Abstract: Cleopatra: An Archaeological Perspective on Egypt’s Last Pharaoh
Cleopatra, last pharaoh of Egypt, may be the most famous female ruler in all of history. But her Roman enemies made her notorious for all the wrong reasons: her political ambitions, her sumptuous lifestyle, and above all her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Yet if we look past the long-standing stereotypes of popular culture, from Plutarch and Shakespeare to Elizabeth Taylor and Hollywood, the archaeological evidence paints a very different picture. In this illustrated lecture, we will tour the Egypt that Cleopatra inherited from her Ptolemaic ancestors, view her self-chosen portraits on coins and temple walls, and take in her extraordinary achievements as goddess, priestess, queen, civil administrator, scholar, lover, and above all, mother. Our journeys will follow Cleopatra from the Nile to the Tiber, and from desert shrines to the streets and palaces of her capital at Alexandria, now sunken beneath the waters of Alexandria harbor. Archaeological discoveries create a truer picture of Cleopatra than the many literary and dramatic fantasies that have distorted the memory of this great leader.