an important factual presentation by me

All the facts.


How about half the facts. 

Cleopatra was of Hellenistic Greek descent, not Egyptian. 

Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Greek [4] origin that ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great's death during the Hellenistic period. The Ptolemies, throughout their dynasty, spoke Greek[5] and refused to speak Egyptian, which is the reason that Greek as well as Egyptian languages were used on official court documents such as the Rosetta Stone.[6] By contrast, Cleopatra did learn to speak Egyptian[7] and represented herself as the reincarnation of an Egyptian goddess, Isis.

Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in name.

She probably would have been darker than Elizabeth Taylor, but no, she would not have been African or Egyptian in complexion.

Here is a bust which was made of her during her lifetime:


Compare to a bust of Nefertiti:




Ramses I:

Stone head carving of Paramessu (Ramesses I), originally part of a statue depicting him as a scribe. On display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Ramses the Great:


And the last, native Egyptian Pharaoh before Egypt was first taken over by Persia, and then Alexander the Great (Greece):

File:Psamtik III.jpg

Cleopatra clearly bears little resemblance to any pharaohs who descended from “native Egyptian” stock, prior to the Persian and Greek conquests. She is not Egyptian like the people you have shown in the book of the dead (bottom slide) or the depiction of Isis at the top, both of which come from classical Egypt, well before the time of conquest and invasion (and by “well before” I mean hundreds and even thousands of years). She is Hellenistic Egyptian, she spoke Egyptian, she declared herself the reincarnation of Isis (who was, when all is said and done, one of the most powerful, popular, and well known deities of the ancient world, so it wouldn’t have been unusual even for some Greek women who did  not live in Egypt to associate with Isis)  … but Cleopatra traced her lineage to the ancient Greeks. 

This is a painting from the tomb of Seti I, and depicts how Egyptians saw themselves and others:


From left to right: Berber/Libyan, a Nubian, a guy from the Middle East, and an Egyptian. 

You can see the Egyptian is brown. There are other paintings and sculptures which suggest Egyptians could also be darker, and even black such as the Nubian Pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty. 

As for what the Greeks looked like …

Finding artwork of ancient Greece where the colors haven’t been washed off (ie, in the statues) or that are not replicas can be tricky. The best approximation I can find of ancient Greek skin tones is through Minoan art, which predates Cleopatra by many thousands of years. But here are some frescoes from that time and place:


You can see these Cretan women are pale with dark curly hair.


This is a Minoan fisherman. He is fairly dark red-brown, perhaps because he was outside much of the time. 


This is a prince/noble. He is paler. 


These boxing children are fairly tan in complexion. 

File:Knossos bull.jpg

In this fresco the bull jumper is darker than both of his companions, perhaps for dramatic effect, but we’ve already seen both men and women painted with lighter complexions in other frescos. 

Here are some busts of women during the Hellenistic period, the same time as Cleopatra:





As you can see … they bear a lot more similarity to Cleopatra:


Curly hair, intricately styled (very in fashion for Greek women at that time!), plus the facial features are a closer fit. 

Cleopatra was not native Egyptian. She was a Greek Egyptian. She would probably not be as dark as some of the Egyptians, though, I am guessing she would still not be milky, creamy, pale white as Elizabeth Taylor.

But nope. Not native Egyptian, and not Nubian Egyptian by any stretch of the imagination. 

If you want to dispute racism and ethnocentrism in history, that’s really cool, but get your facts right please. 

PS. You guys know that race isn’t a binary from white to black, right? That humans, since migrating out of Africa, have been pretty racially diverse, right? I mean, you can SEE that the Greeks weren’t, de facto,  ”white” and that there were different shades all over the place, right?


Because these binary (black/white) discussions about race in the ancient world are insultingly simplistic. 




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