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A tale of two lovers

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

“[The site] was important because [Cleopatra] could represent the legend of Osiris and Isis, which was important for the way she died and for the legacy she wants for the future,” Martinez said, referring to the gods that ancient Egyptians (mainly) believed had themselves engaged in a passionate love affair.

The ever-authoritative Hawass echoed this sentiment: “It’s a sacred place of Osiris and Isis, and this could be a perfect place for Marc Antony as Osiris and Cleopatra as Isis to be buried.” 

Martinez was also guided by the historian Plutarch, who wrote that Octavius Caesar allowed the couple to be buried together and that Cleopatra had chosen an Isis temple (among the several existing at the time) as the burial site. Octavius had defeated Antony in a struggle over the leadership of the Roman Empire. According to legend, the ill-fated lovers, Antony and Cleopatra, then decided to kill themselves.

Since 2005, Hawass and Martinez have discovered a number of chambers and passageways under the temple.

Further discoveries this year outside the temple complex gave the two reason to be optimistic that they might be closing in on the greatest archaeological find in modern times.

“When we started this excavation in 2005, nobody thought we’d find anything. Four years later, we’ve discovered so much,” Martinez said.

Early this year, having failed to find the tomb inside the temple, the two began excavating several hundred meters outside the temple. There, they’ve discovered 200 skeletons, 20 tombs, and 10 mummies — two with gold gilding on the sarcophagus.

“Inside [the tombs] we found 10 mummies. And two of them had gold gilding,” Hawass said. “And this to show that those people were very important, and they should be buried beside someone important.”

They have also found 22 coins bearing Cleopatra’s name and likeness.