Washington, Feb 28: A Viennese archaeologist claims to have identified the bones of Cleopatra’s murdered sister or half-sister.
However, not everyone is convinced.
That’s because the evidence linking the bones, discovered in an ancient Greek city, to Cleopatra’s sibling Arsinoe IV is largely circumstantial.
A DNA test was attempted, Hilke Thur, an archaeologist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and a former director of excavations at the site where the bones were found said.
The 2,000-year-old bones had been moved and handled too many times to get uncontaminated results.
“It didn’t bring the results we hoped to find,” Thur told the Charlotte News-Observer.
Arsinoe IV was Cleopatra’s younger half-sister or sister, both of them fathered by Ptolemy XII Auletes, though whether they shared a mother is not clear.
Ptolemic family politics were tough. When Ptolemy XII died, he made Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII joint rulers, but Ptolemy soon ousted Cleopatra.
Julius Caesar took Cleopatra’s side in the family fight for power, while Arsinoe joined the Egyptian army resisting Caesar and the Roman forces.
Rome won out, and Arsinoe was taken captive. She was allowed to live in exile in Ephesus, an ancient Greek city in what is now Turkey. However, Cleopatra saw her half-sister as a threat and had her murdered in 41 B.C.
Fast forward to 1904. That year, archaeologists began excavating a ruined structure in Ephesus known as the Octagon for its shape. In 1926, they revealed a burial chamber in the Octagon, holding the bones of a young woman.
Thur argues that the date of the tomb (sometime in the second half of the first century BC) and the illustrious within-city location of the grave, points to the occupant being Arsinoe IV herself.
Thur also believes that the octagonal shape may echo that of the great Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. That would make the tomb an homage to Arsinoe’s hometown, Egypt’s ancient capital, Alexandria.
The skull of the possible murdered princess disappeared in Germany during World War II, but Thur found the rest of the bones in two niches in the burial chamber in 1985.
The remains have been debated every step of the way. Forensic analysis revealed them to belong to a girl of 15 or 16, which would make Arsinoe surprisingly young for someone who was supposed to have played a major leadership role in a war against Rome years before her death. (ANI)