Queen Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII Philopator) was the last ruler of the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty and the last Queen of Egypt. Cleopatra was a mighty Egyptian Pharaoh; equally famous for her rule as for her beauty and love affairs with the Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Ascending to the throne at the age of 18, Cleopatra ruled Egypt from 51 BC – 30 BC before her tragic suicide. This coincided with the death of her lover Mark Antony and the loss Egypts independence as the country became another province of the Roman Empire. The City of Alexandria was Cleopatras capital of Egypt (founded in 332BC by Alexander the Great) and the home of her palace. An ancient Egyptian palace was built to symbolise the rulers power and so it wouldve been truly incredible- a spectacular building complex consisting of grand and highly decorated pillars and statues. Sadly, it was believed that some of Cleopatras city, palace and Alexandrias lighthouse (a lost wonder of the world) were lost for ever, destroyed by an earthquake and tidal waves.
However, in the 1990s a French archeologist, Franck Goddio, discAlexandriaovered the ancient writings of a Greek historian named Strabo. Strabo described the great city of Alexandria and an island just of its shore called Antirhodos, an island which was home to Queen Cleopatras palace. Frank Goddio was now determined to find this lost palace.
After 10 years of planning Giddios team began to explore the lost, sunken island of Antirhodos. The team was guided only by the ancient historians descriptions but they began to find clues. First, they found a wreck of an ancient 30m long cargo ship containing jewelry, hairpins, rings and glass cups. Then they found the remains of an ancient dock with a series of giant, 7m high and 4ft in diameter, columns made out of Egyptian red granite and decorated with ancient paintings-one magnificent entrance!
In 1998 Goddio finally found the remains of the ancient city and Cleopatras spectacular palace.
Within this palace complex the team then discovered incredible intact artefacts, coins, pottery, vases, basins, statues, columns, marble floors and all manner of other beauties that had not been seen for nearly 2000 years. So far, 20,000 ancient objects have been discovered. One of the most impressive finds brought to the surface was 1 of 2 large granite Sphinxs guarding the entrance of a small, unexpected temple within the grand palace complex. This Sphinxs has actually been identified to represent Cleopatras father, Ptolemy XII Autletes. Other exciting finds include a very grand statue of the Egyptian god Isis and a gigantic stone head believed to be of Caesarion, the son of Cleopatra and her lover Julius Caesar. Goddios team also managed to find the wooden foundation of Cleopatras palace, carbon dating it to approximately 200 years before her birth. Thus, it is believed Cleopatra actually inherited the palace.
Why was Cleopatras palace submerged?
Scientists believe a few centuries after Cleopatras reign (1400 years ago) there was a terrible earthquake and a huge tsunami in Egypt, which hit the coast of Alexandria. It is this natural disaster, they believe, which resulted in the island of Antirhodos sinking with the, once great, royal harbor, palace and lighthouse.
Today you can actually dive down to see the ancient Island of Antirohodos Island whats left of Cleopatras sunken palace under the sea of Alexandria.