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Cleopatra in Ancient Portraiture


Branko van Oppen
published on 15 February 2020
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Ancient portraits of Cleopatra depict her assertive, but certainly not unattractive features. The wide royal headband (diadēma) and traditional wavy coiffure express her sovereignty based on her Lagid descent.

Silver tetradrachm struck in Ascalon, Phoenicia, with the diademed portrait of Queen Cleopatra (British Museum, London, 1875,1102.3; seal impression with a similar portrait, Edfu, Upper Egypt (Allard Pierson Museum 8177.056); sculptural portrait attributed to Cleopatra (Altes Museum, Antikensammlung Berlin, 1976.10); background relief scene depicting Cleopatra and her son Ptolemy Caesarion before the gods of Dendera, Upper Egypt.

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About the Author

Branko van Oppen
Branko van Oppen is an exhibition curator and independent scholar specialized in Ptolemaic queenship as well as Hellenistic art and ideology.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Oppen, B. v. (2020, February 15). Cleopatra in Ancient Portraiture. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Oppen, Branko van. "Cleopatra in Ancient Portraiture." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified February 15, 2020.

MLA Style

Oppen, Branko van. "Cleopatra in Ancient Portraiture." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 15 Feb 2020. Web. 14 Apr 2021.

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