(ORDO NEWS) — This find would change what we know about the most famous Egyptian queen.
There couldn’t be a better moment. Egyptologists, celebrating the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb, have made a new archaeological discovery.
Archaeologists have discovered a tunnel under the temple of Taposiris Magna, west of the ancient city of Alexandria, which they speculate could lead to the tomb of Queen Cleopatra.
Of course, this still needs to be verified, but such a discovery will require a rewrite of everything that we know about the most famous Egyptian queen.
According to the ancient Greek writer Plutarch, who wrote a biography of Cleopatra’s husband, the Roman general Mark Antony, both Antony and Cleopatra were buried inside Cleopatra’s mausoleum.
According to Plutarch’s records, on the day that Augustus and his Roman troops entered Egypt and captured Alexandria, Antony fell by his sword, died in the arms of Cleopatra, and was then buried in a mausoleum.
Two weeks later, Cleopatra went to the mausoleum and committed suicide in a hitherto unknown way. Then she, too, was buried in the mausoleum.
In the days that followed, Antony’s son Mark Antony Antillus and Cleopatra’s son Ptolemy XV Caesar (also known as Caesarion, “Little Caesar”) were killed by Roman troops, and two young men may also have been buried there.
If the mausoleum of Cleopatra has not yet disappeared under the waves of the Mediterranean along with most of the Hellenistic city of Alexandria and is one day found, it will be an almost unprecedented archaeological discovery.
Why this discovery could rewrite history
While the tombs of many famous historical rulers still stand, such as the mausoleum of Augustus, Antony and Cleopatra’s mortal enemy in Rome, their contents were looted and lost centuries ago.
One notable exception is the tomb of Alexander’s father, Philip II of Macedon, discovered in Vergina in the late 1970s. The tomb was found intact, and this allowed many years of scientific research into its contents.
If Cleopatra’s tomb were discovered and found intact, then that would also allow archaeologists to learn about the life and death of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
Much of our knowledge of Cleopatra and her reign comes from ancient Greek and Roman literary sources written after her death.
Scholars do not have much evidence that reveals the Egyptian view of Cleopatra, but what we already have gives us a very different idea of her.
To date, not a single tomb of another ruler of the Ptolemaic era has been found. They were all reportedly located in the palace quarter of Alexandria and are believed to be under water along with the rest of that part of the city.
The architecture and material content of the tomb itself could occupy historians for decades and provide an unprecedented amount of information about the Ptolemaic royal cult and the fusion of Macedonian and Egyptian culture.
But if Cleopatra’s remains were there too, they could tell us a lot more, including the cause of her death, her appearance, and even answer the thorny question about her race.
While the discovery of Cleopatra’s tomb would be invaluable to Egyptologists and other scholars, is it fair to deny the queen the peace and solitude she did not receive in her lifetime?
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