Archaeologists Uncover Hidden Tunnel That May Lead to Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Archaeologists have uncovered a hidden tunnel in Egypt that may lead to the lost tomb of Queen Cleopatra.

An Egyptian-Dominican research team from the University of Santo Domingo discovered the tunnel near the Temple of Tapozeris Magna, which is just outside of Alexandria, according to a Facebook post by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Archaeology, shared that the mysterious passage is about 6.5 feet high and nearly a mile long. It is located about 40 feet below ground.

Historians and archeologists are hopeful that the discovery will finally reveal the undiscovered tomb of Cleopatra. The queen was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt before the Roman Empire took over.

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

“And modern investigations have mostly veered between Alexandria as the capital at the time of Cleopatra VII and Taposiris Magna, which could have been chosen for its links with the goddess Isis, with whom Cleopatra closely associated herself,” she continued.

The ministry’s post shared that excavations of Taposiris Magna found coins bearing the names of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great. Teams also uncovered statues of Isis.

Roland Enmarch, a senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, shared that the temple holds a shrine to the Egyptian god Osiris, Isis’s husband, as well. And all the archaeological finds suggest that wealthy elites patronized the temple and were buried in or around it.

Cleopatra May be Buried Alongside her Husband Mark Antony

Cleopatra lived between 69 B.C. and 30 B.C and ruled the kingdom for 21 years. History remembers her for her ill-fated romance with Mark Antony, a politician and general with the Roman empire. Antony committed suicide after Octavian defeated the Egyptians.

When the Romans breached Alexandria, historians believe that Cleopatra fled to an already-constructed tomb. And there, she also committed suicide to “avoid being paraded in chains on the streets of Rome in Octavian’s triumph.”

“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 continued.

“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 continued.