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Cleopatra’s true racial background (and does it really matter?)

Racial profiling and manipulation have been around for a very long time. It has become an issue in contemporary politics, and over 2500 years ago the Greek historian Herodotos wrote that ethnicity was regularly turned to political ends. Cleopatra VII, the last queen of Egypt and a woman of great ability, is often a victim of racial profiling, as today people can be more interested in her racial background than her many accomplishments. Such concerns have recently come to the forefront with the announcement that in at least one of the several Cleopatra movies currently planned, a white (instead of black) actress would play the role of the queen. It is hard to imagine that race would be more important than acting ability, but clearly others disagree.

It has been suggested – although generally not by credible scholarly sources – that Cleopatra was racially black African. To be blunt, there is absolutely no evidence for this, yet it is one of those issues that seems to take on a life of its own despite all indication to the contrary. What follows lays out the evidence for Cleopatra’s racial ancestry, but one must not forget that this is of little importance in assessing the legacy of the queen in world history.

Let us consider exactly the evidence for Cleopatra’s racial background. It’s a little complicated, so do follow closely! She was born in early 69 BC as the descendant of a line of Egyptian kings in a dynasty that went back 250 years. Her ancestor Ptolemy I, a companion of Alexander the Great, founded the dynasty in the late fourth century BC. Ptolemy was Macedonian Greek in origin (he grew up at the royal court of Alexander’s father in Macedonia, the northern part of the Greek peninsula), and established himself as king of Egypt in the convulsive years after Alexander’s death. The descent passed through six successor Ptolemies until it reached Cleopatra’s father. So Cleopatra was no more than eight generations away from being pure Macedonian Greek.

Sarah Bernhardt
Image Credit: ‘Sarah Bernhardt (1844 – 1923) in the role of Cleopatra’, by Georges Jules Victor Clairin (1843 – 1919), Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

But what about the mothers? Women are always difficult to find, even in royal dynasties, and it is here that questions of her racial background have been raised. For the first six generations the wives of the ruling Ptolemies also came from the same Macedonian background as their husbands. So until the time of Cleopatra’s great-grandfather, the ethnic makeup of the dynasty was still pure Macedonian Greek. In fact two of her ancestors married their sisters, thus reinforcing the Macedonian ethnicity.

It is with Cleopatra’s grandfather that uncertainties develop. Although he had two wives of traditional Macedonian background, he seems to have had at least one concubine of uncertain origin, who may have been Cleopatra’s grandmother. But this is by no means clear, and some sources indicate she was her husband’s sister, and thus pure Macedonian.

Assuming, however, that Cleopatra’s grandmother was not from the traditional Macedonian Greek stem, the question arises as to just what she was. Sources suggest that if she was not Macedonian, she was probably Egyptian. So by the time of Cleopatra’s grandparents, there may have been an Egyptian element in the racial stem.

Cleopatra’s father also had several wives. One was his sister, but again there is evidence that some of his five children had another mother. Yet the geographer Strabo (one of the few contemporary sources for the life of Cleopatra) wrote that all the wives of her father were women of significant status, which rules out any slaves or concubines, and makes it possible that Cleopatra’s mother was of the traditional Macedonian Greek stock. But this may not have been the case, so one may need to look elsewhere for the ethnic background of Cleopatra’s mother. Yet there is only one other ethnic group that produced women of status in contemporary Egypt: the Egyptian religious elite, which in fact had a long history of intermarriage with the Ptolemaic dynasty. So Cleopatra’s mother may have been Egyptian, but she probably also had some Macedonian background.

There are three other matters worthy of consideration. One is that Cleopatra was the only ruler of her dynasty who knew, in addition to her native Greek, the Egyptian language. This suggests close association with an Egyptian speaker, perhaps her mother. Secondly, Cleopatra’s daughter, who became queen of Mauretania (and was mixed ethnically herself, as her father was Roman), honored the Egyptian religious elite at her far-off capital of Mauretanian Caesarea (in modern Algeria). This makes sense if they were part of her ancestral family. And third – especially relevant in demolishing any suggestion that Cleopatra had black African blood – the representations of her in Greek and Roman art and coins do not show anything other than traditional Mediterranean ethnicity, although artists were perfectly capable of showing other ethnic groups.

To sum up: it is quite possible that Cleopatra was pure Macedonian Greek. But it is probable that she had some Egyptian blood, although the amount is uncertain. Certainly it was no more than half, and probably less. The best evidence is that she was three-quarters Macedonian Greek and one-quarter Egyptian. There is no room for anything else, certainly not for any black African blood.

Yet all this argumentation is rather silly. What is important about Cleopatra is that she became one of the most powerful rulers of her era. She was a skilled linguist, a naval commander, an expert administrator, a religious leader who was seen by some as a messianic figure, and a worthy opponent of the Romans. She was worshipped in Egypt for at over 400 years after her death. Race seems irrelevant in such a situation, and it goes without saying that people should be judged by their abilities, not their race. But sadly, even in twenty-first century America, this is far from the case. It is unlikely that Cleopatra cared about her racial makeup, but people over 2000 years later still obsess about it, thus trivializing her accomplishments.

Featured Image Credit: ‘The meeting of Antony and Cleopatra’, by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1885). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Recent Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Teresa Rolfe Kravtin, Lauren. Lauren said: Controversy over Cleopatra's true race–but does it matter? http://bit.ly/gH3lvy […]

  2. Peter

    It is ironic claiming Cleopatra being Macedonian Greek.There is no such thing as Macedonian Greek.Obviously, the Greek friends do follow Greeces historical falsifications as did this writer.It is shameful to say the least an outsider to fabricate true history.To put it in perspective;The City States were under the Macedonian yoke since 338 BC when the Macedonians defeated them at Chaeronea.Their history ceased to exist till 1829.Remember,Macedonia existed before Greece ever did.Greece annexed part of Macedonia in 1913,Never before Macedonia belonged to Greece.

  3. Naumovski

    There is no such thing as Macedonian Greek ethnicity for a historian you dont know much Macedonian and Greek are two separate ethnicities and I find it offensive when you refer to this mix, Macedonians are Macedonians stop distorting history, there is no Greek in this elemant whatsoever.

  4. Rou234

    Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek, anyone with a history degree knows ancient Macedonians had a Greek identity and culture or else they wouldn’t have spread Greek culture, identity, language, etc. from one end of the world to the other, and Cleopatra’s native language wouldn’t have been Greek. What’s shameful is to fabricate true history by trying to claim otherwise. CLEOPATRA: look it up, its Greek too and we know in ancient times where passports and identity cards didn’t exist to show one’s ethnic origins their names were used for such things.

  5. Afer

    Cleopatra was olive toned.

  6. Christian

    Interesting article, although I too contest the use of the phrase “Macedonian Greek”, although unlike my two learned friends above, I am not motivated by CONTEMPORARY POLITICS (viz. Republic of Macedonia vs Greece over the use of the name)- sticking to a purely ancient historical context here, as is the nature of this text.

    The Ancient Greeks had a very good understanding of who were Greek and who were not- there was never a grey area for them. Ancient Macedonians (called ‘Makedons’ by Herodotus and Thucydides) were never considered Greek; stories remain from ancient texts- notably Herodotus- of specific Macedonian kings like Alexander I (Macedon King during the early 5th century) claiming Greek ancestry, from the city-state of Argos I believe. Paraphrasing, he claimed to be:

    “A Greek king ruling over a barbarian people”

    Herodotus recalls him going over to Greek side before the Battle of Platea (479BC) and giving advice, despite the fact he was fighting with the Persians. He also recalls him participating in the Olympic games- something you had to be Greek to do.

    It is likely that Herodotus got most of his sources from Athens, who around the mid fifth-century would have wished to paint the Macedonian KING (as opposed to the general people) as Greek in order to maintain a steady supply of pitch and timber from the Macedonian forests, to maintain their navy. Whenever Athens had no use for the Macedonians, she considered them as barbarous as other tribal people north of Thessaly.

    The rhetoric of Demosthenes in the fourth-century certainly painted them as such, although this must be taken with a pinch of salt since he had utter political motives.

    The Macedonians that defeated the poleis in 338 at Chaeronea would go on to spread Greek language and traditions over Asia and yes, Egypt…Much like the Romans continued to up to the middle ages. But to class them as “Greek” themselves would be erroneous in my opinion. Although “Macedonians with Hellenistic identity” doesn’t really have such a nice ring to it.

    Sorry to waffle, very refreshing article aside from that.

  7. Kate

    Of course it matters! A white man can easily find hundreds of great white men in the history books. Finding role models and inspiration is more difficult for women, and especially difficult for women of colour. Even I get a little frisson from knowing that Elizabeth I was a redhead like me. I can only try to imagine the psychological impact for a Black woman if one of history’s greatest women, powerful, brilliant, daring, and alluring, was a Black woman like her.

  8. duane w roller

    Afer, I would be curious what the evidence is for this. As far as I know there is no evidence whatsoever for Cleopatra’s skin color.
    Duane W. Roller

  9. David Emery

    I heard Stacy Schiff suggest (book tour interview with Diane Rehm) that there might have been Persian princess in the bloodline. This makes sense to me, thinking about both the dynastic trend (Egyptian and otherwise) to tie to other ruling dynasties, and in particular the sense of “keep it in the family” (sorry!) between the successors of Alexander.

    And for the record, what does “person of color” mean in this context (or any other). Is a ‘classic’ light skinned Egyptian a ‘person of color’? What about a Persian? How much pigmentation is required to get this designation, or is this based on other either ethnic/racial characteristics?

  10. duane w roller

    To Kate: Your comments are worthwhile and interesting but really have nothing to do with Cleopatra herself.

    To David Emery: If there were any Persian blood, it would be so far back as to be miniscule. Stacy Schiff’s novelistic biography has a good deal of speculation in it. And you’re right that racial designations can degenerate into numbers and statistics, often used for nefarious purposes. Your comments demonstrate in the long run the very point I am trying to make: race doesn’t matter, and is usually used negatively.

  11. Chris Bennett

    It’s hard to disagree with the conclusion of this article — that Cleopatra’s ethnic ancestry is irrelevant to her career and achievements. Though I also think that the original article, while a little over the top, had a fair point to make: there should be no reason, other than acting ability, why Halle Berry or Rashida Jones could not have been cast as Cleopatra. Or Lucy Liu for that matter. But that’s modern politics.

    That said, there are a few points in this article which could do with some clarification.

    In a couple of places, it uses the phrase “sources suggest” to introduce a theory. This phrase is a little misleading: these sources are modern scholars, not ancient text. No ancient text has anything to say about the identity of either Cleopatra’s mother or her grandmother(s).

    Also, Strabo does not say that Cleopatra’s father had multiple wives nor that they were of high status. What he does say is that Cleopatra’s elder sister was their father’s only legitimate daughter — and the accuracy of that statement is disputed.

    While it is (most likely) true that Cleopatra spoke Egyptian, it’s a bit of a stretch to infer that this reflects her mother’s influence. She was clearly a skilled linguist, being able to speak 8 or 9 other languages beside — including Hebrew, Troglodytic, and “Ethiopian”. Why is this not evidence that her mother was a Jew? a Troglodyte? Or, indeed, black African?

    The theory that Cleopatra’s mother came from the Egyptian religious elite has been used to explain why her legitimacy was not attacked by Roman sources, by scholars who accept the accuracy of Strabo’s statement. But exactly the same theory has been proposed for her father’s mother — to explain why his legitimacy _was_ attacked by Roman sources, even though he was accepted as king in Egypt. In both cases, it is purely speculative. It rests on an earlier marriage (whose existence is also disputed) between a Ptolemaic princess (whose mother is unknown) and a High Priest of Ptah. It is the father of this High Priest who is the most likely subject of the statue found in Algeria.

    Cleopatra’s maternal ancestry, regardless of its ethnic makeup, has some relevance to establishing _ancient_ ideas of what constituted dynastic legitimacy. But the argument about whether she was black, like the argument about whether Macedonians were Greeks, is about _modern_ politics. It is tiresome and irrelevant.

  12. duane w roller

    I appreciate a scholar of Dr. Bennett’s stature taking the time to make his comments. While I don’t agree with everything he says, he did point out an error of mine in the original entry: it was not Strabo who mentioned the wives of Cleopatra’s father, but an Egyptian priest. Dr. Bennett also points out the confusing nature of the material, and reminded me of another theory, that Cleopatra’s mother was actually the wife of her father, which probably would reduce non-Macedonian ancestry even more.

  13. Demetri

    FYROM propagandists are out in full force it seems. Why they hide their ethnic Bulgarian roots and pretend to be “Macedonians” is beyond me. One would think they would be proud and cherish their own ancestors-instead of trying to oppress their own Bulgarian heritage. Truly bizarre.

    “We, the undersigned scholars of Graeco-Roman antiquity, respectfully request that you intervene to clean up some of the historical debris left in southeast Europe by the previous U.S. administration.”

    “On November 4, 2004, two days after the re-election of President George W. Bush, his administration unilaterally recognized the “Republic of Macedonia.” This action not only abrogated geographic and historic fact, but it also has unleashed a dangerous epidemic of historical revisionism, of which the most obvious symptom is the misappropriation by the government in Skopje of the most famous of Macedonians, Alexander the Great.”


  14. nadia

    I have watched the documentary called Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer and it clearly states that Cleopatra had an African mother they based this theory with the recent discovery of her sister’s Arsinoe bones. If any of you are familiar with the story of Cleopatra becoming queen of Egypt you would know that she had to fight her sister Arsinoe to be restore to her throne. It is in discovering her bones that archaeologist, such as Neil Oliver can gives us an insight into the real Ptolemy destiny. To make matters even better they even have a picture of what they believed she even looked like in real life.

  15. Tanya Nevels

    I also viewed the documentary called Cleopatra! Her mother was African, and this is relevent because I will now tell my daughters the TRUTH about Cleopatra. They need to know that this powerful Woman in history ,looked just like US!

  16. Rudy Garcia

    P W Botha former Prime Minister of South Africa was also born in Africa and was therefore an African. We also know that he was white, member of the white segregationist elite and of Dutch descent. Just because Cleopatra was born in Africa does not make her black. The historical reality and fact is that she was a Mediterranean Caucasian of Macedonian – Greek stock.

  17. Paul de Souza

    It still detracts from the absolute truth, that ancient Egypt was a black place for a long time with African language, black cultural cues, and black trade and black Pyramid building, the Ptolemys’ didnt build a Pyramid, did they? No. If we focus on the “Eurocentric perspective” of Egypt it comes across as a European enclave and it is this that angers every Black African, already feeling the effects of centuries of discrimination and historical denials and destruction of thier heritage, Credit has been taken away from Black Africans for the Nubian contribution to ancient Egypt, and it is this issue that creates the furore regarding race and ethnicity of a Pharoh dynasty. Black Africans are central to ancient Egyptian culture, they are not a footnote. Egypt is in AFRICA, not Europe, and there is no such thing as a Macedonian Greek, and May I draw your attention to the work of Hilke Thuer who has deduced a strong probability that Cleopatra was MIXED RACE,m through insight into Arsinoes discovered remains.

  18. Daisy

    I don’t think its fair of you to refer to notions that others have raised as “just silly,” the fact is that we have an incomplete picture, why the door has been opened to such much gossip and radical suggestions, its all fair game in the realm of the imagination and personal interpretation, while she was the last Ptolemy to rule Egypt, and therefore had Greek ancestry as well, with 50 to 75 percent of her background a mystery due to her mother and grandmother all of us can only draw speculations, while you are doing some thinking… at the end of the day you too have to speculate about what might have been, and there’s nothing wrong with that. While she might not have had shared some Egyptian or African heritage… she also *might* have, perhaps it was another culture entirely that we haven’t considered yet, its something that nobody can ever prove one way or the other. I also believe you give a lot of extra weight to the way that she is depicted in Greek and Roman artwork, implying that this proves that she could not have been a woman with a background other than Mediterranean. The word that this “demolishes” the idea I found to be especially melodramatic. I am not a historian, but I am an artist by profession, and I think a statement like you made is almost unrealistically literal when it comes to the land of art. Throughout the world, in ever age, it is a human instinct, especially in scenes of some majesty or beauty, heroism to create art that you can identify with, if you look at an image of the Madonna throughout different cultures, be it Egyptian Coptic art, Greek Orthodox, the Renaissance movement or an African-American church, the main figure they want to convey usually is representative of their own culture. I think rather than telling us what Cleopatra actually looked like, an artistic representation, be it in the ancient world or modern, tells us more about the artist who made it, than its subject. If you look at Greek and Roman art to gain knowledge I think the only knowledge that you would come away with is that it was… Greek and Roman art. As a second point to consider, this is by no stretch of the imagination art of any realistic detail, these are beautiful periods, but it is stylized artwork, a coin bearing Cleopatra’s image may not be anymore plausible as a realistic human being than a tapestry or effigy of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in the medieval era would. These are images of a very heightened, almost caricature-like reality, and not irrefutable evidence of what anyone would have actually looked like, often a work like this is barely feasible as a human being, let alone a specific personage. Third I would argue that it is a matter or perception whether or not ancient art portraying Cleopatra could reflect the East or not, The Tetradrachm of Cleopatra of the Syrian mint to me shows a striking woman whose features are not limited to a specific culture, a lady with thick deeply curling hair and bushy eyebrows, a round face with fleshy facial features, slack cheeks, a round skull, a powerful, strong nose, very large beautiful eyes with heavily veiled lids. It is a face as far as I’m concerned that might appear in Europe, or Asia, Africa, Australia, North or South America. While you ask does it really matter, you’ve laid out your argument with such passion and research that it doesn’t seem that it doesn’t matter to you. I think it is something that would be an empowering thing to remember no matter who you are that you are of the people of Queen Cleopatra. If I were British I would be proud to remember Queen Elizabeth as apart of me. If I were Sudanese I would count myself blessed to have been apart of a culture that produced Taharqa. An Egyptian person might find power in remembering Ramses II, we all want heroes whether it is a Greek person remembering Alexander the Great, or a Chinese man or woman remembering where they came from and their talented ancestors like Emperor Taizong of Tang. Whether it was Akbar the Great or Catherine Great, the human race looks to the past for people that they can admire, so with some doubts as to every part of who she was it is not at all surprising that we might want to fill in the blanks and find away to bring Cleopatra even closer to us, whether that is by thinking of her as a black woman or a white woman. There is power in an image of yourself. It is not because people care about color why people propose different theories about Cleopatra’s mixture of cultures… it is because they care about her, it is in deed her intelligence, her charisma, her bravery and her gifts to the world why we remember her… and want to be her.

  19. sandra

    I always am a bit suspicious when someone says, does knowing the racial ethicity of character in history matters. Especially when the Europeans have gone out of their way to rewrite history to suit their own agenda and esthetic taste. Even the American history and it’s characters have been distorted and it’s not as old as Epypt and Cleopatra.

  20. V

    No one wants to admit in Africa of all places, that Cleopatra had any black African blood. Give me a break. Egyptian blood is black African blood, and they had mixed peoples, too. It’s kind of hard to get away from black blood in Africa. Most dynasties in Egypt hailed from Nubia, modern day Sudan…and Kush…all from Noah’s black son, Ham. So, I’m not convinced that she wasn’t more like a Mariah Carey type. And if you’re talking about her likeness on those coins, that ship won’t float either. Her nose could very well be like that of one of the hostesses on ABC’s The Chew, Carla Hall. Turn her sideways and let an artist go to work, I’m sure you’d get a very similar coin to Cleopatra!

  21. George crawford

    It seems to me that most black people want Cleopatra to be black, and most white people want her to be white, I am a white male in my mid sixties, and I would be happy to find out that Queen Cleopatra the 7th was black.

  22. Rina

    To keep it simple, her race does matter such as any other powerful figure in our history…..

  23. Shara

    I feel that her race is important to a certain degree because I come from a culture (Black American) whose historical importance has been methodically denied and erased. The author of this article dismissed the point that Kate made as irrelevant but she her point is absolutely astute. Please watch the documentary “Hidden Colors” and you will understand why it is important to so many to clarify the lineage of great historical figures.

  24. ptrish

    Seems like she was 1/4 black If anything pers call her mixed and stop Being racist on both sides.the history now thinks most ancient egyptians were super tall red heads and blondes so she coulda had a bit of white,black,and greek .

  25. emo

    All this talk does indicate that Cleopatras “ethnicity does matter”. Personally I take this theory of mine she was not just of Ptolemaic stock, the Seleucids were also inbred to a certain degree retaining the blood of upame or apame, a Persian princess. Then later, they intermarried with the Persian-Greek Pontic kings strengthening the Persian blood. It was then that the first Cleopatra came. She was a cousin tp the Ptolemy but she was known as his cousin. Obviously after that we know that the ptolemy, the later ptolemies truelying became inbred as well as they were the worst rulers and a series of politics took place. I have no other reason to not believe that cleopatras parents were inbred. StraBos statement makes a firm stand but he does not elaborate. With the inbreeding, Cleopatras Persian heritage is justified to its quantity, she was a quarter to this Theory and looks very much like it. Another justification is that she looks almost exactly like her father implying stronger genes or pure inbreeding though her parents were probably double cousins and double relatives.

  26. carloman

    ask any copt (modern descendents of egyptians) if they are black and you will get your butt kicked.

  27. Bre

    Wow. I couldn’t even finish the article. So just because there is no “evidence” she was black African (although there is) she is presumed to be white? And acting ability?? So they couldn’t find a black or brown actress? (They didn’t try to) there were and are plenty of amazing actresses that were more true to cleopatras REAL race that could have given a performance just as if not BETTER. Cleopatra was mixed race, mulatto looking. And the race IS very much important because white people have been portrayed as victors and dominant. Black people are not portrayed this way, and on purpose. White people are always seen as default, when that is not the case. When they portray all powerful historical figures as white, that subliminally send the wrong message. So yes IT DOES MATTER. CLEOPATRA WAS A STRONG BLACK WOMAN.

  28. Mishida24

    It matters, it matters.. And to say it doesn’t shows color blind ignorance. Not something to be proud of.. Little girls and women everywhere need to know she was black. I’m sorry but the writer here sounds angry about the true possibility that she was brown or black.

  29. Eleanor

    “Macedonian greek”? This does not make any sence: it is Macedonian or greek?

  30. Natarsha May

    Simple….Macedonians are one kind, Greeks are another they do not co exist. As for morons stating Macedonians are Bulgarian roots seriously if they were Bulgarian they will be called Bulgarian but they are Macedonians. It seems to me Greeks like to put their finger in every historian pie especially if it involves Macedonia. Lets find out what ancient roots they have come from ???
    Greeks seem to proclaim everything belongs to them. go figure so ridiculous.
    Who cares what color and blood line Cleopatra’s mother is from etc, etc.. she ruled Egypt was their Queen came from a Macedonian Dynasty(Descent)she was clever, highly intelligent, spoke fluently in several languages.

  31. Nick the Greek

    The real battle raging right now is clash of civilizations. We have seen recently, in recent living memory, the slow incremental erosion of Western Culture, Western Civilizational Principles, and Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage…all of these things eroded intentionally, all in the name multiculturalsim. To accomodate large numbers of outsiders into the West, it was deemed necessary to diminish civilizational principles the host culture was grounded on.

    The mindset, to erode (i) Western Culture, (ii) Western Civilizational Principles, (iii) Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage developed from inside the West itself, in the highest echelons of diplomatic office. Anti-Western fifth-columnist mind-architects, working in positions of influence, advised the Western worlds self-styled Guardian and chief Protector to recognize FYRoM like ‘Republic of Macedonia’ – a provocative anti-Hellenic, anti-Western act.

    Macedonians contributed greatly to the development of Western Culture, Western Civilization and Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage. FYRoM contributed nothing towards these things. Why should South-Slavs benefit from Greek achievements! Blurring the distinction between Macedonians and ex-Yugoslavs intentionally, erodes Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage…this is the first step towards crumbling the foundations Western Civilization was grounded on – a provocative anti-Western act!

    GW Bush was the least educated President of all the Presidents of the United States of America…he needed advice on most matters. The advisors that surrounded him took advantage of his handicap, they issued him poor-quality advice, substandard advice, advice that was academically-flawed…advice that was anti-Hellenic at heart and anti-Western by nature. FYRoM is Paeonia not Macedonia. The peoples there are Slavic not Hellenic. Confusing Paeonia for Macedonia and mistaking ex-Yugoslavs for Macedonians intentionally, are anti-Hellenic acts, anti-Western by extension. The President can excuse and absolve himself but his advisors cannot – they committed crimes against the West that are only now, seen for what they are.

    Clash of Civilizations – The West lost it’s way, and in that void, allowed the erosion of Western Culture, Western Civilizational Principles, and Western Civil Societies common understandings of shared common heritage to such a degree that anti-Hellenic, anti-Western 5th Columnists fight to have FYRoM re-labelled from Paeonia to Macedonia, in order to usurp the Macedonian name for sovereign state-name, nationality, language and ethnicity. Afrocentrists fight to have Western Culture re-labelled African. Turkocentrists fight to have Trojan history re-labelled Turan history. But worst from all of these anti-Hellenic causes, is the fight to have the Wests history start from Karalos Magnos – Charlamagne 800 AD, completely erasing Greek and Latin contributions towards Western Civilizations cultural development.

    The West did lose it’s way – eroded, damaged but not beyond repair! The Western worlds self-styled Guardian in Chief and Chief Protector is focused like a lazer beam on preservation of Western worlds cultural-historical narrative. Common heritage with clear understanding from whence it began. Western Culture is worth preserving…without it, what do we have, but competing causes trying to erode it!

  32. Theo

    It does really matter since she’s being bad decipted as a white european woman while she lived an old and distinguished african civilization. Ancient egyptian people descendend from black african tribes and middle east people.

  33. Kirk Dougherty

    While I agree with Dr. Roller that Kleopatra VII’s
    ethnicity is of no importance when considering her achievements and place in history, it obviously did matter to the ancient Romans who often referred to her only as “the Egyptian” in their histories. W.W. Tarn thought this to be merely a term of abuse signifying her non-Roman status. However, a good look at the ancient evidence reveals that this was likely a racial slur.
    I find it bewildering that historians have refused to accept Strabo’s comment that Kleopatra’s older sister, Berenike IV, was Ptolemy XII’s only
    legitimate daughter using the argument that the Romans never questioned Kleopatra’s legitimacy. Well, they wouldn’t have given the fact that Rome, in the person of Julius Caesar, had placed her firmly on Egypt’s throne following
    the Alexandrian War. Octavian, the future Augustus and Caesar’s heir, would have been foolish to ignore this. Furthermore, Strabo, who was a contemporary of these personages, was most likely inferring that Kleopatra wasn’t born of
    her father’s sister-wife Kleopatra V Tryphaena.
    That Kleopatra had Egyptian blood, and possibly an Egyptian mother, stems from Plutarch’s inference that she was the only Ptolemaic ruler who had learned the Egyptian language. Many view this simply as another example of the linguistic versatility given to her by Plutarch. However, Kleopatra’s eventful and relatively short life makes the number of languages she seems to have mastered more plausible had she been reared speaking a Semitic language, such as ancient Egyptian, along with, of course, Greek.
    A funerary stele of one of the high priests of Ptah
    at Memphis plus a statue fragment of another found at the site of Caesarea, where Kleopatra’s daughter lived and ruled, illustrates the close relationship between the Ptolemaic rulers and this powerful Memphite priestly family. If Kleopatra’s mother was an Egyptian, she most likely sprang from this influential clan. This raises the possibility that Kleopatra may have spent much of her childhood in the ancient Egyptian capital. Let’s recall that Kleopatra’s relationship with the citizens of the Ptolemaic capital, Alexandria, were always strained whereas that with the native Egyptains was such that they offered to rise up in her defense against the Romans at the very end.
    Finally, there are the two most accepted portrait heads of Kleopatra VII which can be used to illustrate how her face and ethnicity were altered to present a particular message to a particular audience. The Vatican head, though missing its nose, is strikingly realistic and probably as close as we’ll ever get to the real Kleopatra. It is a typically Middle Eastern type with a full rounded lower half, large eyes, pendulous lower lip, and
    receding chin. The facially complete Berlin head
    Hellenizes the same features and thus washes away all traces of the Middle Eastern type. If indeed Kleopatra was of partly Egyptian descent through her mother, the Berlin sculpture would have served to emphasize her Macedonian-Greek blood and her right to rule as a Ptolemy.
    The more realistic Vatican head is generally considered a copy of the gilt bronze figure of her that Julius Caesar had placed next to the cult statue of Venus Genetrix in that goddess’ temple
    in Rome. There was no need for legitimizing propaganda in that case.
    In closing, I’ll only briefly comment on Kleopatra’s skin color by referring those interested to the Fayum mummy portraits which provide a range of possibilities. She certainly wasn’t black. The Romans would have had a field day trumpeting that. Instead, they referred to her as “the Egyptian.”

  34. Darryl

    The Bible is a history of blacks and all you so call scholars know this is true from Adam to Jesus stop the madness Euro- Trash

  35. Shaquon Adams

    You people are notorious for trying to take my ancestors great achievements and over shadow them with ridiculous conclusions based on non circumstantial evidence. So might i proudly as a black man, yes it matters and yes she was of African decent.

  36. Malaika

    My people are Native American, and just as America was stolen from us and inhabited by the white man, which eventually evolved mixing of blood, the same occurred in Egypt. Just like the “Americans” today are not native.historically, nor are the Egyptians who inhabit Egypt today

  37. ShirCora

    It seems…as I read this…the author is truly stuck on the notion of proving that Cleopatra was not black…the question has always been was she White, Black, Greek or Egyptian …when I hear that question I laugh because as a Black woman I reminisce on my life and how I was always taught about Egypt as if it existed on its on axis or something when In fact Eygpt is African…and how the powers that be have tried to separate Egypt from Africa. And doing so is like trying to separate Trenton from NJ as if the two exist alone. Egyptians of the past are not and did not look like Egyptians of today (which are in fact of Arab descent) The famous Egptians or Africans I should say, we’re most likely as black as my beautiful skin. And when I here the question, was Cleopatra Egyptian, is funny because it’s a way of not acknowledging Africa at all. Does it matter if she was White or Black…because we know she wasn’t Asian…yes. And it matters greatly because there seems to be a force that wants to prove she wasn’t Black or African. I have the common sense to know why history has tried to hide the identity of her mother. Maybe because she was as African (Egyptian) as my enslaved great great, grandparents, but you decide! Lol I’m just sayin!

  38. Laura deLuna

    Um… Mediterranean/Greek does not equal white… Their skin tone/ethnicity whatever is closer to that of middle eastern people than anything else… Not Caucasian in the least.

  39. Tonya

    I have noticed that race never seems to matter when a noted individual is deemed an ethnicity other than White. So, when in doubt, the race of the individual defaults to White. If it does not matter, why are the individuals not depicted as as a hue other than White? Why the natural default to White? It is bull when people say race does not matter. If it didn’t matter Julius Caesar could be depicted as Indian, Chinese or Nigerian. In that case, people would say that it is historically inaccurate. When it comes to Cleopatra or Hannibal, it just doesn’t matter. Which only goes to show that it definitely matters to those in power. Guess what, it also matters to people who have little representation in history books because people (especially young children) need to feel as though their ethnicity (which is inclusive of culture) MATTERS. All people need to know what role their ancestors played in history. Bottom line, as historians, accuracy matters. PERIOD.
    Also, check out the BBC’s findings: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/also_in_the_news/7945333.stm.
    Maybe you will believe these credible, White archaeologists.

  40. valeta starks

    I find it interesting that when white women are always celebrated in this racist country, and the mere fact that Cleopatra was black and considered the most beautiful woman,leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of a biased European society. Egypt was eventually ruled by the Hitites, which were African Americans. Because racism such a soulish part of this country,you would rather knock of the noses of great Egyptian statues so no one would know they were african,and say that it could not be possible that one of the most beautiful women in the world was African..check your history…every race in the world was generated from the womb of an African woman…why do you think all races have African DNA?

  41. Son of Africa

    whites are always claim jumping Black history and figures. I would suggest you johnny come latelys to youtube Dr Ben jochannan and dr Henrik Clarke.
    whites are culture robbers.

  42. Cherish Barnwell

    This article is trash… Yes it matters…the race and ethnicity of Cleopatra is essential to her legacy. Im guessing whoever wrote this is white. Clearly. To say “Does it even matter” is ignorant.

  43. Angeline

    The tone of this article is exceedingly condescending, and I take issue with much of what was written. However, this statement is ridiculous:

    “all the wives of her father were women of significant status, which rules out any slaves or concubines, and makes it possible that Cleopatra’s mother was of the traditional Macedonian Greek stock.”

    You’re implying that she could not have had “black” ancestry under this scenario because her father married a woman of status (not a slave or concubine). I think this goes to the heart of why your tone and conclusions are so offensive to people. Since you’re an historian, I shouldn’t have to point out to you that there were many women of status on the continent of Africa and throughout history who were “black.” Nor should I have to point out to you that not all slaves are black. Your logic is faulty and therefore your conclusions are flawed.

    Furthermore, and as others have pointed out, it DOES matter, since European white men have made it their life’s work to hijack the history of other racial groups, while simultaneously denigrating them in the process.

  44. molly

    Doesn’t really give me the information I need.

  45. Aaron

    Plot twist- Cleopatra was nor Greek, nor Macedonian, nor Black African, nor Egyptian, nor Macedonian Greek (whatever that is).

    She was.

    In fact.

    An Olive.

  46. Damien

    I agree that Cleopatra was more than likely of a mixed heritage. But it’s been proven over and over again that the Egyptians were African(Black) scientifically, biblically and historically. So to say that she was part Egyptian but not black is a contradiction. Even the Greeks were a darker skin white people, just look at Greeks today, they are more olive skinned than pale skinned. So if you mix olive skinned with African than you’re looking at someone that was a person of color.

  47. Jazz

    Ugh, is this what they are teaching in universities? White people are culture vultures. They have no real culture of their own. What they do have is bits and pieces of what they stole from other races and repackaged as their own. They are still doing it today. Look at rap/hip hop and yoga. In 50 years they’ll be saying they invented it. In 100 years they’ll claim Martin Luther King Jr. was white and that blacks enslaved them! They are a ridiculous bunch of people and I’m glad people are starting to wake up to their crazy antics.

  48. Justin

    If she were mixed you would need a Black American actress to play her. The problem is that Americans call all people who could play a mixed character ‘black’.
    Writer-A little more attention to nuance in the modern political argument goes a long way.

  49. Matt

    it matters if you believe in facts and historical accuracy. The author made this comment ” It is hard to imagine that race would be more important than acting ability, but clearly others disagree” — then why not cast Cleopatra with a male actor if historical facts don’t matter.

  50. Jon

    “The best evidence is that she was three-quarters Macedonian Greek and one-quarter Egyptian.” According to our American one drop rule, that makes her black. Maybe saying that it doesn’t matter means that it doesn’t matter to you? but I think that it does matter in the larger world outside of you.

  51. James Morris

    This article has so much racist undertone. This is how I know she was a black women. White peoples own ignorance makes it easy to decipher their bs. ” slaves or concubines” being used to describe Africans. Smh so in order for her to black her father had to have slept with a slave? Smdh. But slavery wasn’t about race tho?? Y’all see the ignorance and hypocrisies.? Black people don’t fall for the lies and stop watching anything with false depiction of the people of your homeland. Let them continue living in lala land.

  52. Target Two

    The argument that Mr. Roller adopts that the race of the figure does not matter, only their accomplishments, is purely idiotic. Any real historian, or scholar of any sort, is interested in knowing about the subjects of his or her discipline in entirety, not just what they accomplished. This kind of short-sighted “what good is it to me” perspective is shameful for anyone claiming to have a true interest in knowledge and a respect for their field. If Mr. Roller were truly interested in Cleopatra, or any other historical figure, with the high-minded ideals that he presumes to find lacking in others, he would care to know her for her accomplishments, for her impact, for her beliefs, AND for her physical characteristics, along with whatever other truths about her could possibly be discovered.

    Heck, this article doesn’t even make sense by its own limited argument. Mr. Roller emphasizes how important it is to consider Cleopatra’s accomplishments and legacy over all else. Yet among her many accomplishments, and arguably the one for which she is most commonly known, was her great beauty and, relevant to Mr. Roller’s perspective, her ability to use that beauty as a tool to manipulate powerful figures like Julius Caesar. That aspect of her accomplishments had real, significant results that greatly influenced world events of her time; certainly Mr. Roller would thus have to admit that Cleopatra’s physical beauty, and her ability to use it, is a necessary component of understanding her accomplishments. As such, it would only make sense to possess and encourage some interest in knowing the details of Cleopatra’s appearance, including her race, since that is a primary detail of one of her accomplishments that Mr. Roller cares about so mightily. After all, if one were interested in the details of Cleopatra’s naval command, one would naturally wish to know just what kind of naval vessels she commanded; if one were interested in the details of Cleopatra’s expert administration, one would naturally wish to know what successful policies she enacted. So in summary, Cleopatra’s ability to use her beauty as a tool, even a weapon, had a strong and positive enough impact on her nation’s affairs that one must see it as an accomplishment, Mr. Roller thinks that she should be known only for her accomplishments, and having a complete knowledge of her beauty-as-a-tool accomplishment would only naturally involve a strong understanding of her physical appearance, of which her race is most definitely a necessary component.

    Bad show, Duane Roller. Your holier-than-thou attitude toward natural curiosity in a historical figure only makes you look the poorer a scholar, and your miserly disapproval of what knowledge others seek out, rather than simply applauding others for seeking knowledge at all, is not even consistent within its own dim and under-considered reasoning.

  53. chloe

    Yes it does matter. Maybe you’ve never been the victim of racism, and maybe nobody has never put you down or lost faith in you because of your skin color, but for many colored people it is difficult to find a role model. Many are lead to believe that we cannot be strong or smart as a white person, because we’ve never been represented as such.

    If Cleopatra was colored, and our actors are white, it frickin matters. This says that a colored person is better portrayed by a white person, because apparently we can’t even portray our own color.

    Cleopatra was a brilliant and amazing woman. She is the kind of role model young children who are ashamed of their race and/or sex need to have.

    Stop supporting black face, thank you.

  54. Watermark0n

    Stop getting butthurt over the term “Macedonian Greek”. Ancient Macedonia was located almost purely in the modern Greek province of Macedonia, the people their spoke Greek, and they were ethnically Greek. People from the Republic of “Macedonia” attempted to steal this ethnic heritage themselves, even though they are in fact Slavs with no genetic or ethnic relationship to the ancient Macedonian.

  55. Watermark0n

    “” slaves or concubines” being used to describe Africans. Smh so in order for her to black her father had to have slept with a slave? Smdh. But slavery wasn’t about race tho?? Y’all see the ignorance and hypocrisies.?”

    They were slaves or concubines because the Macedonians ruled Egypt as a racist upper class and gave the native Egyptians little control over their own affairs, reducing them to slavery and serfdom. As there were virtually no black africans in Egypt, she definitely wasn’t a black African.

  56. Watermark0n

    ““The best evidence is that she was three-quarters Macedonian Greek and one-quarter Egyptian.” According to our American one drop rule, that makes her black. Maybe saying that it doesn’t matter means that it doesn’t matter to you? but I think that it does matter in the larger world outside of you.”

    Except Egyptians aren’t black anyway! Even if she was part Egyptian, she’s not part black. Stop ASSUMING that everyone born in Africa is black, that’s never been the case!

  57. Watermark0n

    “But it’s been proven over and over again that the Egyptians were African(Black) scientifically, biblically and historically. So to say that she was part Egyptian but not black is a contradiction. Even the Greeks were a darker skin white people, just look at Greeks today, they are more olive skinned than pale skinned. So if you mix olive skinned with African than you’re looking at someone that was a person of color.”

    That’s never been proven. Stop appropriating the heritage of modern Egyptians by declaring that they had no relation to their ancestors, it’s insulting and racist to Egyptians for you to appropriate their heritage this way for your own racial group.

  58. Watermark0n

    “As for morons stating Macedonians are Bulgarian roots seriously if they were Bulgarian they will be called Bulgarian but they are Macedonians.”

    “Macedonians” are Bulgarians who call themselves “Macedonian”. True Macedonians come from the Greek province of Macedonia, which is at the same location as ancient Macedonia.

  59. Watermark0n

    “and there is no such thing as a Macedonian Greek”

    Macedonian Greek: a Greek from the Greek province of Macedonia.

  60. Watermark0n

    “ask any copt (modern descendents of egyptians) if they are black and you will get your butt kicked.”

    Copts have no more right to the heritage of ancient Egypt than Muslim Egyptians. Muslim Egyptians and Copts are both descendants of Ancient Egyptians, they just converted to different religions (actually Muslim Egyptians converted to Christianity first and then Islam later, Copts never converted to Islam).

  61. Emily Wilson

    I think you should look up the portrait of Cleopatra painted by Michelangelo in 1534 she is portrayed as a woman of mixed ethnicity. There has also been research carried out on the skeleton of her mother with results showing the skeleton to be of African decent. The information is all there you just have to get it from the right sources. Race matters in the case of recognising Cleopatra for her achievements, if she was mixed or of African decent than it portraying her as a white woman would almost seem like an insult or a cover up of a very successful African woman. Perhaps that is why this topic is extremely controversial…

  62. Samantha

    Look at the images of Nefertiti they show a woman of a much darker complexion similar to the people of East Africa

  63. [email protected]

    @Rudy Garcia, sorry but you have the “logic” of a 10 year-old “student”.

  64. Reggie Sims

    I can’t believe what I am reading! CLEOPATRA WAS CHOCOLATE DARK!!! VERY DARK!! Egyptian people just became light skinned over the last 800-1000 years!! That is very dumb to think that a Greek was in control of an African Country! DO YOU THINK IT COULD HAPPEN NOW?? Well what makes you think it could happen then!?? THINK!!!! Adding to that Greek people came from Africa to thru migration! Greece!!!! Know real history!!!! The real history! It’s amazing that even today lies are still being told… Look at the time fram draw a time line…sometime scholars are the dumbest.. They really are!

  65. Reggie Sims

    Others who have been lied on…

    Edgar Allen Poe
    Ceaser was a African
    The people of Greece were African
    Original invaded by African Vikings the original Vikings!!!
    So many more… You have to realize the people with the power had control.. To put out the images that wanted to.. Even the pope admitted to changing faces and images!

  66. Kirk Dougherty

    Since my original comment of October 25, 2014, I have occasionally returned to this site to see if anyone of intelligence and education has contributed anything valuable regarding this most fascinating of historical figures. The majority of the posts here come from hysterical whiners who just believe what they want to believe no matter what the facts are. I feel sorry for Dr. Roller because he’s written one of the very best biographies of Kleopatra VII that I’ve
    ever read. By the way, I read my first children’s book about her at age six. The was fifty-four years ago. Since then, I continued to read everything in the English language on her that I could lay my hands on. Most of it was the sort of
    popular rubbish masking as history that one sees on television today. I learned that I had to go back to the ancient sources which in this case are the histories written by Plutarch, Dio Cassius, Strabo and others. So, I think that I’ve
    acquired a certain authority regarding Kleopatra
    which justifies my comments here despite the fact that I’m not a professional academic.

    Within my meager financial means, I’ve also managed to assemble a nice little collection of ancient coins minted by Kleopatra which bear her official image. These are the only extant likenesses of her which bear her name. Thus, it is through them that scholars have been able to identify three ancient portrait heads as representing her. I’ve already commented on two of them here in my previous post. As for the statues in the Egyptian style, there are none that can be definitely assigned to her as none bear her name and distinctive titles. The triple uraeus
    which one scholar attempted put forward as an attribute unique to Kleopatra VII most likely was utilized to identify powerful queens of the dynasty who bore the title Female Horus. Two of the cobras represent the traditional title of Lady of the Two Lands while the third is the Eye of Re
    which adorns the crown of Pharaoh. More than a few Ptolemaic queens, including Kleopatra VII, are designated Female Horus on the extant monuments. Other attempts to identify certain Egyptian statues as Kleopatra VII based on style carry little weight as there are not enough Ptolemaic royal statues which have survived nor known find spots to indicate any sort of stylistic development.

    I will close by making a statement that will certainly ruffle a lot of feathers. This being that the Afrocentric view of history is as prejudiced and misguided as the Eurocentric one. Kleopatra
    belongs to all of us regardless of ethnicity because we are one humanity.

  67. Jamie H.

    It sees important to know her ethnicity is important for those who want to show a great black african leader and female and that was in charge of a great african country. So no it does not take away from her in historical perspective, only enhances it more.

  68. Pastrana

    It definitely does matter what Cleopatra’s true racial background was. If she was black, she should be represented as black. Let’s consider that an actor is black, Asian, or otherwise anything that is obviously not olive skinned or white. Now let us say this actor plays the role the best and is therefor casted as Caesar or President Lincoln. People would be outraged. There’s a deeper reasons that people are upset that Cleopatra is represented as white. For years society has always ‘white washed’ history.
    Now for historical reasons it is also important to be able to identify figures as Caesar, President Lincoln, and Cleopatra as they really were. Even if it goes against what we have believed in years.

  69. Look At the Bias

    The fact that the writer of this “article” would even infer that an Egyptian is a non “Black African” reduces this to utter nonsense for me sorry. I know what has been done to distort and destroy AFRICAN history. I emphasize African because you seem to think that Egypt is not a part of the continent and more like a small town in Sweden.

  70. Cleopatra

    Cleopatra WASN’T Hellenic she was MAKEDONIAN so i think you should stop calling
    her Makedonian Greek because she isn’t gonna
    be happy and satisfied .

  71. Egyptian African

    First sign that this author didn’t know what he was talking about: the title.
    Second sign: referring to the possibility of Egyptian heritage but asserting there’s no way she’s a black African.
    Let me just touch on the first briefly, because it seems most people know that yes, it matters in many different ways, especially with the extensive white-washing of history to take away our accomplishments.
    Now for the second: Egypt is a country in the continent of Africa. Therefore, Egyptian is African. Now, even if she were pure Egyptian, there is a large possibility she would possess a lighter skin tone, as is common in Egyptians. Even if she was mixed with Greek and Egyptian, she would still have a darker-than-Caucasian skin tone. However, given how little the author knew about Greece and Macedonia, I’m not too inclined to believe anything the author wrote.
    Until further evidence comes to prove her ethnicity one way or the other, she was the last EGYPTIAN queen and therefore shouldn’t be portrayed as a Caucasian-skinned woman.

  72. Matt

    Why is it so difficult to think that Cleopatra’s mother was Cleopatra VI? It would seem logical that she would be the mother, since we have no evidence to the contrary. In short, have evidence of who her mother is, rather than speculation without warrant.

  73. sylver

    so she is not black im a little disappointed because there isn’t really any credit for African americans or Africans there are a lot of books about Europeans or pioneer americans but I do love your story your a great writer sorry if I did not put it into the right words im trying my best

  74. sylver

    ok I read a lot of the comments and I agree with a lot of you that she was in fact black egypt is in Africa how could she be pale in Africa it could be true that was greek I don’t know but I will figure out

  75. sylver

    ok I read a lot of the comments and I agree with a lot of you

  76. Mb

    I am bewildered by the amount of uneducated posts on this site. People believe what they wish out of emotion and not fact. The most educated post on this article is from Nick the Greek. His post was factual and correct. Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek.

  77. Denise

    @Mb, @author and all you other Macedonian Greek, Egyptian =non-African black blood idiots……….. you’re white huh.

  78. Sam

    For all you people who believe the Egyptians were not black. Just Google Ramses 3. And amarna mummies DNA. You’ll find out. Ramses e1b1a.

  79. Ms. Šahíyena

    You sound like a typical cacausoid trying to explain away the obvious. At a time when many cultures were conquering others, absolutely without a doubt Cleopatra VII would have been concerned about her own culture, ethnicity, and country and homeland…it was what she fought so hard to preserve! For the record dearest, Egypt is Black Africa and so was Cleopatra!

    Just like the apostle Paul was a Roman because he was born at a time when Rome had conquered Jerusalem, giving him Roman citizenship doesn’t mean he was a cacausoid Roman.

    Likewise, Ptolemy I Soter wasn’t necessarily of Greek descent simply because he was born in Greece or under its providence.

    But in case you have lived under a rock, by the standards of your own people…one drop of Black African Negroid Blood makes you Negro!

    You need to read my Post: “Whitewashing Cleopatra, Egypt, & Black History” This is the reason why we care what ethnicity Cleopatra is/was, to reveal TRUTH that Euro-America worked so hard to cover up!


  80. Steve

    You imply she was not African, because he didn’t have concubines, or slave’s?!!!!!! If you knew history like you claimed ,you would know almost every race was enslaved, @ some point. She was not European like you like to portray her.You claim it doesn’t matter, but you go to extreme measures to point out she is so called pure white, put your klan suite away

  81. Cheryl

    Roller, you are a fool!! The sooner you leave this earth the better off everyone will be. You are a fake historian getting paid as some kind of scholar. Univ. of Ohio is dumb and providing you with “white privilege”. You all will answer for your lies and deception!!

  82. wolf girl

    I don’t think that she is greek and why does all the important people in history have to be white

  83. wolf girl

    yah this article sucks barely any info

  84. […] was purely Macedonian, so any actress to play her should be of Caucasian descent. But although the Ptolemaic dynasty was Macedonian originally, we don’t know the identity of Cleo’s mom for sure, so the queen could have […]

  85. Sarah

    I would say it does matter. That is a strange thing for a historian to dismiss.Would you accept a black man playing Caesar? Also, that fact that you state almost conclusively that she was NOT black is very questionable. You do realize that Egypt is on a continent mostly filled with people of color? You do realize that black people have the most varied skin tones and phenotype. Like someone said she could have looked like Carla Hall to Beyonce to Rashida Jones. For all we know Cleopatra was a woman of color. Also, the Egyptians did not depict themselves as white as we see it today so having a modern white actress play an ancient Egyptian is not accurate in the least the proof is on the walls. It is very illogical to think that after 250 years on the African continent the Ptolemies weren’t heavily influenced by Egyptian culture. Saying Cleopatra is more “Macedonian Greek” than African after 8 generations is like saying an American several generations removed from their European ancestors is more British than American. Also, they called her the “Egyptian” signifying her otherness and most likely she was a shade darker than the olive tone Romans.

  86. J.E Murphy

    It is disappointing to see the same old inaccuracies being perpetrated by Afrocentricts. There is no evidence whatsoever that Cleopatra had any “black African” or even Native Egyptian ancestry. The whole idea is based on wild supposition and misinformation. We do know however that she was of Macedonian ancestry and that intermarriage was practiced throughout the reign of the Ptolemies. We also have the coin portraits and a few authenticated portrait busts of Cleopatra that do not indicate anything other than a European/Macedonian heritage. In Ptolemaic society Native Egyptians were forbidden from holding positions in public office, government and had limited rights. There were even separate law courts for Native Egyptians and Greco-Egyptians. What really is truely shameful is how Afrocentrists have attempted to appropriate Ancient Egyptian history and also to deny modern day Egyptians their cultural heritage by dismissing them as “Arab invaders”. It has been proven that modern day Egyptians share the same DNA markers as Ancient Egyptian. Coptic Egyptians in particular can trace a direct lineage to the Ancients, linguisticly and culturally.

  87. Dr. Kain

    Ignorant people want to turn every human who steps into Egypt into a Sub-Saharan African. Please stop it, this stuff shouldn’t matter because history is pointless when you’re trying to pay your bills and take care of your family. I just let the whiners argue about a Macedonian being different from a Greek. Who cares? They were both Mediterranean and I’m sure they were a lot closer to each other in DNA than they were to an Egyptian.

    Stop whining so much over things that don’t impact your life, you’re causing stress hormones to be released in your body.

  88. Nick the Greek

    Cleopatra was Greek from Macedon, with heritage to match. To know Greeks, is to know their history…

    Greeks since the beginning, have been a seafaring International peoples, consequently Greeks met, (married) and intermingled with a great many ‘other’ peoples.

    Greeks are said to be “cousins” to a wide variety of ‘other’ peoples on that basis.

    The Greek character having formed over millennia, can be summarized as being multi-layered and multifaceted.

    Most people would consider Greek peoples as being Mediterranean first and foremost, but there is more.

    1- Mediterranean: Greeks could be clustered together with Italians, Maltese, Spaniards, Portuguese, and to a lesser extent the French, within the framework of a greater Graeco-Roman civilization.

    2- Western European: since, in the West, Greece is considered to be the cradle of Western civilization.

    3- Eastern European: since Greeks baptized Christianized and civilized the Slavic Tribes into Greek culture and (Eastern) Orthodox Religion of Byzantium.

    4- Near and Middle Eastern: since the Greek expansion into Asia-Minor and Asia proper, ensured prolonged ties with Eastern cultures.

    5- Balkanian: Greeks are not comfortable with this term. Greeks prefer the term ‘Haemus Native’ – anyway, a Balkan identity similar to that of Albanians, Serbians, Bulgarians, Romanians, does exist. There are common elements, contributions from the Eastern Roman Empire and from the Ottoman Empire. All of this bears testament to shared common heritage between Greeks and ‘other’ peoples in closest proximity to them.

    Greeks have always been international peoples since time immemorial. The Greek Character is multi-layered and multifaceted, drawing in embedded experiences from five different geographical locations

    The Greeks were never restricted to one location or one particular country, there were no countries with fixed border’s in ancient times. From the river Ibro in the West to the river Evros in the East – That space in between is Greek concept Evropi.

    Greece in ancient times could be visualized spanning from the far West of [Iberia] Spain to as far East as [Colchis] Georgia. There was never a country called ‘Greece’ in ancient times, instead there were many Greeks inhabiting many regions of Evropi.

  89. jagermistress

    What surprises me is not the fact that Cleopatra could have been Macedonian Greek (I’m not arguing that – it seems logical) but rather the way so many people are quick to point out the faults of others with a scholarly background. Oxford, really? Can you not just respect the authority here and commend him for all his hard work and thank him for sharing it? We really need to learn to give credit where credit is due and cease ridicule and reprimand on a whim.

  90. Bizzybee

    Yes, I think Duane Roller believes that the portrayal of Jesus is true I bet. He sees no significance of the white Hollywood industry stealing the greatness of people of color. “Woolly hair?” I guess Mr. Roller thinks there is no intended deception in transferring racial truth to gratify Whites.

  91. Jim butler

    I’ve have read a lot of post. Pro and con but what send to be the focal point is that all that had been discussed took place in the mother land of Africa which is the birth place of humanity. The first law of thermo dynamics is that the hotter can go to the colder but the colder can not go to the hotter.
    A philosopher whose name evades me, and I paraphrase, said that by reasoning of infinite regression all things return to its origin. With these statements being said, the point that I’m addressing is that the origin of mankind begin in Africa which is the mother land. Africans are originally described according the features of the black people’s on this planet earth. If this premises is true then where did white people/Caucasian derive. Did they just magically appear within the last 5000 years to rule the earth and distort history?
    According to thermodynamics hot can become cold but cold can’t become hot and the statement by a philosopher that says by reasoning of infinite regression things return to its natural state. If blacks were to assimilate into the world by reasoning of infinite regression all things would return to its origin state which was black. Because black and white does not beget white but black and white begets black. The colder can’t become hot but the hot can become cold.
    Why should the history of the black people be relegated to unimportant as long as it’s represented by a white person. If race doesn’t matter then why not let history be portrayed as authentically as possible by using the people during that period to justify the race.
    What about this: Metro Golden Meyer presents an epic film displaying an historical accomplishment of struggles for freedom in the sixties by Dr. Martin Luther King played by Tom Cruise.
    Does race matter or just the accomplishment?

  92. Johnny Goode

    Do some research on other Pharos and find Ramesesit was pale skin and red hair. Other research shows Libyan/Egyptians were all white. Caucasians in fact were native to Northern Africa. Black Africans more comm on in central Africa.
    Only during a period lasting 100 years did you see Black Nubian who overran Egypt, not the 3500 years some claim. Fact is there are no and have never been great black Empires in Africa as some like. What you never had, some steel.



  94. Robert Marler

    Macedonians and Greeks , who cares ? Is that what you idiots got out of this essay. The point was being made that cleopatra likely did not have black African blood. Nobody can say anything these days without people coming out of left field to cry about something, get real.

  95. Jen

    The Afrocentrists want ancient Cleopatra to be black because they are identity thieves. It appears they love stealing the identity of people using false information in the past and in the present. They do it with DNA all the time. I’ve seen in the comments above someone saying that Cleopatra was “mixed” or “Mulatto” in appearance but still credit it to a black woman. They (and others) apparently love this lie. It makes them happy to dismiss the actual physical appearance of Cleopatra and just go with the ‘black’ label to satisfy their need to build a history for themselves. The person is stating that Cleopatra is mixed or mulatto but dismiss entirely the other peoples that pass genetic information. The “black” label is tossed and it is expected that reasonable people should just stand back and accept the afrocentrist’s unintelligent thinking system. Identity thieves indeed.

  96. Leopold

    While I do not know the exact racial profile of Cleopatra (no one does), to know how the Egyptians thought about their skin color, just look at their paintings. The Egyptians identified as brown. In the same paintings, you can see them represent Nubians as black. In fact, they represent themselves in a variety of shades . . . in the same painting.

    This makes sense as Egypt’s history is very long and included many conquered people that were brought back as slaves who were then integrated into society. This includes Nubians (who were represented as black) who also ruled Egypt for a time. But it also includes many other people. And it includes the people that Egyptians thought of Egyptian, and they were represented as brown.

    If you want to know what the ancient Egyptians thought of their skin tone, just look at how ancient Egyptians represented themselves. That gives you your answer.

  97. Doel

    The question of “whether race matters or not” and that of “remembering an individual for her achievements rather than her race” are two different things and don’t really have anything to do with each other. We don’t remember people because of their skin colours but because of their achievements. Saying that determining the ethnicity of Cleopatra diminishes her reputation as a great monarch is just immature and doesn’t make any sense. Cleopatra could’ve been of any skin colour and she would’ve been just as popular.
    This doesn’t mean that it’s not important to determine the skin colours of important people, given the history of segregation of people on account of their skin colour through centuries. Whenever we need to assign a skin colour to a person, it almost always is white by default. For example, Jesus has been proved to be of Mediterranean descent and to have facial features and skin colour accordingly, and yet, he is always depicted as a Caucasian even to this day. There are and have been plenty of non-Caucasian actors who would give Caucasian actors a run for their money, and yet, non-Caucasian characters are still regularly played by Caucasian actors, like in the recent film “Exodus” and in “Gandhi”, not to mention Queen Cleopatra herself in multiple movies. These acts give viewers the feeling that the European standard of Caucasian beauty is still considered to be better than and a measuring stick for beauty across all cultures and comes off as xenophobic.
    The European culture is already infamous for centuries of imperialism and acts of cruelty towards other cultures (the imperialism was so far-reaching that most of the world still uses British grammar, with the exception of America).
    Racial discrimination is still a problem in this day and age. I’m from India and even though I have met and befriended some really great people who happen to be Caucasian, I’ve also come across other Caucasians who have ridiculed and belittled me even before actually seeing my face just on the grounds of being from a culture they don’t understand. I have seen many non-Caucasians being bullied just because of the colour of their skin, but never a Caucasian.
    I’m assuming the writer of this article is a Caucasian who has never had to face these things, and therefore, can afford the luxury of not caring about the ethnicity of someone. The reason we want to know about the ethnicity of people we admire is not because we don’t care about their achievements, but it’s precisely the reason we want to know it: we admire the achievements of Cleopatra, and that is precisely the reason we want to know the real her, skin colour and everything. It is so that when we imagine her sitting on a throne and going over battle strategies, we don’t make the same mistake we did with Jesus – so that instead of imagining a Caucasian Elizabeth Taylor dressed up as an Egyptian queen like a Halloween costume, we imagine an actual queen who successfully ruled her people and charmed Roman emperors with her immense intelligence and wit.

  98. Nicole

    Egyptians are brown not black….I thought black people came in a variety of shades…..

  99. Sam Rothenberg

    Wow Doel. I’m impressed. That was a very astute analysis of you. Bravo.

  100. Can

    Even article claims there was blood tie to Greeks, now we know all people genetics in the world are mixed, there is no pure ethnicity now and before (10,000 year ago). OK, the article is extensive discussion by using legends. But some articles have much effort to show particularly Cleopatra as a complete executive of Greek culture and institution; in general aggrandize the Greek civilization. This fact is always obvious, we see it all European’s attitudes because you see an article that is trying to support 2500 year case with some paintings that was figured white people only 400 year ago. Please in this age use genetic studies to talk about ethnicity. If you want to talk about civilization, as you say race should be irrelevant, of course and please refer to before Greeks which were utilised by. Egypt is one of the advanced civilization in human history to teach many things all of us. Otherwise, Alexandria library was not built in Egypt and it wasn’t an oasis of the philosophers.


    CLEOPATRA was an African and a Pharoah of EGYPT. And she was EBONY and TAN in color. My wonderful father TAUGHT me Black history because it wasn’t taught in the schools. After years of being told that your people are nothing and come from nothing it is so refeshing when credible African and African – American scholars, historians, social scientists, and anthropologists proved to us that we have a beautifully regal history. Just look at things from our point of view: how would you like it if BLACK historians and film makers were to SERIOUSLY rewrite history by writing books and making films where a Black woman was portraying Queen Elizabeth 1? What if “Hamilton” were a serious drama? I believe I know the answer. Instead of using your energy recommencing this age- old deceit, use your energy for the good like “bluntly” denouncing the NRA and KKK. In fact educate people to know that “Aryan” does not mean “pure white”; it is not even a race. That some of the darkest people on the earth, the Indo-Iranians, are who the designation originally applied to though now it is applied to languages. Write a book or blog about that.

  102. Jen

    No one wants to point out the blatant anti-blackness in this article?
    Evident from the authors supposed difference between Egyptians and “black Aftican blood”…. Egypt has been whitewashed for centuries (given this very discussion topic over Cleopatra’s race and the authors great lengths to distance her from blackness)
    EGYPT IS IN AFRICA! EGYPT IS BLACK! Stop whitewashing history, especially African history!
    Just shut up you anti black racist “historians”

    Educate yourself: https://progressivepupil.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/right-to-death-defining-anti-blackness/

  103. Kemet Prince

    Cleopatra was African. The majority of egyptians in past & present were/ are African. The main issue here, is the white mans continually fetish to steal & claim what has never been theirs. Since their origins. Ancient Egyptians were a mix of African, Arabic & Greek blood. & that there is TRUTH.

  104. Solomon

    Of course for white America, it doesn’t matter because they live in a country where they control the “European” educational system; dehumanizing those different from them. It obviously matters that white America now has to re-iterate the white-ness of historical people that for years have been portrayed as white so they and their kind won’t feel dehumanized.

  105. denis

    Whoever wrote this haven’t study history that well sorry not sorry. Cleopatras father was ilyrian Albania so called today Macedonia is Albania Greece has nothing to do here. Study Balkans before you talk about this because u sound like somebody who don’t know what u talking about . Lol if u gonna talk at least take a really good look at history facts .

  106. vknqueen

    Cleopatras sisters tomb was found and dna taken…they were definitely more African than Greek!

  107. Sam

    Black African queen deal with it.

  108. Sally Lake

    I know a couple of modern Macedonians, and I don’t think they’d appreciate being called Greek or Albanian. However that is pretty irrelevant to the ancient Macedonia of Alexander or Ptolemy Soter. Whatever the Greeks thought at the time, they clearly considered themselves to be culturally Greek, and ethnically speaking would have been closer to Greek than to Ancient Egyptian or African, which is the subject of this article. As for Black women looking for ancient role-models, may I suggest looking at the Queen of Sheba, or Hatshepsut or Nefertiti of the pre-Alexandrian Egyptian royal dynasties.

  109. Nick the Greek

    Cleopatra – http://www.behindthename.com/name/cleopatra

    Names, Identity, History, Heritage, Legacy – These things are important to Greeks…worth keeping, worth preserving and worth protecting.

    Lest we forget – Macedon was Greek Kingdom. Macedonians, a Greek-speaking Hellenic-peoples.

    Cleopatra – Greek names go wherever the Hellenic peoples take them.

    Show Respect!

  110. chandni kumar

    kali means dark/black and putr means son and putri means daughter in Hindi…i am sure Cleopatra derives from kaliputr or kaliputri, which means she could be an ancient dark-skinned indian mixed with greek or roman ancestry

  111. James

    Look at that there are Macedonian Greek’s if that was you only argument fro this article being wrong guess you need a new hypothesis maybe you should spend years doing research like Duane W. Roller.

    Macedonians (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes) are a regional and historical population group of ethnic Greeks, inhabiting or originating from the Greek region of Macedonia, in Northern Greece. Today, most Macedonians live in or around the regional capital city of Thessaloniki and other cities and towns in Greek Macedonia, while many have spread across Greece and in the diaspora. The indigenous Greek Macedonians are descendants of the Ancient and Byzantine Greek Macedonians [5][page needed] and they have a heritage and identity distinct from that of the Slav Macedonians, who now mainly inhabit the neighboring Republic of Macedonia.

  112. Myra


    Take a look at this article and tell me what significance your expose matters.

  113. Anonymous

    Utterly unsurprising to see so many dogmatic afrocentrists, i.e., historical revisionists, in the peanut gallery. These special snowflakes take umbrage to how little an impact their ancestors made on the world; with little culture of their own and no achievements of note in recent history, it’d be cruel to say Afrocentrism is little more than Eurocentrism in black face because Eurocentrism at least had some basis in reality.

    It’s true that Afrocentrism is pathetic, but it’s especially pathetic when espoused about Egypt by American blacks… _as if_ their c. 1700–1800 West African ancestors even share a common tie with Ancient Egypt. Most of all though, It’s disturbing; this cultural whitewashing (the irony, it burns) by American Afrocentric revisionists is especially pernicious since many of these revisionists are out‐and‐out racists with actual sway in academia.

  114. Tyleah

    OH GESSHH ..!! Just say she was black what was difficult about that .mist figured that out once the writer stated (DOES IT MATTER WHAT RACE SHE WAS)YES IT DOES. And it’s foolish to think other wise.history is history but to try and take facts out of an important part of it is sick.

  115. […] it cannot be repeated in a laboratory. Scientists are not capable of verifying whether or not Cleopatra was actually Egyptian  or figuring out that the Dark Ages weren’t actually that dark. That’s the job of the […]

  116. Gabby

    To assume that only white actresses might be those with superior talent is in fact racist, and only underlines why it’s important for historic women of color to be portrayed actresses of color. Also, it’s not racial profiling if the person in question is white. You could do to research racism, or more, “how to not be racist.”

  117. steve

    One can easily see why she was so attractive to Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony if she was a beautiful fair skinned blond .Alexander is said to have blond hair too and she was the decedent of one of his Generals who came and conquered all the way from Macedonia,a rival to Sparta and other Greek states.My how greatness had spread far and wide.

  118. Deborah Brown

    What an insult to say that the African Queen Cleopatra’s racial background is insignificant and that the focus should be on her accomplishments. When has race NOT mattered????

  119. Jeremy Battle

    TO duane w roller : The Ptolmic dynasty was almost exclusively inbred from the time of Cleopatra I Syra, who was herself 1/2 Persian, born to Ladice III (3/4 Persian) and Antiochous III (1/4 Persian). Cleopatra did not have distant Persian ancestry, but was by any fair estimate 1/4 to 1/2 Persian by admixture.

  120. Pa' Preon

    “the representations of her in Greek and Roman art and coins do not show anything other than traditional Mediterranean ethnicity, although artists were perfectly capable of showing other ethnic groups”
    This alone displays his ignorance on black African diversity and shows he can’t be taken seriously lol. The black girl in the video below has two black parents. She is not a rarity, not a minority in our diverse gene pool.

  121. Dan

    Isn’t Egypt in Africa?

  122. Aristotle

    If only Egypt was in Africa, then Cleopatra could have both “Egyptian” and “African” blood. Wishful thinking I guess…

  123. Georgette Pruneaux

    1- dude… Egyptians were Africans. As in, of actual Black African race. Maybe “mixed-race” at that point due to Hellenic heritage and intermarriage, if that makes you feel better.
    But like, “she was Egyptian therefore she wasn’t Black” is the most absurd thing I’ve read today.

    2- yup, representation matters and this doesn’t have to be “more important than acting ability’ because bazillion actors of colour are perfectly capable. Plus, colour-blindness does not solve Hollywood’s (or any) racism problem and only benefits the privileged.

    k thx bye

  124. Sergio Parreira

    Afro-american revisionists nowadays (and a lot of other revisionist groups) go to great lenghts to project the blackness of a couple of figures.

    One should notice that not all african black people can be properly be considered as donors into the afro-american heritage. For instance … has any nubian been deported to the USA as a slave back in the days of slave trade ??? There was a great segregation between the egyptians (be them whiter saharians or darker nubians) and southern Niger-congo tribes. Greek immigration was massive (the sea tribes) to egipt after the golfen age of the pharaos … and this whitish population has nothing in common with anglo or scandinavian whiteness (pale skin that doesnt tan) and in fact mediterraneans are essentially identical now matter how tanned the individual is.
    A pure blood ptolomaic and a southern egiptian would be the same collor if they lived their entire lives exposed to the sun like egiptians did.
    One thing for sure a black(as in like african americans black) Cleopatra would be mentioned in the anals of history … and not a single mention exists.

  125. Sergio Parreira

    A<little off topic but relevant.

    Macedonians didn't apropriate themselves of the term macedonian more than the Hellas republic apropriated themselves of the term greek. most of the classic greek civilization resides nowadays in greece/hellas FYROM and … turkey.

  126. Letitbe

    Wow. She can be seen however anyone needs her to be seen. After all no of us were there. Nothing has changed then and now people lie. She’s black white etc. She’s whatever i want her to be

  127. LatetotheParty

    What the H, Anon Oct. 7th 2016?!! Why are you so angry that people of a specific origin would educate themselves aside from gov’t approved text books, and rightfully make attempts to reclaim/restore heritage and accomplishments to a people that have been under an erasure agenda for centuries? Afrocentrism isn’t old enough or accepted without dispute or revile to be dogmatic. We live in world of universal Eurocentric dogma.

    Eurocentrism more so based in reality? All history is subjective, embellished and revisionist to some degree. Especially that of certain long reigning, Euro invader groups, who have taken credit for the conception of ideas, inventions, and aspects of societal living from around the world, that had been in practice long before they caught on. Are we to believe the Roman coin depiction of a despised outsider or an Egyptian bust of a beloved Queen? Whose perception was based more in reality?

    Also, your evident view of human superiority and inferiority past and present is what is disturbing. Civilizations that have been around longer will have a substantial track record. However, peoples from all over the globe have and continue to contribute to the shaping of modern day society, technology and thought. Not just one group or ethnicity. Still, credit should be given where due (hardly ever is) and people shouldn’t be excluded just because it spoils your personal Utopian vision of the world.

    Sergio where do you get your information? Do you own a ledger of ALL the African nations affected by continental and international slave trading? Why is it hard to grasp that neighboring countries with millennia of interaction are more likely to share deeply rooted ties with each other, in this case ancient Egypt, than all of Egyptian history with all of Grecco-Roman history? An Egyptian Queen by default would be expected to be black or brown. So, this would likely not be denoted in the “annals of history” (whose history?) unless it was abnormal. Every once in awhile, inbreeding needs an injection of new DNA so subsequent children reach reproductive age. That Cleopatra VII was considered other, a barbarian, a witch, a wh**e by Roman society means there was a high probability she not only had a vastly different culture, but looked markedly different.

    Whatever your natural skin tone is, under the same sun a darker person will still be darker. “Black” comes in several shades of skin, hair and eyes, and varying facial features, all native to the continent of Africa, pre-European interaction/invasions. Just as there are differing shades and features across Europe (as you mentioned not every European is the quintessential English or Scandinavian, as often portrayed), across Asia, across the Americas. All of which developed in those specific regions before interactions with other established ethnicities from far away lands. The phenotype of ethnic groups is greatly related to adaptive mutation to their region of the world and more likely to occur there. However, modern day man originated in Africa and many of us have a small percentage neanderthal DNA. So, regardless of where we came from, there are only so many variations of the human phenotype that can develop. Skin tones, eye and hair color, facial features, body types can naturally pop-up any place without outside influence.

    We are not merely defined by how we look, the hue of our skin, to whom and where we were born. But it all helps mold our decisions and how we’re allowed to move through life. It’s disgusting to perpetuate the age old tradition of stripping historical figures of these aspects of their identity. As though it would taint their worth or make their achievements less important. Cleopatra VII was a Macedonian woman and in all probability Afro Egyptian from Egypt. Her culture was just as much Egyptian as it was Macedonian or Greek. She was not “white” [in appearance or culture] in the applied sense of the term.

  128. ma99ie

    Of course it bloody well matters. What, can’t take the fact that this great woman could possibly be black? I know. It’s tooo much, isn’t it?

  129. Rachell C

    This whole American history is one BIG LIE to keep the blacks from knowing the truth about themselves. The Israelite’s in the BIBLE is describing black Americans, because Africans never sold their own people to the Europians they sold BLACK ISRAELITE’S to become slaves in America. Anytime they say race does not matter? It does because that statement says they are lying and withholding the truth.
    Blacks history was stolen for over 400 years due to the them spending Billions of dollars worldwide to keep the blacks identity a secret.
    CLEOPATRA was a beautiful BLACK woman.

  130. lisa

    ”certainly not black african blood”

    is the idiot that wrote this blog aware that eygpt is in AFRICA.

    ”race doesn’t matter but let me do a break down of her possible race and white wash her as much as possible”

  131. Victor Carroll

    …Ever since Coretta King squatted to pee in US streets while her illustrious husband supervised apish blacks throwing bricks through windows of businesses, ignoramus American blacks have claimed they are either Black Jews, Black Aristotles or Black Cleopatras…all of these inbred free-loaders are the reason why the US has dropped from the #1 nation in productivity to #19 in productivity, while Civilized Nations such as Germany, Japan have taken over the industrial leadership of the Free-World…None of these free, leader nations allow blacks–especially American blacks into their countries as a matter of free-will…that is, to come and go as they please…it’s also obvious that Cleopatra was White Macedonian of Greek Culture. as Jews are White and so were all Greek and Roman Scholars.. Even sensible Black Africans do NOT want US Blacks in Africa…

  132. Antonio


  133. Ahaa

    Why would you even doubt she is linked to an African bloodline being that Egypt is located in Africa?
    I think the fact that Caucasian-American producers cast white faces in foreign movies is a slap in everybody face.

    Oh well, we still got the Motherland and pyramids.

  134. Salina J

    I think the reason this is so contested is because much of the history that we have been taught is false. AFRICA history has been besmirched for years as non-existing and irrelevant to anything meaningful. The most promoted in AFRICA is the jungle with primitive buffons running around. AFRICA was actually in a poor state when the Europeans embarked heavily in transition in the existing Arabic sahara slave trade into the Atlantic slave trade. So there is an abundance of neglected and buried history that has been denied as relative to the world history. Unfortunately, for the old rule of thumb is science is uncovering it’s error and ommissions. WE ALL COME FROM AFRICA AT SOME POINT. AFRICA IS ALL OF US, the beginning. Most Egyptians are people big color looking anywhere from looking like Tyger Woods to Eva Langoria. Some are lighter and some are darker. I don’t consider them white and they are not usually west African black. The elite Egyptians tend to have more admixture with Europeans. My last caveat is lookup the recent discovery that early Europeans did not have white skin. Humans are a diverse species but race does not exist the way it has been and continues to be portrayed. To say Cleopatra was a white skinned woman like Elizabeth Taylor who I love, I really feel is pushing a false idea and has a motive behind it.

  135. Salina J

    African-Americans are not an homogeneous group of people. Most African-Americans have at least a little admixture to a significant admixture. African American phenotype run the gamut and includes 3.5% of white American demographics (passing). The genes most likely to produce offspring that can be categorized as any so called race are mullatos, mestizos, and zambos.

  136. […] progressives and alt-right alike need the Romans to be “white” (or Cleopatra black or white, or the Barbarians to be…barbarians) in order to show some kind of historically continuous […]

  137. Ashleigh

    To V,
    According to this source, Cleopatra’s ethnicity was almost pure Greek Macedonian, but why does it matter?
    Although there really is no evidence for Cleopatra’s skin colour we do know that her father, (and the rest of the Ptolemy line) Ptolemy XII, is Greek Hellenistic so Cleopatra must have Greek bloodlines. But why does this matter? If she was black African then she may have been a role model for black women, but in order to be a role model do you have to be of the the same ethnicity? Overall Cleopatra’s ethnicity is the subject of ongoing debate, even though there is no real evidence of her ethnicity, so it therefore shouldn’t matter because she has been one of the most successful and powerful women in ancient history.

  138. Jo

    To Kate: If it is a female role model you are looking for, how important is Cleopatra’s ethnicity and the colour of her skin? Cleopatra’s successes and accomplishments were numerous and were continuously added to during her 21 year rule. Can the female population not derive inspiration from this woman whether she was Black African, Greek Macedonian or mixed ethnicity? And how does determining her true skin colour make her impact greater on a certain population? Our shared humanity with Cleopatra should be our starting point for judging her level of impact. We can venture further to exclude her gender from our evaluations and choose to view only a human ruler who successfully led Egypt, overcame adversity and left a lasting impact on our modern world. From this viewpoint, we can argue that Cleopatra’s rule can impact females of all races but also men of all races, due to our shared humanity with the woman.

  139. Max

    She was descendant from an extremely inbred Macedonian dynasty and was the first person in her family to even speak Egyptian. The only outside blood in her family was from her grandmother, who was also Macedonian. She was white, and probably blonde or read-headed. Hell, the word “Cleopatra” is even Greek.

  140. Cleopatra's Descendents

    It’s funny how a biographical depiction of a (black) historical figure does not matter…but can you imagine the uproar if the current Queen of England was depicted as black in modern Hollywood…just because Viola Davis is an Oscar-worthy performer? It would never happen…know why? Because white privilege would have a hissy fit and protest for ‘blackwashing’ to stop immediately in favour of history remaining in tact. Whitewashing is a longstanding psychological tool used to support white supremacy; protect the ignorance of the fragile white ego and hide the truth from the true spiritual and earthly Royalty of black people. Please…if it doesn’t matter at all, then why does it matter whether Cleopatra is depicted as Chinese or Asian? Know why? Because that’s not it…it is what it is…white people historically have usurped the power of the dominant race through pure evil, illusion, lies and skullduggery. It is black people’s polar opposition (whites) that try so hard to stamp out the TRUTH. It’s clear to see that the (likely) white person who wrote this article was feeling their white-privilege temperature rise to unbearable heights. How dare race be an issue in representing a truth as long as whiteness is plastered all over it?! Gosh, these black people are just so petty for not wanting their entire plagiarised history to be correctly depicted so that credit for real power and accomplishment can lift them out of the lies that have been fed through the media for years. Black people urgh! Get a life and focus on the acting!

    But that’s just what the author of this article fails to realise (poor fragile being) it is just what he called it…acting…pretending…not real…fiction…made-up…santa-claus…fairies…unicorns…white.

    Oh it matters….and Children of the Sun/God will return to the Throne as the Earth undergoes a full refurbishment and evil is exposed and then washed out. It’s happening as I type…nothing can stop it…the truth always remains….lies disappear because it was never ever real. Like magic…poof! The illusions are dissipating.

    Want to test whether you’re still under the illusion that true depiction matters not? Let’s build a picture for you…

    Tyrese Gibson steps in and plays the role of Paul Walker in Fast & Furious franchise; Viola Davis steps in and plays the Queen of England; Christian Bale plays the role of Muhammed Ali. Gets a little confusing don’t it? A little untrue isn’t it? Ahhhh but what does it matter?! Viola Davis is a great actress….long live (the true depiction of) the Queen!

    Which one? The Black one…Cleopatra.

  141. Cleopatra's Descendents

    Ignorance at its finest.

  142. Melanie Lowry

    What is so interesting about this controversy is there are many images of Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony at that time. If Cleopatra was of European descent they would be many many images of her. But because she was of African descent Egypt is in Africa Africa people it’s Common Sense this is before Jesus’s time.. just so you understand Europeans have continuously Changed History to benefit themselves everybody knows that the only image of Cleopatra was in the 1800s the Renaissance error when Europeans were making everybody look like themselves. Clearly Cleopatra was an African descent if she wear white woman baby many images carved in stone on coins they would have had that white woman on everything let’s be real. I’m done with this foolishness.

  143. Melanie Lowry

    Please forgive the typos I was typing extremely fast but you get the jest of it.

  144. Shelia Word

    How ironic is it that the author states the third reason “especially relevant in demolishing any suggestion that Cleopatra had black African blood – the representations of her in Greek and Roman art and coins do not show anything other than traditional Mediterranean ethnicity, although artists were perfectly capable of showing other ethnic groups.” when ancient Egyptian art clearly shows Egyptian rulers with dark skin, although artists were perfectly capable of showing other ethnic groups and that is usually ignored.

  145. Rynda R Clark

    Darn, and all this time Inthought she was Egyptian !

  146. loowingbwoa

    I remember seeing the “Ring of Power” series on YTube where Jesus was suppose to be the son of Cleopatra. Seems like the same argument arises on the “race” of Jesus (being Black African). If he were Cleopatra’s son and the next in line for the “Egyptian” pharaoship (as well as the “throne of Rome”), and his half sis was Magdalene …Queen of Mauritania …then the “race” of Cleopatra would solve the “race” of Jesus.

  147. loowingbwoa

    I remember seeing te “Ring of Power” series on YTube where Jesus was suppose to be the son of Cleopatra. Seems like the same argument arises on the “race” of Jesus (being Black African). If he were Cleopatra’s son and the next in line for the “Egyptian” pharaoship (as well as the “throne of Rome”), and his half sis was Magdalene …Queen of Mauritania …then the “race” of Cleopatra would solve the “race” of Jesus.

  148. Tama

    The article is foolishness. And the picture depicted as the queen is suppose to be proof. As the picture of white Jesus is proof he is white. So if a Caucasian say it is so then let it be that and when all else fail they fall on “why does race matter.” If any one would to see another view on this matter check out this website http://www.lisapoyakama.org

  149. Leann

    Just because Egypt is in Africa doesn’t mean Cleopatra is African or has African blood. West Africans are different then South Africans and West Africans and so on. There are white ppl who live or came from Africa who do not have african blood in them. As far as ppl complaining about a white playing her in movie. Will Smith played I am Legend who in the book is white. So is that fair? Fact is she is greek or has greek in her. I think she is mixed with something but I don’t think she is black. And they did dna on king tut and his father and grandfather and findings say they all have European dna.

  150. Jamaal

    I ask all people who identify as ‘White’ or Anglo-Saxon, or European, really reflect upon what racism and discrimination in America has done to Black people.

    Black people, which I consider myself to be by the way, are starved for role models. In ALL the comments from Black people saying Cleopatra was “Black”, the only evidence is “Egypt is in Africa.” And so is Johannesburg and Pretoria. Were DeClerk and Botha Black?!

    Mr. Roller here provided an outline that we as Black people, starved for role models, to boost our self-esteem, could not see. Egypt was conquered by Alexander the Greek! And then, he did not defeat Egypt, but Darius!!! Persia ruled Egypt at this time!!

    And then, Mr. Roller explained how the “Greeks”, the Ptolemaic family were so hell bent in staying in control, they even practiced incest!!! The city of “Alexandria” was built as the place of rule, to take power away from Memphis!! In other words, to keep WHITE or Greek in power, the Greeks built a brand new city! You think they are going to let a Black woman rule!!

    Not one Black person attempted to deny Cleopatra was a descendant of the original Greek, Freak, incestuous Ptolemy I, II, II etc. And if she was such a great Black role model, such a prideful Black original Egyptian, what the hell was she doing sleeping and marrying and having children with Caesar and Marc Antony? Black people, who was Cleopatra’s Black Egyptian husband???

    Romanticizing will not improve our condition Black people, only critical analytical thinking!! I fail to see how sleeping with every powerful “Greek” potentate equates to “role model” any way??

  151. This post is clear madness

    Black is not a race/ethnicity. That is a term given to african americans due to loss of history and culture. It is made up! Cleopatra was a woman of color whether that be olive or midnight black. Whether that be from mixed, greek or whatever was floating around in that region. Modern day Egyptians do not consider themselves black because there is no such thing. They identify as Egyptian (where they are from)some who are darker than most “black” people I know. If african americans knew their history they would not identify as black either, but how many choices are left when all attempts have been made to erase their identity. Since acting ability is all that should matter than I would like to see a woman of color, “black” indian or asian play queen Elizabeth or Liz Taylor in a movie. There would be pure fucking outrage.

  152. discoveranthropology

    after 7 years there has been so much controversy with this article and its comments.
    and most fail to understand the point that people are a lot more well traveled then they were 2000 years ago. using cover-all terminology based on modern-day bias and subjective statements out of context does not help demonstrate your beliefs or answer the issue. in fact, your beliefs are irrelevant in the historical record, which is more important that a fictional portrayal for entertainment. this is the underlying point of this article to demonstrate truth with available facts (relevant and according to the time it occurred). It is important who she was in history, not who we want her to have been. please leave history to historians and anthropologists.

  153. Igor Ivanovich

    Macedonians are Southern Slavs,linguistically related to Bulgarian and Great Russian. They are not and never have been Greek.

  154. Shea E.

    Historians are also known to distort the TRUTH! Cleopatra was black! And yes it is ok for one of the greatest women ruler of all time, was a black woman

  155. Hamadi Walls

    It her racial background was not important why did you take such pains to “demolish any evidence of Black African Blood. Another transparent attempt to deny in greatness of person or historically personality to African ancestry. Just another attempt by white scholars doing what they have always done is to assign all the great civilizations to a European invention in an attempt to maintain the myth of white supremacy. Please

  156. Nyomi Jackson

    Cleopatra was a black woman! Swallow that pill. And them she won’t be the last black woman to rule. ✌🏾

  157. The Soul

    Other races (mainly white Europeans) are always saying it doesn’t matter what race Egyptians are biblical people were. If it really doesn’t matter, why is it so important for every thing to be whitewashed and portrayed as white people. It’s obviously important for weak-minded people to continue and try to hold on to the oppressive power that has been around for ages. In a land dominated by the original dark skin man, you expect us to believe that every great Egyptian or biblical person that walk that land was white? You can barely stay in the Sun for an hour without burning up. Doesn’t make very much sense to the average person but you can keep hanging on to your false hopes.

  158. Guido

    Cleopatra was a Greek Macedonian pure and simple. She was descended from a long Line of Greek Kings and Queens (the Ptolemies of the Kingdom of Macedonia in northern Greece) who had ruled Egypt for nearly 300 years. Egyptian royalty only intermarried amongst themselves, so it is very unlikely for anyone outside the Royal family to have added to the Royal gene pool. Secondly Roman writers give no indication that Cleopatra was African.

  159. Chloe

    Cleopatra hadn’t Greek or Macedonian origin. She was Albanian .they’re was no such thing as Greece or Macedonian back then. It was only Albania. It’s sad to see how others rewrite history the way they want to. They took so much credit from Albanian people. Alexander the great (supposedly from Macedonia) was albanian.many other famous figures we’re Albanian. I have visited a church in Macedonia and I got informed from different sources that the church had an eagle (Albanian symbol) painted on the walls ,but after they took Albanians territory they Burnet it ,and repainted it to make it look Macedonian. This was just an excample of how mistreated Albanian history is. Next time you show information like this,make sure it’s 100% sure,nobody wants to hear lies.

  160. Homunculus

    Ah, the neverending discussion about race.. I don’t know why I even read this post and all these comments bashing eachother over this.. Makes you think if we humans can ever overcome our desire hate eachother. Why can’t you people understand that we are all the same race, the rest is just made up rubbish to divide us.

    I will for sure get hate for this, people are going to assume my pigment and try to bash me for it. But whatever, live in your world of hate. Just give your children room for their own thoughts.

  161. Richard

    I don’t believe Cleopatra was truly Black African but at the same time to say she was just white is a blatant lie. Original Ancient Egyptians were most likely originally African as in black African most written sources from those times with depictions back that fact up. Egypt though developed over time and become for ethnically mixed due to its close proximity to other nations many a times comer under rulership of these neighbouring ethnicities which you could consider “white”ish atleast . In the case of cleopatra she came from a “white” family but thats only her fathers side I’m surprised nobody mentioned the discovery her sisters remains which showed genetically that her mother was of clear African decent. Cleopatra was most likely of mixed ethnicity and according to America one drop rule can be therefore considered black in their eyes.

  162. Marina

    I read all the comments and I’m shook! I’m Greek btw and yes I do believe that Cleopatra could have been part greek or fully black or something else we don’t really know of… all I’m seeing over the years is that there’s not enough evidence of what she really was (for what is worth I don’t think she cared, since she considered herself a goddess). Since she’s my favorite queen and absolute icon I’d like it if she was in fact part greek, but I would also love her if she was black, mixed or anything else. For instance I’d love to see say (as someone suggested in the comments) Beyoncé portraying her… Or any other powerful woman… Because to me this is what matters! Whatever race she was, she was above all, one of the most powerful women in the world’s history! Keep that in mind. An absolute woman, an amazingly capable queen, seen as equal to men even back then! Let’s respct that until we can know more about her descending…

  163. Josh

    Whom ever wrote this article needs a refund of their historical education. Cleopatra was not Greek or close to it. The timeline between the first Ptolemy and the last there was a drastic change in the empire. Majority of the Pharoah’s were of some Nubian descent and from the land of Kush (modern day Sudan) along with those from the Syria area. All the Kings who did rule areas married women whom were native to the area. Alexander himself had wives whom were of brown and black descent. So on that note Cleopatra VII was of native African descent and that blood line going that far down if she did have Greek blood it would be so little it wouldn’t of even matter. (Quit trying to Europeanize History, give credit where its due)

  164. Andrew

    Cleo wasn’t black because black . But she was African because Egypt is IN Africa. Look at a map!

    Greeks themselves were/are olive tonned and NOT white. Including Egypt’s position with the equator, they would be tanned af. Meaning she woukd have some nice toasty skin!

    As to why it’s important? Representation and Whitewashing. White people and those born of Europe are to most represented in media. White people can turn anywhere and find a role model. It’s not the same for black (Americans) ot Africans or any darker skinned person.

    Now as for Whitewashing, Jesus is another example. Jesus was not white/Europea. He was from Isreal. ISREAL! The same has happened to other figures of non-europeans and non-european descended

  165. Robert

    If race didn’t mean anything then why does people of color get there history wiped over and there accomplishments overshadowed by white people and they get all the credit and I’m not jealous but it seems that when something great happened we were depicted as village roomers!

  166. BeautifulOhio

    You cannot rewrite history or you may as well be like old racist Hollywood. I know you want her to be as Nubian as Nefertiti, but she wasn’t. And, the Ptolomy’s were Greek or Macedonian or Albanian or Balkan – whatever. They were not white like a Celt, and they were not black like a Nubian. They intermarried because gods marry gods – that’s what they believed and what they did to consolidate power. The Queen apparently loved her country and her people, so they loved her. Was this because somehow her mother was not her father’s wife but perhaps a native Egyptian concubine (as native Egyptians at that time were treated like the Irish were and would not have been of high status), or a daughter of a merchant, etc? It would explain her popularity, but that can also be explained by the simple fact that she was an amazing politician – She knew how to charm people. Could she have been darker than a Greek? Maybe, maybe not. They called her the Egyptian, not the Nubian. Funerary masks of that time depict Greeks, not Nubian Egyptians. They had dark, curly hair and olive skin. I’m very surprised by the old, racist 1/8th rule being referenced by many of the proud African Americans as it is a white, racist tool used to rob people of their freedom and served to marginalize and devalue many. Most likely, and this is based on cultural, historical evidence, written narrative, and the coins and more realistic statue of her head, she would have looked like the actress Marina Sirtis (StarTrek) circa 1987 with a really deep tan. Actually, if I was going to cast for Cleopatra, I would go with this description of the type for a casting call: a chubby/curvy woman 20’s or young 30’s with a large Greek or Lebanese type nose, black kinky-curly hair and brown skin. I’d have a lot of girls to choose from. Cleopatra wasn’t pretty by today’s standards, but she had presence, eloquence, and education. I saw something about Angelina Jolie being cast as Cleopatra, but it would only work if she had a bunch of makeup, a wig, a prosthetic nose and gained some weight if we want to be historically accurate. The thing that’s different with Cleopatra than with the example of Ceasar and Queen Elizabeth I is that we have pictures and other clear evidence of what they looked like, so we can cast a white, black, Asian, Indian, Native American, Latino/Hispanic woman – heck, we could put a man in a dress! But really, she was a Ptolomy – Greek/Macedonian Egyptian.
    Oh, sidebar, Jesus wasn’t white or black – he was brown. He wasn’t from Europe, and he wasn’t from Africa – Nazareth is in Israel and is in the location considered the middle-east but is on the continent of Asia. Oh, and yes, I’m as white as Frostina the snow girl, but guess who my hero was as a child and even now? Harriet Tubman. You want a strong black female role model? How about a woman who risked her life to enter the deep South over and over to save hundreds of lives? And she did it with a head injury that gave her narcolepsy- she fell asleep on a bench once and risked capture, torture, etc. She was a superhero, and definitely black. But she wasn’t a queen or beautiful, she was average. And, Cleopatra? She was a politician. Yay. What a hero. Wouldn’t it be better to admire an average person who did extraordinary things? I also wanted to say to the person that said I’ve never had to face prejudice for being white – bull. Mostly in college, but I’ve faced it in my job and in my own neighborhood. “Ain’t you in the wrong place snowflake?” And I’ve faced it here reading the lovely comments. Except for that creepy neo-nazi, the “whites” have been civil and careful – white guilt I guess. Prejudice is universal, and knows no color, creed, religion or body type. It is as insidious and vile as cockroaches- you can’t always see them but you know they’re there. Let’s get out the bug spray kids and let Cleo be whoever – I’m partial to Salma Hayek – how bout you?

  167. Sanai

    It’s funny how white people (with some rare exceptions) keep moving the goal post. First, many on this thread denied the possibility that Cleopatra was black. Then, perhaps having read the BBC article that states she was black (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/also_in_the_news/7945333.stm), they argued that having some black blood does not make one black. Of course, these are the same people who wanted to deny Barack Obama was black. It’s like they experience cognitive dissonance at the thought that a black woman (and I emphasize black more than woman) could have not only been regarded as brilliant but have been internationally renowned for her beauty. Maybe they are afraid (I should say still afraid) of what we’re actually capable of? Or it just makes it easier to swallow one’s own vomit (deep-seated or subconscious racism)?

  168. Jim Litty

    This professor is a clown. I live in Columbus and pray I run into this joker one day to confront him on this idiocy. He is searching for a way to say Cleopatra wasn’t Macedonian. He runs into dead ends everywhere and then states, “Its probably she had Egyptian blood.” Probable based on what? On the fact that you dont know who 1/6 of her fathers concubines was? What is this trash.

  169. Julia


  170. Yua yua

    What if she was an egyptian.. woah haha crazy right it’s not like she live in middle east or egypt or anything

  171. ayudhia dwi utami

    Have you guys even try dna testing? Where do you know she’s a greek? Hieroglyphs? Does she even wrote it on her face with alphabet? Why y’all have to claim everything as causcasian she’s in the MIDDLE EAST for god sake

  172. Charles Martel

    As a historian, you should not be hedging to appease the gods of political correctness. Civilization is a manifestation of genetics.
    History shows us that race matters on a macro level. It is directly correlated to the continued transmission of the civilization by the founding race.
    -Disappearance of Whites Led to the Collapse of Their Civilizations-
    Originally created by Proto-Nordics, Alpines, and Mediterraneans, and then influenced by waves of Indo-European invaders, the white civilizations in the Middle East all flourished, producing the wonders of the ancient world. These regions were either invaded or otherwise occupied (through the use of laborers, immigration, or in rare cases, by conquest) by nonwhite nations of varying races. When the original white peoples who created those civilizations vanished or became an insignificant minority (through death and absorption into other races), their civilizations “fell” in exactly the same way that the Native American civilization in North America “fell.”

    Kemp, Arthur. March of the Titans: The Complete History of the White Race: Volume I and II Combined Edition.

  173. Oliver Thompson

    This is 2018 and Cleopatra’s sister’s bone were found. finally exactly as the Africans have claimed and once again it is prooven that Cleopatra’s mother was a black African! Now for all you one drop rule people, you tell me what is her ethnicity?

  174. Tommy

    This is the most false idiotic racially biased and ridiculous thing I’ve ever read by a supposed expert. Are you freaking kidding, racist or just plain thick? Her family lived on Egypt for over 300 years…yes Egypt in African where the first people lived. Egypt which is right next to Sudan and Ethiopia and you’re trying to argue that she was largely Macedonian? That makes no sense. Even if she is proven to have Macedonian blood in her, the way that genetics works she still would’ve been a woman of color despite her mixed heritage. Example both Halle Berry and Barrack Obama are half white yet still very much people of color and she had significantly less in her blood. Don’t be a racist supremacist idiot and stop trying to use your format to falsify history and science to push your agenda smdh.

  175. Alexander

    Why do black people want to claim the Ptolemaic dynasty was black? They invaded Egypt from Greece. The founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty was one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Ancient Greeks had olive skin just like today.

  176. Drs. K. Boume

    Well, well..What a fierce discussion. I as an cultural antrophologist of North-African descent have a few things to mention here. You all talk about white or black, Africa, Europe, Greece, etc. but never about North-Africa and its original people, the Berbers or the Amazigh. Egypt is North-African, Egypt is Amazigh and still today. Some North-African people are also of mixed-race, but you can find all the colors you want in our people; black, brown, light-brown, white, etc. For me that means that Cleopatra is also of Berber descent, which can explain her appereance. She was petite slim, dark hair and olive skin. Dark almond shaped eyes and fine face structure, nothing Greek or Roman about that. It is very disturbing that different sources like Wikipedia and other acadamic researchers who are mostly of white descent are changing the North-African history. And North-Africa is the head of Mother Africa and I am proud to be a Berber woman. So people, next time do not forget the history of North-Africa because until today Cleopatra’s history and legacy still stand there.

  177. […] to Oxford University’s blog, what is known is that from her father’s side, she was no more than eight generations away […]

  178. Chip Rhuerl

    This post is a waste of time. The LIES to support white/TAMAHU have been going on for years. To eliminate the stigma of being cave dwellers, Tamahu’s have attached themselves to fair skin Melanated people of the earth.

  179. Lord of the Smith

    Your a brave man to write about race in today’s time. I’m not sure if people have always been this ignorant or if the internet just makes it easier to see.

    It shouldn’t be hard to figure that Cleopatra was Greek because history has proven that. They wrote it down. If she was mixed, which I’m inclined to believe, she was mixed with Berber. You can almost see the resemblance in modern Berbers
    They have a history in North Africa of several thousand years and they come in all shapes, sizes and hues.

    But before everyone goes wringing their hands on skin color, let’s keep in mind, she cheated and had kids with Ceaser, plotted to kill her sister, and Egypt ceased to exist after her death. Thousands of years of dynastic rule ended with her. Augustus wiped her off the map. Not to mention the inbreeding. That alone, sheesh. Color whatever you want in the lines and be proud of it, but I wouldn’t be.

  180. P.S

    What the hell is “Black Africa”? Egypt is in Northern Africa. All of Africa was “Black Africa” until racist imperialist, European colonist showed up and started raping African women. Another Racist author.

  181. Odessa

    The original Egyptians were pushed into the Sudan. They were Black Africans and Cleopatra was mixed with Egyptian. She was Black and it matters very much. Your article is full of bias and ridiculousness.

  182. King Tut

    Cleopatra was a black African. This white washing has got to stop.

  183. Trinity

    I’m always amazed at how white washing types try to separate Egypt from Africa. It is on the continent of Africa!

  184. […] reign alongside her husband Akhenatan. Nevermind that Cleopatra was Egyptian by birth alone and was of Greek ancestry, with an outside chance of possible admixture with Egyptian blood. (Evidently, the colonialist […]

  185. lisa Marie

    The bigger question is where is the rest of History? She can be POC all she wants she still had slaves. The Romans enlaved Slavic people. If slavery sucks so much she sucks. And why is it ok for Nicki Manaj to play at Ceaser’s Palace ?Again lost history. These POC owned WHITE SLAVES. As a part Slavic person., I have to hear that I opress these poor people who enslaved my people in the Roman Empire she married into. Boo hoo to your spray tan #RealHistory #SlavicHistoryNow

  186. Janet Crump

    Duane Roller is a perfect example of how having degrees and titles does not make you smart or intelligent. She wrote, “Certainly not for any black African blood”. This is a historian writing this although Egypt is in Africa and was ruled for thousands of years by those with “black African blood”.

  187. albert scott

    Are you suggesting there were no black actresses who could have played Cleopatra just as good as a white person or even better? Given that Cleopatra was black royalty. Black people were kings and queens while white people we’re living in caves didn’t even wipe there butt. YES IT MATTERS WHAT RACE SHE WAS. YOU SURE DON’T MIND SHOWING BLACK PEOPLE LIVING IN JUNGLES IN SAYING THEY’RE BLACK. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO PHARAOHS KINGS AND QUEENS THEY GOT TO BE WHITE WOW.

  188. Zhou

    caucasian ‘whiterize/caucasianize’ EVERYTHING – EVEN IF THE PERSON IS FROM AFRICA.

  189. Zhou

    They Believe their own LIES – caucasians are Allergic to Truth.”It is No Measure of Health to Be Well Adjusted to a Profoundly Sick Society” (Jiddu Krishnamurti). caucasians Never WANT African Americans to Know their True History – that’s why to Read or Write or even Speak their Native language was it was against the law – for Africans taken as slaves – Punishable by Death.

  190. […] what kills me is that our history has been sooooo white washed that Jesus and Cleopatra who are of African blood are apparently white. Much of the spiritual community gets to pick and […]

  191. Caitlyn

    I find quite a few issues with this article, but the main one is your comment that “It is hard to imagine that race would be more important than acting ability, but clearly others disagree,” is highly disrespectful.

    For many generations now, Hollywood movies have been dominated by white males and thus white male views on society; thousands of different minority groups, from Africans to Latino to LGBTQAI+ have been completely ignored, unable to get roles as people of their own ethnicity.

    Often there are stories of Transgender actors being turned down to play Transgender characters, which is highly unfair, as they are unable to thus share their own stories, nevermind the fact they ARE transgender. However, they are also not allowed to act as cisgender characters of their own gender, because they are, again, Trans.

    Additionally, there are so few opportunities for African American actors, and actors of other minority groups, so yes, it is definitely a problem of race.

    Your idea about race not mattering is true. Race should not matter, but the fact is that it does, and it has astronomical impacts on the way or society is run.
    Allowing more ethnic groups other than caucasian into our movies, books and social media ALLOWS it to become more normal!!
    It would allow African Americans to share their culture and ideas, which would lead to better understandings between cultures – that is what media is for, to share ideas.

    Race would be less of a problem if we saw more than just white people.

    One day, it will perhaps not even be an issue, because having these ethnic and marginalised groups in our daily lives and viewing will be normal and completely expected.

    Overall, I find your information on Cleopatra’s heritage very useful and detailed, but your tone often comes across as rude and very mocking of people with a lesser understanding of Egyptian and Greek connections, which is why, I suspect, so many people reading this article have had an issue with your information.

  192. […] is depicted conjunct to Jupiter in the Dendera Zodiac — supposedly the oldest zodiac around. Cleopatra’s father supposedly died in 51 BC when that conjunction occurred — the great Nile queen herself died on […]

  193. Roderick Jones

    My issue with Duane Roller is that he is a liar and disgrace to his profession. All ancient Egyptians were black africans and to ask- but does it matter? If it didn’t matter then why lie and fabricate the facts? Why fabricate a white history that never happened in Africa? This man is a terrible so-called historian who believes that he and his cohorts can reinvent the true history.

  194. […] Cleopatra’s true racial background (and does it really matter?) – Such concerns have recently come to the forefront with the announcement that in at least one of the several Cleopatra movies currently planned. […]

  195. why would you bother if you don’t think it matters

    i know this shit is a decade old but this was the worst research i’ve ever witnessed and the fact that you clearly don’t think it matters shows. save it for someone who cares next time.

  196. Rosanna

    The differentiation between “black African” and Egyptian makes no sense. The current racial makeup of Egypt is a result of mixing between native Egyptians and European colonizers, so if you are saying Egyptian to mean native Egyptians prior to this racial mixing, then you are talking about black Africans. This author is so unabashedly biased that it is laughable to think that anyone would take them seriously. To suggest that it doesn’t matter if a white actor is cast to play a black historical figure shows complete lack of understanding of racial dynamics. How about this? If you have not studied race and how it interacts with society, don’t comment on it. It’s fine to outline what we know about Cleopatra’s ethnic history, but leave it at that. Your opinion is ignorant, uninformed, and of no value whatsoever, so keep it to yourself.

  197. Dar

    People got mad because miles a black kid was spider man which shouldn’t matter. Next thing you know people gonna change Martin Luther King white. To act like they cared for us. Whites always tryna take take take till there’s nothing left. Playing asians, natives, blacks, etc. But as soon as someone do them the same way they want to raise hell but when it’s others it shouldn’t matter or everyone else is being dramatic. They all full sht.

  198. layla ozdemir

    i wonder if you understand that at Egyptians were from Nubia , i have Nubian blood and i descend from Ramses 3rd

  199. Ben D. Looney

    This is simply another” GREEK MYTH” ;
    How very odd, that some folk would rather indulge in MYTHS than deal with BLACK FOLKS
    real history… (Strange).

  200. VirtualPoser

    Wow the amount of non Hellenes Macedonians claiming the ancestry is insane.
    First you have Bulgarians speaking a Bulgaro-Serbian language, claiming to be Macedonians. Macedonians were Hellenes and the spoke Hellenic, wrote Hellenic, had Hellenic names, spread the Hellenic culture etc. They even participated in the Olympics, a place where ONLY Hellenes (Greeks) could participate.

    Now off to the black afrocentrics claiming Egypt was black because “it is in Africa”. first of all the words Africa and Egypt are both Hellenic (Greek),
    Α- Φρίκη = a (deprivative) + freak (extreme cold) = the place without cold.
    Αίγυπτος = Αιγαίο + Ύπτιος (below the Aegean)

    Second and most important, Egypt in ancient times were never regarded in Africa. It was regarded to be in the Middle East. also Indians are Asians, but they are not Chinese.

    Sub Saharan Africans have little to nothing to do with Northern Africa. Northen Africa has been a place that was inhabited by Mediterraneans for thousands of years before the Arabs arrived.

    Ancient Egyptians have absolutely nothing to do with sub Saharan Africans and thus nothing to do with the descendants of the laves that were sold to USA (aka African Americans). Nubians are Nubians, unless you are a Nubian you cannot claim you are part of them just because they have black skin. For the same reason both Swedes and Greeks are European but so totally different, the same thing happens with the sub saharan African people.

    Cleopatra was Greek Macedonian, there is no way an illegitimate child would ever become a powerful Queen. There is absolutely no way her mother was Nubian black or a woman without a status (aka mixed).

    Enlighten yourselves, and educate yourselves. you all want to belong somewhere and you are trying to cling into history that is glorious but not yours, just so you can feel good about yourselves.

    Whoever knows history and has studied, knows these things. your feelings have no meaning when ti comes to biology, glossology, anthropology and history (and all these words are Greek, they are not sub saharan black words or slavic words)

  201. Naomi

    Do you have evidence that Egyptians in Africa btw were not black. Just because modern Egyptians are are mixed with Arabic or Persian blood, it does not mean ancient Egyptians were Arabic they could have been black as night🙄

  202. Brian L. Taylor a.k.a. Bras Dobane (Ha'Thor'oughly Modern Monroe Man) Writer of "The Aten," 2011, 1980BCE [II].

    Mr. Roller, please stop spreading these falsehoods. Matter of fact answer this question- why would Cleopatra (and family) come all of the way to Egypt to worship Black Gods and Goddesses if she (and they) were what you wished them to be? Second, why not any other culture (India, Persia, etc) acquired by Alexander during that time, why Egypt? Even Alexander himself spent his last years in Egypt. Wonder why? Next, you spent upwards of 85% of your article discussing race yet kept emphasizing (when you could a word-in edgewise ‘around yourself’ mind you, that the article wasn’t about race). What kind of a Historical swindler are you? It was clearly a sly tactic that only makes you sound like more of a scammer. Last, what race was Marilyn Monroe? I’ll tell you- she was half black as was Mansfield, Carol Channing, and so many others. Certainly she was whiter than Cleopatra and a long time paramour of one of America’s most misunderstood Human Rights Leaders. After all, what you’re describing would have hardly appeared exotic to Caesar- hell, why would he not just marry his own sister? Geez.

  203. ukweli

    You are ignorant, and bias. Prove “There is no room for anything else, certainly not for any black African blood.” I want you to go back in time, before the white man white-washed everything. You see the problem is the further you go back in history the blacker it is, and the white man hates that. He can hide the truth, but he cannot erase it. It’s part of the white man’s oppression. So before you go and try to confirm something in history know your truth. History DOES NOT begin with the white man, but with Alkebulan. Don’t forget. the white man lost his history until the moors saved his.

  204. Wespac

    Black African is African period. If not black African they are colonizers period. There is no distinction between black African and African. This is a subtle means to separate the great kingdom of Egypt from the great continent of Africa.

  205. PJ

    Please stop all the lies. Of course color matters. Color matters in every aspect of life. It’s only a non issue if you are white. It matters on every single news report of a violent crime that reports 2 black males are wanted. Actually no one is truly white or black. Color means life and death while driving while black on the wrong road when stoped by a angry man in blue. So please my white friends don’t ever say color doesn’t matter about anything ever again! Egypt is on the African Continent. Egypt was and is a African country. Africans range from very light brown to very dark brown. Facts are facts. 10 generations and 1/3 Egyptian blood would never yield milky white skin like Liz Taylor.

  206. Gail

    Yes Cleopatra was a black woman…I don’t care if this is Oxford University, you need to get your facts straight before you publish fake info….the Caucasian race has been riding the coat tails of every nationality for decades…

  207. Lamont Pittman

    It is funny that every time when it’s white it’s okay but as soon as we start trying to prove she wasn’t White oh it’s doesn’t matter if it didn’t matter you want to pretend that she was white like everybody else in history

  208. vernetta Mathis

    bulls—- you wish

  209. […] Duane W. Roller wrote — a decade ago — at the Oxford University Press blog,  that “it has been suggested […]

  210. […] Duane W. Roller wrote — a decade ago — at the Oxford University Press blog,  that “it has been suggested […]

  211. […] Duane W. Roller wrote — a decade ago — at the Oxford University Press blog,  that “it has been suggested […]

  212. […] Duane W. Roller ¨Cleopatra’s true racial background (and does it really matter?)¨ : https://blog.oup.com/2010/12/cleopatra-2/ […]

  213. […] the Oxford University Press blog, Cleopatra biographer Duane W. Curler has famous that, “the very best proof reveals that […]

  214. […] the Oxford University Press blog, Cleopatra biographer Duane W. Curler has famous that, “one of the best proof exhibits that […]

  215. Chandler

    To the victor go the spoils. History is written by the winners.
    Africa had civilization long before the rest of the world.
    Africa is the origin of species homo sapiens.
    The Greeks were comprised of a hundred different genetic origins resulting from that territory being overrun scores of times.
    An artist has license to make anyone look any way they choose.
    The human race is one race – Circumstance has graced it with variety.
    Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.

  216. Anon

    What a tone deaf blog entry that has not aged well. Yes, her race/ethnicity matter. It’s called the whitewashing of history and art history.

  217. Anon

    Does it matter that Barack Obama is Black? That Mansa Musa was African? That Andromeda has been whitewashed throughout the history of art? Of course it does. Think beyond the tip of your own nose.

  218. Dee



    Cleopatra was Macedonian, that entire dynasty was. They were all born into the same family.

    Ramses II etc, however, that family- they had very different genetics but they were Egyptian. But the genetics of what it meant to be Egyptian changed many times over the centuries

  219. […] best as historians can tell, she was actually Greek—a descendent of Alexander the Great’s Macedonian general […]

  220. Georgia F.

    I started researching this topic – Cleopatra’s black ancestry, if she has it – the minute I saw Michelangelo’s sketch of her. Look it up, y’all. Beautiful.

    She lived and died long before Michelangelo, of course, but the portrait really, really looks like it was modeled on a young woman of African descent.

    Also, no matter who’s noting what about faces on Macedonian coins, or whether there was a concubine in the family who wasn’t Greek, and so on and so forth, Mr. Roller misses a big point: Paternity was only a presumption in Cleopatra’s day anyway. People had affairs. Records got lost. Things were erased — probably from all our own family trees, too.

  221. D Allen

    everyone that wants to present her as black should…and those that want to say she’s greek or macedonian or olive skinned should also. what matters is that your presentation gets across the point that you are trying to get across. most ‘historical’ sources are questionable…from stuff in the recent past to that which is ancient. they say history is written by the victors. everyone has their own agenda. the spanish armada wasn’t really an armada (much less defeated by england), marie antoinette didn’t really tell them to eat cake, an apple a day doesn’t really keep the doctor away (made up by the apple growers), and you using only 10% of your brain isn’t how biology works. really…if lucy lu was cleopatra in a movie and she did some academy award acting, would you notice? …or would you be hung up and bent out of shape because of where her ancestors came from at a certain point in the past? what about if john travolta or octavia spencer played her?

    too be honest…i’m very against english actors playing americans. they have no clue what it’s like to be an american. total bullsh1t.

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