April 20, 2009--
An alabaster carving of Cleopatra found last year is something like Exhibit A in a new claim that archaeologists are on the verge of discovering the tombs of the Egyptian queen and her Roman lover Mark Antony.
Yesterday, Zahi Hawass, the Egyptian government's top archaeologist, announced that the legendary duo were likely entombed in one of three sites at the third-century B.C. Taposiris Magna temple in what is now Abusir, Egypt. Among other claimed evidence: a mask said to represent Mark Antony, 22 coins with Cleopatra's face, ten newfound noble tombs nearby, and a radar survey identifying three underground sites ripe for excavation.
Those digs should begin next week, said Hawass, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence
. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
Regardless of who is buried there, "the finds from Taposiris reflect a charm
and indicate that Cleopatra was in no way unattractive," said Hawass in a statement, referring to artifacts depicting Cleopatra as something less than a beauty queen. (See an unflattering picture of Cleopatra on an ancient coin
Photograph courtesy Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities