Cleopatra's mother 'was African'

Black Cleopatra
Black Cleopatra

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.


30 thoughts on “Cleopatra's mother 'was African'

  • 17th March 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I think the general excitement is caused by the fact that after years of denials from anthropologists, it has now been proven that Cleopatra’s mother was in fact an African. Previously she has been proclaimed as being Greek/Caucasian.

  • 17th March 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Hi, Sorry but is there sometbing I am missing? If Cleopatra was an Egyptian Pharaoh, wouldnt that make her African, as Egypt is in Africa.

  • 17th March 2009 at 12:51 pm

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

    Sorry , I think this was the part I was missing

  • 22nd June 2010 at 11:18 am

    Where is your source? She was Macedonian and you would think that her name K?EO?ATPA would give her away you stupid ……………………..

  • 14th October 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Just so having an american name doesn’t make an american just because Cleopatra was a greek name doesn’t mean she has to be from greece. It’s the DNA that speaks baby!!!!

  • 18th October 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I just want these European movie directors to stop giving these false historical stories and teach the world threw their movies that Africans are the masters of philosophy,science,math,civilizations, spirituality and knowledge. Ignorant people still think Greek, Romans and Europeans are the beginning.

    • 13th December 2014 at 5:37 am

      Also Turkish People Understand Ancient Egyptian, Turanian People contributed to Ancient Egyptian Language, and Tradition. The Sumerians spoke in Ural-Altaic, since both Countries are bridged and oldest cities in the world, Uruk and Ur, share the same Gods Aten=Ptah, Satu=Set. Don’t be ignorant that Eurasians of south-west Asia don’t make the part hence AFRO-ASIATIC. Seti I and Ramesis II are known to have natural red hair and pale skin like Temujin aka Genghis Khan

  • 22nd October 2010 at 3:57 am


    • 29th June 2012 at 8:35 pm

      Darnell, I was love to agree with you, but Cleopatra’s father was of Greek heritage. Her mother was Ethiopian.

    • 6th April 2016 at 7:17 pm

      Wrong her father was white!

  • 3rd February 2011 at 12:45 am

    Only people with open minds can make movies that bring down
    the lies of hollywood-london mind control-distortion films.

  • 21st February 2011 at 10:34 am

    It is so frustrating how white people try to change every popular image to while or light. It’s so said that they try depict everything thing white. Cleopatra, Jesus heck even Santa Claus. They want everything in their image. It’s really sickening. I will continue to teach my children the truth.

  • 23rd May 2011 at 12:27 pm

    You are right. I agree with you

    If the entire world was one race it would be sad. Don’t be in denial.

    I can speak for Egyptians Cuz I am one. First, in every country you can find biracial people. What planet are you on? Second, my mother and father are both Masri or Egyptian (me fully) however, my father had a previous wife who died before he married my mother. This wife was Turkish. So my elder sister is part Turkish and Part Egyptian. You would not know this by looking at her. We grew up in Egypt and then USA. Is this easy for you to comprehend? So where you are born, names, and all does not matter. DNA is what matters. Not speculations, not Hollywood portrayal, not people who dream of a one race world, not people who fear an African uprising (strengthened nation), and not conspiracies. Truth is a beautiful thing within itself.


    • 26th November 2014 at 4:13 am

      You are half correct. But it is extremely frustrated seeing our black and brown heroes and heroines being historically whitewashed. There’s an old saying that goes, He who has The most money, rules The culture. And Black and Brown culture is being in a word, Hijacked by nothing more than a slew of culture vultures who are so envious at our rich history that they’ll do anything to be apart of it, even if it means completely stealing our history altogether.” Angelina Jolie had damn well better not try and portray Cleopatra. I’ll catch her and slap The unholy hell outta her on general principal.” We deserve to tell our history The way it’s really suppose to be told…..Truthfully!

    • 13th December 2014 at 6:06 am

      I am also sick of Black People into Afrocentrism who are Racist and deny that Ancient Egyptians are AFRO-ASIATIC, meaning Egyptians (Masarian) and Sumerian both speak in Ural-Altaic of Eurasian origin, so the Ancient Egyptian is of both influence of two languages. Turks aren’t this “Barbaric” race that go around kidnapping poor maidens, and just step on steppes of Asia and never travelled. If we travelled to North America in the ice Age 150,000 to 300,000 years ago, then surely we built Uruk and Ur in the land of Turuk. And yes to this very day we use Ancient Egyptian words, Alten=Aten, AK (Heavens) as Akenaton (Akenaton), Kemet=keme=Kum is the muddy bank of the Nile and abundance of neutral soil (black).

      And we lived with Ethiopian, and Nubian, why are African-Americans so obsessed with Ancient Egypt and rather adopt that, when their west African culture is of Animism, Orisha, and Voudou, of Yoruba, Fon, and Ashanti because they all came from there including Caribbean? They are ignoring there own west African culture, because they aren’t proud of it, plus it isn’t focussed on Hollywood.

      Let’s be honest, if Ancient Egyptians were not portrayed in Hollywood, Blacks of America, Britain and Caribbean won’t be interested, it got noticed then hollering begins with Proof, they just protest and hog, but forgetting Eurasians exist in the Ancient world.

    • 13th December 2014 at 6:28 am

      You got Turks in the Family, tell them what does Akhenaton means, Aken Altin, drop of Gold since he worshipped the sun, also thousands of real flakes of gold was in his tomb, drop of Gold.

      You are right about Darnell the juvenile, Black people are just as bad as modern Greek people, everything is theirs, they are the first on the planet, nobody exists, but we come from Blacks? Rubbish, I would have the same DNA and black skin, we all would be the same. I noticed nobody doesn’t do DNA on Ancient Egyptians, it would point to Turanian DNA in a good percent scale, and Blacks would be pissed.

  • 22nd September 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I thought it wasn’t clear whether she was the daughter of her fathers first wife (his sister) or his second (Arsinoe’s mother). In which case this is a very misleading article.

  • 11th December 2011 at 11:05 pm


    The names themselves “Egyptian”, “Cleopatra”, and etc, are either translated or later day names – not what they would have been known by in ancient times. For example, the name Egypt is most likely a name derived from invaders from the middle east. An older name is Kemet – Kmt. Like ‘Native Americans’ or “Indians” is a name Americans have given to native peoples in America. But we all know that was not their original names. And certainly because “Big Horse” sounds American or English, we would not claim Native Americans were English, would we?

    IMHO. I would not put too much stock in names and ancient ethnic groups. They may have viewed things differently than we do now. And even now, Africans view race and ethnicity different than African Americans.

    Just be proud of what we as African Americans and America have done today – one of history’s greatest democracies.

  • 17th November 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I think it should be understood that the BBC are no authority on Archaeology..Egypt(as the Greeks called it),was not called Egypt but the people that live their at the time.

    Secondly,and no disrespect to the United Arab republic of Eygpt, the present population did not make up the majority of the population in Cleopatra’s .

    Yes,it was the late period of the history of the region..but the chances of the population being significantly non African to the point where the nobility was substantially non African,is Eurocentric Wishful thinking.

    Once again we see a country steeped in the study of Archaeology,which sole purpose ,Iain fact to define the past in their own terms seek to determine other people’s lands and cultures in their own cultural context.

    Why is it that it’s usually countries with no ancient civilisation comparative to the Great ancient civilisations in world ,feel they have the right to define such civilisations ?

    Could it be that they don’t have such rich antiquity and feel the need to own and determine others.

    This slow and gradual admittance that Egypt Is in AFRICA and so the people are AFRICAN has no doubt been confirmed by genetic research years ago.

    After all one of the key drivers behind the genome project was to enable European people’s to prove there great cultural differentials and confirm the reasons by way f biology.

    Unfortunately this hasn’t turned out as those on the extreme would have hoped.

    Yes,the Eygptians were AFRICAN what a surprise.

    On a further note.In the ancient world and with particular to reference to Ancient Rome and Greece .Neither culture was vehemently “racist” in anyway ..Culturalist,perhaps .intermarriage between differing Elites in various Societies,doesn’t seem to of been an issue.

    Racism is a modern issue , design,conceived and promoted by the modern Eurocentric philosophies to justify modern slavery.
    Most cultures seem to have have suffered slavery in some form. BUT it’s only the modern Era and by Europeans who constantly rely on its promotion for cultural justification hen it comes to African people’s,as if to absolve themselves of their own ancestral encounters with the practice.


    Once’s those that have no past they consider of comparative worth that elect to own the past of Those that had a great one.

    • 7th July 2013 at 5:30 pm

      This is so authentic and well said I had to say so. Anyone with a brain and a semberlance of intellect KNOWS all you’ve said is true. It’s so painfully obvious. It’s also very sad that too many Africans in the diaspora don’t know this as fact. Bravo for taking the time to state this for all who care to read and learn!!

  • 17th November 2012 at 2:43 pm

    By the way.One further point ..Phillip of Macedonia,Alexander’s Father..His head of the Calvary was an African ..and step Brother to where’s the Racism in Ancient Macedonia ?

    You’ll find it,as usual in Hollywood.this significant person did not appear in ANY film about Alexander..why? Because Hollywood looks at history with a twisted contemporary Lens,even the alleged “liberals” like Oliver Stone.

    • 7th July 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Obviously it’s easier to follow along with the status quo if you want to remain popular and still be invited to the social table so to speak. Liberal and most others don’t want to depict truth or facts in their movies in the face of all the lies their contemporaries and scholars insist on telling! They preferred to whitewash ancient history thousands of years old where in fact the Europeans are a relative new group to the world! Africa being the birthplace of mankind simply means that that is the first civilization from which all else follows. To the extent that the newbies stole our knowledge from the ancient forefathers and scholar of ancient Africa, destroyed our scrolls of knowledge and cities to claim same as their…what a blatant farce!!

  • 17th November 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Final point on this..
    There is huge genetic diversity in Africa..there people’s who facial features vary greatly,there is no”African facial type”
    You only have to look.

    Typically Hollywood and the Eurocentric extremists will point to a certain facial type which occurs more frequently in West to mid Africa..

    Larger lips..less pronounced Jawline ,eyes which are less recessed in the brow,a features which are in great contrast to what some extremists would typify as the ideal European ..strong brow and chin..receded lips,deep brow,thin nostrils ..a strong thin bridge to the nose.

    Once again both types of face can be found in All Populations around the world..the frequency simply differs in one to the other.

    So once again were looking at racial ideals..from a Eurocentric viewpoint.ive seen faces of both types in all people’s

    Take a good look for yourself.there is no Archetype for Europeans Asians,Africans or what ever,why?

    Because we all originate from the same genes..where are ancestors lived for fixed periods would determine are general features .
    That can change very very quickly..Look at the USA or Brazil.
    Pride in what you look like asa detriment to an agreement your making with

    And most of all stupidity..your not responsible fr the way you look and to set yourself up as more beautiful then an other and to prove it you need to make someone suffer,live in fear and oppression..suggests you know what you do to be a lie.

  • 17th November 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Sorry I’m a little tired of this..we’ve been studying this for centuries and have institutions dedicated to the study of this determines something to be a FACT.

    If this all well and good..then why appropriate other people’s cultures-steal it in fact,stick it in museums and say we know the truth of things.

    Because if you didn’t,there would be very little indeed in those museums..if one place or region was the “cradle of civilisation” there would be no necessity for museums to prove anything?

  • 17th November 2012 at 3:11 pm

    The ancient Greeks or the Romans didn’t create museums or archaeology ,just invade nobody believed they were responsible for the creation of there own culture.,nor did any other great culture for that matter because it was just they way they lived,they lived there culture.
    They didn’t go round hoarding there own or other people’s to make some strange statement or to generate FACTS. As if to prove or convince something,as if to seek to change something.

  • 27th May 2013 at 9:04 pm

    not all white people but the ones who are in denial will always say she wasn’t african. I believe her mother was black just like all the other Egyptian Queens and Pharaohs.

  • 7th July 2013 at 12:32 am

    Not this nonsense again.

    There is no direct evidence that in any way identifies the remains speculated to be Cleopatra’s sister Arsinoe as actually being her. They base their claim of the skull showing possible North African/Egyptian admixture based on the shape of the skull being dolichocephalic (long headed); which means nothing as dolichocephalic shaped skulls are found in both Africa and Europe, including Greece and Macedonia were nearly all if not all of Cleopatra’s and Arsinoe’s known ancestry is derived from. Also they don’t actually have the skull; all they do have is some old photos and measurements taken before it was lost sometime before WWII. Then there is the belief among classical scholars that Cleopatra and Arsinoe may have well had different mothers, but there is nothing from the historical record that would lead anyone to believe that their mothers if different would have been anything other then a either a female member of the Ptolemy family or a member of the Greek Macedonian aristocracy that the Ptolemy’s surround them selves with at Alexandria. Giving the rather negative views held by the Ptolemy’s of the native Egyptians and giving that the Ptolemy’s have practiced inbreeding to perpetuate the family line since the dynasties founding (with a few political marriages to other Greek Macedonian dynasties such as the Seleucid Dynasty), there is simply no way that Cleopatra or her sister would have any significant native Egyptian ancestry if any at all, certainly not enough to make rather ridiculous claims of her looking African or looking mixed race. All the historical evidence clearly indicates she was either of purely Greek Macedonian stock or nearly so.

    Basically the entire hogwash about Cleopatra having being part African or having an African mother is based on nothing but speculation and wishful thinking about some remains possibly being Arsinoe and then possibly being part African based on the skull being dolichocephalic, which as already stated in also a trait found in Europeans. When you cut through all the smoke and mirrors there is simply no real evidence to support the claim that the remains are Arsinoe or that Cleopatra had African ancestry.

    Here are some comments from the BBC special Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer about the skull and the womens face.

    “We can look at the bones on the edge of the nose like showing the nasal root here between the eyes to tell us the prominence and width and shape of the nose.”

    “She had a very prominent nasal root, kind of like ancient Greek sculpture, that kind classical ehm nose shape.”

    “She’s got quite a distinctive nose which is very straight, and I think now we find esthetically pleasing, its a beautiful feature.”

    “The distance from the forehead to the back of the skull is long in relations to the over all height of the cranium and that’s something you see quite frequently in certain populations one of which is ancient Egyptians another would be black African groups will also show that characteristic ehm this one certainly looks more white European but it has this long head shaped it could suggest a mixture of ancestry.”

    The claim of the skull showing possible North African/Egyptian admixture is purely wishful thinking on the part of the archaeologist, its a obvious attempt to find or create evidence to support their belief that the remains found in the tomb at Ephesus are those of Arsinoe. As their is nothing in the tomb that identifies it’s occupant and certainly nothing that identifies the remains as being those of Arsinoe; the claim of possibly African/Egyptians ancestry based on 1920’s measurements of skull that they don’t even have and the feature that the base their claims of possible African admixture is also common in Europeans is a rather obvious attempt to link the remains to Egypt due to the lack of actual evidence.

    Some comments on the issue by classical scholars.
    A Don’s Life: The skeleton of Cleopatra’s sister? Steady on.

    Cleopatra, Arsinoe, and the Implications « rogueclassicism

    Dorothy King’s PhDiva: Strange Skulls: Arsinoe’s So-called Tomb at Ephesus

    Here is the actual abstract of the study claiming that the remains of young women found in a tomb at Ephesus are those of Arsinoe by the archaeologist/anthropologist.

    “Cleopatra identified? – Osseous and molecular challenges. F. Kanz, K. Grossschmidt, J. Kiesslich.

    Arsinoe IV of Egypt, the younger sister of Cleopatra, was murdered between the ages of 16 and 18 on the order of Marc Antony in 41 BC while living in political asylum at the Artemision in Ephesus (Turkey). Archaeological findings and architectural features point to the skeletal remains found in the socalled Oktogon – Heroon in the center of ancient Ephesus – to being those of Arsinoe IV. Respective remains were dated and investigated by forensic osteology, radiology and ancient DNA analysis to assess identification: Radiocarbon dating (VERA-4104) isolated the period between 210 and 20 BC (94 % prob.). Morphological features suggest a female with an estimated body height of 154 cm (+/- 3 cm) and 217 with limbs in good proportion to one another. Epiphyseal closure and histological age estimation (femoral cross sections) revealed a consistent age at death between 15 and 17 years. The whole skeleton appeared to belong to a slim and fragile individual (soft tissue reconstruction was applied and compared to ancient sources). Stress markers, like Harris’ lines were absent and no sings for heavy workload or pre- or perimortal traumas were found. Ancient DNA analysis was carried out for several bone samples. No nuclear DNA was detected, most likely due to diagenetic factors and storage conditions. Endeavors to find mitochondrial DNA are currently in progress. Investigations could neither verify nor disprove the theory on the origin of the remains. However, after successful mtDNA typing a maternal relative reference sample would be required for final identification”

    No mention of the skull showing African admixture and they clearly admit that they have not proven their theory about the origins of the remains; so the numerous sensationalist news articles like the one linked to at the top of the page are little more then common media sensationalism.

    Of course another issue with Kanz theory is that Arsinoe IV is thought to have been in her twenties when she was murdered, not a teenager. Yet he makes a claim of her being killed between 16-18 years old. I would like to know what source he used for such a claim, as from my reading on the subject is that Arsino was at least 20 or more when she was murdered. Not to mention he gives a possible date for remains from between 210 and 20 BC, thats a 180 year range.

    Also the skeleton shows no sign of violence, such as one would expect to find on Arsinoe IV skeleton giving that she was violently murdered.

    Appian. The Civil Wars, 5.9.

    “…While her sister Arsinoe was a suppliant in the temple of Artemis Leucophryne at Miletus, Antony sent assassins thither and put her to death…”

    Josephus Antiquities of the Jews, BOOK XV, Chap. 4.

    “…She had already poisoned her brother, because she knew that he was to be king of Egypt, and this when he was but fifteen years old; and she got her sister Arsinoe to be slain, by the means of Antony, when she was a supplicant at Diana’s temple at Ephesus…”

    There is just way to much speculation in this theory and not nearly enough evidence for me and it seems many others to give it much credence. Seems to be a clear case of tunnel vision of the part Kanz and Hilke Thür who has been pushing this theory about the tomb and remains since the early 90’s.

    My biggest issue though is not with Kanz or Hilke Thür and this theory, but with how media sources quickly made the focus not on a possible discovery of Cleopatra sisters remains, what they focused on was that Cleopatra might be part African based on few speculative comments. A theory and possible Africans admixture in some remains immediately were presented a proven fact in news articles that Cleopatra’s mother was African and therefor so was she.

    There is no evidence from the historical recored that Cleopatra was black or looked mixed race. The confusion about who her mother and paternal grandmother might be comes from the naming issue of some her ancestors being recoded under different names and family infighting during this period over the throne, which has made it difficult to conclusively say which female relatives of her line that they exactly were. As legitimacy in the Ptolemy dynasty was passed down through the female line, it makes it highly improbable that any Egyptian ancestry would be passed into the xenophobic and inbreed Ptolemy family from some local Egyptian woman that is found nowhere in any historical record. Also, I find it hard to imagine that the Romans would not have used such information in their propaganda against her initiated by Octavius, if she had looked to be of mixed heritage the Romans would have written something about it. Based on what is known about the Ptolemy family, the most probable ethnicity of these possible concubines is Macedonian Greek, who were more then likely members of the Ptolemy family themselves.

  • 23rd February 2014 at 11:51 am

    It is absolutely AMAZING that no one really knows who one of the most famous women in the world of all time’s mother is!!!!!!!!!!! That is extremely odd. I’d like to know what happened to that information? What is the huge secret they are trying to keep from everyone?????

    I do believe Cleopatra was mixed race. I believe her mother was an African, probably an indigenous Egyptian/Nubian/Kushite type. Cleopatra spoke many languages, but had an excellent command of the Egyptian language. It was excellent because it was literally her mother’s tongue.

    We do know Ptolemy’s inbred, etc. Not saying they never did, but you have to think about this with common sense. These people are running an empire and trying to hold on to that power. They do not want any trouble or chaos with the natives.

    Ptolemy was one of Alexander the Great’s generals. He left Egypt to him. Now, if he is a trained soldier, a general, who pretty much spent his life with Alexander the Great and in that army and their system, their way of doing things…then he practiced what he learned from his leader, Alexander. Meaning…Alexander made a practice of having his soldiers marry and make children with the indigenous peoples’ countries he (Alexander did the same) conquered. He wanted to blend, not make a larger Greek/Macedonian culture…he appreciated all cultures. Mixing blood with natives was a way that made the transition easier. It created more of a trust, because the people could see themselves in the new leadership. Ptolemy wanted to keep a tight hold on Egypt, so he had children with an Egyptian woman. Cleopatra is one of them. Her mom might have even just been a local concubine. Apparently, she’s “not important enough” to be mentioned as mother to one of the most famous women in the world. Not one sentence. Ptolemy needed this woman to produce future Egyptian leadership, so that Egyptians would have more trust in their leaders. They could look at them and say, they are one of us, her mother’s Egyptian. Cleopatra apparently embraced her Egyptian heritage, way of life, language, etc. It wasn’t hard to do, if you are always around an Egyptian mother.

    Another note…The Ptolemy family had been in Egypt for hundreds of years before Cleopatra was even born. In all that time, you cannot seriously believe they stayed entirely Macedonian in Africa. You cannot believe you’d only be sleeping with your sister (ewww) when you’re surrounded by other women, mainly natives. African blood had “crept” in the Ptolemy line long before Cleopatra was even born. Her father just wanted to make sure people saw that, and that’s why he went with an indigenous Egyptian to have Cleopatra and her siblings.

  • 20th May 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Cleopatra WAS BLACK I don’t care HOW MANY white movies they try to make of her, she was black whenever you all get through talking. Racist white people try to cover it up because they are the ones making movies and writing the books, even they all know she was black. So they cast white women to play her because they don’t want you to know that a black woman had THAT much power.


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