Archaeologists have made an incredible discovery underneath a temple in Taposiris Magna, an ancient city on the Egyptian coast. A "geometric miracle" tunnel was uncovered by a team of experts led by Kathleen Martinez, an archaeologist at the University of Santo Domingo.
The structure is 13 meters below the ground and stretches for an impressive 1,305 meters. The tunnel is truly a work of engineering marvel as the design is remarkably similar to the Tunnel of Eupalinos—a 6th-century BCE aqueduct on the Greek island of Samos. But what exactly is the purpose of this awe-inspiring tunnel? Unfortunately, we don't have an answer yet, but the discovery could potentially lead to something big. Kathleen Martinez and her team have been working in Taposiris Magna since 2004, searching for the tomb of Cleopatra VII—the last Egyptian pharaoh who ruled from 51 BCE until her death in 30 BCE. The temple they've been exploring in Taposiris Magna was founded by Cleopatra's forebear Ptolemy II and was dedicated to the god Osiris, together with his queen, the goddess Isis, who had a strong association with Cleopatra. The team has already found coins bearing the names and likenesses of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great, as well as figurines of Isis inside the temple. And who knows, Cleopatra and her husband Mark Antony could be buried in the temple's burial shafts? The discovery of the tunnel could potentially lead to these long-lost tombs.
But the plot thickens. Part of the temple collapsed and was swallowed by the Mediterranean coast after a series of earthquakes hit between 320 and 1303 CE. The team has previously discovered a network of tunnels stretching from Lake Mariout to the Mediterranean. Could these tunnels give us more clues about the mysterious ancient city of Taposiris Magna? Only time will tell.
While we wait for answers, the tunnel has already provided some treasures such as pieces of pottery and a rectangular block of limestone. But as the then-Minister for Antiquities Zahi Hawass said 13 years ago, "If we discover the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, it will be the most important discovery of the 21st century. If we did not discover the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, we made major discoveries here, inside the temple and outside the temple." We can't wait to hear more as excavations continue - stay tuned...