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Sculpture, probably of Cleopatra VII
Granite; sculptured
Centimetres: 63.5 (height)
50-30 BC
Late Ptolemaic; Cleopatra(?)
Area of Origin: Unknown site; Egypt
Area of Use: Unknown site
Ancient Egypt, third floor

Description: Research work by Egyptologist Sally-Ann Ashton of the Fitzwilliam Museum suggests that this statue fragment should be identified as Cleopatra VII, the famous queen of Ptolemaic Egypt. Cleopatra VII (69–30 BC) was the last monarch of a family dynasty that had ruled Egypt for three centuries. The dynasty’s founder, Ptolemy I, was a Macedonian marshall who inherited the kingdom after the death of Alexander the Great. Cleopatra seized power from her younger brother Ptolemy XIII in a three-year long civil war with the help of Julius Caesar, with whom she had a son Caesarion. Her later relationship with Roman general Mark Anthony is one of the most famous love affairs in history. The love affair turned tragic with the failure of Mark Anthony’s attempt to wrest control of the Roman Empire from his adversary Octavian at the Battle of Actium (31 BC) to which Cleopatra had committed the Egyptian navy. Thinking Cleopatra dead, Mark Anthony stabbed himself. Captured by Octavian, who later became the Emperor Augustus, Cleopatra was probably “encouraged” to commit suicide.

The statue fragment is not inscribed and nobody knows where in Egypt it was found. However an art historical analysis, centered on the peculiarity of the back pillar and stylistic comparison with a bust in Alexandria and an inscribed limestone crown in London strongly indicate that this piece is a very early representation of the queen.

Object History: Collected by Dr. C.T. Currelly

Other Media:
VIDEO: Cleopatra found in the ROM (time: 3.34; 14.6MB); Host: Julian Siggers; Curator: Roberta Shaw
Selected segment from the ROM/Discovery Channel series Hidden Treasures as seen on Discovery Channel.

Publications: 1. Bothmer, et al. 1960. Egyptian Sculpture of the Late Period. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum.
2. 1989. Cleopatra's Egypt. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum Exhibition.
3. Spring 2002. Cleopatra of Toronto. Rotunda.

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