Christianity ‘turned to archaeology to promote bible’ says expert
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Today marks the birthday of the general and politician Mark Antony, who was born in 83 BC, and became integral to the transformation of his nation into the Roman Empire. His influence was huge, and his story has endured over the centuries that have passed, including his romance with Egypt’s ruler, Cleopatra VII Philopator. It was a relationship which saw them flee their respective homes together, before killing themselves. Their story is often reimagined in books, on stage, and in Hollywood.. But the whereabouts of their bodies has remained a mystery.
Last year, a major breakthrough in locating their tomb was made when archaeologists discovered a tunnel beneath Taposiris Magna Temple, a jewel of Ancient Egypt.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in November, the tunnel was approximately 4,265 feet long (1,300m) and located some 43 feet (13m) underground.
It was hailed by the organisation as a “geometric miracle”, and is described as being similar to the Greek island of Samos’ Tunnel of Eupalinos — often heralded as an “engineering marvel”.
The project which unearthed the landmark discovery was led by Dr Kathleen Martinez, an archaeologist from the University of San Domingo, according to Artnet.
Antony and Cleopatra are said to have killed themselves on August 1 30 BC, and are believed to be buried together. It is hoped the Greco-Roman tunnel could be a sign of where exactly they can be found.
Dr Martinez had been attempting to find the pair for two decades. A further decade had been spent researching Taposiris Magna, which is located near Alexandria. The temple was dedicated to the God of the Dead, Osiris, and has long been touted as the burial site for Cleopatra.
Eventually, she was granted permission to investigate the area by the country’s antiquities affairs, and alongside fellow archaeologist Zahi Hawass, they began their work.
Work started in 2004, but it wasn’t for another 18 years that the landmark discovery was made. Speaking to Heritage Key, a historical blog, she said: “This is the perfect place for the tomb of Cleopatra.
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“If there’s a one percent chance that the last queen of Egypt could be buried there, it is my duty to search for her. If we discover the tomb… it will be the most important discovery of the 21st century.
“If we do not discover the tomb… we made major discoveries here, inside the temple and outside the temple.”
So far, Dr Martinez’s excavations have located a series of incredible finds, including “mummies with golden tongues and a cemetery containing Greco-Roman-style mummies buried facing the temple”.
This, the report claims, supports Dr Martinez’s theory of a royal tomb being built nearby.
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Among the other items found was a bust that is believed to portray Cleopatra, as well as nearly two dozen coins depicting her.
Alongside the efforts to find Cleopatra, the last active Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, is the quest to locate Antony.
Antony is believed to have been buried somewhere in Egypt, but a statement made by Plutarch, who ruled Octavian, claimed he had in fact been cremated.
He reportedly said: “After Cleopatra had heard this, in the first place, she begged Caesar that she might be permitted to pour libations for Antony; and when the request was granted, she had herself carried to the tomb, and embraced the urn which held his ashes.”
However, their final resting place still remains unknown.
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