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Brisbane Times April 2009, radar reveals possible sites of Cleopatra's tomb






CAIRO - Archaeologists searching for the tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony may be closer to locating the burial site of the legendary lovers, Egypt's antiquities council says.

A team led by antiquities chief Zahi Hawass and Kathleen Martinez, an Egyptologist from the Dominican Republic, believes the tomb may be located in three possible sites near a temple west of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

The expedition, which has worked at the site for three years, will excavate the three locations next week, the council said in a statement on Wednesday.

The sites were identified by a radar scan of the temple, Tasposiris Magna, which was built in honour of the ancient Egyptian deity Isis in the Greco-Roman period.

"There are historic proofs in the works of (Roman chronicler) Plutarch where he says Cleopatra was buried with Marc Anthony," said Martinez.

The team has uncovered 10 mummies, two of them gilded, in 27 tombs, the council said.

The mummies, which belonged to nobles, suggest the tomb of Anthony and Cleopatra may be close, it said.

The team also discovered coins engraved with the images of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great. Twenty-two of the coins, made of bronze, showed Cleopatra's profile.

The coins engraved with Cleopatra's image and an alabaster bust of the queen found at the site showed that the queen was a "beauty," said Hawass.

"The coins ... which show her face and neck ... refute what some scholars have said about Cleopatra being very ugly," he said.

A 2007 study by researchers at Britain's University of Newcastle concluded after studying her image on a well-preserved Roman denarius coin that her beauty had been exaggerated in popular culture.

The discovered coins, worn by age, show Cleopatra, whom Shakespeare portrayed as a tawny beauty who enthralled Anthony, to have been a robust woman with a large, hooked nose.

The bust, seen in a picture provided by the antiquities council, was dilapidated beyond recognition.

In the past century, Cleopatra came to be associated with Elizabeth Taylor's sensual portrayal of the queen in a 1963 movie.

Early chroniclers were circumspect on her appearance.

Cleopatra ruled Egypt more than 2,000 years ago. She allied herself with Marc Anthony, one of the three men who ruled the Roman empire after Julius Caesar's assassination, and the two married.

The marriage and Anthony's ceding of Roman land to Cleopatra helped set his fellow Roman leaders against him. A civil war ensued, and Anthony and Cleopatra committed suicide when it was lost.

By Rayad Abou Awad





Elizabeth Taylor as Queen Cleopatra, Pharaoh of Egypt





Here's everything you need to know...

* The Ancient Egyptians were an advanced civilization 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 Egyptian empire fell due to a mix of factors, including wars with other empires and a 100-year period of drought and starvation














In our story the Baron Heinrich Richtohofen, John Storm and Hal, the AI onboard the Elizabeth Swann, all agree that Cleopatra is entombed underwater in her former Palace at Alexandria, or at a special mausoleum at Thonis-Heracleion. It seems we are not alone in this belief. For sure, the work at Taposiris Magna is helping to build a picture of life under Cleopatra, when hundreds of coins with her image and other artifacts, confirm her as a revered ruler of her time. We hope the scientific community will not mind us bending history a little, in the interests of promoting archaeology and marine biology as essential sciences - generating a reliable data base - of the natural world and man's ascendancy. 



Queen Cleopatra's royal barge, last of the Pharoahs                      Ancient Egyptian royal funeral barge, or solar boat



Cleopatra's royal barge. The last of the Pharaoh queens enjoyed life on the water



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