‘Mysterious’ tunnel discovered under ancient Egyptian temple

Egyptian archaeologists discovered a “secret” tunnel built between 304 BC and 30 BC while excavating an ancient temple.

Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the 1,305-meter-long tunnel was discovered by an archaeological team in Dominican Republic-Egypt, which transported water for thousands of people during this period.

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According to Kathleen Martínez, a Dominican archaeologist and leader of the team that discovered the tunnel, ancient Egyptian builders built the 2-meter-high tunnel about 20 meters below the ground: “This is an exact replica of the Eupalinos Tunnel in Greece, considered one of the most important engineering achievements of antiquity. The Eupalinos Tunnel is located on the island of Samos in eastern Greece. There is also water in the eastern Aegean Sea.”

The excavations of the Temple of Tapposiris Magna were extremely complex. Many areas were submerged underwater, and the temple has suffered several earthquakes throughout its history. The tunnels of Tapposiris Magna date back to the Ptolemaic period (304-30 BC) when Egypt was ruled by a dynasty of kings descended from one of Alexander the Great’s generals.

Martinez also said the find inside the tunnel included two plaster heads: one likely depicting a king, and the other representing another high-ranking figure. Their exact identities remain unknown. Coins and the remains of Egyptian gods were also found in the tunnel, Martinez said.

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When the tunnel was built, the population of Tapposiris Magna was between 15,000 and 20,000. The tunnel was built under a temple dedicated to Osiris, the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld, and the Egyptian goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris.

Previous work in the temple uncovered a collection of coins used to mint the face of Queen Cleopatra VII. Excavation work at Tapposiris Magna and analysis of on-site artifacts are ongoing.