Cleopatra's mother 'was African'

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Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Pharaoh, renowned for her beauty, was part African, says a BBC team which believes it has found her sister's tomb.

Queen Cleopatra was a descendant of Ptolemy, the Macedonian general who ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great.

But remains of the queen's sister Princess Arsinoe, found in Ephesus, Turkey, indicate that her mother had an "African" skeleton.

Experts have described the results as "a real sensation."

The discovery was made by Hilke Thuer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

"It is unique in the life of an archaeologist to find the tomb and the skeleton of a member of Ptolemaic dynasty," he said.

"That Arsinoe had an African mother is a real sensation which leads to a new insight on Cleopatra's family and the relationship of the sisters Cleopatra and Arsinoe."

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David H Franzoni - 3/16/2009

Honestly, I really don't care one way or the other -- she could be an Inuit. But, two things are at play here: 1) The BBC is not the paragon of fact giving -- like TLC (which we refer to, around our house as "The Lying Channel" -- they are given to sensationalism and intentional, historical distortion. 2) Much is known about her lineage and, in fact, the very few people in her household who actually did marry Africans. Also, I'm not so sure a skeleton is a reliable statement of race. It hasn't been in the past.