A mysterious tunnel that’s not been seen for centuries has recently been rediscovered beneath a colossal ancient Egyptian temple dedicated to the god Osiris. Rather sensationally, there has been some wild speculation that this is the tunnel that leads to the long-lost tomb of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
While those bold claims may be overstated, it’s not the first time archaeologists have suggested this ancient city could be home to this sought-after tomb.
The 1,305-meter (4,281-foot) long tunnel was discovered at the Taposiris Magna Osiris Temple in Alexandria on the Egyptian coast, carved into the rock at a depth of around 13 meters (42 feet) below the earth’s surface.
It was recently discovered by a Dominican-Egyptian archaeological mission of the University of San Domingo, according to an announcement by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Describing the find as an “engineering miracle,” head of the excavation Dr Kathleen Martins said the architectural design of the tunnel is very similar to the design of the Tunnel of Eupalinos in Greece, an ancient 1,036-meter (3,399-foot) tunnel that ran through Mount Kastro as an aqueduct before it collapsed.
Research has shown that this area of Egypt’s coastline was struck by at least 23 earthquakes between 320 CE and 1303 CE, which the archeologists believe led to the collapse of the tunnel.
Dr Martins and her team have been exploring the ruins around Taposiris Magna for several years now. The site consists of the ruins of an ancient Egyptian city with the remains of a temple to Osiris as a centerpiece.
Since 2009, there has been some speculation that Taposiris Magna holds the tomb of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII, the last monarch of the Ptolemaic Kingdom who ruled Egypt from 51 BCE to 30 BCE. Their relationship was made famous by the William Shakespeare tragedy and, according to the Greco-Roman historian Plutarch, the two doomed lovers were buried together,
In 2009, a series of artifacts at the Temple of Taposiris Magna suggested the pair’s tomb was near. This included coins donning Cleopatra’s name and parts of a mask they believed may have depicted Mark Antony. Dr Martins has since affirmed that she believes Antony and Cleopatra are buried in the same tomb, which is perhaps located near the Temple of Taposiris Magna.
As tempting as it may be to speculate, it's unlikely that this tunnel leads to the long-lost tomb. However, it’s a possibility that further archeological work on Taposiris Magna may indeed someday reveal the location of this hugely significant burial site.