Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a vast underground tunnel in a temple believed to contain the lost tomb of Cleopatra.
The tunnel – spanning the length of more than 12 football pitches and carved into the rock some 13 meters below ground – was discovered during excavations at the Temple of Taposiris Magna, west of the second-largest city of Egypt, Alexandria.
Cleopatra was the last queen of Egypt, reigning from 51-30 BC. BC before his death at the age of 39. The famous queen shared a son with Roman ruler Julius Caesar, as well as twins with General Marc Antony.
The tomb of Antony and Cleopatra is long lost, but is believed to be at Taposiris Magna – a temple dedicated to the ancient Egyptian god Osiris.
The recently excavated tunnel was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, led by Dr. Kathleen Martinez, who are searching for Cleopatra’s tomb.
Dr Mustafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Archaeology, said its architectural design appears “very similar” to the Eupalinos Tunnel – an aqueduct built in the 6th century BC in Samos, Greece, which served as an aqueduct .
The Greek tunnel is considered one of the most important technical achievements of antiquity.
The tunnel found at Taposiris Magna is about 300m longer than the Eupalinos tunnel and was heralded as “a geometrical miracle” by Dr. Waziri.
Dr Waziri added that part of the structure was found submerged under water in the Mediterranean Sea, which is close to the coastal temple.
The excavations also uncovered “significant artifacts”, including coins bearing the images and names of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great.
A network of tunnels stretching from Lake King Marriott to the Mediterranean was also discovered, along with 16 mummies buried in rock-cut tombs.
Dr Zahi Hawass, former head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has previously said that if Cleopatra’s tomb is discovered, “it would be the most important discovery of the 21st century”.
Dr Martinez has been excavating at Taposiris Magna since 2004, and as excavations have continued she has grown increasingly confident in recent years that the Queen’s lost tomb is there.