Friday, April 17, 2009

Has ground-penetrating radar revealed the location of Cleopatra's tomb?

I read this article with excitement but am a little skeptical because of the site's distance from the location of Cleopatra's palace near the harbor in Alexandria. Ancient sources mention that Octavian rushed to the tomb, where Cleopatra had imprisoned herself when Octavian's forces approached Alexandria, after reading a missive from her alluding to her death, that was sent to Octavian shortly before Cleopatra committed suicide.

One of the programs I watched that was produced by the Discovery Channel entitled "The Mysterious Death of Cleopatra" mentioned that the tomb and palace were only about 20 minutes apart. I realize the Discovery Channel is not the ultimate reference in such matters but the distance between the palace where Octavian was staying and the tomb were key to the theories being discussed in the presentation. However, I must admit that finding a bust of Cleopatra and coinage with her image is pretty convincing. I'll try to remember to ask Dr. Hawass when I attend the Archaeology Channel International Film Festival right here in Eugene, Oregon next month.

An archaeological team may be closing in on the suspected tomb of Cleopatra thanks to the use of modern radar techniques able to "see" underground.

A CNN report, quoting a statement by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the team has been working for three years at a site in the temple of Taposiris Magna and its surrounding area, west of Alexandria


The radar survey of the site was completed in March, said the Council statement, which also added that the radar survey had uncovered three possible site locations of a royal nature.

"The discovery of this cemetery indicates that an important person, likely of royal status, could be buried inside the temple. It was common for officials and other high-status individuals in Egypt to construct their tombs close to those of their rulers throughout the Pharaonic period," outlined the statement.

A number of important discoveries have already been made at the site, including an alabaster bust of the famous Cleopatra and a number of coins bearing her image.

"Among the most interesting finds is a unique mask depicting a man with a cleft chin. The face bears some similarity to known portraits of Mark Antony himself," said Council Secretary-General Zahi Hawass. - More: The Tech Herald

[Image: Fresco depicting Cleopatra meeting the god of the Underworld Roman 1st century CE, Museo Archaeologico di Napoli, Naples, Italy. Photo by Mary Harrsch]
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