Earlier this year (May 2010), I found an interesting article about Dominican archeologist Kathleen Martínez’s discovery (with a Dominican-Egyptian team) of a large statue dated 300 BC, representing King Ptolemy IV, during excavations in the zone in which the team was searching for the tombs of Cleopatra and the Roman general Marc Anthony. A strong believer in the idea that adventure and learning go hand in hand I was fascinated by this piece of information. Here is a summary of the latest news about this archaeologist and expert in Ancient Egypt:
Kathleen Martínez, who earned a law degree in the Dominican Republic, is famous for her pioneering discoveries at Taposiris Magna, where she believes she has found the tomb of Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. Martínez had always been fascinated from an early age with scholarly discussions about Cleopatra. Even as a child, she was unhappy with the way Cleopatra had been portrayed through the ages, and was determined to find her tomb: “They were speaking very badly about her and about her image. “I got very upset. I said I didn’t believe what they are saying, that I needed to study more about her.”
After ten years of research, Martínez was certain she had found the spot, in the ancient Alexandrian suburb of Taposiris Magna. She managed to convince Zahi Hawass, world-renowned archaeologist and director of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, to allow her to start excavating at Abusir. And following a permit from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, she began searching along with his team. After toiling for years, the group discovered numerous artifacts and sculptures, including an alabaster head of a beautiful woman (perhaps Cleopatra), which lead them to believe that this is where the tomb of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is located and not in palace grounds. At a press conference, Martínez explains, “I believe that it is impossible that Cleopatra was buried in her palace [now underwater in Alexandria’s harbor] because of Egypt’s political situation. It was not only the end of the Ptolemaic era but the end of Egypt as a free country.”
Throughout the years, Martínez has wanted to defy the negative stereotypes attached to queen’s name. In short, says Ben Wedeman (CNN), the archeologist believes that she [Cleopatra] was a woman way ahead of her times and insists that she wants “to be Cleopatra’s lawyer.” In Cleopatra’s defense, she says that the last queen of Ancient Egypt “spoke nine languages; she was a philosopher; she was a poet; she was a politician; she was a goddess; and she was a warrior.” And as Wedeman reminds us, “given that history is written by the victors—in Cleopatra’s case, the Romans—her press was somewhat less than complimentary. It was ‘bad propaganda,’ in Martínez’s words.” Martínez and Hawass are presently working on a book about Cleopatra to repair all that damage. And the search for Cleopatra still under way.
Information from http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/04/19/egypt.cleopatra.mystery/, http://heritage-key.com/kathleen-Martínez, http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2010/5/4/35599/Egyptians-find-statue-in-zone-where-Dominican-archaeologist-seeks, and http://jorgeamarante.obolog.com/dominican-archaeologist-kathleen-Martínez-believes-she-may-have-found-the-final-600310