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Page last updated at 18:47 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 19:47 UK

Dig 'may reveal' Cleopatra's tomb

Coins bearing the image of Cleopatra and found at the temple of Taposiris Magna
Coins of Cleopatra were said to show she was "in no way unattractive"

Archaeologists are to search three sites in Egypt that they say may contain the tomb of doomed lovers Anthony and Cleopatra.

Excavation at the sites, which are near a temple west of the coastal city of Alexandria, is due to begin next week.

Teams working in the area said the recent discovery of tombs containing 10 mummies suggested that Anthony and Cleopatra might be buried close by.

The teams also found a bust of Cleopatra and coins carrying her image.

The archaeologists from Egypt and the Dominican Republic have been excavating at the temple of Taposiris Magna for the last three years.

'Charm'

There they discovered a series of deep shafts in which it is thought that Anthony and Cleopatra might be buried, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement.

Alongside the coins and bust of Cleopatra, a mask believed to belong to Mark Anthony was also found.

The temple was built during the reign of King Ptolemy II (282-246BC).

Anthony and Cleopatra committed suicide in 30BC after losing the Battle of Actium.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, said the coins found at the temple refuted "what some scholars have said about Cleopatra being very ugly".

"The finds from Taposiris reflect a charm... and indicate that Cleopatra was in no way unattractive," he said.

A team of experts from Newcastle University said two years ago that another set of coins showed the beauty of Anthony and Cleopatra portrayed in popular culture to have been exaggerated.



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