Archaeologists have unearthed a huge headless granite statue of an as yet unidentified Ptolemaic king at the temple of Taposiris Magna, 45 km west of Alexandria. The joint Egyptian-Dominican team is supervised by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).
Egypt’s Culture Minister Farouk Hosni announced the find, adding that the mission has also located the original gate of the temple as well as evidence that the temple, dedicated to the god Osiris, was built according to traditional ancient Egyptian design.
Dr. Hawass said that the mission, which works in collaboration with the Dominican archaeologist Kathleen Martinez, found that the statue is very well preserved and might be one of the most beautiful statues carved in the ancient Egyptian style. The statue represents the traditional shape of an ancient Egyptian king wearing collar and kilt. Hawass believes that the statue may belong to king Ptolemy IV.
Hawass said that the temple’s original gate is located on the temple’s western side along with limestone foundation stones that once outlined the entrance. One of these foundations, explained Hawass, bears traces indicating that the entrance was lined with a series of sphinx statues similar to those of the pharaonic era.
Dr. Martinez began excavation work at Taposiris Magna five years ago in an attempt to locate the tomb of the well-known lovers, Queen Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony, as evidence implies that Queen Cleopatra was not buried inside her tomb built beside her royal palace, which is now under the eastern harbor of Alexandria.
Hawass pointed out that in the past five years, the mission has discovered a collection of headless royal statues, which may have been subjected to destruction during the Byzantine and Christian eras. A collection of heads featuring Queen Cleopatra were also uncovered along with 24 metal coins bearing Cleopatra’s face. A necropolis was also discovered behind the temple that contained many Graeco-Roman style mummies. Early investigations, said Hawass, show that the mummies were buried with their faces turned toward the temple, which means it is likely the temple contained a significant royal personality.