Egypt unearths Ptolemaic statue

2010-05-05 10:15

Cairo - Archaeologists trying to locate Cleopatra's tomb in Egypt have unearthed a huge black granite Ptolemaic statue, the country's antiquities chief said on Tuesday.

The find near the Mediterranean city of Alexandria was "one of the finest Ptolemaic royal statues (to have been discovered), although without a head", said Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

"This huge statue is probably King Ptolemy IV, especially since it was he who built this temple" more than 2 000 years ago, Hawass added without specifying its exact proportions.

The mission hunting for Cleopatra's tomb, which also includes Dominican Egyptologist Kathleen Martinez, had also found the original entrance to the temple of Taposiris Magna, said Hawass.

The Ptolemaic dynasty was of Greek origin and ruled Egypt between 323 and 30 BC. It was the last pharaonic dynasty before Egypt came under Roman rule, and Cleopatra was its last sovereign.

Cleopatra and her lover, the Roman general Mark Antony, committed suicide after their defeat at the battle of Actium, which consolidated Octavian's rule of Rome.

Archaeologists hope that their dig of the ancient temple of Taposiris Magna, erected to honour the Egyptian god Isis in around 300 BC, will soon reveal the pair's resting place.