Archaeologist claims discovery of Cleopatra's tomb

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London, May 25 : A flamboyant archeologist claims to have identified the final resting place of Cleopatra, the Hellenistic ruler of Egypt, who originally shared power with her father Ptolemy XII and eventually gained sole rule of Egypt.

Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities along with a team of 12 archaeologists and 70 excavators, has started searching for the entrance to her tomb.

And after a breakthrough two weeks ago, he suspects Cleopatra is buried with her Roman lover Mark Antony at a temple 30km from Alexandra called Tabusiris Magna.

Hawass has found a 400ft tunnel beneath the temple containing clues that the supposedly beautiful queen may lie beneath.

"We've found tunnels with statues of Cleopatra and many coins bearing her face, things you wouldn't expect in a typical temple," Times Online quoted him, as saying.

A fortnight ago the team unearthed a bust of Mark Antony, the Roman general who became Cleopatra's lover and had three children with her before their ambitions for an Egyptian empire brought them into conflict with Rome.

They committed suicide after being defeated by Octavian in the battle of Actium in 31BC.

"Our theory is that both Cleopatra and Mark Antony are buried here," said Hawass.

The 60-year-old archeologist believes that the temple's location would have made it a perfect place for Cleopatra to hide from Octavian's army.

Work on the site has been suspended until the summer heat abates and is due to resume in November, when Hawass will use radar to search for hidden chambers.

If Hawass' thinking is true, he could make the greatest archaeological discovery in Egypt since British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.


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