For someone as famous as Cleopatra, it’s surprising that the tomb of this great queen of Egypt has never been found. That may change soon as an equally flamboyant archeologist hints that she is very close to revealing the final resting place of Cleopatra VII Philopator – the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty before Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire.
“If the world was crazy about King Tut, it will be way crazier about Cleopatra’s tomb if found. Besides the scientific value of finding it, can you imagine what it will do to tourism in Egypt? Cleopatra was the final chapter of ancient Egypt, while King Tut was just a boy king who did little for Egypt but attracted much attention essentially because his tomb was found intact.”
As she sets the stage for her big reveal, archeologist Kathleen Martinez teases The National, a Middle East media site, with what she believes the magnitude of this discovery will be to Egypt, if not the world. if her name sounds familiar, it’s because Martinez has been hinting she’s getting close to finding Cleopatra’s tomb for some time, most recently in a Science Channel special in 2020. Formerly a criminal defense lawyer in the Dominican Republic, she says her lifelong fascination with the queen resulted in her divorcing her husband 15 years ago and moving with her two children to Alexandria to begin her search.
“Everything you want to do in life comes with a price.”
Martinez has long speculated that Cleopatra and Mark Antony were entombed in Taposiris Magna, which means "great tomb of Osiris," that was a center for religious festivals. She told The National that Cleopatra considered herself the embodiment of the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and the focal point of the temple. It would be the appropriate place for Cleopatra to end her life after fleeing from nearby Alexandria to avoid being taken to Rome and paraded in a public shaming.
Archeological digs have gone on there since 1998. A significant early discovery by Martinez was a necropolis filled with Greco-Roman style mummies buried with their faces turned towards the temple, which indicated the temple contained the tomb of a significant royal. Her team found deep shafts or tunnels under the temple – the existence of which previous archeologists had doubted. At least three of the shafts were used for burials, leading Martinez to suspect Cleopatra and Antony may be hidden deep in another. Adding to the odds that this is her burial site was the discovery of a bust of Cleopatra and 22 coins bearing her image.
“What I have been doing is to excavate in places where I have better chances. Every year revealed a piece of the puzzle that I am putting together.”
Does Kathleen Martinez have the last piece of the Cleopatra’s tomb puzzle? If she does, she’s barred from revealing it by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, which makes all announcements of discoveries. However, she drops some hints.
“They may announce by the end of this year, that I am now closer to my objective. It is very improbable that I won’t discover the tomb.”
If a cable TV crew shows up, we'll know the answer. Sorry, Tut!