Washington, May 20 (ANI): A massive, headless statue of a Greek king has been found in the ruins of an ancient Egyptian temple, indicating that the structure could be the final resting place of Marc Antony and Cleopatra, experts say.
Archaeologists have been excavating around the temple of Taposiris Magna in hopes of finding the couple”s graves.
The black granite headless statue – about 6 feet tall bears the name of King Ptolemy IV near the figure”s base.
Ptolemy IV was one of several Greek royals who ruled Egypt during the Ptolemaic period, from 332 to 30 B.C. An inscription written in Greek and hieroglyphics reads Ptolemy IV—who ruled from 221 to 205 B.C.—commissioned the temple.
“If you are arguing for it to be a burial place for Cleopatra, then the later it is built, the more chance we have to have connections with her—the greater the possibility it was still active during her lifetime,” National Geographic News quoted Salima Ikram of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, who is not associated with the Taposiris digs.
Cleopatra VII was the last queen of the Ptolemaic dynasty, ruling as co-regent with her son, Ptolemy XV. The newfound statue—along with two statues of the Egyptian goddess Isis and the ruins of the temple”s main gate—are the latest pieces of evidence that link Taposiris Magna to the Ptolemaic rulers, and perhaps to the ill-fated lovers.
Inside the temple, the team found a place for a sacred pool, rooms likely used for mummification, and chapels dedicated to the gods Osiris and Isis. The powerful pair was husband and wife in Egyptian mythology—a fact that could have inspired the couple to choose the temple as their burial site.
“Cleopatra could [represent] Isis and Marc Antony could be Osiris,” said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), who is supervising the digs.
It is probable that this was a burial site for them because the legendary couple would have wanted to be sure Roman conquerors couldn”t find and desecrate their graves.
Excavation leader Martinez added that the sheer size of Taposiris Magna would have made any tombs there hard to find.
“This temple complex is five square kilometers,” or roughly two square miles, Martinez said. “We have been searching with new technology—how would the Romans have found them?” (ANI)