The long-lost tomb of Antony and Cleopatra, the burial crypt of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII, from 30 BC, remains undiscovered somewhere near Alexandria, Egypt. According to historians Suetonius and Plutarch, the Roman leader Octavian (later renamed Augustus) permitted their burial together after he had defeated them. Their surviving children were taken to Rome, to be raised as Roman citizens.
Shakespeare, inspired by Plutarch, briefly alludes to this common entombment in the voice of his character Caesar (Octavian), in the last verses of his play Antony and Cleopatra (Act V, scene II):
She shall be buried by her Antony
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous.
Reports in 2008 and 2009 focused on an announcement by the noted Egyptologist Zahi Hawass that he might find the tomb in Taposiris Magna, a temple to Osiris, located west of Alexandria, Egypt. Excavations carried out by Kathleen Martínez have yielded ten mummies in 27 tombs of Egyptian nobles, as well as coins bearing images of Cleopatra and carvings showing the two in an embrace. So far, the tomb itself remains elusive, but the temple excavations continue, with additional sites below the surface identified using ground-penetrating radar in 2011.
In January 2019, controversy arose over the possibility that the discovery of the tombs was imminent, attributed to remarks by Zahi Hawass at a conference at the University of Palermo. The Egyptologist denied the news in an article in the newspaper Al-Ahram, affirming that the thesis that the tombs were in Taposiris Magna was not his but that of Kathleen Martínez, and that he did not believe Martínez's hypothesis because "the Egyptians never buried inside a temple", given that "the temples were for worshiping, and this was for the goddess Isis. It is therefore unlikely that Cleopatra was buried there."
The search seeks to find Antony's mummy as well, despite Plutarch's statement that Antony was cremated: "After Cleopatra had heard this, in the first place, she begged Caesar that she might be permitted to pour libations for Antony; and when the request was granted, she had herself carried to the tomb, and embracing the urn which held his ashes."
In popular culture
- Green, Lucca. "The Tomb of Antony and Cleopatra?".
- William Shakespeare. The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra – via Wikisource.
- William Shakespeare (1623). "Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories, & tragedies: published according to the true originall copies". London, UK: Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount. The Tragedie of Anthonie, and Cleopatra., p. 368, the last page of the play, facsimile by SCETI – University of Pennsylvania; original doc. Horace Howard Furness Memorial (Shakespeare) Library. Folio PR2751 .A1.)
- Tharoor, Ishaan (23 April 2009). "The Tomb of Antony and Cleopatra?". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009.
- "Search for the tomb of Antony and Cleopatra continues". Archeology News Network. 5 July 2011.
- Antón, Jacinto (2019-02-11). "Zahi Hawass reconoce que no se está cerca de hallar la tumba de Cleopatra" [Zahi Hawass Recognizes That He is Not Close to Finding Cleopatra's Tomb]. El País (in Spanish). Barcelona. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
- Plutarch. "The Parallel Lives". The Life of Antony.