Beneath a temple in the ancient ruined city of Taposiris Magna on Egypt’s coast, archaeologists have discovered a large, impressive canal that experts call a “geometric miracle”.
When excavating this temple, Kathleen Martinez of the University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and her colleagues excavated the building 13 meters (43 feet) below. A 2-meter-high road was carved through 1,305 meters (4,281 feet) of sandstone.
Its design, according to Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, bears a striking resemblance to the 1,036-meter Eupalinos Tunnel – a 600 BCE tunnel on the Greek island of Samos. Known as a remarkable feat of engineering, the tunnel was a masterpiece of architecture for its time.
Although the Taposiris Magna canal has no parallel, its engineering is impressive.
Parts of the Taposiris Magna tunnel are submerged, although putting aside its similarities to the Eupalinos Tunnel, its purpose is unknown.
Martinez, who has been working in Taposiris Magna since 2004 in search of the lost tomb of Cleopatra VII, believes that this road could be the lead. In the past, the excavations have produced signs that seem to point to the famous and last Ptolemy queen.
Taposiris Magna was founded around 280 BCE by Ptolemy II, son of the famous general of Alexander the Great and one of Cleopatra’s ancestors (he ruled from 51 BCE until his death by suicide in 30 BCE). The temple, the group believes, was dedicated to the god Osiris and his queen, the goddess Isis – a goddess with whom Cleopatra was closely associated. Coins bearing the names and likenesses of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great have been found there, as well as statues of Isis.
Greek and Roman burial columns were also found in the temple. It is possible that – if found there – Cleopatra and her husband Mark Antony could be buried in the same tomb.
It’s too early to tell if the new canal will bring back the long-lost graves, but future work may bring more.
The next step will be to explore the nearby Mediterranean Sea. Between 320 and 1303 CE, a series of earthquakes hit the coast, causing part of the temple to collapse and be swallowed by the waves. In addition, archeological findings have shown that there are many canals from the Sea of Mariout to the Mediterranean Sea.
Whether the tomb is found or not, a thorough excavation of these ruins will help us learn more about this amazing ancient city. The road has already yielded treasures: pieces of pottery, and rectangular limestone blocks.
As the then Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass said 13 years ago, “If we find the tombs of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, it will be the most important discovery of the 21st century. If we do not find the tombs of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, then the tombs of Cleopatra and Mark Antony are very important. we found great things here, inside the temple and outside the temple.