The California Science Center is currently hosting a wonderful exhibition of artifacts from the famous Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. This exhibition is filled with wonderfully preserved sculptures that have been retrieved from the ocean floor - remnants of a destroyed palace belonging to Cleopatra which sat on the edge of the harbor at Alexandria over 2,000 years ago.
|The IMAX Theatre showed the film, Mysteries of Egypt|
As we entered the actual exhibit, inside the California Science Center, we heard a brief orientation lecture. I was glad I'd been reading up on Cleopatra and her life before I saw this collection, however. It made me appreciate it more, I think.
If you look closely, you can see our friend Jeff on the right, behind the statue.
|The placard beneath the above pictured statue|
|Wow. I loved the jewelry.|
I want those earrings.
|This head belonged to a statue originally 12 feet tall!|
|16-foot tall Ptolemaic King and Queen statues|
|Archaeologists believe this is a bust of Prince Caesarian|
|This statue represents a monk from an Egyptian Temple, carrying a vase|
In its heyday, Alexandria was a bustling, modern metropolis and home to a quarter of a million people. The library of Alexandria was world famous and the largest of its time.
These Sphinxes (above and below) bear the faces of Cleopatra's children (she had 4, one with Julius Caesar and 3 with Mark Antony). I've puzzled how the mother of 4 children, even threatened with public humiliation through the street of Rome as a conquered Queen, could commit suicide, as Cleopatra and Mark Antony did after the Roman victory.
At the very end of the exhibit was a large collage - images of actresses who have played Cleopatra in the movies (such as Elizabeth Taylor, Claudette Colbert, Theda Bara, etc), together with the images of Cleopatra by famous artists through the centuries. It's obvious that the story of Cleopatra has captured peoples' imaginations for centuries.
|This bust of Cleopatra wasn't in the exhibit.|
This is an ancient artist's idea of what she may have looked like.
According to several ancient historians, Cleopatra wasn't all that physically beautiful, however, she had a beautiful voice, spoke 6 languages, and was intelligent, witty, and vivacious.
Seeing items that were part of her daily life, made me wonder about her. Did she really believe she was a representative of the goddess Isis on earth? Did she really care for Julius Caesar or Mark Antony, or just using them for political reasons? She was very young (17) when she had the responsibility for an entire country - a country filled with political turmoil, enemies within and without, financial troubles, and an epidemic - thrust upon her.
I espouse the theory that she did the best she could under the circumstances. Spending an afternoon peeking into her life was a bit romantic, interesting and quite thought provoking.
The Cleopatra Exhibit is currently here on the West Coast until December 31st, as part of a tour sponsored, in part, by National Geographic.