ever to find her.
Cleopatra was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Ancient Egypt. Along with Nefertiti, she is perhaps the most important woman of Egyptian culture, and there are still many mysteries about where her remains lie. To date, the exact site where Cleopatra’s tomb lies is unknown, But archaeologists may be close to finding out its location.
Kathleen Martinez is an archaeologist at the University of Santo Domingo, who, in 2004, contacted Zahi Hawass, former minister of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and a leading authority on Egyptology. Martinez shared her concern with Hawass about finding Cleopatra’s tomb, as she had clues that pointed to the temple of Osiris.
[Photo: City of Taposiris Magna. Toño Labra]
At that time, Hawass accepted the project, and over the years, Martínez discovered more clues in the excavations. The most recent is a religious center with three sanctuaries and a sacred lake. The archaeologist explains that more than 1,500 objects were found, including busts, statues, gold pieces, and a huge collection of coins representing Alexander the Great, Queen Cleopatra, and the Ptolemies.
Throughout his career, Martinez has expressed his admiration for Cleopatra, an empowered woman who suffered the “propaganda of the Romans, intending to distort her image.” The last ruler of her dynasty was a cultured woman, perhaps the first to study formally at the Museum of Alexandria, the cultural center of her time.
Her image remains to this day very important to understand the history of Egypt and Rome; however, there is still much mystery surrounding Cleopatra, and little is known about the place where she rests.
A tunnel that connects to the Mediterranean
Martinez believes she is close to finding Cleopatra’s remains, as his research found a 1,305-meter tunnel that is located 13 meters underground and which archaeologists say is an impressive architectural design that they called a “miracle of engineering.” The tunnel complex connects with the Mediterranean Sea, so the next stage is to begin underwater excavations.
[Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities]
The archaeologist believes Cleopatra may be buried in the temple of Osiris in the city of Taposiris Magna, on Egypt’s northern coast, where the Nile River meets the Mediterranean. But the next step in following the clues involves underwater excavations, as according to Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Egyptian coast has been battered by earthquakes over the centuries, which could have caused the tunnels to now connect to regions under the sea of the city of Taposiris.
For now, it is too early to conclude that the tunnels will lead archaeologists to discover where Cleopatra’s remains are, but Martinez remains hopeful and believes that if true, it would be the discovery of the century.
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera