Cleopatra's Lost Tomb
Good morning everyone, today I will share another YouTube video perfect for a class on Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome. The video is from the Secrets of the Dead series: Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb. It tells the story of Cleopatra as a historical figure, not focusing on the myth.
Kathleen Martinez leads an expedition to find Cleopatra’s lost tomb. She is a criminal defense lawyer and approaches the search for Cleopatra’s tomb as a potential client. She came up with a new theory as to where Cleopatra was buried. Her search starts in a temple complex known as Taposiris Magna Necropolis. The Taposiris Magna Necropolis was seen as an unfinished temple. The bare walls did not hint at any period in history. These empty walls caused scholars to write off the site. However, Martinez disagrees with that and that it was a functioning temple and that it was the burial site of Cleopatra. She was greeted with skepticism; however, she was undeterred.
Cleopatra was a controversial figure as well as a mystery. Lately, scholars are finding new interpretations of Cleopatra. She is seen as a scholar. She is seen as politically astute. Cleopatra made sure that her people were fed. She is aware of the problems of her kingdom and wants to do something about them. Cleopatra worked to gain allies in Rome. A document cited that Cleopatra wanted to give tax concessions to a Roman. Cleopatra’s death is even poorly documented. The story goes she was poisoned with the bite of an asp. After her death, what happened to her body is unknown.
In the meantime, Kathleen received permission to dig at the site and for eight weeks did not find anything. She was confident that she would find something at the site, but they were disappointed. However, on the final day before the permit was to expire, the team found a hidden shaft. With the discovery of the shaft, they were allowed to continue with the excavation. Would they find more secret shafts? Would one of these shafts contain the tomb of Cleopatra? This shaft was not found by professional archeologists.
As the expedition moved forward, the team discovered fragile tablets. They were from the temple’s foundation. Ptolemy IV laid the original foundation for the temple. This also proved the link between the temple and the Ptolemies. It was a shocking find that shook the archeological community. When the trench was extended they found another building, another temple in the Taposiris Magna complex. It was a temple that was dedicated to the goddess Isis.
Cleopatra, as queen, aligned herself with Isis. She also presented herself as Isis. It was the way she identified herself as Egyptian. Perhaps, Cleopatra decided to be buried in the Taposiris Magna complex because of her identity as Isis. Inside the Isis Temple, the team found coins with Cleopatra’s image on it. Martinez theorized that the temple was still in use during Cleopatra’s reign. The fact that Cleopatra put her image on bronze coins showed that the Queen wanted to be seen by the public. Older rulers put their images on silver coins. Silver coins were used by the rich, but by putting her image on bronze coins, Cleopatra made sure everyone knew her.
Just outside the temple, another shaft was discovered by Kathleen’s team. Kathleen goes underground to explore the shaft discovering two tunnels. There were additional vertical shafts in the tunnel. On top of discovering shafts and passageways, they found pieces of the Isis Temple. Additionally, they also found human remains.
To continue to learn more about Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb, continue to watch the documentary.
You can access the YouTube video here.
You can follow Kathleen Martinez's work here.
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