Cleopatra’s tomb discovered?

This National Geographic video is about Cleopatra.

From Associated Press:

Apr 19, 10:33 AM EDT

Coins, mummies and statues point to Cleopatra tomb

Associated Press Writer

BURG EL-ARAB, Egypt — Egypt’s top archaeologist made his version of a sales pitch Sunday, presenting 22 coins, 10 mummies, an alabaster head and a fragment of a mask with a cleft chin as evidence that the discovery of the lost tomb of Mark Antony and Cleopatra is at hand.

Zahi Hawass showed off the ancient treasures to journalists during a tour of a 2,000-year-old temple to the god Osiris where they were found. He believes the site near the Mediterranean Sea contains the tomb of the doomed lovers that has been shrouded in mystery for so long.

“In my opinion, if this tomb is found it will be one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century because of the love between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and because of the sad story of their death,” he said.

Mark Antony and Cleopatra challenged Caesar Augustus for control of the Roman Empire more than two millenia ago. Their armies were defeated and rather than submit to capture, the two lovers committed suicide – Mark Antony by his sword, Cleopatra with a poisonous asp.

The Roman historian Plutarch said Caesar allowed the two to be buried together, but their tomb was never found.

Hawass’ claim is the latest spectacular announcement by the archaeologist, who continues to capitalize on the world’s fascination with ancient Egypt. He regularly unveils discoveries that are often met with skepticism and bemusement by Egyptologists abroad.

With his trademark Indiana Jones-style hat, Hawass guided journalists through the Toposiris [sic; Tabusiris] Magna temple 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Egypt’s ancient seaside capital of Alexandria. One by one, he held up the fruits of three years of excavation by a team from the Dominican Republic, including the fragment of a mask bearing a distinctive cleft chin.

“If you look at the face of Mark Antony, many believed he had this cleft on his chin and that’s why I thought this could be Mark Antony,” said Hawass

But he admitted they “are not sure 100 percent” and joked that the mask could depict Richard Burton, the actor who played Mark Antony in the 1963 move “Cleopatra” that also starred Elizabeth Taylor.

Kathleen Martinez, the Dominican archaeologist who has been excavating the site for the last three years, said she chose the temple based on 12 years of studying the life of Cleopatra.

“I believe it could be Taposiris [sic] Magna because it was the most sacred temple of its time,” she said, explaining that the lovers were buried in a temple rather than a public tomb to protect them from the Romans.

Inside the temple enclosure, Martinez’s team also found coins bearing Cleopatra’s name and face, as well as the carvings that could represent the doomed lovers.

For Hawass, however, the most significant element was the recent discovery of tombs from the same time period ringing the area around the temple, including 10 mummies of apparent nobles.

“The discovery of the cemetery this week really convinced me that there is someone important buried inside this temple,” he told the cameras, while standing inside a rough cut tomb surrounded by niches filled with bones and whole skeletons.

“No one would be buried outside a temple without a reason. We saw that in the pharaonic days they were always buried beside pyramids,” he said.

The discovery of the cemetery prompted Hawass to conduct a study of the temple with ground-penetrating radar, which revealed three possible sites for subterranean burial chambers 40 feet (12 meters) underground.

Excavations will start Tuesday, said Hawass, who predicted the mystery of the final resting place for the two would finally be solved. A second radar study is set for April 22.

In the past, archaeologists have not always backed Hawass’ more enthusiastic claims and suggested a degree of caution is sometimes warranted.

See also here.

Scientists have uncovered heart disease in 3,500-year-old Egyptian mummies, suggesting the risk factors behind it are not just modern in nature: here.

Overlooked statue found to represent children of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra: here.

How volcanoes may have ended the dynasty of Ptolemy and Cleopatra. Volcanic ash layers suggest eruptions may have messed with crop-dependent monsoons, leading to an era of revolt. By Carolyn Gramling, 3:54pm, October 17, 2017.

Cleopatra, mixed African-European?

This is the trailer of the film Cleopatra, with the last pharaoh played by (white) Elizabeth Taylor.

According to new research, she may have looked more like Halle Berry.

Cleopatra reconstruction

From Egyptology News:

ARCHEOLOGISTS and forensic experts believe they have identified the skeleton of Cleopatra’s younger sister, murdered more than 2,000 years ago on the orders of the Egyptian queen.

The remains of Princess Arsinöe, put to death in 41BC on the orders of Cleopatra and her Roman lover Mark Antony to eliminate her as a rival, are the first relics of the Ptolemaic dynasty to be identified.

The breakthrough, by an Austrian team, has provided pointers to Cleopatra’s true ethnicity. Scholars have long debated whether she was Greek or Macedonian like her ancestor the original Ptolemy, a Macedonian general who was made ruler of Egypt by Alexander the Great, or whether she was north African.

Evidence obtained by studying the dimensions of Arsinöe’s skull shows she had some of the characteristics of white Europeans, ancient Egyptians and black Africans, indicating that Cleopatra was probably of mixed race, too. They were daughters of Ptolemy XII by different wives.

Taposiris Magna: here.

Will Angelina Jolie play Cleopatra? Here.

A thesis from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) argues that Queen Arsinoë II ruled ancient Egypt as a female pharaoh, predating Cleopatra by 200 years: here.

Did Cleopatra really die by snakebite?

This is a video about Cleopatra, last pharaoh of Egypt.

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News:

Cleopatra‘s Suicide by Snake a Myth?

April 1, 2008 — Popular lore holds that in Cleopatra‘s last moments, the distraught queen — who had just lost her kingdom and learned of her lover’s demise — smuggled a poisonous snake into her locked chamber and died, along with two ladies-in-waiting, of a self-inflicted snake bite.

Such a scenario is next to impossible, according to Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley, who shatters the “snakebite suicide” myth in her new book, Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt, just published in Europe and slated for an upcoming U.S. release.

“It seems to me that the snake theory is just too difficult to sustain, as it leaves too many loopholes,” Tyldesley, a lecturer at the University of Manchester in England and museum fellow, told Discovery News.

She posed the following questions: Do we imagine one snake killed all three women, or were three snakes brought in? How did the snake(s) get into the room? Where did the snakes then go? Since not all snakes are poisonous, how did the women ensure their own deaths?

“Basically, I think there are better and more reliable ways of killing oneself,” she said, adding that some elements of the story are probably true.

Based on a number of historical accounts, Cleopatra did die in Alexandria at around 30 B.C., and there is no historical evidence of a prior illness. The moments leading up to her death are also plausible to Tyldesley, particularly Cleopatra’s dismissal of her servants, save for two women, Charmian and Eiras.

“The decision to die in front of her female servants made good practical sense, as even the dead (according to ancient Egyptian spiritual beliefs) needed a chaperone,” she explained.

“One of the horrors of female suicide was that the body might be glimpsed partially naked, by strangers,” she added. The queen therefore safeguarded her virtue in life and in death by retaining the company of her ladies-in-waiting.

In accounts written about by the Greek historian Plutarch and the Roman historian Cassius Dio, Cleopatra had a snake smuggled into her chamber inside a jar of figs or water, but both historians expressed doubts about the scenario.

Tyldesley said the most likely snake would have been an Egyptian cobra, which, while slender, can grow up to 6 feet in length.

“An adult cobra, or three, would have needed an exceptionally large fig basket or water jar,” she wrote.

She believes instead that Cleopatra and her servants died of self-administered poison, which might have been smuggled into the room or worn on the queen in a pin or hair comb.

Cleopatra did not die from a snake bite but a lethal drug cocktail that included opium and hemlock, according to German scientists: here.

Cleopatra and Mark Antony did not look beautiful on coins

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in movie Cleopatra

Coin of Cleopatra

From CBC in Canada:

Cleopatra, Mark Antony no beauties, coin shows

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mark Antony and Cleopatra — one of history’s most famous romantic couples — were not the beauties immortalized in prose and portrayed in film, according to a 2,000-year-old coin bearing their likenesses.

Academics at Britain’s Newcastle University studying the Roman denarius coin say the Roman politician and Egyptian queen bore little resemblance to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the actors who portrayed them in the 1963 film Cleopatra.

Mark Antony coin

“The image on the coin is far from being that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton,” said Lindsay Allason-Jones, director of archeological museums at the university, recalling the film that ignited the tempestuous romance between the two stars.

According to the likenesses on opposite sides of the coin, Mark Antony had bulging eyes, a thick neck and a hooked nose, while Cleopatra had a sharp nose, a chin pointing upwards and thin lips.

It’s not the first time images of Cleopatra have turned up showing a less-than-flattering version of the famous Egyptian queen.

But the public perception of her as a physically attractive woman has in part endured because of her legendary charisma.

As the Roman writer Plutarch wrote, “her actual beauty, it is said, was not in itself so remarkable that none could be compared with her.”

“But the contact of her presence, if you lived with her, was irresistible; the attraction of her person, joining with the charm of her conversation and the character that attended all she said or did, was something bewitching.”

Allason-Jones concurs, saying the image of Cleopatra as a seductress is a more recent image.

“Roman writers tell us that Cleopatra was intelligent and charismatic, and that she had a seductive voice but, tellingly, they do not mention her beauty,” she told the BBC.

The coin from 32 BC would have been issued by the mint of Mark Antony.

It went public on display Wednesday at the university’s Shefton Museum.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And ideas on it vary throughout history.

Also, the extent of accuracy of the coins as portraits is a point here.

How the Battle of Actium Changed the World: here.

Egypt’s Cleopatra, the last pharaoh, and her hairstyles

This 2014 video is called Cleopatra Full Movie HQ. One of various films in which Cleopatra was played by a non-African actress, controversially, as she was mixed European-African.

From the Google cache of Dear Kitty ModBlog.

Where entries turn up in random order, and where I “save” them, by copying them to Blogsome here [and to WordPress later]:

Egypt: Cleopatra, last pharaoh, and her hairstyles Linking: 7

Date: 3/16/06 at 9:50PM

Mood: Looking Playing: Walk like an Egyptian, by the Bangles

From Discovery Channel:

Cleopatra Worked Her Power Hair

By Jennifer Viegas

March 17, 2006— Egyptian queen Cleopatra used her hairstyles in calculated ways to enhance her power and fame, according to a book published recently by a Yale art history and classics professor.

Statues, coins and other existing depictions of the queen suggest Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.) wore at least three hairstyles, according to Diana Kleiner.
Cleopatra, coin

The first, a “traveling” do that mimicked the hair of a Macedonian Greek queen, involved sectioning the hair into curls, which were then often pulled away from the face and gathered into a bun at the back.

The next was a coiffure resembling a melon, and the third was the regal Cleopatra in her royal Egyptian headdress, complete with a rearing cobra made of precious metal.

Cleopatra did not invent any of these styles, but she used them to her advantage, Kleiner indicated in her book “Cleopatra and Rome.”

“From the time of (Egyptian King) Ptolemy I, the Ptolemaic queens wore the ‘melon hairstyle’ with its segmented sections resembling a melon or gourd,” Kleiner told Discovery News.

“When Cleopatra followed suit, she was more traditionalist than trendsetter.

These same Ptolemaic queens were also depicted in art with the usual Egyptian wigged headdress that had its origins in Pharaonic times.

Cleopatra did as well, so again she followed tradition and did not innovate when it came to hair.”

“But,” Kleiner added, “Cleopatra appears to have worn different coiffures in different circumstances, playing to her audience, so to speak, in life and in art.”

Antiquities of Fayoum in Egypt: here.

Egyptian cobra watches over expensive shoes: here.

Egyptologist Hawass looking for grave of Queen Cleopatra

This video is called The Real Cleopatra.

From The Independent in South Africa:

August 17 2006

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 statue.

Cleopatra and Mark Antony committed suicide as the Roman leader Octavian hunted them in Egypt, in 30BC.

Update April 2008: here.