The last ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt is perhaps one of the most famous of all pharaohs, but her tomb has never been found in the 2,000 years since her death. Archaeologists have traditionally searched for evidence close to the centre of Alexandria, where she was born and ruled, but Dr Martinez – who has dedicated her life to finding Cleopatra’s tomb – is convinced she actually lies 30 miles outside of the city, in the ancient temple site of Taposiris Magna. Now, Channel 5’s new series ‘The Hunt for Cleopatra’s Tomb’ reveals the moment she made the major discovery of two high-status Egyptian mummies adding weight to her theory.
After a tantalising operation removing limestone slabs blocking the top, a small hole appeared and Dr Martinez took a look inside.
She said last week: “Oh my God, there are two mummies.
“You have to come down and see this wonder.”
Undisturbed for millennia and in a poor state of preservation because water had seeped into the tomb, the pair were originally covered in gold leaf – a luxury reserved for only the top members of society’s elite – meaning they may have personally interacted with Cleopatra.
Egyptologist Dr Glenn Godenho – who described the find as “phenomenal” while presenting the show – told Express.co.uk why he was so impressed.
He said: “The way the mummies were mummified, particularly the one was originally covered in gold leaf, shows that these were high-ranking people who could afford a good burial in nice materials.
“So that then starts to help us build up a profile of the complex social structures at Taposiris Magna.
“Kathleen must be finding members of the more privileged end of society in this necropolis.
“The more she finds, the more she’ll be able to say about who they were.
READ MORE: ‘Major breakthrough’ in Cleopatra hunt as 200 royal coins pinpoint tomb after 2,000 years
“One of the problems is that no texts were found on the mummies, so we don’t yet have names and job titles, so at present, it’s a little difficult to say too much more about them.”
The male and female mummies may have been priests who played a key role in maintaining the power of the legendary Egyptian queen and her lover, Mark Anthony.
Also found at the site were 200 coins bearing Cleopatra’s name and her face, which could have been pressed based on Cleopatra’s direct instructions and a statue of her great grandfather.
Despite the fact researchers have been excavating the site since 2005, only a tiny percentage of the vast site has been explored, which means Dr Martinez could hit the jackpot any day now.
Mr Godenho added: “Kathleen’s focus is on demonstrating that Taposiris Magna has close links to Cleopatra and that she may even be buried there.
“The mummies on their own don’t demonstrate that, but taken alongside other evidence from the site – the Ptolemaic dated statue from the temple and the Cleopatra coins – there is growing circumstantial evidence to suggest that this place was active during Cleopatra’s time.
“The real link for Kathleen comes in the confirmation that there is a Ptolemaic period Isis Temple within the larger temple.
“Since Isis was a favourite goddess of Cleopatra and her line, Kathleen believes that she would have had a real interest in this temple, to the extent that she could have been buried here.”