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Cleopatra's Era in Images, Artifacts

A new exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia prompted our discussion today of the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and the layers of myth and history surrounding her story. Below are some images from the excavation that produced artifacts featured in the exhibit, and from the show itself. All images and explanations are courtesy of the Franklin Institute; the exhibit runs through Jan. 2, 2011. More info here.

A sphinx made out of black granite, believed to represent Ptolemy XII, father of the famous Cleopatra VII. The sphinx was found during excavations in the ancient harbour of Alexandria. (Credit: The Franklin Institute; Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Jerome Delafosse)
A sphinx made out of black granite, believed to represent Ptolemy XII, father of the famous Cleopatra VII. The sphinx was found during excavations in the ancient harbour of Alexandria. (Credit: The Franklin Institute; Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Jerome Delafosse)
Cut in hard, dark stone, this feminine body has a startlingly sculptural quality. Complete, it must have been slightly larger than life-size. The statue is certainly one of the queens of the Ptolemaic dynasty (likely Arsinoe II) dressed as the goddess Isis, as confirmed by the knot that joins the ends of the shawl the woman wears, which was representative of the queens during this time period. The statue was found at the site of Canopus. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation)
Cut in hard, dark stone, this feminine body has a startlingly sculptural quality. Complete, it must have been slightly larger than life-size. The statue is certainly one of the queens of the Ptolemaic dynasty (likely Arsinoe II) dressed as the goddess Isis, as confirmed by the knot that joins the ends of the shawl the woman wears, which was representative of the queens during this time period. The statue was found at the site of Canopus. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation)
Vase in the form of Osiris - marble, 2nd-1st century BC. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
Vase in the form of Osiris - marble, 2nd-1st century BC. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
Limestone censer shaped like a female sphinx with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, made in the 6th century BC. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
Limestone censer shaped like a female sphinx with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, made in the 6th century BC. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
The Colossus King and Queen from Heracleion dwarf these young visitors. (Lisa Godfrey / The Franklin Institute)
The Colossus King and Queen from Heracleion dwarf these young visitors. (Lisa Godfrey / The Franklin Institute)
A diver is inspecting a Granite head emerging from the sediment at the Heracleion site. The head belongs to a statue of a Ptolemaic Queen dressed as the Goddess Isis. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
A diver is inspecting a Granite head emerging from the sediment at the Heracleion site. The head belongs to a statue of a Ptolemaic Queen dressed as the Goddess Isis. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
This granite head (80cm) is attributed to Caesarion (Ptolemaios XV), son of Cleopatra VII and Julius Caesar. It is part of a statue of about 5 metres in height and dates from the 1st century BC. It was found in Alexandria's ancient harbour opposite the island of Antirhodos. (Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
This granite head (80cm) is attributed to Caesarion (Ptolemaios XV), son of Cleopatra VII and Julius Caesar. It is part of a statue of about 5 metres in height and dates from the 1st century BC. It was found in Alexandria's ancient harbour opposite the island of Antirhodos. (Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
A diver is inspecting a piece of the Naos of the Decades found at the archaeological site of Canopus. (Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
A diver is inspecting a piece of the Naos of the Decades found at the archaeological site of Canopus. (Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk)
A diver eye-to-eye with the sphinx believed to represent Ptolemy XII, father of the famous Cleopatra VII. The sphinx was found during excavations in the ancient harbour of Alexandria. (Credit: The Franklin Institute; Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Jerome Delafosse)
A diver eye-to-eye with the sphinx believed to represent Ptolemy XII, father of the famous Cleopatra VII. The sphinx was found during excavations in the ancient harbour of Alexandria. (Credit: The Franklin Institute; Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Jerome Delafosse)
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