- Title: EGYPT: Egyptian archaeologists believe new find may lead to Cleopatra.
- Date: 9th May 2010
- Summary: ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT (MAY 8, 2010) (REUTERS) TEMPLE OF TAPOSIRIS MAGNA VARIOUS OF WORKERS EXCAVATING RECENTLY COLUMNED ENTRANCE TO TEMPLE (4 SHOTS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) SECRETARY-GENERAL OF EGYPT'S SUPREME COUNCIL OF ANTIQUITIES, DR. ZAHI HAWASS, SAYING: "The discovery of the entrance of the temple is very important, it can show that this temple was built exactly in the Pharaohnic style, and outside we should have other stands for sphinxes, that's really important discoveries in search of the beautiful, magical Queen, Queen Cleopatra." RECENTLY DISCOVERED PTOLEMAIC STATUE (SOUNDBITE) (English) SECRETARY-GENERAL OF EGYPT'S SUPREME COUNCIL OF ANTIQUITIES, DR. ZAHI HAWASS, SAYING: "We found a beautiful statue, maybe it's one of the most beautiful statues that's found, dated to the Greek period. The statue is headless, it lost the head, because in the Byzantine period most of the statues was destructed. Then all of the royal statues that we found in our excavation are without a head. But that statue is made on the Pharaohnic style completely. It's oversized and I believe that it belongs to Ptolemeous the fourth, the King who established this temple of Taposiris Magna." VARIOUS OF STATUE (2 SHOTS) HAWASS DISPLAYING OTHER RECENTLY FOUND ARTEFACTS ON TABLE
- Embargoed: 24th May 2010 13:00
- Location: Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: History,Science / Technology
- Reuters ID: LVAES6U819F86PVHAPV4BSS4F7XZ
- Story Text: Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a columned entrance once lined with sphinxes to a temple in Alexandria they believe may contain the remains of Queen Cleopatra, and have begun excavating a chamber where she and her lover Mark Antony may be entombed.
Archaeologists in Egypt searching for the burial place of Queen Cleopatra announced on Saturday (May 8) that they have uncovered further proof it may be located in a hilltop temple near Alexandria.
The team that has been excavating Taposiris Magna for the last four years said that they had found the temple's columned entrance, once lined with Sphinxes -- an indication that it was an important sacred site in Ptolemaic times.
It was also announced that they have begun to excavate a chamber complex beneath the temple, which is dedicated to the Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris, where they hope to find the tomb of Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony.
Historians believe, based on the Roman writer Plutarch, that Antony and Cleopatra were buried together.
The head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said that the discovery proves that the temple, once thought by historians never to have been completed, was an important Pharaohnic site.
"The discovery of the entrance of the temple is very important, it can show that this temple was built exactly in the Pharaohnic style, and outside we should have other stands for sphinxes, that's really important discoveries in search of the beautiful, magical Queen, Queen Cleopatra," said Dr. Zahi Hawass.
Earlier this week the joint Dominican Egyptian team excavating the site also announced the discovery of a black granite statue that Hawass believes is of King Ptolemy IV.
"We found a beautiful statue, maybe its one of the most beautiful statues that's found, dated to the Greek period. The statue is headless, it lost the head, because in the Byzantine period most of the statues was destructed. Then all of the royal statues that we found in our excavation are without a head. But that statue is made on the Pharaohnic style completely. It's oversized and I believe that it belongs to Ptolemeous (sic) the fourth, the King who established this temple of Taposiris Magna," he said.
The team also unveiled a number of smaller artefacts including bronze stamps, a royal Cartouche belonging to King Ptolemy IV and other statue fragments.
Taken together with the site's other features, such as two cemetaries and a chapel to the goddess Isis, Dominican Archeologist Kathleen Martinez, says there is now considerable evidence the site may contain the tomb of Cleopatra and Antony.
Martinez says that the temple's location far from the reach of the Romans who were Cleopatra's mortal enemies, as well the fact that it was indentified with Isis and Osiris, whom Cleopatra and Antony saw themselves as the earthly incarnations of, make it an ideal location for her last resting place.
It was crucial, she says, that Cleopatra preserve her body and that of Antony for their journey to the afterlife, far from the reach of the Romans who would have destroyed their remains.
Archaeologists had previously overlooked the temple -- which was built by Ptolemy II around 300 BC -- focusing instead on a burial site in Alexandria submerged below the sea in an 8th century earthquake.
The team has now begun excavating the tunnel complex beneath the temple walls.
"This is one of my main goals is to this shaft, and we have a special wincher machine we designed, and we are going down thirty five meters just since last week. And we are expecting there to have important news. It's in the end, of the West. You know the West is the location for the Underworld, for the afterlife, so following the symbolism of Ancient Egyptians I think we have developed very important theory and we have very important discoveries," she says.
Martinez says the hidden chambers beneath Taposiris Magna, which have been located using radar, makes it unique among ancient Egyptian temples.
So far eight such chambers have been found beneath the temple walls.
The hunt for Cleopatra gained momentum last year when Martinez and her team discovered a cemetery near the temple containing gilded mummies, indicating the burial of royals around the temple.
They also found 22 bronze coins inscribed with Cleopatra's name, an alabaster mask with a cleft chin resembling the face of Antony, and the tunnel complex.
As Egypt's head archaeologist headed into the shaft leading to the tunnels today, the winch carrying him became entangled, and there were some nervous moments as the rest of his team struggled to pull him up.
If Domincan archaeologist Martinez and her team find bodies beneath the rock, they say they will look for cartouches bearing the name of Cleopatra or a crown to indicate the identity of any mummy.
The body of Antony, Martinez said, may still be adorned in the former general's Roman uniform.
Cleopatra, Egypt's last Queen, allegedly killed herself by the sting of a wasp rather than face captivity after she and her Roman lover were defeated by Octavian at Actium.
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