Archaeologists searching for the tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony may be closer to locating the burial site of the legendary lovers.
The team believes the tomb may be located in three possible sites near a temple west of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. The expedition, which has worked at the site for three years, will excavate the three locations next week. The sites were identified by a radar scan of the temple, Tasposiris Magna, which was built in honour of the ancient Egyptian deity Isis in the Greco-Roman period.
"There are historic proofs in the works of (Roman chronicler) Plutarch where he says Cleopatra was buried with Marc Anthony". The team has uncovered 10 mummies, two of them gilded, in 27 tombs. The mummies, which belonged to nobles, suggest the tomb of Anthony and Cleopatra may be close. The team also discovered coins engraved with the images of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great. Twenty-two of the coins, made of bronze, showed Cleopatra's profile.
The coins engraved with Cleopatra's image and an alabaster bust of the queen found at the site showed that the queen was a "beauty". "The coin ... which show her face and neck... refute what some scholars have said about Cleopatra being very ugly".
A 2007 study by researchers at Britain's University of Newcastle concluded after studying her image on a well-preserved Roman denarius coin that her beauty had been exaggerated in popular culture.
The discovered coins, worn by age, show Cleopatra, whom Shakespeare portrayed as a tawny beauty who enthralled Anthony, to have been a robust woman with a large, hooked nose.
The bust, seen in a picture provided by the antiquities council, was dilapidated beyond recognition.
In the past century, Cleopatra came to be associated with Elizabeth Taylor's sensual portrayal of the queen in a 1963 movie. Early chroniclers were circumspect on her appearance. Cleopatra ruled Egypt more than 2,000 years ago. She allied herself with Marc Anthony, one of the three men who ruled the Roman empire after Julius Caesar's assassination, and the two married. The marriage and Anthony's ceding of Roman land to Cleopatra helped set his fellow Roman leaders against him. A civil war ensued, and Anthony and Cleopatra committed suicide when it was lost.