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Ancient treasures may point to Cleopatra's tomb

Archeologists will begin excavating sites in Egypt this week in an attempt to uncover what is thought to be the tomb of Cleopatra, a queen of ancient Egypt, and her lover, Roman general Mark Antony.

Archeologists will begin excavating sites in Egypt this week in an attempt to uncover what is thought to be the tomb of Cleopatra, a queen of ancient Egypt, and her lover, Roman general Mark Antony.

Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, displays part of a mask archaeologists believe may have been that of Mark Antony at the Temple of Taposiris Magna. ((Amr Nabil/Associated Press))

The lovers committed suicide after their combined forces were defeated by Octavian in the naval battle of Actium more than two millennia ago.

Egypt's top archeologist on Sunday displayed what appears to be evidence that discovery of the lost tomb is at hand.

Zahi Hawass showed journalists 22 coins, 10 mummies, an alabaster head and a fragment of a mask with a cleft chin, objects found in the Temple of Taposiris Magna, 50 kilometres west of Alexandria.

The coins are inscribed with Cleopatra's name, archaeologists say.

Hawass also took journalists on a tour of the 2,000-year-old crumbling limestone temple near the Mediterranean Sea. Archaeologists hope to find the burial site of Queen Cleopatra and Mark Antony as they probe the shafts and tunnels under the temple.

The Roman historian Plutarch said Caesar allowed the two to be buried together, but their tomb was never found.

"We did a survey by radar for one month and the radar showed three important anomalies," Hawass said, adding it's hoped one of the chambers could be the tomb of the doomed lovers.

"If you look at the face of Mark Antony, many believed he had this cleft on his chin and that's why I thought this could be Mark Antony," said Hawass as he showed journalists the mask.

But he admitted archaeologists "are not sure 100 per cent" and joked that the mask could depict Richard Burton, the actor who played the Roman general in the 1963 movie Cleopatra, co-starring Elizabeth Taylor.

With files from The Associated Press

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