Hunt for Cleopatra’s lost tomb may be over as ‘sensational gilded burial’ discovered at Egyptian ‘city of the dead’
ARCHAEOLOGISTS are a step closer to discovering the long-lost tomb of Cleopatra after a “sensational” find at an ancient temple in Egypt.
Two high-status mummies discovered at Taposiris Magna near the city of Alexandria hint the queen could have been buried there following her tragic suicide 2,000 years ago.
Cleopatra is one of history’s most famous female rulers but archaeologists have never found her tomb[/caption]
Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt, is one of history’s most famous female rulers, but her final resting place remains an unsolved mystery.
Some experts believe the beautiful seductress was buried in Alexandria, where she was born and ruled for most of her life.
Others suggest she was laid to rest at the ancient site of Taposiris Magna.
Sitting 30 miles from Alexandria, the temple’s surrounding city of the same name was a prominent port town during Cleopatra’s time.
Now a new find at the temple, thought to house dozens of ancient burials, may hint her long-lost tomb is located there after all, The Guardian reports.
A pair of mummies believed to have been high-status individuals who lived at the time of the fabled queen were discovered by archaeologists.
The discovery has been described as “sensational” because it shows the importance of the necropolis, or “city of the dead”, at Taposiris.
It was filmed as part of a new Channel 5 documentary, The Hunt for Cleopatra’s Tomb, to be screened on Thursday.
A brief history of Ancient Egypt
Here’s everything you need to know…
- The Ancient Egyptians were an advanced civilisation who at one point owned a huge portion of the globe
- The civilisation began about 5,000 years ago when ancient humans began building villages along the River Nile
- It lasted for about 3,000 years and saw the building of complex cities centuries ahead of their time – as well as the famous Great Pyramids
- The Ancient Egyptians were experts at farming and construction
- They invented a solar calendar, and one of the world’s earliest writing systems: The hieroglyph
- The Egyptians were ruled by kings and queens called pharaohs
- Religion and the afterlife were a huge part of Ancient Egyptian culture. They had over 2,000 gods
- Pharaohs built huge elaborate tombs to be buried in, some of which were pyramids – at the time among the largest buildings in the world
- The Egyptians believed in life after death, and important people’s corpses were mummified to preserve their bodies for the afterlife
- The Ancient Egytpian empire fell due to a mix of factors, including wars with other empires and a 100-year period of drought and starvation
“Although now covered in dust from 2,000 years underground, at the time these mummies would have been spectacular,” said Dr Glenn Godenho, an Egypt at Liverpool University, who is presenting the documentary.
Due to water damage, the mummies are in poor condition, but evidence suggests they were once completely covered with gold leaf.
This luxury was typically reserved for important members of society.
“To be covered in gold leaf shows they … would have been … important members of society,” Dr Godenho said.
Some archaeologists believe Cleopatra was laid to rest at the ancient temple of Taposiris Magna[/caption]
X-rays of the mummies show they were male and female, and it’s been suggested they were high priests who helped the queen maintain power.
A scarab, symbolising re-birth, was painted in gold leaf on one of the corpses.
Excavations at Taposiris were led by Dr Kathleen Martínez, who has worked at the site for 14 years.
She said she was more convinced than ever that Cleopatra was buried at the temple following the new find.
It’s been suggested the high-status individuals she helped find may have interacted with the queen personally.
The search for Cleopatra’s tomb continues. It’s thought that less than five per cent of Taposiris has been excavated to date.
Cleopatra VII was born in 70 or 69 BC and ruled Egypt as co-regent for almost 30 years.
She is famous for marrying the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar and was played by Elizabeth Taylor in the eponymous 1963 Hollywood film.
The queen died in 53BC, reportedly by suicide after she was captured and arrested in the Egyptian city of Alexandria by Roman ruler Octavian.
According to legend, Cleopatra had her servants smuggle poisonous snakes into her makeshift cell which she allowed to bite her to death.
Following her death, Egypt was annexed by its Roman rulers, effectively ending the 3,000-year-old Ancient Egyptian Empire.
Pharaohs often built huge tombs to be buried in, but given her status as a prisoner of Rome at the time of her death, it’s likely Cleopatra was given a quiet burial in an austere tomb.
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In other archaeology news, an Ancient Egyptian teen has been discovered alongside a treasure trove of jewellery.
An ancient decapitated skeleton buried in an kneeling position has been discovered in central China.
And, ancient dinosaur fossils have led scientists to pinpoint “the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth”.
Where do you think Cleopatra is buried? Let us know in the comments!
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