Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered an ancient hidden tunnel beneath a temple that they hope leads to the long-lost tomb of Queen Cleopatra.

The massive tunnel was discovered by an Egyptian-Dominican archaeological research team from the University of Santo Domingo in the area of the Temple of Tapozeris Magna, just west of Alexandria, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced last week.

Located about 40 feet below ground, the tunnel is about 6.5 feet high from ceiling to floor and runs for nearly a mile long at 4,281 feet, according to Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Archaeology.

The tunnel is about 6.5 feet high from ceiling to floor and runs for nearly a mile long at 4,281 feet.
The tunnel is about 6.5 feet high from ceiling to floor and runs for nearly a mile long at 4,281 feet.

A preliminary study of the tunnel suggests that it's similar in construction to the Jubilinos tunnel in Greece, but longer.fv
A preliminary study of the tunnel suggests that it’s similar in construction to the Jubilinos tunnel in Greece, but longer.

A preliminary study of the tunnel suggests that it’s similar in construction to the Jubilinos tunnel in Greece, but longer.

Previous excavations at the temple site led to the discovery of coins bearing the names of both Queen Cleopatra and Alexander the Great as well as statues of the Egyptian goddess Isis, according to the ministry’s post.

Some believe that the tunnel could lead to the undiscovered tomb of Cleopatra, who lived between 69 B.C. and 30 B.C. and was the final ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt before the Roman Empire took over.

“Searches for her burial place over time have largely rested upon accounts in Classical sources, e.g. Plutarch, Cassius Dio, Claire Gilmour, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology and archaeology at the University of Bristol, told Newsweek.

“And modern investigations have mostly veered between Alexandria as the capital at the time of Cleopatra VII (including underwater surveys as some of the city has become submerged) and Taposiris Magna, which could have been chosen for its links with the goddess Isis, with whom Cleopatra closely associated herself,” said Gilmour.

Cleopatra is perhaps best known for her ill-fated romance with Roman politician and general Mark Antony, the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Antony and Cleopatra.”

A lost tunnel that may lead to an ancient Egyptian tomb of Cleopatra was discovered by an Egyptian-Dominican archaeological research team.
A lost tunnel that may lead to an ancient Egyptian tomb of Cleopatra was discovered by an Egyptian-Dominican archaeological research team.

Cleopatra, who lived between 69 B.C. and 30 B.C., was the final ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt before the Roman Empire took over.
Cleopatra, who lived between 69 B.C. and 30 B.C., was the final ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt before the Roman Empire took over.

She is infamously believed to have committed suicide in Alexandria to avoid being paraded through Rome as a war prize.

Roland Enmarch, a senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, told Newsweek that the Taposiris Magna where the tunnel was discovered was an important religious site, founded in the 3rd century BC about 30 miles west of Alexandria.

“The huge subterranean tunnel recently announced is a fascinating discovery, though its precise function has still to be clarified,” Enmarch told the magazine. “It would be exciting, but also rather surprising, if the famous queen Cleopatra were buried at Taposiris Magna.”

Cleopatra is perhaps best known for her with Roman politician and general Mark Antony.
Cleopatra is perhaps best known for her with Roman politician and general Mark Antony.
Ministry of Tourism and Antiquita

Enmarch said that Cleopatra’s family had already built their tombs in Alexandria and she was likely hiding there when she took her own life.

“The ancient sources also tell us that she asked to be buried beside Mark Anthony and that Octavian granted her wish,” Enmarch said. The implication is that they were buried in the tomb Cleopatra had constructed for them in Alexandria.”



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