Tunnel that could lead to Cleopatra’s Tomb is ‘geometric miracle’

Beneath the temple ruins of the Egyptian city of Taposiris Magna, archaeologists recently discovered a secret tunnel dubbed the “geometric miracle.”The city was founded in Egypt by the Hellenistic king Ptolemy II Philadelphus between 280 and 270 BCE, and its name translates to “The Great Tomb of Osiris” (the god of death in Egyptian mythology). 

The tunnel was discovered 13 meters below the ground by Katharine Martinez, an archaeologist from the Dominican Republic. It measures two meters in height and is carved astonishingly over a length of 1,300 meters in the sandstone of the area. The purpose of this tunnel is still unclear, as parts of it are submerged in water. 

Martinez, who has been working and researching the area since 2004, believes that this tunnel could be a significant lead to discovering the “lost tomb of Cleopatra.” Its design, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, bears a striking resemblance to the amazing Apheteleion tunnel, which measures 1,036 meters and dates back to the 6th century BCE, found on the Greek island of Samos. The Greek tunnel is often referred to as an engineering marvel, and it was unprecedented in its planning and construction using vaulting techniques. The engineering of the newly discovered tunnel in Egypt is equally impressive.

The purpose of the tunnel is currently unknown, and parts of it are still submerged in water. However, Martinez, who has been working at Teposiris Magna since 2004 in search of the lost tomb of Cleopatra VII, believes that the tunnel is a promising lead. Teposiris Magna was built around 280 BC by Ptolemy II, the son of Ptolemy I, who was one of the generals of Alexander the Great and the ancestor of Cleopatra. The archaeological team believes that the temple was dedicated to the god Osiris and his sister and wife, the goddess Isis – the goddess of healing, magic, and nature that Cleopatra tried to identify with. Sculptures of Isis and coins depicting the names and likenesses of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great were found at the site. 

A skull is seen in a tomb near the Temple of Taposiris Magna some 50 km west of Alexandria April 19, 2009. Archaeologists think they may be close to locating the graves of the doomed lovers Cleopatra and Mark Antony in the Temple of Taposiris Magna west of Alexandria (credit: GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS)

‘Most important discovery of 21st century’

The next stages include exploring the nearby Mediterranean Sea. Between the years 320 and 1303 AD, a series of earthquakes hit the coast, causing parts of the temple to collapse and be swallowed by the waves. Previous excavations revealed a network of tunnels stretching from Lake Mariout to the Mediterranean Sea. In 2009, then Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, said, “If we discovered the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, it would be the most important discovery of the 21st century. If we didn’t discover the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, we still made significant discoveries here, inside and outside the temple.”

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