Was Queen Cleopatra black? Her debated race, explained

It’s an issue that academics and historians have been attempting to address for a long time. It frequently reappears as a hot issue following the debut of a new film, TV show, or documentary featuring her: The question of Cleopatra’s real race—whether she was black or white—is not a recent one. She was Egypt’s final pharaoh before it became a province of the Roman Empire and lived centuries ago. There is a renewed need for a trustworthy response following the May 2023 release of Queen Cleopatra on Netflix, which featured British actress Adele James as the title character (you can see her in the cover image above). In this post, we will succinctly review this protracted discussion and explain what is currently known.

Was Queen Cleopatra black? A short summary of her debated race, explained

Since at least the middle of the 20th century, studies and novels have debated whether Queen Cleopatra was indeed black or white. And even now, there is still no conclusive solution despite the several contested perspectives.

The biggest question surrounding Cleopatra is to her unidentified mother. Although she was born in early 69 BC and was the daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII, little is known about her mother. Given the Macedonian Greek heritage of the Ptolemaic dynasty, white skin would be expected. However, there is a crucial level of uncertainty because we don’t know the mother’s race.

Classical art has extensively depicted Cleopatra, frequently as a white woman. The majority of depictions, however, followed the stereotyped idea of Macedonian Greek appearance rather than necessarily basing them on her actual reality. Only a select few representations, including the busts in the Vatican Museum and Berlin’s Altes Museum, as well as Cleopatra’s official coins—which she approved and was used as currency while she was alive—can be reliably connected to her natural aspect, according to experts.

Due to the fact that Cleopatra is depicted on marble busts and silver coins, no attempt has been made to reveal the color of her skin in any of these portrayals. However, she is portrayed as a Greek woman in all of these instances, confirming the notion that she was white.

In numerous texts over the past few decades, the notion of a black Queen Cleopatra has been discussed. This lengthy essay, which summarizes the controversy and the significant opinions put forth by authors and specialists through the years, may be found on Wikipedia. Every perspective should be regarded as speculative because we lack conclusive evidence and need to bring fresh factors to our analysis. Additionally, each place has a separate origin

This topic was brought up again by the Netflix series Queen Cleopatra, which was criticized for “blackwashing” and historical inaccuracy. According to this report on the Egypt Independent, an Egyptian attorney sued Netflix over it. The Cleopatra story is not about skin color, according to the performers in the cast and other experts. This argument can be made with confidence because race was not a matter of discussion in ancient Egypt in the same way that it is now.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *