Archaeologists Discover Ancient Tunnel in Egypt That Could Lead to Monumental Historical Discovery

Discovery of a massive underground tunnel has renewed hopes among archeologists that they might yet find the tomb of Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.

The tunnel was found 40 feet below the Temple of Tapozeris Magna, just west of Alexandria, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced ln early November, according to the New York Post.

The tunnel stands about six and a half feet high and runs for nearly a mile, according to Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Archaeology.

Coins have been found at the site bearing the names of Queen Cleopatra and Alexander the Great and statues of the Egyptian goddess Isis.

Cleopatra lived between 69 B.C. and 30 B.C. and was famous for her romance with Roman Marc Antony. She was the final ruler of Egypt’s Ptolemaic Kingdom before the Roman conquest.

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

Roland Enmarch, a senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, said rich elites patronized the temple underneath which the tunnel was found and were buried in the area where it stood.

“Taposiris Magna was an important religious center in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egyptian history. It was built on a strip of land separating the Mediterranean from a (now much shrunken) Lake Mareotis. Founded in the 3rd century B.C., it lies on the coast about 45 km [28 miles] west of the city of Alexandria, which was the capital of Egypt in Cleopatra’s day,” he said.

Part of the tunnel was submerged, Egyptian officials reported.

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

“Her royal dynasty had built their tombs in their capital city, Alexandria, and ancient writers tell us that Cleopatra actually went and took shelter in her (already constructed) tomb when the Romans captured Alexandria—and it was probably there that she famously committed suicide, to avoid being paraded in chains on the streets of Rome in Octavian’s triumph,” he said.

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

Ancient Alexandria is mostly submerged, due in part to a massive earthquake and tidal wave that took place in 365 A.D.

“Historically speaking, there have not been any particularly concrete theories as to where Cleopatra’s body might be, though because of her fame as Egypt’s last pharaoh the discovery of her remains would be sensational,” Eleanor Dobson, an expert in the reception of ancient Egypt in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries at the University of Birmingham, said.

“If Cleopatra’s tomb is really there this would be a discovery on a par with or perhaps even exceeding that of Tutankhamun in 1922. There are so few images of Cleopatra from her own time (limited to depictions on coins) that to gaze upon her remains, to see this fabled queen, would completely dominate the media,” she said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.