Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

Coin undermines legend of Cleopatra’s beauty

February 15, 2007

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— So maybe Mark Antony loved Cleopatra for her mind.

That is the conclusion being drawn by academics at Britain's University of Newcastle from a Roman denarius coin that depicts the celebrated queen of Egypt as a sharp-nosed, thin-lipped woman with a protruding chin.

In short, a fair match for the hook-nosed, thick-necked Mark Antony on the other side of the coin, which went on public display Wednesday at the university's Shefton Museum.

"The image on the coin is far from being that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton," said Lindsay Allason-Jones, director of archaeological museums at the university, recalling the 1963 film "Cleopatra."

The notion that Cleopatra was not in Taylor's league was hailed as a revelation in British newspapers on Valentine's Day, though the image is hardly a discovery.

Replicas of the denarius can be found on eBay, and images on other ancient coins are no more flattering.

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