Un equipo de arqueólogos egipcios ha descubierto una estatua de gran tamaño del siglo III antes de Cristo que representa al rey Ptolomeo IV, que gobernó el país de la desembocadura del Nilo entre los años 221 y 203 a.C.
El descubrimiento, anunciado hoy por el ministro de Cultura egipcio, Faruk Hosni, fue realizado en el templo de Tabusiris Magna en la zona conocida como Burg al Arab, 50 kilómetros al oeste de Alejandría, en la misma zona donde se buscan las tumbas de la reina Cleopatra y el general romano Marco Antonio.
El equipo también encontró la entrada original del edificio, así como las puertas de piedra que determinan la ubicación de este acceso.
Por su parte, el secretario general del Consejo Supremo de Antigüedades, Zahi Hawas, remarcó que la estatua, a la que le falta la cabeza, está esculpida en granito y es una de las mejor conservadas del periodo ptolemaico, que se extiende entre los años 350 y 30 a.C.
Hawas añadió que la obra está esculpida en estilo tradicional y que en ella destaca el torso desnudo y una falda estriada.
El arqueólogo egipcio subrayó que según un documento que se encontró con la estatua, esta pertenece al reinado de Ptolomeo IV, que ordenó la construcción del templo.
Asimismo, el equipo de expertos egipcios halló una gran tumba que contenía halcones momificados con las cabezas dirigidas hacia el templo, lo que indica, según Hawas, que hay un rey enterrado dentro del edificio.
Las excavaciones en esta zona, en las que participa la dominicana Kathleen Teresa Martínez, persiguen el hallazgo de las tumbas de la reina Cleopatra, que gobernó Egipto en el siglo I a.C., y el general romano Marco Antonio.
"Creemos que Cleopatra y Marco Antonio fueron enterrados en un templo allí", dijo Hawas.
El templo está ubicado en el sitio arqueológico conocido como Abusiris, una de las catorce zonas de Egipto en las que el dios egipcio Seth sepultó los pedazos del cuerpo de su hermano, el dios Osiris, tras asesinarlo, según revela la antigua mitología egipcia.
En esa misma área, los arqueólogos han descubierto en los últimos meses un busto de Cleopatra, una estatua real sin cabeza, y 24 monedas con dibujos de la reina.
Archaeologists excavating at Taposiris Magna, a site west of Alexandria, have discovered a huge headless granite statue of a Ptolemaic king, and the original gate to a temple dedicated to the god Osiris.
In a statement issued by the SCA, Dr Zahi Hawass says that the monumental sculpture, which is a traditional figure of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh wearing collar and kilt, could represent Ptolemy IV, the pharaoh who constructed the Taposiris Magna temple. He added that the statue is very well preserved and might be one of the most beautiful statues carved in the ancient Egyptian style.
The joint Egyptian-Dominican team working at Taposiris Magna discovered the temple's original gate on its western side. In pharaonic Egypt the temple was named Per-Usir, meaning 'A place of Osiris'. Legend has it that when the god Seth killed Osiris he cut him into fourteen pieces and threw them all over Egypt. This is one of fourteen temples said to contain one piece of the god's body.
The team also found limestone foundation stones, which would once have lined the entrance to the temple. One of these bears traces indicating that the entrance was lined with a series of Sphinx statues similar to those of the pharaonic era.
The team, led by Dr Kathleen Martinez, began excavations in Taposiris Magna five years ago in an attempt to locate the tomb of the well-known lovers, Queen Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. There is some evidence that suggests that Egypt's last Queen might not be buried inside the tomb built beside her royal palace, which is now under the eastern harbour of Alexandria.
Dr Hawass pointed out that in the past five years the mission has discovered a collection of headless royal statues, which may have been subjected to destruction during the Byzantine and Christian eras. A collection of heads featuring Queen Cleopatra was also uncovered along with 24 metal coins bearing Cleopatra’s face.
Behind the temple, a necropolis was discovered, containing many Greco-Roman style mummies. Early investigations, said Dr Hawass, show that the mummies were buried with their faces turned towards the temple, which means it is likely the temple contained the burial of a significant royal personality, possibly Cleopatra VII.
Dr Hawass has already hailed the dig as a success, whatever the outcome: “If we discover the tomb... it will be the most important discovery of the 21st century. If we do not discover the tomb... we made major discoveries here, inside the temple and outside the temple."
The search of the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is very exciting.
We are now in temple of Taposiris Magna, located about 50 kilometers west of Alexandria. And we are inside the chamber, that is located about may be 7 meters under the ground. And this chamber is a perfect location to make us believe that Cleopatra and Mark Antony could be buried in a chamber like this.
When I was 16 years old, I studied Greek-Roman archaeology in Alexandria. And I met professor [NAME UNCLEAR] Wahrani, was a very intelligent archaeologist, and I asked him: “Professor, what do you think, where is Cleopatra buried?” He smiled and he said to me: “Our knowledge and information say that Cleopatra was buried in a tomb near her palace.” I said: “Professor, but where is her palace?” He said: “Under the water.”
Then I forget about Cleopatra completely until only four years ago came to see me doctor Kathleen Martinez from the Dominican Republic. And she began to convince me with a theory that Cleopatra and Mark Antony were buried inside this temple, Taposiris Magna, 50 kilometers west of Alexandria.
Actually, if you look at this temple, it's a temple belonged to Osiris. We have fourteen locations in Upper and Lower Egypt like this. It was called in pharaonic Egypt [Per-Usir], mean “A place of Osiris”. The devil god Seth killed Osiris, he cut him into fourteen pieces and threw them all over Egypt. And this temple contains one piece of the body of the god Osiris. And this could be a perfect place for Mark Antony and Cleopatra to be buried. We know from Plutarch, they were buried together.
We actually started our excavation three years ago. I had a team, egyptian team, they were trained in the excavation techniques. We discovered the temple deposit [foundation of the ancient Egyptians]. When they began to build a temple, they had to make a celebration. And the celebration they put at deposit, material to prove that they would build a temple in that location. And we found out that this temple was built in the reign of Ptolemy IV. About, may be, 2000 years ago.
The other important thing we discovered is the temple for the goddess Isis inside the temple of Osiris. And inside this temple we found a coin, has a beautiful shape of Alexander the Great. Another, head of the roman emperor was found, and this beautiful head of Cleopatra was discovered. And may be this can show that there was a chapel, a religious chapel was build inside the temple by Cleopatra. And the most interesting thing that we discovered until now is 22 coins that have a shape of Cleopatra.
Outside the temple we discovered until now may be one of the largest greco-roman cemeteries, to the east of the temple, about half a kilometer, full of tombs. We excavated until now 20 tombs cut in the rock with the stairs. And inside we found the mummies, inside this tombs. Two mummies were gilded with gold. Also another cemetery located west of this temple.The discovery of this big cemetery can show there is someone important should be buried inside this temple. Because, if there is no one buried inside this temple, the nobilities or officials will never cut their tombs near the temple of Taposiris Magna.
Then we used the radar, and the reading showed us three locations inside the temple that it is possible that one of them could be the entrance of the tomb goes down for 20 to 25 meters. We are hoping that it could be Cleopatra and Mark Antony, because this would be a very important discovery.
But, as I say, archeology is based on theories. We are examining a theory. If we discover the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, it will be the most important discovery of the XXI 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.
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