Category Archives: EGYPT

Amazing Ancient Underwater Treasures And Temples Discovered At Thonis-Heracleion

Amazing Ancient Underwater Treasures And Temples Discovered At Thonis-Heracleion

A marvelous submerged ancient world can be found in the ancient port city of Thonis-Heracleion in the Bay of Aboukir off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.

Beneath the waters lies the legendary lost kingdom of Cleopatra. The 5th-century BC historian Herodotus had mentioned the 1,600-year-old city. He described it as an impressive city of great wealth. Around 1,200 years ago, it vanished.

Lost Ancient Kingdom Of Cleopatra

Mysterious ancient figures are buried beneath the water.

It is commonly believed that an earthquake and tidal waves destroyed Cleopatra’s empire. Scientists think that the entire city was completely submerged, along with all the artifacts, statues, columns, and other beauties of the Palace of Cleopatra.

Underwater archaeologists exploring the ancient underwater city of Heracleion have revealed more of its many archaeological treasures, but there is still so much more awaiting discovery.

A team of marine archaeologists led by French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio began excavating the ancient city in 1998.

“It’s a unique site in the world,” said Goddio, who has made wonderful photographs capturing monuments, statues, ruins, and artifacts of a long-gone ancient kingdom.

Demonstrating the Greek presence in Ancient Egypt, a delicate bronze duck-shaped pourer was discovered among ceramics at the site of a newly discovered Greek sanctuary to Aphrodite in the submerged ruins of Thonis-Heracleion.

The European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) has now announced new amazing  “treasures and secrets” have been found at the site of a sunken temple off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.

The Underwater Temple Of God Amun

A team of underwater archaeologists led by Franck Goddio has found many valuable items while exploring the submerged temple of the god Amun in the ancient port city of Thonis-Heracleion.

The scientists were investigating the city’s south canal, where huge blocks of stone from the ancient temple collapsed “during a cataclysmic event dated to the mid-second century BC.”

IEASM informed the temple of the god Amun was visited by pharaohs who came “to receive the titles of their power as universal kings from the supreme god of the ancient Egyptian pantheon.”

The scientists were investigating the city’s south canal, where huge blocks of stone from the ancient temple collapsed “during a cataclysmic event dated to the mid-second century BC.”

As reported by CNN, “the archaeological excavations, conducted jointly by Goddio’s team and the Department of Underwater Archaeology of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt, revealed underground structures “supported by very well-preserved wooden posts and beams dating from the 5th century BC,” the institute said.

“It is extremely moving to discover such delicate objects, which survived intact despite the violence and magnitude of the cataclysm,” said Goddio, who is president of IEASM and director of excavations.”

Scientists were able to make these remarkable discoveries thanks to new advanced geophysical prospecting technologies that can detect cavities and objects “buried under layers of clay several meters thick,” the institute said.

Ancient Underwater Temple Dedicated To Goddess Aphrodite

Not far from the Amum temples, the underwater archaeologists found a Greek sanctuary devoted to Aphrodite, where they were able to retrieve bronze and ceramic objects.

“This illustrates that Greeks who were allowed to trade and settle in the city during the time of the Pharaohs of the Saïte dynasty (664 – 525 BC) had their sanctuaries to their own gods,” the institute said.

Gold objects, jewelry, and a Djed pilar, a symbol of stability made of lapis lazuli, were retrieved.

The discoveries of Greek weapons also reveal the presence of Greek mercenaries in the area, IEASM said. “They were defending the access to the Kingdom at the mouth of the Canopic Branch of the Nile.

This branch was the largest and the best navigable one in antiquity.”
The remains of Thonis-Heracleion are now located under the sea, 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the present coast of Egypt, IEASM said. The city was for centuries Egypt’s largest port on the Mediterranean before the founding of Alexandria by Alexander the Great in 331 BC.

Diving at Thonis-Hercleion to discover ancient treasures is a delicate task. A votive hand is shown emerging from the sediment during an excavation.

“Rising sea levels and earthquakes followed by tidal waves triggering land liquefaction events, caused a 110 square kilometer portion of the Nile delta to totally disappear under the sea, taking with it the city of Thonis-Heracleion,” the institute said.

The city was discovered by the IEASM in 2000. The research and discoveries conducted by IEASM  have led to valuable discoveries, adding greatly to our historical knowledge.

Possible 400-Year-Old Ritual Objects From Egypt Identified

Possible 400-Year-Old Ritual Objects From Egypt Identified

‘People in the Early Ottoman Period consulted popular sorcerers, alongside their formal belief in the official religion, say the Israeli archeologists

Itamar Taxel, Israel Antiquities Authority. The excavation area in the Eilat hills of Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) released on Monday archeological findings of “magical” artifacts on the Darb al-Hajj pilgrimage route from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, which passed through the Sinai Peninsula.

The assemblage of artifacts was first discovered in the 1990s in the Eilat region, near the Red Sea. The team of Israelis analyzed the rare collection of objects, and determined that they were used for magic rituals about 400 years ago, “to ward off the evil eye, to heal diseases and more.”

“This discovery reveals that people in the Early Ottoman Period—just as today—consulted popular sorcerers, alongside the formal belief in the official religion,” said Dr. Itamar Taxel of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dr. Nitzan Amitai-Preiss of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

Possible 400-Year-Old Ritual Objects From Egypt Identified
Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority. A clay female figurine was found at the excavation area in the Eilat hills of Israel.

The archeologists said the objects may have been broken purposely during the ceremonies, describing one of the objects as “fragments of clay globular rattles, mostly similar to table tennis balls, containing small stones that sound when the rattle was shaken.” 

Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities. AuthorityColored quartz pebbles were found at the excavation area in the Eilat hills of Israel.

In addition, there were two artifacts “similar to miniature votive incense altars,” as well as figurines, particularly of a naked woman “or a goddess with raised hands, a characteristic feature of deities or priests,” and some colored quartz pebbles. 

“This is the first time that such a large assemblage of ritual objects of this kind has been found, and it is even more unique at a temporary site and not a permanent settlement,” the researchers stated, describing the material as coming from Egypt.

Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities AuthorityClay rattle fragment found at the excavation area in the Eilat hills of Israel.

The location where the artifacts were found was next to Darb al-Hajj pilgrimage road that started in Cairo and wound through the Sinai Peninsula into the Arabian Peninsula.

The road was used from the 7th century CE — the advent of Islam — until the 19th century CE.

“The road and adjacent archaeological sites are to become part of a unique regional archaeological-touristic area promoted by the Ministry of Tourism,” Dr. Omry Barzilai, Southern Regional Archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said about the special site.

Uzi Avner, Dead Sea-Arava Science Center. Part of the Darb al-Hajj pilgrimage route in the Eilat mountains of Israel.

The research was recently published in the Journal of Material Cultures in the Muslim World.

Archaeologists Discover Paintings of Ancient Egypt in a 2,000-Year-Old Villa in Pompeii

Archaeologists Discover Paintings of Ancient Egypt in a 2,000-Year-Old Villa in Pompeii

A team of archaeologists has discovered impressive paintings of Ancient Egypt in a Roman villa in Pompeii. The portraits clearly show the vast influence the Egyptian culture had in early Roman society. Experts speculate that some of the paintings could possibly underscore an early form of Globalization.

Drawings Show Strong Egyptian Influence on Early Rome

Daily Mail reports that paintings portraying the River Nile were found in a beautiful garden in a luxurious ancient villa in Pompeii. Experts are optimistic that these paintings will reveal a lot of secrets on how the early Roman Empire was influenced by ancient Egypt.

Complex drawings from Casa dell’Efebo – one of the largest households in the city before it was severely damaged during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 – present a series of Nilotic murals with hippopotamuses, crocodiles, lotuses and short-statured men battling with vicious beasts.

Painting of a short-statured man fighting a beast (CC by SA 3.0)

Caitlin Barrett from the department of Classics at Cornell University claimed that the drawings give the house a cosmopolitan touch and outlines how the Romans were influenced by the ancient Egyptian culture such as religion.

“The paintings from the Casa dell’Efebo were created after Egypt was incorporated into the Roman Empire, but several generations after Augustus’ initial conquest of Egypt. Some researchers have turned to explanations emphasizing religion: maybe paintings of Egyptian landscapes have to do with an interest in Egyptian gods,” she told IBTimes of UK . And added, “Others have interpreted these paintings as political statements: maybe this is about celebrating the conquest of Egypt. I suggest that instead of trying to apply a one-size-fits-all explanation, we should look at context and individual choices.”

Sexual Activity is Present Regardless the Political and Cultural Focus of the Paintings

It’s no secret that Pompeii was famous for its intense sexual life and wild parties. As a result of this lifestyle, many paintings discovered from that era are extremely graphic, including strong doses of excessive sexual content. Let’s not forget that when the city was rediscovered in 1599, the city became buried again (thanks to censorship) for nearly another 150 years before the king of Naples, Charles of Bourbon, ordered the proper excavation of the site during the late 1740s.

As DHWTY reports in a previous Ancient Origins article , despite the erotic nature of these images, it has been suggested that they were merely an idealized version of sex.

Thus, it has been postulated that the lives of the prostitutes at the most famed bordello in Pompeii, Lupanare, was far grimmer than the erotic images suggest. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the main theme of the recently discovered paintings is sex and alcohol consumption.

A fresco found within one of Pompeii’s brothels.

Paintings Could Underscore a Form of Globalization

Despite the obvious themes of the paintings, Barrett also argues that they could underscore how the Romans interacted with the outside world; thus a form of globalization.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Archaeology, appears to share its views with Barrett’s suggestions and also proclaims that artifacts discovered around the garden of the household and the building’s elaborate architecture such as water installations mimic the diverse nature of the Roman Empire.

Archaeologists Discover Paintings of Ancient Egypt in a 2,000-Year-Old Villa in Pompeii
Representations of sexual activity, music and alcohol consumption are often central to these paintings

Barrett stated as Daily Mail reports , “In this particular assemblage, rather than solely trying to make some kind of statement about Isiac rituals or Roman politics, the owner of this house seems to be asserting a cosmopolitan identity as a citizen of the Empire.

In Pompeian houses at this time, when people are representing faraway lands in domestic art, they are also trying to figure out what it means to them to be participants in the Roman Empire.”

The study adds that the paintings of the Nile in the Pompeian villa provided its owners with a unique chance to come in contact with shifting local and imperial Roman identities and to reproduce a microcosm of the world they lived in, “People sometimes imagine phenomena like globalization to be creations of the modern world.

In fact, if you look at the Roman Empire there are lots of parallels for some of the cross-cultural interactions that are also very much part of our own contemporary world” the researcher of the study concludes at the end.

Egypt dig unearths 41 mln-year-old Whale in desert -Tutcetus rayanensis-

Egypt dig unearths 41 mln-year-old Whale in desert -Tutcetus rayanensis-

Paleontologists in Egypt announced the discovery of a new species of extinct whale that inhabited the sea covering present-day Egypt around 41 million years ago.

With an estimated length of 2.5 meters and a body mass of approximately 187 kilograms, the new species, named Tutcetus rayanensis, is the smallest basilosaurid whale known to date and one of the oldest records of its family in Africa.

The name of the new whale draws inspiration from Egyptian history and the discovery’s locale. Tutcetus combines “Tut” — referring to the famous adolescent Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun  — and “cetus,” Greek for whale, highlighting the specimen’s small size and young age. Rayanensis refers to the Wadi El-Rayan Protected Area in Fayoum, where the whale was found.

Additionally, the name was chosen to commemorate the centennial of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and coincides with the forthcoming opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza.

Despite its modest size, Tutcetus has provided scientists with remarkable insights into the life history, phylogeny and paleobiogeography of early whales.

Hesham Sallam at Wadi al-Hitan.

Team leader Hesham Sallam, of the American University in Cairo (AUC), said it was a “remarkable discovery that documents one of the first phases of the transition to a fully aquatic lifestyle”.

From Land to Sea

The Basilosauridae, a family of extinct, fully aquatic whales, represent a crucial stage in whale evolution. As they transitioned from land to sea, the basilosauridae developed fish-like characteristics, such as a streamlined body, a strong tail, flippers, and a tail fin. Their hind legs, which previously served them on land, were no longer used for walking but possibly for mating.

“Whales’ evolution from land-dwelling animals to beautiful marine creatures embodies the marvelous, adventurous journey of life,” Sallam said. “Tutcetus is a remarkable discovery that  documents one of the first phases of the transition to a fully aquatic lifestyle that took place in that  journey.”

The team’s findings have been published in Communications Biology, an open-access journal from Nature Portfolio publishing high-quality research, reviews and commentary in all areas of the biological sciences.

Through detailed analyses of the teeth and bones of Tutcetus using CT scanning, the team reconstructed the growth and development pattern of the species. Rapid dental development and small bone size suggest that the whale was precocial, meaning it was able to move and feed itself from birth.

The discovery also adds to our understanding of basilosaurids as successful, competitive, and adaptable during their transition from land to sea. The team’s findings suggest that this transition likely occurred in the (sub)tropics.

“Modern whales migrate to warmer, shallow waters for breeding and reproduction, mirroring the conditions found in Egypt 41 million years ago,” explained Abdullah Gohar, a PhD student at Mansoura University, member of Sallam Lab, and a co-author of the study. “This supports the idea  that what is now known as Fayoum was a crucial breeding area for ancient whales.”

Egypt dig unearths 41 mln-year-old Whale in desert -Tutcetus rayanensis-

The study’s lead author, Mohammed Antar, from the MUVP and the National Focal Point for Natural Heritage, added, “Tutcetus significantly broadens the size range of basilosaurid whales and reveals considerable disparity among whales during the middle Eocene period.

The investigation of early layers in Fayoum may reveal the existence of an older assemblage of early whale fossils, potentially influencing our current knowledge of the development of whales.”

One thing is certain: this major discovery is likely one of many more to come. In recent years, Sallam and his team’s discoveries include the bones of a 34-million-year-old rodent, a 37-million-year-old gigantic catfish, snake and legless lizard fossils, and the first evidence of a 100-million-year-old Abelisauroid, a meat-eating dinosaur, in Egypt’s Bahariya Oasis, among others.

“The Eocene fossil sites of Egypt’s Western Desert have long been the world’s most important for understanding the early evolution of whales and their transition to a fully aquatic existence,” said Erik Seiffert, chair and professor of integrative anatomical sciences at the University of Southern California and a co-author of the study. “The discovery of Tutcetus demonstrates that this region still has so much more to tell us about the fascinating story of whale evolution”.

Fayoum Oasis, some 150 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of Cairo, boasts Wadi al-Hitan, the Valley of the Whales, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has turned up hundreds of fossils of some of the earliest forms of Whale.

Now an oasis in the Western Desert, Fayoum lay under a tropical sea in the Eocene period 56 to 34 million years ago.

A 30-Foot-Long Hidden Corridor was discovered in the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza!

A 30-Foot-Long Hidden Corridor was discovered in the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza!

A 30-foot-long hidden corridor was discovered on March 2, 2023, in the Great Pyramid of Giza. This monument is the last standing Ancient Wonder of the World. This North Facing Corridor (NFC) is the first discovery uncovered on the monument’s north side.

The corridor is located above the ancient entrance of the pyramid, behind a chevron-shaped structure that is visible outside the pyramid. This fascinating discovery within the pyramid was made under the ScanPyramids project using muon tomography, a non-invasive technology.

The ScanPyramids Project – An Initiative to Uncover the Hidden Secrets in the Pyramids

The Great Pyramid was constructed around 2560 BCE during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu. The height of the monumental tomb was around 146 meters when it was constructed. But it now stands at 139 meters with much of its limestone casing removed.

The pyramid consists of an elaborate system of passageways and chambers. However, not all of them have been uncovered yet.

In order to detect the presence of unknown voids and structures without excavating, the ScanPyramids project was launched in 2015. This Egyptian-international project is designed and led by Cairo University and the French HIP Institute (Heritage Innovation Preservation). The project combines several non-invasive and non-destructive techniques, such as 3D simulations, infrared thermography, muon tomography, and other reconstruction techniques, to scan the structure.

The 30-Foot Long Hidden Corridor Was Discovered Using Non-Invasive Technology.

Telescope installed inside the Great Pyramid of Giza.

As part of the ScanPyramids project, the most recent discovery is a 30-foot-long hidden corridor in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Egyptian antiquities officials confirmed its discovery on March 2, 2023.

The corridor was detected using muon tomography, a non-invasive technology that uses cosmic ray muons to generate three-dimensional images of objects. In order to retrieve images of what lies within, researchers inserted an endoscope into a tiny joint in the pyramid stones. However, no artifacts were visible in the captured images.

Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the hidden corridor might have been constructed to redistribute the weight within the massive monument. In fact, in another part of the pyramid, there are five rooms atop the King’s Burial Chamber, which are thought to have been built to redistribute the weight of the massive structure. Waziri also added that they would continue scanning to figure out what is underneath the chamber at the end of the corridor.

Installing muon emulsion films.

Scientists also believe that structural innovations constructed by the Egyptian tomb builders were mostly for pragmatic reasons rather than storing any hidden treasure. For example, the discovered hidden corridor could be related to the construction of the chevron as a first test of the structure before it was used later, higher up in the pyramid. Therefore, there is little likelihood anything major or valuable will be found inside these chambers.

An article published in the Nature Communications journal said that the discovery of this hidden corridor could help in gaining knowledge about the structure and techniques used in the construction of the pyramid. In addition, it could also help in understanding the purpose of the gabled limestone structure that sits in front of the corridor.

Furthermore, Egyptian antiquities officials believe that this amazing discovery could serve as a catalyst for conducting further research in other mysterious inner chambers.

Other Extraordinary Discoveries of the ScanPyramids Project

The great pyramid of Giza.

The ScanPyramids project has led to many other astonishing discoveries in the past. In 2016, researchers discovered a void behind the north face of the Great Pyramid. Following this, in 2017, they discovered a bigger “plane-sized” void, around 98 feet long, above the Grand Gallery.

Thus, we can conclude that even though the tomb commissioned by Pharaoh Khufu has been explored for years together, there are many more mysteries yet to be unraveled.

Scientists plan to continue these non-invasive scans at the Great Pyramid of Giza to uncover more hidden secrets as part of the ScanPyramids project. They also plan to use sophisticated muon detectors to detect the presence of artifacts, if any

Lost Egyptian City Found Underwater After 1200 Years

Lost Egyptian City Found Underwater After 1200 Years

The ‘lost city of Atlantis has eluded explorers for centuries and is almost certainly the stuff of myth. Staggeringly, though, an ancient city that is Atlantis in all but name has emerged from under the sea near Alexandria — and now the lost world of Heracleion is giving up its treasures.

Just as in the classical tale, Heracleion was once a prosperous, thriving city before it was engulfed by the sea around 1,500 years ago. It was grand enough to be mentioned by the Greek writer Herodotus, the 5th-century BC historian.

He told the fabulous story of Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world — she of the face that launched a thousand ships — travelling to Heracleion, then a port of ‘great wealth’, with her glamorous Trojan lover, Paris.

Franck Goddio and divers from his team inspect the statue of a pharaoh
Among the most important monuments that were discovered at the temple area of Thonis-Heracleion is this monolithic chapel dating to the Ptolemaic period

But no physical evidence of such a grand settlement appeared until 2001 when a group led by French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio stumbled upon some relics that led them to one of the greatest finds of the 21st century.

Goddio was in search of Napoleon’s warships from the 1798 Battle of the Nile, when he was defeated by Nelson in these very waters, but came upon this much more significant discovery.

Goddio’s team has since been joined by the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology and the Department of Antiquities of Egypt to produce a wealth of dazzling finds.

The archaeologists first faced the mammoth task of reassembling massive stone fragments on the seabed before they could haul them to the surface. Twelve years on, their fabulous finds have been exposed to public view for the first time after more than a millennium spent beneath the silt and water of Aboukir Bay, 20 miles northeast of Alexandria.

Among the discoveries are colossal statues of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the god Hapi, and an unidentified Egyptian pharaoh — all preserved in immaculate condition by their muddy burial shroud. Along with these 16ft statues, there are hundreds of smaller statues of Egyptian gods — among them the figures that guarded the temple where Cleopatra was inaugurated as Queen of the Nile.

It seems the Amun-Gereb temple at Heracleion was the Egyptian equivalent of Westminster Abbey, where our own Queen was crowned 60 years ago.

Dozens of sarcophagi have been found, containing the bodies of mummified animals sacrificed to Amun-Gereb, the supreme god of the Egyptians. Many amulets, or religious charms, have been unearthed, too, showing gods such as Isis, Osiris and Horus.

These were made not just for the Egyptians but for visiting traders, who incorporated them into their own religions and also, one imagines, kept them as trinkets to remind them of their far-flung journeys.

The importance of Heracleion has been further proved by the discovery of 64 ships — the largest number of ancient vessels ever found in one place — and a mind-boggling 700 anchors.

Other finds illustrate how crucial Heracleion was to the economy of the ancient world. Gold coins and lead, bronze and stone weights from Athens (used to measure the value of goods and to calculate the tax owed) show that Heracleion was a lucrative Mediterranean trading post.

An archaeologist measures the feet of a colossal red granite statue at the site of Heracleion discovered in Aboukir Bay
The statue of the Goddess Isis sits on display on a barge in an Alexandrian naval base (left). Pictured right is a colossal statue of red granite representing the god Hapi, which decorated the temple of Heracleion
An international team of marine archaeologists is preparing to show some of the objects found in the underwater city
Heracleion was mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus, who told of Helen of Troy visiting the city with her lover Paris before the Trojan war

In the ancient world, the Mediterranean Sea was their equivalent of a superfast motorway. All their greatest cities, including Constantinople, Rome and Athens, were either on the coast or on rivers with easy access to it.

And now Heracleion can be added to their number as Egypt’s most important port during the time of the later pharaohs. It was, if you like, a major motorway junction — the spot where the Nile, Egypt’s lifeline, met the Med. Archaeologists have determined that as well as having a naturally navigable channel next to its ancient harbour, a further artificial channel appears to have been dug to expedite trade.

The Heracleion finds will add tremendous depth to our understanding of the ancient world — not least because, among the discoveries, there are perfectly preserved steles (inscribed pillars) decorated with hieroglyphics. Translated, they will reveal much about the religious and political life in this corner of ancient Egypt.

It was a similar inscription on the Rosetta Stone — discovered in the Nile Delta town of Rosetta in 1799 by a French soldier, and now in the British Museum — that cracked the code of hieroglyphics in the first place.

And like the Rosetta Stone, those steles found beneath the waters of Aboukir Bay are inscribed in Greek and Egyptian, too. Who knows how many more archaeological gems will be uncovered at Heracleion?

The very name of the city is taken from the most famous of Greek heroes, Heracles — aka Hercules — whose 12 labours, from killing the  Hydra to capturing Cerberus, the multi-headed hellhound that guarded the gates of the Underworld, captivated the ancient world.

Heraklion, Crete’s capital and largest city, is also named after Heracles, as was Herculaneum, the ancient Roman town that was buried under ash when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. It appears that Heracleion faded in importance in the later classical period, eclipsed by its neighbouring city of Alexandria, which became the capital of Egypt in 312 BC.

Still, Heracleion lingered on, later under Roman control, until it slipped into its watery grave sometime in the 6th or 7th century AD. What a thrilling discovery we have on our hands now that the sea has, 1,500 years later, given up one of its greatest secrets.

The ancient port city lies 20 miles northeast of Alexandria in the Mediterranean

Mystery behind Cleopatra’s tomb: Two mummies discovered in Egypt could help solve it

Mystery behind Cleopatra’s tomb: Two mummies discovered in Egypt could help solve it

The mummies of two high-status ancient Egyptians discovered in a temple on the Nile delta may bring researchers a step closer to finding the remains of Cleopatra, the legendary Egyptian queen.

The mummies, which had lain undisturbed for 2,000 years, are in a poor state of preservation because water had seeped into the tomb, according to the Guardian. 

But they were originally covered with gold leaf – a luxury reserved for only the top members of society’s elite – meaning they may have personally interacted with Cleopatra.  

The male and female mummies may have been priests who played a key role in maintaining the power of the legendary Egyptian queen and her lover, Mark Anthony.

Also found at the site were 200 coins bearing Cleopatra’s name and her face, which would have been pressed based on Cleopatra’s direct instructions.  The location of the long-lost tomb of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII from the year 30 BC remains unknown, although it’s somewhere near the Egyptian city of Alexandria.   

But this research team are convinced excavations at the ancient city of Taposiris Magna, which is marked by a temple that still stands today, will soon uncover the ancient couple’s resting place.  Despite the fact researchers have been excavating the site since 2005, only a tiny percentage of the vast site has been explored. 

Mystery behind Cleopatra's tomb: Two mummies discovered in Egypt could help solve it
The two mummies found inside a sealed tomb at Taposiris Magna, where digs are ungoing to oncover the grave of Cleopatra
The temple is located near Alexandria, the capital of ancient Egypt and where Cleopatra killed herself in 30 BC

The mummies were found in what is the first ever intact tomb to be opened at Taposiris Magna – an event that’s the subject of a Channel 5 documentary to be broadcast this week. 

‘Although now covered in dust from 2,000 years underground, at the time these mummies would have been spectacular,’ Dr Glenn Godenho, a senior lecturer in Egyptology at Liverpool University, told the Guardian. 

‘To be covered in gold leaf shows they would have been important members of society.’ 

One of the mummies was found wearing an image of a scarab, pained in gold leaf, symbolising rebirth. But the 200 coins bearing Cleopatra’s likeness links the pharaoh ruler directly to Taposiris Magna, which was founded in the third century BC. 

The ‘prominent nose and double chin’ of the queen as depicted on the coins suggest she wasn’t as conventionally beautiful as the actresses that portrayed her on screen – most memorably by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 film ‘Cleopatra’. 

Dr Godenho said that the tomb of Anthony and Cleopatra is expected to be a ‘way grander affair’ than this mummified couple.

‘Although we don’t know what Ptolemaic rulers’ tombs looked like because none have ever been firmly identified yet, it’s really unlikely that they’d be nondescript and indistinguishable from the burials of their subjects,’ he told MailOnline.

‘Add to that the fact that most consider the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony to be in the vicinity of Alexandria rather than out here at Taposiris Magna, and all the evidence points to these not being royal mummies at all.’ 

Archaeologists searching for the tomb of Anthony and Cleopatra (pictured played by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 film) have zeroed in on a site in northern Egypt

Dr Kathleen Martinez, an academic from the Dominican Republic, is leading the dig at the Taposiris Magna temple. After working there for over 14 years, Dr Martinez and her colleagues are more convinced than ever Cleopatra’s tomb will be found there. 

Dr Martinez is seen reacting to the opening of the newly-found mummies at Taposiris Magna in the Channel 5 documentary, which will broadcast on Thursday.  

After an initial limestone slab is removed, she says: ‘Oh my god, there are two mummies … See this wonder.’ 

Osteoarchaeologist, Dr Linda Chapon, working to conserve the two mummies found inside a sealed tomb at Taposiris Magna
Experts believe Cleopatra made plans for herself and Anthony to be buried at a temple called Taposiris Magna in order to imitate the ancient myth of Isis and Osiris

Cleopatra was Egypt’s last pharaoh and the ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, from 51 BC to 30 BC. Cleopatra and her Roman lover Mark Anthony may have been buried at the site 2,000 years ago because of her desire to imitate an ancient prophecy, Dr Martinez believes. 

During her life, which ran from 69 BC to 30 BC, Cleopatra was known both as a seductress and as a captivating personality. She famously used her charms to first seduce Julius Caesar to cement Egypt’s alliance with Rome, and then to seduce one of his successors, Mark Anthony.            

In order to fix herself and Anthony as rulers in the minds of the Egyptian people, she also worked hard to associate them with the myth of Isis and Osiris. According to the myth, Osiris was killed and hacked into pieces that were scattered across Egypt.  After finding all of the pieces and making her husband whole again, Isis was able to resurrect him for a time.

Dr Glenn Godenho and Dr Kathleen Martinez inside Taposiris Magna temple near Alexandria in Egypt
Kathleen Martinez, who is leading the dig, believes the site was strongly associated with the myth of Isis and Osiris – a myth that Cleopatra often tried to imitate during her life

Martinez believes Taposiris Magna was closely associated with the myth as the name means ‘tomb of Osiris’.

The inclusion of ‘Osiris’ could mean it was one of the places where his body was scattered in the story.  After Mark Anthony killed himself following defeat to Octavian but before her own suicide, Cleopatra put detailed plans in place for them both to be buried there, in echoes of the myth, Dr Martinez thinks. 

The temple at Taposiris Magna. The opening of the first-ever intact tomb found at Taposiris Magna will be shown on Channel 5 this week
The inside of Taposiris Magna temple, where excavation work is taking place. The temple was established between 280 and 270 BC

She previously told National Geographic: ‘Cleopatra negotiated with Octavian to allow her to bury Mark Antony in Egypt. 

‘She wanted to be buried with him because she wanted to reenact the legend of Isis and Osiris. 

‘The true meaning of the cult of Osiris is that it grants immortality. After their deaths, the gods would allow Cleopatra to live with Antony in another form of existence, so they would have eternal life together.’ 

Doubts have been cast on the theory, however, as other experts believe Cleopatra was hastily buried in Alexandria itself – the city from where she ruled Egypt until her death, believed to have been caused by snake venom. 

Egypt Unearths Tomb of Royal Priest From 4,400 Years Ago

Egypt Unearths Tomb of Royal Priest From 4,400 Years Ago

Egypt unveiled a well-preserved 4,400-year-old tomb decorated with hieroglyphs and statues south of Cairo on Saturday, and officials expect more discoveries when archaeologists excavate the site further in the coming months.

The tomb was found in a buried ridge at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara. It was untouched and unlooted, Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters at the site. He described the find as “one of a kind in the last decades.”

The tomb dates from the rule of Neferirkare Kakai, the third king of the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom.

Guests enter a newly-discovered tomb at the Saqqara necropolis, 30 kilometers south of Cairo, belonging to the high priest ‘Wahtye’ who served during the reign of King Neferirkare
A view of statues inside the newly-discovered tomb of ‘Wahtye’, which dates from the rule of King Neferirkare Kakai

Archaeologists removed a last layer of debris from the tomb on Thursday and found five shafts inside, Waziri said.

One of the shafts was unsealed with nothing inside, but the other four were sealed.

The entrance to the tomb.

They are expecting to make discoveries when they excavate those shafts starting on Sunday, he said. He was hopeful about one shaft in particular.

“I can imagine that all of the objects can be found in this area,” he said, pointing at one of the sealed shafts. “This shaft should lead to a coffin or a sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb.”

The tomb is 10 meters (33 ft) long, three meters (9.8 ft) wide, and just under three meters high, Waziri said.

The walls are decorated with hieroglyphs and statues of pharaohs. Waziri said the tomb was unique because of the statues and its near-perfect condition.

Statues of pharaohs and others in the tomb of Wahtye.
The 33 ft (ten metres) long, 9.8 ft (three metres) wide tomb has just under three metres high walls which are decorated with hieroglyphs and statues of pharaohs
Scenes in the ancient tomb depicted life during the rule of King Neferirkare Kakai during the Fifth Dynasty

“The color is almost intact even though the tomb is almost 4,400 years old,” he said.

The tomb lies on a buried ridge that has only partially been uncovered. Waziri said he expects more discoveries to be made there when archaeologists start more excavation work in January.

The Fifth Dynasty ruled Egypt from about 2,500 BC to 2,350 BC, not long after the great pyramid of Giza was built.

Saqqara served as the necropolis for Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt for more than two millennia.

Ancient Egyptians mummified humans to preserve their bodies for the afterlife, while animal mummies were used as religious offerings.

Egypt has revealed over a dozen ancient discoveries this year.

The country hopes the finds will brighten its image abroad and revive interest among travelers who once flocked to its iconic pharaonic temples and pyramids but who fled after the 2011 political uprising.