CAIRO – A team of archaeologists from Egypt and the Dominican Republic believe they may have found the tomb of doomed lovers Antony and Cleopatra at a temple near Alexandria. The search for the tomb has preoccupied Egyptologists for centuries.
A statement by the Egyptian Higher Antiquities Authority on April 15 reports that a radar technique used by the team excavating the Taposiris Magna temple had identified three likely sites for their tomb. The temple, built during the reign of Ptolemy II in the third century BC, is located on the shores of Lake Marriott, or Abu Sir as it is known today, near Alexandria. The team has been excavating the temple area for three years.
Deep excavation work later revealed a number of columns which may have been used in burials. This was followed by the discovery of 27 burial sites and ten mummies in a single day. Also found at the site was a marble bust of Cleopatra and a mask thought to belong to Mark Antony, leading the archaeologists to surmise that this might have been the final resting place of the star-crossed lovers.
The story of the Egyptian queen and Roman general has captivated people for centuries. Shakespeare gave it a romantic twist in his tragic play, Antony and Cleopatra, a theme revisited in the 1963 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The lovers are thought to have committed suicide together after losing the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Antony fell on his sword, and Cleopatra clasped a poison asp to her bosom.
Some Egyptologists are sceptical about the claims, questioning why General Augustus, who triumphed over Antony, would have chosen such a distinguished site to bury his enemy.
The search for the tomb accelerated last year when archaeologists found a tomb in the temple area, an indication that royal figures could be buried nearby.