In 2022, archaeologists discovered what experts called a “geometric miracle” beneath a temple in the ancient ruined city of Taposiris Magna on the Egyptian coast.
Kathleen Martinez of the University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and colleagues discovered the structure 13 meters (43 ft) underground during ongoing excavations and surveys of the temple. The 2-meter-high tunnel was cut through an incredible 1,305 meters (4,281 feet) of sandstone.
its design, according to A November 2022 statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities stated that 1,036 meters Tunnel of Eupalinos – 6th century BC aqueduct on the Greek island of Samos.is often called engineering marvelthe conduit was unprecedented in its design and construction at the time.
The Taposiris Magna Tunnel isn’t peerless, but its engineering is equally impressive.
Part of the Taposiris Magna Tunnel is submerged, but its purpose, aside from similarities to the Eupalinos Tunnel, is currently unknown.
Martinez, who has been working at Taposiris Magna since 2004 in search of the lost tomb of Cleopatra VII, believes the tunnels offer a promising lead. Previous excavations have yielded clues that seem to point to the famous queen and the last Ptolemy.
Taposiris Magna was founded around 280 BC by Ptolemy II, son of Alexander the Great’s famous general and one of Cleopatra’s ancestors (she herself committed suicide between 51 and 30 BC). ruled until death).
The team believes the temple was dedicated to the god Osiris and his queen, the goddess Isis. sought a strong associationCoins engraved with the names and likenesses of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great, as well as a statue of Isis have been found.
Burial shafts containing Greco-Roman burials include Found in a templeIt is possible that Cleopatra and her husband Mark Antony were buried in a similar grave.
Researchers weren’t sure if the tunnels lead to these long-lost tombs, but future research may provide more information.
The next stage is to explore the nearby Mediterranean Sea. Between 320 AD and 1303 AD, a series of earthquakes hit the coast, partially collapsing the temple and engulfing it in waves. In addition, excavations have previously revealed a network of tunnels extending from Mariut Lake to the Mediterranean.
Whether the tombs are found or not, a thorough excavation of these ruins will reveal even more about the mysterious ancient city. The tunnels have already yielded some treasures: It is a rectangular block of pottery shards and limestone.
As Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass at the time said 13 years ago“If we find the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, it will be the most important discovery of the 21st century. I made a big discovery outside the temple.”
A version of this article was first published in November 2022.