Archaeologists have discovered a rock tunnel beneath the ancient Egyptian temple of Taposiris Magna, which may lead to the tomb of Cleopatra, the last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt between 51-30 BC.
The tunnel is 1,300 meters long and 13 meters deep, according to Ancient Origins.
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced the discovery, describing the tunnel as “a marvel” similar in many ways to the Eupalinos Tunnel on the Greek island of Samos.
How was the discovery of the tunnel leading to Cleopatra’s tomb?
The tunnel was discovered by archaeologist Kathleen Martinez of the University of Santo Domingo, who has long been involved in Cleopatra research.
Martinez first went to Egypt in search of Cleopatra’s tomb about 20 years ago, convinced that Taposiris Magna was the perfect place. After hundreds of ignored emails, Martinez managed to get a meeting in Cairo with the famous archaeologist Zahi Hawass, then the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, nicknamed the “Indiana Jones of the Pharaohs”. And he convinced him to give him two months to excavate the site.
Work has been ongoing since 2004, but the new discovery is the most compelling evidence that Martinez is on the right track.
“It’s the perfect place for Cleopatra’s tomb,” Martinez told Heritage Key: “If there’s a 1 percent chance that the last queen of Egypt is buried there, it’s my duty to look for it. If we discover the tomb, it will be the most important discovery of the 21st century. If we do not discover the tomb, we will still have made great discoveries here, inside and outside the temple.”
Evidence for the theory that “a royal tomb was built in the area”
Excavations to date have revealed a mummy cemetery in front of the temple, supporting Martinez’s theory that a royal tomb was built in the area.
In addition to the tunnel, the latest discovery includes two alabaster statues from the Ptolemaic period, one of which appears to be a sphinx, as well as pottery vessels and containers.
Cleopatra died by suicide after her husband, the Roman general Marc Antony, also committed suicide.