Image: Headless statue
SCA via AFP - Getty Images
A headless statue from Egypt's Ptolemaic period was found at the royal temple of Taposiris Magna during excavations at the Borg al-Arab site, west of the Egyptian port of Alexandria, in search of Cleopatra's tomb.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 5/4/2010 11:13:52 AM ET 2010-05-04T15:13:52

Archaeologists in Egypt say they have discovered a headless granite statue more than 2,000 years old belonging to an unidentified Ptolemaic-era king.

Tuesday's statement by the Supreme Council of Antiquities says an Egyptian-Dominican team made the discovery at the temple of Taposiris Magna, west of the coastal city of Alexandria.

The council's secretary general, Zahi Hawass, said the well-preserved statue may be among the most beautiful carvings in the ancient Egyptian style. He said the statue could belong to Ptolemy IV, who reigned between 221 and 205 B.C.

The statue's height is 53 inches (135 centimeters) and its width at the shoulders is 22 inches (55 centimeters).

Good times in ancient timesAlexandria was the seat of the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled Egypt for 300 years, until the suicide of Queen Cleopatra in 30 B.C.

The archaeological team has been conducting excavations at the Taposiris Magma site for five years in search of the tomb of Cleopatra and the Roman general Mark Antony. Antony and Cleopatra's affair has inspired centuries' worth of romantic tales, including a William Shakespeare play and an Elizabeth Taylor movie.

The archaeological team has reportedly discovered a necropolis containing Greco-Roman mummies with their faces oriented toward the temple — suggesting that an important personage was buried there. Excavations have also turned up the alabaster head of a Cleopatra statue, 22 coins bearing her image and a mask believed to belong to Mark Antony.

This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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