History's Greatest Mysteries (2020) s04e20 Episode Script

The Hunt for Cleopatra's Missing Tomb

a 2,000-year-old mystery
that's confounded
top archaeologists.
The world's most famous queen
lost without a trace.
Cleopatra is
a giant in Egyptian history,
renowned for her cunning
across a 21-year rule.
But no one knows
what happens to her
after she dies
or where she's buried.
This kicks off
an incredible mystery
that lasts to this day.
Now we reveal the top theories
the final resting place
of Egypt's last pharaoh.
The last place we know
where Cleopatra was
when she was alive
was her palace.
If we can find Mark Antony,
we could potentially
find Cleopatra.
Octavian has her killed
and either he dumped her body,
or he left her
where she lay in her mausoleum.
Can new evidence finally uncover
Cleopatra's missing tomb?
November, 2022.
In the ancient Egyptian city
of Taposiris Magna,
Kathleen Martínez has
been excavating
a ruined temple
for the past 17 years.
Martínez is actually
a really formidable woman,
and she's a lawyer by training.
She's not an archaeologist
of any kind,
but she has this passion.
And so, in 2002,
using her own funds,
she decides to take herself
out to Egypt
to explore what's there
in Taposiris Magna.
She collaborates with Egypt's
most famous archaeologist,
Dr. Zahi Hawass,
because Kathleen
believes that
at the site of Taposiris Magna
is the lost tomb
of the famous
Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
It could be a major new lead
in a cold case that goes back
thousands of years.
Cleopatra is one
of the most powerful women
ever to come out of
the ancient Mediterranean world.
She ruled Egypt for 21 years,
from 51 to 30 B.C.
When Cleopatra is 18 years old,
her father,
King Ptolemy XII Auletes, dies.
And Cleopatra then
sort of ascends to the throne.
But because she's a woman,
she can't do it alone.
So her brother is made
The thing
about her brother, however,
is that he's only ten years old.
Before long, a rivalry ensues,
and those aligned
with Cleopatra's younger brother
seek to dethrone her.
But Cleopatra devises
a clever way to stay in power.
She allies herself with Rome.
Cleopatra has two significant
relationships in her life,
both of which are
strategic partnerships
to keep her on the throne.
One is a partnership
with the great Julius Caesar.
He helps her shore up her power,
and with him, she supposedly has
a son named Caesarion.
The second?
Caesar's top general,
Mark Antony.
In 43 B.C.,
he becomes part
of a new Roman
power structure created
after Caesar's assassination.
Rome comes to be ruled
by what's called a triumvirate.
This is actually
a group of three men:
Mark Antony, Marcus Lepidis,
and Octavian.
Wisely, she begins
a strategic relationship
with Mark Antony,
who promises
to support her rule.
Their romance becomes
the stuff of movie lore.
Eventually, Mark Antony is
so smitten with Cleopatra
that he leaves his wife,
moves to Alexandria,
and stays with Cleopatra.
Unfortunately for Cleopatra,
this ends up having
the opposite effect
of what she intended,
because, instead of really
getting the support of Rome,
she's got Mark Antony
earning the enmity
of everybody back in Rome
for leaving his wife, Octavia,
who was actually
Octavian's sister.
So Octavian is furious
and declares war against
Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
After nearly
three years of fighting,
in 31 B.C.,
Octavian's forces
defeat Antony
and Cleopatra's armies
and march on Alexandria.
As the fighting
grows ever closer,
Cleopatra retreats
into a mausoleum in her palace.
The rest is the stuff
of Shakespearean lore.
Mark Antony,
who's out fighting on the front,
gets a message from
one of Cleopatra's servants.
When he opens it,
he's horrified to find out
that Cleopatra is dead,
that she's killed herself.
Upon hearing the news,
Mark Antony attempts
to kill himself
by falling on his own sword,
but he fails to take his life.
a mortally wounded Antony
is brought
to Cleopatra's chambers.
It turns out she hasn't
killed herself at all.
At this time, Antony had become
more of a liability
than an asset to Cleopatra.
He had no more power in Rome.
She actually
asked one of her servants
to go to Mark Antony
and give this message
to try to scare him
into surrendering
in the hopes that
maybe that would help
keep him alive.
Tragically, Antony dies
shortly after this.
Cleopatra leaves her tomb,
goes back to the palace,
meets with Octavian
with negotiations
about her future.
Cleopatra's aspirations
is for Caesarion, her son,
to become the king
or the ruler of Egypt.
Rome doesn't have kings,
but at least he could
be the legitimate heir
of Julius Caesar
and the ruler of Rome as well.
Octavian says he will
spare her and her children,
but he will never
allow the succession.
Cleopatra takes herself
back to her palace,
to her mausoleum,
considers this deal,
and ultimately decides
that she has
nothing left to live for,
and she takes her own life.
Octavian goes on to become
Rome's first emperor,
and Cleopatra will die
as the last active ruler
of the kingdom of Egypt.
Early historians tell us
the method
of Cleopatra's death is poison.
But in those histories,
her story ends there.
This was a time of civil war.
This is a time
of occupation of Egypt,
and a lot of stuff has
been lost over time.
This kicks off
an incredible mystery
that lasts to this day.
No one knows what happens to her
after she dies
or where she's buried.
With such limited information,
where should the search
for Cleopatra's remains begin?
Cleopatra has a mausoleum
and tomb under construction
in her palace when she dies.
So it makes sense
that the tomb should be
the first place that we look.
The challenge is,
the tomb is missing.
But in 1996,
a French archaeologist makes
a breakthrough.
Frank Goddio is
one of the fathers
of underwater archaeology.
He primarily focuses on finding
ancient shipwrecks
and also sunken cities.
Goddio comes up with a theory
as to the location
of Cleopatra's palace.
He believes
that it lies due east
of the modern city
of Alexandria.
And the reason
why we haven't found it
is because it's underwater.
According to Goddio's research,
the landscape of this region
has changed dramatically
since Cleopatra's time.
Frank Goddio reads
the ancient sources,
and he learns from them
that, in 365 A.D
so, about 400 years
after Cleopatra
there was a massive earthquake
that hit Alexandria,
followed by a tsunami that did
a tremendous amount of damage.
Most of the ancient city
at that point was destroyed.
This tidal wave is so massive
that it flings ships over houses
and kills over 50,000 people.
And Goddio thinks that might be
what ultimately
covers Alexandria
and hides Cleopatra's palace.
To prove this,
Goddio begins his search
in the waters
of modern-day Alexandria's
eastern seaport.
Goddio and his team start
by doing high tech scans,
ultimately wanting to create
a master map
of the seafloor surface.
They start to see
the outlines of columns,
porticos, buildings,
even statues.
The team is able to compare
the written sources
with the archaeological mapping,
and they start to see
So, they know from this
that they're on the right track.
It takes years to complete
the first initial map.
They are doing this underwater,
and it is so much more difficult
than doing archaeology
on the land.
But once they have
this master map,
things start to go much quicker.
In 1998, Goddio strikes paydirt.
He finds the sunken remains
of Cleopatra's palace.
The palace has been
missing for 2,000 years.
This makes
big international headlines.
The thing is, the palace is
entirely covered
and filled with mud.
It is very difficult
to excavate and explore.
They're confident
that Cleopatra is there,
but finding her is going
to be extremely difficult.
After nearly
a decade of searching,
Goddio finds
no trace of the tomb.
In 2008,
Goddio discovers something new.
It's an enormous structure,
as large as a football field.
Goddio has radiocarbon dates
that he's taken from
organic pieces of the structure.
And these dates show
that it could have been built
during the time of Cleopatra.
Though the team remains hopeful,
they have not yet
discovered the tomb.
To this day,
Goddio and his team are
still searching, but they have
barely scratched the surface
of this enormous complex.
When Cleopatra's
palace is found underwater
by archaeologist Frank Goddio,
he believes her tomb should be
somewhere inside.
The last place
we know Cleopatra was
when she was alive
is her palace,
and that was
just discovered underwater
in 1998.
not everyone's convinced
Goddio will find the tomb.
First of all,
underwater exploration
is incredibly difficult.
we believe her tomb was
unfinished when she died.
So the artifacts, relics,
statues, and other signs
that would lead us there,
they weren't put in place yet.
But there might be another way
to find Cleopatra's tomb.
Even though he dies a traitor,
many Romans are interested
in what becomes of Mark Antony.
He was at one point
a national hero,
and so there's a chance
he'd be easier to track down.
And if we can find Mark Antony,
we could potentially
find Cleopatra.
Within a few years
of Mark Antony's death,
several ancient historians
share more details.
The Roman custom at the time is
to cremate great leaders.
Mark Antony is cremated,
Julius Caesar is cremated,
and, after his death,
Octavian will be cremated.
A few decades afterward,
the Greek historian Plutarch
fills in even more details.
Plutarch writes that,
after Mark Antony's death,
Octavian has Cleopatra
as his prisoner.
But he does allow her,
out of clemency,
to go and visit
Mark Antony's tomb.
And when she's there,
she holds the urn
that has his ashes in it,
and she pours out a libation,
as a kind of
act of love and piety.
So apparently Mark Antony
has been given a tomb
for his ashes.
According to Plutarch,
after Cleopatra commits suicide,
Octavian is similarly
generous with her remains
and allows her to be buried
with Mark Antony.
Mark Antony's
final resting place
hasn't been found either,
so there's a chance
that he and the missing
Cleopatra are
out there together somewhere.
Plutarch is
actually the only source
that we have that says
that Cleopatra, after her death,
was placed together with Antony.
We do have other ancient sources
which talk about
Octavian's clemency,
his mercy and compassion
towards his enemies.
Despite all the stories
of Octavian's kindness,
many historians
believe he didn't treat
Cleopatra's body
with respect at all.
There's a saying that history is
written by the victors.
That means that authors
in Octavian's time are
generally going to write
great things about him.
Otherwise they might suffer
punishment if they upset him.
As for the accounts
of Plutarch, they were
probably just
embellished over time.
Octavian himself also
doctors the historical record.
He comes up
with a smear campaign
against Cleopatra, labeling her
an evil seductress and traitor,
someone who used
their feminine wiles
to brainwash Mark Antony.
To me, this suggests
that he wouldn't have
given Cleopatra a royal burial
beside Mark Antony.
Octavian's actions
after Cleopatra's death
also speak volumes.
One of the last acts
that Cleopatra does
before she dies is
she sends her son Caesarion away
away in order to protect him,
but after her death,
Octavian sends people
to go and find him
and have him killed.
He actually does this
by tricking Caesarion
once he's been found.
So he tells Caesarion that,
if he returns to Alexandria,
he'll be made king of Egypt.
But as soon as Caesarion
returns home, he's killed.
The most commonly-told
account says
that one of
Octavian's bodyguards
strangles him to death.
Keep in mind,
this is by the same historians
who say that
Octavian was generous
with Cleopatra and Mark Antony.
This is the cleaned-up
version of the story.
Octavian's actions don't stop
with Caesarion's murder.
Antony's oldest son
Antyllus is executed
and Antony's children
with Cleopatra
he has three of them
are actually captured,
and they're taken back to Rome,
where they're paraded in chains
as part of Octavian's
military triumph.
All of this shows
considerable hatred
and contempt
for Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
To the new emperor,
Antony is the man
who left the Triumvirate,
who left his wife,
Octavian's sister,
for another woman,
who left Rome
to go and flee to Egypt.
Cleopatra was the foul temptress
who made it all happen.
I think the prevailing opinion
among today's scholars
is that if you're going to go
digging around Alexandria,
trying to find
a carefully-preserved urn
of Cleopatra's ashes
beside those of Mark Antony,
you're probably
wasting your time.
Once Cleopatra was
of no further value as a trophy,
Octavian probably didn't care
about her or Antony.
For more than 2,000 years,
the story of Cleopatra's
dramatic suicide
remains mostly unchallenged.
The most famous version
of this suicide
comes from Virgil
in "The Aeneid,"
where he suggests that Cleopatra
gets a snake to bite her,
and that's how she dies.
The story then gets
elaborated on
over the years,
where some authors suggesting
that the snake is
actually an asp.
Plutarch also
supports this idea.
And what he says is
that Cleopatra has the asp
smuggled into the palace
in a basket,
and it was covered over
with figs and leaves
so that nobody could
see it coming in.
Today, many historians
doubt the snake bite story.
The reason people have
a problem with it
is that, at this point,
Cleopatra is Octavian's prisoner
and under close guard.
Asps are large.
They wriggle and hiss.
So for someone to have
brought in a tray of food
with a snake and for it
to have gone unnoticed,
well, those would have been
the worst guards in history.
Cleopatra is also no fool.
She knows her science
and her medicine,
and she is smart enough
to figure out
all the things
that could go wrong
with this particular plan.
She wouldn't have chosen
a plan with so many variables.
Those who believe
the suicide story think
it's much more likely
Cleopatra simply had
a bottle of poison with her
from the moment
the Romans arrived at her gates.
In 2013, bestselling author
and criminal profiler Pat Brown
upends the suicide theory.
Brown looks at Cleopatra's death
like she would
any other cold case,
as she's been trained to do
throughout her career.
Pat Brown looks at the evidence,
the wounds,
the placement of the body,
and she wonders
if some of the evidence
was staged
or just completely fabricated.
Brown's conclusion?
Cleopatra's death isn't suicide.
It's cold-blooded murder.
Brown starts by taking
the suicide theory
at face value.
She consults
with medical examiners,
with herpetologists,
to understand
all of the in's and out's
of snake poison.
to the historical accounts,
Cleopatra's two maidservants
also die from poisoning
shortly after she does.
So how exactly does
one snake kill three people?
Is it trained
to bite on command?
Does it even have enough venom
to kill three women?
The most likely poisonous snakes
that were around
during this time in Egypt
were the cobra and the asp.
Although both snakes have
enough venom in them
to kill multiple people,
most of the venom is
actually discharged
in their very first bite.
And after that,
it takes a little while
for them to sort of
recharge and reload.
Fully replenishing their venom
can take a snake days.
They don't need
a full tank to kill someone,
but it would need to be
at least an hour
before someone else
could be killed.
There's another
timing issue as well.
The amount of time it takes
for the snake bite
to kill someone.
Brown points out
that in the hours
before Cleopatra's death,
she's exchanging messages
with Octavian.
Guards and messengers are
going in and out,
and dying from a snake bite
takes hours, and it's agonizing.
So, we're saying that
nobody noticed
this agonizing death
over several hours?
According to Brown,
the outcome would be the same
even if poison was
smuggled in via a bottle.
Once again,
you're left with the same issue.
In fact,
it would take slightly longer
for the venom to take effect
because it has to get
absorbed into
the bloodstream first.
Once Brown rules out suicide,
she turns her attention
to murder.
As Brown and any good
criminal profiler knows,
murder requires motive.
And who had the most to gain
from Cleopatra's death?
Some people
believe that Octavian
would want to keep
Cleopatra alive
to display her
as a conquered trophy
through the streets of Rome.
He displays the children
of Cleopatra and Mark Antony
exactly in this way.
But according to Brown,
Octavian has a stronger motive
to kill Cleopatra
than to keep her alive.
If Cleopatra is still alive,
then Octavian would
have somebody
who could stand in the way
of his control over Egypt.
Cleopatra is the rightful queen.
Octavian already has
several non-threatening trophies
to parade around
her younger children.
They're too young
to raise an army
or seize the throne.
One year
after Brown's book, in 2014,
two Greek historians
write an article
that reaches
the same conclusion.
Gregory Tsoucalas
and Markos Sgantzos publish
"The Death of Cleopatra:
Suicide by Snakebite
or Poisoned by Her Enemies?"
In it, they propose
that Egypt's last queen
was, in fact,
murdered by Octavian.
Tsoucalas and Sgantzos say
that all the circumstances
point to Cleopatra
being killed by a Roman poison,
and that means murder.
Like all military leaders
of the time,
Octavian actually travels
with physicians,
and physicians are
trained in poisons.
The Romans specialize
in a poison that's a mixture
of hemlock, opium, and aconite.
This poison
induces a deep sleep,
resulting in coma, then death.
According to Tsoucalas
and Sgantzos,
Octavian has Cleopatra
and her servants injected
with this Roman poison,
possibly even using a needle
that makes it look like
they've been bitten by a snake.
Then what happened
to Cleopatra's body?
If this is the case,
there is no tomb.
Octavian is just kind
of trying to move on
from the whole
Cleopatra situation.
So, according to their theory,
he has her killed
and plants the story
of suicide in order to be able
to kind of tell a nice story
and then move on
as quickly as possible.
If he's smart enough to do that,
then he's smart enough
to not build her a tomb.
The last thing he needs is
a permanent marker
of a once-beloved queen
for people to pilgrimage to
and make offerings to.
So, unfortunately,
if you subscribe to this theory,
the search for Cleopatra's
lost tomb is pointless.
Because Octavian
covered his tracks.
Egypt's last pharaoh
never gets a tomb.
Her body was destroyed,
dumped, and forgotten.
For thousands of years,
Cleopatra's story has been
entwined with her relationship
with Rome's most powerful men.
But in 2010,
an American archaeologist
finds evidence
that upends that notion
and offers a new theory
about her final days.
In 2010, Ohio State University
Professor Duane Roller
"Cleopatra: A Biography."
The real Cleopatra is
notoriously difficult to grasp.
Roller's book is one
of the best-researched accounts
of Cleopatra around.
In addition to being
an archaeologist,
Roller is a classicist.
He can read
all of the original accounts
in their original Greek
and Latin.
Based on an exhaustive search
through the historical record,
he believes that
a great deal about Cleopatra
has been misunderstood,
and perhaps this can explain
what happens to her
after she dies.
First of all,
Roller is convinced that
Cleopatra is not subservient
to her Roman lovers
or even to Rome at all.
According to Roller,
she carefully manipulates them
to keep her kingdom intact.
When Cleopatra
came to the throne,
she had three surviving siblings
who did not get along.
There's all kind of
sibling rivalry.
Cleopatra's Egypt is probably
about to be split in three parts
until she convinces
Julius Caesar to help.
She does this
in a rather ingenious way.
Roman sources tell us
that she has herself
wrapped in a carpet and smuggled
into Caesar's quarters.
When he unrolls
this mysterious gift,
there she is
in all her regal finery,
ready to negotiate a deal
to save Egypt.
After Caesar's death,
Cleopatra carefully researches
his successors.
When Antony comes to the east,
she very quickly realizes
he is a person to be cultivated.
She learns that
Mark Antony believes himself
to be the embodiment
of the Greek god Dionysus.
And so she hatches
a clever plan to earn his favor.
Dionysus is
the god of wine and pleasure,
a fact Cleopatra uses
to her advantage
when she first meets
Antony in 41 B.C.
Knowing his Dionysus fetish,
she arrives dressed up
as the Greek goddess Aphrodite,
being fanned by attendants
dressed as Cupids.
Almost immediately,
Antony is willing to do
just about anything
Cleopatra asks of him.
While these stories show cunning
on Cleopatra's part,
they suggest that her main tool
for manipulation was sex.
But Roller believes
that that was not the case.
Roller believes Cleopatra uses
her negotiation skills
to survive.
Despite being a smaller kingdom
with a less powerful military,
Egypt had a lot more money
than Rome.
Cleopatra, as it turns out,
was phenomenally wealthy.
I believe it's her wealth
and not her sexual prowess
that ultimately dictates
how Cleopatra lived
and how she died.
Roller examines the work
of the Roman historian
Cassius Dio.
In it, he discovers that
Mark Antony initially
comes to Cleopatra
because he needs
her financial support
to pay off
Rome's armies and debts.
According to Dio,
Cleopatra and Antony had
a financial relationship,
and who knows whether
it was all that he needed?
But it certainly helped
to sustain him financially,
especially as sources
began to dry up in Rome.
When Octavian
defeats Antony in 30 B.C.,
he intends to seize
Cleopatra's treasure.
But she has other plans.
Roller finds evidence that,
in those final days,
Cleopatra takes action.
She isn't about to let
Octavian get the upper hand.
She still has
one final play to make.
Cleopatra has her servants
gather up her wealth,
everything they can grab,
and she has them amass it
in the safest place she knows:
her own mausoleum.
The rest she orders hidden.
When Octavian's forces
arrive inside,
she dramatically
holds up a torch
and threatens to kill herself
and take
all the treasure with her.
If this is true,
this is an ingenious move.
Cleopatra knows the only thing
Octavian needs from her
is her money,
and she can use that
as a bargaining tool.
According to Roller's research,
Cleopatra begins
an extended negotiation
with Octavian.
She offers to support him
and give over her treasure,
if he agrees
to meet certain conditions.
Here, she is
holding her wealth hostage
and giving herself time
to make other plans.
Among those plans,
she finds a way
to smuggle her son out of town.
Next, she has
to make plans for herself.
Roller cites the account
of the Roman historian
Titus Livius.
In one of Cleopatra's
final exchanges
with Octavian, she writes,
"I will not be led
in triumph."
This is one of
the few times any historian
bothers to write
her specific words down,
and it gives us a clue
as to what she intended next.
Roller writes
that Cleopatra then
orchestrates her own death
by poisoning,
which takes place
in August of 30 B.C.
If she's planned this out
down to the last detail,
many historians believe
that she made
one final arrangement.
And that explains why her tomb
has yet to be found.
Upon her death,
Cleopatra orders her body
smuggled out of the palace
and buried in an unmarked grave.
This way, her enemies will
never find her.
Is it possible she pulled
this off to have her body
smuggled out of a palace
swarming with Roman soldiers?
I think the answer is yes.
Cleopatra had so much wealth,
she could have bribed
every Roman in the palace.
This is how she could have
made arrangements
for her secret burial.
If Cleopatra was
successful, where is her tomb?
So if this is the case,
and Cleopatra made
her own funeral arrangements,
that means that we would
have to stop looking
for any kind of evidence
of a Roman-style burial
in ash urns
and start thinking
like an Egyptian.
This would mean
Cleopatra didn't end up
in Alexandria at all.
Now, we have a whole new world
of possibilities to explore.
In 2002, Dominican attorney
Kathleen Martínez
sets out to find
Cleopatra's lost tomb.
Ever since
she was a young child,
Martínez has been
fascinated with Egypt.
Her family encouraged
the law career.
But eventually,
she gives it all up
to become
an archaeologist in Egypt.
The one mystery
that she wants to solve
beyond anything else is
the mystery of Cleopatra's tomb.
Like many modern day historians,
she respects
and admires Cleopatra
as a brilliant queen.
And she can't imagine
that a queen would have
allowed herself to be
desecrated after death.
Martínez believes
that Cleopatra is way too smart
not to have seen
her own death coming.
She knows that
Octavian is either
going to have her executed
or use her as a puppet
by parading her around.
So she plans for her death
and has her handmaidens
smuggle her body
out of Alexandria.
But where do you look?
Martínez believes
that she has the answer.
Like many pharaohs,
Cleopatra shapes her image
around one of the Egyptian gods.
During her reign,
Cleopatra considers herself
a living representation of Isis,
a goddess of fertility
and motherhood
and wife to the god-king Osiris.
If Cleopatra was able to choose
her own resting place,
Martínez is confident
it would have been
a temple of Isis or Osiris.
The problem is,
there are a lot of temples
to both Isis and Osiris.
To locate the right one,
Dr. Martínez relies
on Greek geographer
Strabo's descriptions
of ancient Egypt.
Based on Strabo's writing,
Martínez locates 21 temples
associated with Osiris and Isis.
She looks at these 21 locations
and realizes
that almost all of them
have already been
thoroughly explored.
All except one:
the temple
at the ancient ruins
of Taposiris Magna.
Looking at the scant
historical records,
Martínez believes it's only
been lightly surveyed,
and it's only 30 miles
from Alexandria.
This must be the place.
Martínez gets
in touch with Egypt's
chief archaeologist,
a man called Zahi Hawass,
who agrees to show her
around Taposiris Magna.
From the moment she arrives,
she feels certain that the great
Queen Cleopatra is here.
In order to excavate the site,
Dr. Martínez needs permission
from the Egyptian government.
Initially, the Egyptians
kind of make fun of her.
They blow her off
because, after all,
what would a lawyer by trade
know about
ancient Egyptian archaeology?
But Martínez persists,
and she agrees to fund
the venture entirely on her own.
Finally, they do
grant her a license,
the first ever given
to a Latin American expedition.
There's just one catch:
the license is only good
for eight weeks.
Anyone who knows anything
about archaeological digs
knows that this is
an impossible challenge.
Excavations are
a slow and tedious process.
It can take eight months
to find a single artifact,
and once you find it,
it can take a long time
to excavate it safely.
So an eight week deadline
to excavate an entire site
really limits
what you're able to do.
Martínez and her team
start digging
at Taposiris Magna in 2004.
The clock is ticking down.
For seven whole weeks,
Martínez finds
absolutely nothing.
And then, almost like
something out of a movie,
on the last day of the dig,
Martínez discovers
what looks to be
a hidden shaft
by the north gate of the temple.
Inside the shaft,
she discovers
two secret chambers.
And in those chambers, Martínez
finds something important.
These are small gray tablets
with Greek inscriptions.
The tablets Martínez finds are
called foundation deposits.
During constructions
of the time,
tablets like that were
left behind to give information
on the construction
of the building.
When Martínez cleans the tablets
and reads the Greek,
she learns that
the Taposiris Magna complex
was built by Ptolemy IV,
Cleopatra's great-great-
great grandfather.
people thought Martínez's theory
was far-fetched.
They believed that
no one was digging
at Taposiris Magna
because there was
nothing to find.
Now, Martínez has
found something.
The Egyptian
government allows Martínez
to extend the dig.
Energized by their find,
the team brings in
new technology.
In 2008, Martínez and her team
bring in
ground-penetrating radar.
And they're quickly able
to ascertain
that there are
a whole series of tunnels
underneath Taposiris Magna,
about 68 feet
beneath the surface.
And just below these corridors,
they find something that
just makes their jaws drop.
In 2008,
archaeologist Kathleen Martínez
and her team are
exploring the ruins
of the Egyptian temple
of Taposiris Magna.
They're looking
for Cleopatra's tomb.
As they sweep the area
with ground-penetrating radar,
they suddenly see
what appears to be
a network
of underground corridors.
And these corridors lead
to multiple chambers.
Martínez believes that
these are burial chambers.
Martínez is not about
to miss this discovery.
She's going in herself.
She has her team lower her down
into the tunnels themselves.
From there, she enters
into one of the chambers,
and she finds
the head of a statue.
And can you believe it?
It's Cleopatra.
She also finds a mask
that resembles Mark Antony.
It's extraordinary to think
that other archaeological teams
have explored this site
and declared that
there was nothing to find,
when all these wonderful
artifacts have been discovered.
Next, Martínez and her team
uncover hundreds
of bronze coins.
These coins bear
the image of Cleopatra,
so obviously they're
from the time of Cleopatra.
They also suggest that
this is a place of pilgrimage
for Egyptians
who left those coins.
With each of these discoveries,
the team becomes
increasingly convinced
that they're going to find
the tomb of Cleopatra.
But just as Martínez
believes she's on the verge
of a major breakthrough,
unrest in North Africa
brings her progress to a halt.
Democracy, democracy,
let us live in liberty.
It's complete chaos
in the Arab world.
You have Libya's leader,
Muammar Gaddafi,
who is deposed
and also murdered.
And then, in 2011,
Egyptian president
Hosni Mubarak is overthrown.
With all of Egypt in turmoil,
Dr. Martínez has no choice
but to suspend her dig.
This is a worst case
scenario for Martínez,
because once
an expedition is suspended,
there is no guarantee that
it will ever start up again.
Fortunately, in 2014,
stability returns.
The project is able
to start again,
and they discover new artifacts,
more links to Cleopatra herself,
but no tomb.
Martínez doesn't give up.
In 2021, she finds
16 more burial chambers
with many skeletons and mummies.
Two of these mummies are
incredibly special,
because they appear
to be royalty and buried
side by side, like lovers.
One of them is adorned
with a crown
that's decorated with horns.
The other has gilded decorations
that look like a wide necklace.
Most importantly,
the two mummies have
golden tongues nestled
in their jawbones.
Golden tongues are
a very important part
of ancient Egyptian culture.
In the Book of the Dead,
gold tongues ensure
that the deceased will
be able to speak,
eat and drink in the afterlife.
A crown, golden tongues,
gilded decorations.
This was obviously the tomb
of no ordinary couple.
Could these possibly be
the mummified bodies
of Antony and Cleopatra?
The mummies are
eventually X-rayed,
and while it is found
that they are male and female,
no further identification
can be made.
Martínez concludes that,
while the mummies
are promising,
if this really was
the tomb of Cleopatra,
it would probably be
much grander but who knows?
If Cleopatra and Antony had
to be smuggled out
at the last minute, maybe
the tomb wouldn't be so grand.
A year later,
Dr. Martínez's team makes
an even more exciting discovery.
in 2022, Martínez's team
found a long tunnel,
60 feet underground.
The tunnel is attached
to a newly-found temple of Isis
that's part of the complex.
This is where
Martínez believes that
Cleopatra and possibly Antony
are both buried.
If Cleopatra does
in fact have a tomb,
I think Martínez really is
looking in the right direction.
And what she has produced so far
only strengthens her theory
that she is looking
in the right place.
I think that
this is a possibility,
although there are a lot
of possibilities out there.
No matter what,
the investigations
at Taposiris Magna
will give us more information
than we had before.
And it looks like it'll give us
more information
on the time of Cleopatra
and hopefully Cleopatra herself.
In the hunt for Cleopatra,
Kathleen Martínez may have
her work cut out for her.
The new section she's exploring
at Taposiris Magna
is mostly underwater.
Undeterred, Martínez calls
this phase of her dig, quote,
the beginning of a new journey.
Only time will tell
if she's on the right track.
I'm Laurence Fishburne.
Thank you for watching
"History's Greatest Mysteries."
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