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A headless granite statue of a Ptolemaic king has emerged from the ruins of an ancient Egyptian limestone temple believed be the burial site of Queen Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the sculpture was unearthed at Taposiris Magna, a site some 30 miles from the port city of Alexandria, by an Egyptian-Dominican team searching for the tomb of the doomed lovers.
More than 2,000 years old, the statue represents the traditional shape of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh wearing collar and kilt.
“Even though the head is missing, this is one of the most beautiful statues from the Ptolemaic period. I think it portrays Ptolemy IV, the pharaoh who constructed temple,” Dr. Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Discovery News.
The entrance of the building, which was dedicated to Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld, was made up of a series of limestone foundation stones. One of the stones showed traces that a sphinx statue once stood upon it.
While excavating the site --a radar survey of the temple has identified three spots where a burial chamber might lie deep underground -- the archaeologists have unearthed several significant artifacts. These include a number of headless royal statues, which may have been subjected to destruction during the Byzantine and Christian eras, a collection of heads featuring Queen Cleopatra, and 24 metal coins bearing Cleopatra’s profile.