Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Blood in Rome…Passion and Love in Egypt! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- In Rome, Julius Caesar was assassinated at the hands of several conspiring senators, claiming that Caesar had changed a populist regime into an authoritarian one, and that he himself had become an authoritarian ruler, pulling the strings of power in his hands, in the process limiting the powers of the Senatus (the Roman Senate).

Mark Antony came to Egypt after his conflict with Octavius. Antony found a carefree life in Egypt, after the beautiful queen Cleopatra granted him her heart and mind. They spent the most beautiful honeymoon on board a royal ship which sailed the two lovers along the immortal river, between the cities of Ancient Egypt. Together they visited pharaonic monuments, which had been preserved by the Ptolemaic dynasty. They pleased the temples’ priests, in order to continue their religious service, by burning incense to scent the statues of the gods.

Mark Antony and Cleopatra returned to the royal palace in Alexandria, where Antony found a window of opportunity to humiliate all of Rome and threaten its leaders, by preventing the arrival of Egyptian wheat. Just imagine Egypt was the breadbasket of Rome! This plan nearly caused a famine in the capital of the Roman Empire, and Mark Antony became Rome’s public enemy number one, wanted dead or alive. Antony believed that Rome did not deserve to exist, after their greatest leader Julius Caesar had been assassinated, and after Octavius had expelled and oppressed him. Meanwhile Cleopatra was more intelligent than Mark Antony, and was fully aware of the consequences of threatening to prevent Rome’s wheat supply. Indeed, a Roman war fleet, led by Octavius, headed towards Alexandria, in order to eliminate Mark Antony and Cleopatra. That is all we know about the remainder of the story, until the moment of Cleopatra’s suicide. And this is where the historical texts end, without mentioning anything about the Queen’s funeral, preparations for her mummification, or her tomb!

It is known that Cleopatra used to live in the royal quarters of Alexandria in a magnificent palace, with a small temple constructed beside it. Historical references indicate that Cleopatra built herself a cemetery worthy of a great queen, but there is not one piece of evidence to suggest that the Queen was buried in this tomb. Unfortunately it became, like all of the royal quarters, part of the Mediterranean Sea!

A few months ago, I and a team of divers undertook the management of the sunken artifacts, in cooperation with a Greek mission to extract one side of the temple built by Queen Cleopatra. From one single block of granite, it proves that we have a detailed map of the ancient city of Alexandria, and its sunken parts at the bottom of the Mediterranean. In spite of all this, I do not think that the beautiful Queen had been buried in the cemetery she built herself next to the palace. The whole issue is really interesting, from the fact that not one royal tomb for any of the Ptolemaic kings has been discovered, to the cemetery of Alexander the Great, which has developed these days into a great mystery.

The discovery of the tomb of Queen Cleopatra will remain the hope of every researcher studying the history of the Ptolemaic family, and I think that we have already begun in earnest to solve the mystery of Cleopatra’s tomb… We have before us every possible location for this cemetery, and we have started to work. The story of the search for Cleopatra continues, as she beckons us from beyond the grave!