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- Lid geworden op: zo 03 apr 2005, 16:20
By Shaun Smillie
In little over two months, famed Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawass hopes to unearth the discovery of his lifetime: the tomb of one of history's greatest women, Cleopatra.
The celebrity archaeologist, who is on a whistle stop lecture tour of South Africa, said that "the discovery would even be bigger than that of King Tut".
Hawass told The Star on Wednesday that he suspects Cleopatra is buried with her Roman lover Mark Antony at a temple 30km from Alexandra called Tabusiris Magna.
This is Hawass's first visit to SA
"I believe it is a very sacred place and this is where they would have hidden Cleopatra and Marc Antony from Octavian," Hawass explained.
Access to the tomb, Hawass believes, is through a shaft. Previously he had descended 35m down the shaft but could get no further because of water.
"It has a high water table but I plan to go back in October," Hawass said.
Some of the clues that point to the tomb belonging to Cleopatra are a coin bearing her face and a statute. Cleopatra and Mark Antony committed suicide as the Roman leader Octavian hunted them in Egypt, in 30BC.
South Africans, particularly those with DSTV, would probably recognise Hawass as that Egyptologist who endlessly appears on documentaries wearing that Indiana Jones-styled hat.
But the Zahi Hawass who appeared in the Wits Great Hall cut a different figure... he was dressed in a charcoal suit.
This is Hawass's first visit to SA and he took the opportunity to introduce the audience to "adventure in archaeology", a slide show tour of some of his discoveries of Egypt.
"You know that 70 percent of Egypt's treasures still need to be uncovered," he said.
Some of these archaeological treasures, Hawass said, actually lie under the streets and houses of Cairo. His lecture also touched on how he organised a CT scan to be done of King Tutankhamun's mummy.
For years scientists have speculated whether the boy king was murdered. The project, which took place at the Valley of the Kings, had even Hawass wondering at one stage if the Curse of King Tut had returned. Unexplained power failures had workers fearing for their lives.
The results of the CT scan, believes Hawass, put to bed the theory that Tut was murdered by a blow to the head.
"What was originally thought of to be the hole in the back of his head that killed him, we found was part of the mummification process," Hawass explained.
While in SA, Hawass has also been in contact with several universities. "Perhaps we could collaborate in the future, talk about excavation techniques," he said.
When he gets back to Egypt, Hawass will have to start preparing for his next big operation - moving a 250 ton statute through the streets of Cairo.
o This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on August 17, 2006
nn ms.i sA.w -- No one is born wise.