Tuesday, July 15, 2008


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Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and probably the most famous of all the kings and queen that ruled during the Pharaonic era, is still a mystery to many archeologists. She wasn’t the first Cleopatra, only the most famous. There were six before her, so that makes her Cleopatra VII. Ruling Egypt between 51 and 30 BC, she came to the throne at the age of eighteen and co ruled with her brother, and husband Ptolemy XII.

Surprisingly to many, Cleopatra had no Egyptian blood in her, although she was the only one in her ruling house to learn Egyptian. Cleopatra and Ptolemy were the last sovereigns of the Macedonian dynasty that governed Egypt since the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. To further her influence over the Egyptian people, she was also proclaimed the "Daughter of Ra", the "Sun God of Egypt".

Gold coins with Cleopatra's face were found in the waters surrounding her temple in the Alexandria harbor. The face on the coins was the profile of a plain-looking woman. Although she became famous for her beauty, she did not look like Elizabeth Taylor in the movie version. On the contrary it was her charm, intelligence, ambition and humor that won her the reputation of being one of the most attractive women in history. The woman who captivated the hearts of two of the most powerful men that ruled the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.

As engaging and glamorous as any story plot from a movie, Cleopatra's life and love affair with Mark Antony ended tragically. After stabbing himself in the chest, Antony had himself carried to Cleopatra's mausoleum, where he died in her arms. Rather than be captured as a prisoner by the Romans she committed suicide, in hope to be united with her lover in the after life. To this day the exact cause of her death remains unknown, but legend goes on to say that she held an asp (also known as the Egyptian cobra) to her chest. She died on the last day of August in 30 BC and was buried by Antony’s side, as she had requested.

They are both believed to be buried in the temple of Tabusiris Magna or as it is now being called "The Sunken City", because it lies submerged in the waters of the Eastern Alexandrian Harbor.

The Egyptian government's bold and challenging plan to drain the water from Cleopatra's palace is expected to be completed by November of 2008. Already there have been several discoveries since this project has started in the water surrounding the palace, a 120 meter long underground tunnel, with a number of rooms, and gold coins with the face of Queen Cleopatra.

Archeologists anticipate that the excavation of the two thousand year old palace will yield many an answer to the mysteries that shroud the life of this enigmatic Queen. The restoration of the palace to its timeless historical glory is expected to increase Alexandria's popularity, putting the city in the spotlight as being the resting place to the end of an epic yet tragic story of two lovers, and if you're less of a romantic, the end to almost 300 years of Macedonian sovereignty and the annexation of Egypt into the Roman Empire.

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