Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Hunt: Cleopatra’s Long-Lost Tomb

From Cleopatra (1963)


From ArtNet:

She has one of the most captivating and enduring mythologies of any leader in history, yet the true end of Queen Cleopatra’s story remains an enigma. Archaeologists might be able to offer some clarity, if they could only find her final resting place.

The location of the Queen of the Nile’s tomb has eluded experts for centuries. Napoleon famously led an expedition searching for the crypt in the early 19th century. Egyptologists widely believe it is hidden somewhere in Alexandria, where the missing tombs of all 14 of the Ptolemaic Pharaohs, the final dynasty of ancient Egypt, are expected to be. Alas, much of ancient Alexandria now lies at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

Greek historian Plutarch indicated that when Emperor Octavian ended a civil war by defeating Cleopatra and her beloved husband, the great Roman general Mark Antony, he allowed for them to be buried together. Though the prospect of finding both of their physical remains is thrilling, Plutarch wrote of their death and burial several decades after their occurrence, which casts his words into doubt. 

Many Egyptologists accept that both the Queen and her royal consort died dramatically by suicide, she by snakebite and he by his own sword. Others speculate that she died by intentional drug overdose, or by stinging herself with a poison-tipped hairpin. A growing number of experts suspect the suicide is a cover-up—that perhaps the queen was murdered. Much of the contemporary understanding of Cleopatra is based on the accounts of ancient Roman and Greek historians who undoubtedly held a bias towards her. An autopsy of her mummy might reveal different truths. (Read more.)


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