Egypt breakthrough as archaeologist probes final ‘puzzle pieces’ in Cleopatra hunt

Egypt: Archaeologists make 'djed pillar' discovery

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Kathleen Martinez is a former criminal lawyer from the Dominican Republic who is now determined to find the Egyptian queen’s lost tomb. The location of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra is an ancient mystery that has baffled archaeologists for decades. 

Ms Martinez left her marriage and moved to Egypt more than 15 years ago in the hope of solving the mystery, becoming the only archaeologist from the Dominican Republic practising outside her country.

Speaking to the National in Cairo, she said: “If the world was crazy about King Tut, it will be way crazier about Cleopatra’s tomb is found. Besides the scientific value of finding it, can you imagine what it will do to tourism in Egypt?”

Ms Martinez believes that the discovery of Cleopatra’s tomb would be a much greater find due to the queen’s historical significance as the last active ruler of Egypt.

She has spent more than a decade searching for the final resting place of the last monarch of the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty, which was founded by Alexander the Great around 300 BC.

Cleopatra took her own life after the Romans captured Egypt in 30 BC.

Ms Martinez believes that her quest for the tomb may be coming to an end, despite facing much scepticism from the archaeological community.

She believes the royal’s final resting place was in Taposiris Magna, a sprawling temple of about seven square kilometres located some 50km west of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

While the temple site is dedicated to the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, she believes that may be the resting place for several Egyptian pharaohs.

She said: “If we can discover the tomb of Cleopatra or any one of her Ptolemaic predecessors, Taposiris Magna could be the Greek version of the Valley of the Kings.”

Valley of Kings refers to a site in southern Egypt where the tombs of many pharaohs, including King Tut, are located.

Throughout her career as an archaeologist, Ms Martinez has unearthed several items that have kept her hopes alive of finding the tomb.

The team of Egyptian archaeologists and Bedouin helpers, led by Ms Martinez have discovered coins that bear the images of Cleopatra and Mark Antony.

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They have also uncovered skeletons, mummies, the tomb of a Ptolemaic general, underground passages, and burial rooms.

But most importantly, Ms Martinez has found tablets the size of mobile phones, which state the name of the temple, the deity to which it is dedicated, the year of its construction and the name of the monarch at the time.

Most of these artefacts have gone on display in high-profile exhibitions both in Egypt and the US.

She noted: “What I have been doing is to excavate in places where I have better chances.

“Every year revealed a piece of the puzzle that I am putting together.”

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