A tunnel discovered under an Egyptian temple could lead to the tomb of Cleopatra, according to an archaeologist

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Written by Christian Edwards, CNN

Kathleen Martinez, an archaeologist at the University of Santo Domingo, is looking for the lost tomb of Cleopatra For almost 20 years. Now she believes she has made a breakthrough.
Martinez and his team discovered a 1,305-meter (4,281-foot) tunnel, located 13 meters (43 feet) underground, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities recently announcement – an expert in architectural design called an “engineering miracle”.

“Excavations have revealed a huge religious center with three shrines, a sacred lake, more than 1,500 objects, busts, statues, gold coins, a huge collection of coins depicting Alexander the Great, Queen Cleopatra and the Ptolemies,” Martinez told CNN.

Kathleen Martinez has discovered a tunnel that could lead to the Lost Tomb. Credit: Kathleen Martinez-Nazar/Taposiris Magna Project

“The most interesting find is the complex of tunnels leading to the Mediterranean Sea and the sunken structures,” she added. Exploring these underwater structures will be the next step in his search for the lost tomb of the Egyptian queen – a journey that began in 2005.

“My perseverance cannot be confused with obsession. I admire Cleopatra as a historical figure. She fell victim to Roman propaganda, aimed at distorting her image,” Martinez said.

“She was an educated woman, probably the first to have formally studied at the Museum of Alexandria, the cultural center of her time,” according to Martinez, who said she admired Cleopatra as a student, linguist, mother and philosopher.

When her husband, Roman general Mark Antony, died in her arms in 30 BCE, Cleopatra killed herself shortly after by letting an asp bite her, according to popular belief. The moment has been immortalized in art and literature – but, more than two millennia later, little is known about where their remains rest.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and Richard Burton as Mark Antony.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and Richard Burton as Mark Antony. Credit: twentieth century fox

A series of clues led Martinez to believe that Cleopatra’s tomb could be located in the Temple of Osiris in the ruined city of Taposiris Magna on the northern coast of Egypt, where the Nile meets the Mediterranean.

Chief among them was the name itself. According to Martinez, Cleopatra was considered in her time as “the human incarnation of the goddess Isis”, as Antoine was considered as that of the god Orisis, the husband of Isis.

Martinez thinks Cleopatra may have chosen to bury her husband in the temple to reflect this myth. Of all the 20 temples around Alexandria that she studied, Martinez said, “no other place, structure, or temple combines as many conditions as the Temple of Taposiris Magna.”

So far, excavations have unearthed more than 1,500 ancient artifacts.

So far, excavations have unearthed more than 1,500 ancient artifacts. Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism

In 2004, Martinez presented his theory to Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist who was then Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Affairs. His project was approved a year later.

And after years of searching, Martinez feels she’s getting closer.

Excavations so far have revealed that “the temple was dedicated to Isis” – which Martinez says is another sign that the lost tomb is nearby – as well as the tunnels under the sea.

The search for the lost tomb led Martinez under the Mediterranean Sea.

The search for the lost tomb led Martinez under the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Kathleen Martinez-Nazar/Taposiris Magna Project

Now, Martinez said, she is at the “beginning of a new journey” – underwater excavations.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Egypt’s coastline has been rocked by earthquakes over the centuries, causing parts of Tamposiris Magna to collapse and collapse under the waves.

This is where Martinez and his team are looking next. Even though it’s “too early to know where these tunnels lead,” she remains hopeful.

If the tunnels lead to Cleopatra, “it will be the most important discovery of the century,” she said.

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