Connect to share and comment

A tale of two lovers

Could archaeologists be on the verge of the biggest find of modern times?

ABUSIR, Egypt — They are characters straight out of central casting.

Kathleen Martinez, a soft-spoken camera-shy Dominican archaeologist, is the brain behind the operation. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s media-hungry leading archaeologist, is the publicity brawn, a modern day Indiana Jones who courts international media attention by donning his leather hat and scouring the Egyptian deserts for lost treasure.

Together they may be on the verge of Egypt’s most important archeological discovery: the tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Antony.

It’s a discovery that would allow archaeologists and historians alike to write the final chapter of the world’s most famous love affair.

“If we would be lucky and discover the tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Antony, this would be the most important discovery of the 21st century,” Hawass opined, standing directly above where he hopes the two might be buried, surrounded by his now-familiar gaggle of local and foreign media.

The journey began five years ago when Martinez arrived on Egyptian soil intent on finding the lost queen. She visited sites all over the country and, well-versed in history, concluded that Antony and Cleopatra were likely buried under the Temple of Isis and Osiris, 50 kilometers west of the city of Alexandria.

She initially received little support from the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which oversees all of Egypt’s ancient sites and none-too-ironically is run by Hawass. The common belief was that Cleopatra was buried in a site now under water.

The council gave Martinez two months to conduct surveys around the temple, and she quickly began discovering chambers far below the earth. This, in itself, was a significant turn of events, since ancient Egyptian culture traditionally outlawed building underneath temples.

In 2005, Hawass’ interest piqued, the two began more extensive excavations in and around the temple.