Ptolemaic Statue of a Woman

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Ptolemaic statue of a woman, unknown source, Ptolemaic period, Egypt, 3rd or 2nd century BCE, limestone. Made with CapturingReality.

Although the statue dates back to the period of Greek rule in Egypt, the artist did not give up the Pharaonic tradition. The feet and part of the base have been restored.

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Cleopatra VII ruled ancient Egypt as co-regent (first with her father, then with her two younger brothers and finally with her son) for almost three decades. She was part of a dynasty of Macedonian rulers founded by Ptolemy, who served as general under Alexander the Great during his conquest of Egypt in 332 B.C. Well-educated and clever, Cleopatra could speak various languages and served as the dominant ruler in all three of her co-regencies. Her romantic liaisons and military alliances with the Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, as well as her supposed exotic beauty and powers of seduction, earned her an enduring place in history and popular myth.

2. She was the product of incest.

Like many royal houses, members of the Ptolemaic dynasty often married within the family to preserve the purity of their bloodline. More than a dozen of Cleopatra’s ancestors tied the knot with cousins or siblings, and it’s likely that her own parents were brother and sister. In keeping with this custom, Cleopatra eventually married both of her adolescent brothers, each of whom served as her ceremonial spouse and co-regent at different times during her reign.

Town's Statue Of Colonial Woman Who Killed Natives Sparks Debate

The Hannah Duston statue in G.A.R. Park in Haverhill, Mass., has become the subject of fierce public debate.

A statue of a woman towers over a patch of daffodils in a city park in Haverhill, Mass. Scowling ferociously, she leans forward, gripping a hatchet.

The statue honors Hannah Duston, a 17th-century English colonist who is believed to have killed 10 Native Americans in order to escape captivity during King William's War. It has become a flashpoint in the country's ongoing debate about racist monuments, as locals reevaluate the Duston legend.

"That hatchet is supposedly the one that she actually used to, quote unquote, 'scalp the warriors,' " says Ron Peacetree of the Haverhill Historical Commission.

Peacetree explains how the popular legend — in which Duston acted in self-defense against a group of Native American warriors who had kidnapped her — is contradicted by historical evidence. A number of the scalps Duston later collected a bounty on, he says, belonged to children.

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Scholars believe that's because by the time Duston made her escape, she was no longer traveling with her original captors but with a family group — likely Abenaki — who may have planned to ransom her back to her family, which was common practice at the time. The events unfolded in 1697, during one of the era's many conflicts between English and French colonists and their Native allies.

Peacetree says the monument, which was built nearly 200 years after Duston's capture, was propaganda to justify westward expansion.

"The propaganda story feeds into the white manifest destiny thing, feeds into the hatred against Native Americans," he says.

Growing up in the 1960s, Peacetree, who is half Haudenosaunee (commonly known as Iroquois), felt the consequences of this prejudice personally. He recalls the time his family was turned away from a hotel. "[The clerk] looked at my mom and us four kids and said, 'I'm sorry, we don't serve your kind here,' " Peacetree says. "This [statue] is the roots, part of the foundation of the philosophy that made that OK."

Ron Peacetree, of the Haverhill Historical Commission, says the monument was propaganda to justify westward expansion. Amelia Mason/WBUR hide caption

Ron Peacetree, of the Haverhill Historical Commission, says the monument was propaganda to justify westward expansion.

Last year, calls to remove the Haverhill statue ignited a fierce public debate. This month, the city decided to keep the statue but alter some of the offensive language on the base, remove the hatchet and provide space in the park for a Native American monument.

"I'm glad they left it where they left it," says 79-year-old Lou Fossarelli, who grew up in Haverhill and now lives in nearby Newburyport. "But I am not happy that the city is going to build a monument to the Indians. . I know the history. There is no other version."

Meanwhile, an hour north of Haverhill in Boscawen, N.H., plans are already underway to rewrite the version of history most people know. There, the state's division of parks and recreation intends to redesign the site of another Duston monument.

Craig Richardson, a direct descendant of Duston who serves on an advisory committee for the project, believes a fuller story should be told. The committee is considering "changing the signage, changing the name of the park," he says, as well as adding a memorial to Duston's victims and information about Abenaki history.

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"On one hand, as an Indigenous person, we don't want a statue that honors Hannah, but on the other hand, we need an outlet in order to share the true history of the region," says committee member Denise Pouliot, the lead female speaker for the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People. (A lead female and male speaker share leadership duties for the tribe.)

Though Pouliot finds the statue offensive, she believes it's her best opportunity to set the record straight.

"How many historical books have been written based on this false narrative that I can no longer wipe off the shelves?" she says.

In particular, Pouliot hopes to counter the version of the story popularized by the Puritan author Cotton Mather, in which Duston's captors brutally killed her newborn baby. It's a story scholars now doubt.

Four reliefs on the side of the statue depict the story of Hannah Duston in Haverhill, Mass. Jesse Costa/WBUR hide caption

Four reliefs on the side of the statue depict the story of Hannah Duston in Haverhill, Mass.

But Barbara Cutter, a professor of history at the University of Northern Iowa, argues that when considering what to do with the Duston statues, people shouldn't focus too much on what may or may not have happened in 1697.

"I think it's really more important to think about what people meant when they supported putting up this statue," she says. "And it wasn't about [Duston]. It was about an effort to hide the violence of colonization and imperialism."

How we should judge Hannah Duston is the wrong question, Cutter says. Instead, we should ask ourselves how we choose whom to memorialize and what stories we are trying to tell.

Cleopatra's Era in Images, Artifacts

A new exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia prompted our discussion today of the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and the layers of myth and history surrounding her story. Below are some images from the excavation that produced artifacts featured in the exhibit, and from the show itself. All images and explanations are courtesy of the Franklin Institute the exhibit runs through Jan. 2, 2011. More info here.

A sphinx made out of black granite, believed to represent Ptolemy XII, father of the famous Cleopatra VII. The sphinx was found during excavations in the ancient harbour of Alexandria. (Credit: The Franklin Institute Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Jerome Delafosse) Cut in hard, dark stone, this feminine body has a startlingly sculptural quality. Complete, it must have been slightly larger than life-size. The statue is certainly one of the queens of the Ptolemaic dynasty (likely Arsinoe II) dressed as the goddess Isis, as confirmed by the knot that joins the ends of the shawl the woman wears, which was representative of the queens during this time period. The statue was found at the site of Canopus. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation) Vase in the form of Osiris - marble, 2nd-1st century BC. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk) Limestone censer shaped like a female sphinx with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, made in the 6th century BC. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk) The Colossus King and Queen from Heracleion dwarf these young visitors. (Lisa Godfrey / The Franklin Institute) A diver is inspecting a Granite head emerging from the sediment at the Heracleion site. The head belongs to a statue of a Ptolemaic Queen dressed as the Goddess Isis. (Credit: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk) This granite head (80cm) is attributed to Caesarion (Ptolemaios XV), son of Cleopatra VII and Julius Caesar. It is part of a statue of about 5 metres in height and dates from the 1st century BC. It was found in Alexandria&#039s ancient harbour opposite the island of Antirhodos. (Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk) A diver is inspecting a piece of the Naos of the Decades found at the archaeological site of Canopus. (Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk) A diver eye-to-eye with the sphinx believed to represent Ptolemy XII, father of the famous Cleopatra VII. The sphinx was found during excavations in the ancient harbour of Alexandria. (Credit: The Franklin Institute Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Jerome Delafosse)

270 AD: Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra

Cleopatra’s intellectual legacy was passed on from generation to generation, finally to Zenobia , who seized rulership like her famous ancestor. At the time of Zenobia’s birth in 240 AD, Palmyra was a Roman province. Her names, Julia Aurelia Zenobia, indicate her Roman citizenship, granted previously to her father’s family.

Zenobia’s ascent to power began as the second wife of Septimius Odaenathus, Roman governor of Palmyra, who had defeated the Sassanian king, Shapur. Upon the assassination of Odaenathus and Hairan, his firstborn son from his first wife, in 267 AD by emperor Gallienus, Zenobia’s son, Vaballathus, became king of Palmyra, and Zenobia became regent. Like Cleopatra, Zenobia entertained intellectuals and philosophers at her court, she was generous towards her subjects and tolerated religious minorities, but where Cleopatra had expanded Egypt’s territories by clever manipulation, Zenobia expanded her territory by military maneuvers.

‘Queen Zenobia's Last Look Upon Palmyra(1888) by Herbert Gustave Schmalz. ( Public Domain )

During the third century AD, Rome experienced a severe crisis, dubbed the Imperial Crisis (235–284 AD) when the empire was besieged with invasions, rebellions, civil wars, plagues, and economic depression. Queen Zenobia saw the opportunity to capitalize on the situation, by expanding Palmyra’s territory and finally to achieve independence from Rome. Standing on her lineage from Cleopatra, she laid claim to the now Roman province of Egypt. Her claim was recognized by the Egyptian Timagenes, who rallied his troops to defeat the prefect of Egypt, Tenagino Probus. After annexing Egypt, Zenobia turned her armies to Anatolia, conquering Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon, on the way.

The Roman emperor Aurelian had no choice but to recognize the Palmyrene Empire, as he was facing a bigger threat in the West. Zenobia, still acting as regent for her son, had coins minted showing Vaballathus and Aurelian holding equal rank. Not long after, only Vaballathus and Zenobia herself featured on the coins. By 272 AD, Zenobia declared her son emperor and assumed the title of empress, an affront which convinced Aurelius to turn his armies to the East.

He defeated Zenobia at Antioch and Emesa. Zenobia first fled to her beloved Palmyra and then attempted to escape by camel with her son, but she was apprehended by Aurelian. The fate of the Palmyrene Queen after that is pure speculation that she was paraded by Aurelian during his triumph, that she was granted a villa by Aurelius and that she married a wealthy Roman. She died after 274 AD, but her legacy is still celebrated as she is revered as a symbol of patriotism in Syria.

Marble statue of the famous queen Zenobia in chains. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

She Was Linked To The Goddess Isis

Limestone stele of Cleopatra Making an Offering to Isis, 51 BC, Louvre

Numerous rulers of ancient Greece and Rome have linked themselves with gods to claim divine power or influence. Cleopatra did the same by associating herself with the powerful Egyptian goddess Isis. The famed sister and wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus, Isis presided over motherhood, the afterlife and life cycles. Cleopatra encouraged this association by dressing herself as Isis for ceremonial events and often looked to religious prophecy to justify her actions.

Cleopatra and Caesar had a son

Cleopatra and Caesar's affair resulted in a son born circa 47 BC. As detailed by the Ancient History Encyclopedia, his name was officially Ptolemy XV Caesar, but he went by multiple monikers. He was also known as "Theos Philopator Philometor," or "the Father-loving Mother-loving God." However, he was most commonly referred to by his nickname "Caesarion," or "Little Caesar."

Cleopatra was clear about Caesarion's paternity: He was nothing less than the son of the dictator of the Roman Republic. Yet Caesar maintained ambiguity on the topic. According to Suetonius, upon hearing of Caesarion's existence, Caesar summoned Cleopatra to Rome and showered her with "high honours and rich gifts." He then allowed Cleopatra to give his name to the child. However, he never explicitly announced himself as the boy's father. Caesarion's illegitimacy did not affect his upbringing much, in that Egyptians recognized him as Cleopatra's successor without a challenge. He was raised in the culturally Hellenistic city of Alexandria, where he was tutored by a Greek scholar named Rhodon.

Caesarion came to power as Cleopatra's co-ruler in 44 BC, after her brother Ptolemy XIV's sudden death (which some thought was a murder to bring her son onto the throne). He reigned beside her until August 12, 30 BC, when she died by suicide. Caesarion was the sole ruler of the kingdom for mere weeks. Then he was executed by Octavian, Caesar's grand-nephew and Mark Antony's fellow triumvir, who was likely jealous of his connection to Caesar.

Sunken Cities at the British Museum

When you visit the Sunken Cities exhibition at the British Museum, you feel as if you are diving beneath the waters of the Nile River. You pass through a corridor illuminated by blue light and into galleries painted in a navy blue. There are dappled lighting effects to imitate water – it’s a wonder they don’t hand out snorkels to complete the illusion. The idea works, however, and you feel just like the archaeologists whose work has formed the basis for this display. It is as if you are discovering a world that has been hidden for more than a thousand years.

Archaeologists investigate a pink granite garden vat from Thonis-Heracleion, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period, 4th – 2nd century BCE. Photo by Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.

The two titular sunken cities, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, originally stood at the mouth of the Nile and sank in the 8 th century CE. Before the foundation of Alexandria, Thonis-Heracleion had been the port of entry into Egypt, welcoming ships from all over the Hellenic world and providing access to the major cities of Naukratis (the first Greek settlement in Egypt) and Memphis (the capital). The exhibition boasts that 69 ships and 700 anchors were found, giving us an idea of the scale of naval activity in this place. Its neighbour city, Canopus, was directly to the east and connected to Thonis-Heracleion by a canal. The legend goes that Canopus was named after Menelaus’ helmsman, who was bitten by a viper and died there.

The blend of Hellenic and Egyptian cultures is what comes across most strongly in this exhibition. Focusing on the Ptolemaic period, it is fascinating to see how Egypt’s Greek pharaohs sought to bring their people together. The Egyptian gods found counterparts in the Greek pantheon (even if the Greeks were decidedly bemused by the Egyptian’s worship of animals) and temples celebrated their joint identities. Thonis-Heracleion, for instance, is said to have had a famous temple to Hercules, who was thought to be the Egyptian god Horus. Amun, the bestower of kingship, was Zeus, Osiris was Dionysus, and Isis was Aphrodite. One of the stand-out pieces of the exhibition is a statue of Arsinoe, daughter of Ptolemy I. The smooth, dark stone and striding position is typical of Egyptian sculpture, while her transparent garment and sensual flesh bears a more typically Greek aesthetic. Even without a head, it is mesmerising to look at, bathed in a cool blue light and framed by a gap in the wall between the galleries.

Cut in hard, dark stone, this feminine body has a startlingly sculptural quality. Complete, it must have been slightly larger than life-size. The statue is certainly one of the queens of the Ptolemaic dynasty (likely Arsinoe II) dressed as the goddess Isis, as confirmed by the knot that joins the ends of the shawl the woman wears, which was representative of the queens during this time period. The statue was found at the site of Canopus. Photo by Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.

Other jaw-dropping pieces at the Sunken Cities exhibition include the colossal statue of Hapy, the god of the Nile flood, who was originally placed at the entrance to the temple of Hercules. He is hidden around a corner as you first enter the exhibit to elicit a sharp gasp when you do finally see him. There are also statues of Osiris, one in stone, one made of grain, that would sail along the canal during the annual Mysteries of Osiris to celebrate the renewal of the earth each year. Further in, you’ll come across an enormous inscribed stone, featuring both Egyptian and Greek (similar to the Rosetta Stone), which demonstrates the bilingualism the communities in these cities. Elsewhere there are exquisite canopic jars, a frighteningly life-like statue of the bull god, Osiris-Apis (Serapis in Greek), ritual ladles and jars – the list goes on and on.

A colossal statue of red granite (5.4 m) representing the god Hapy, which decorated the temple of Thonis-Heracleion. The god of the flooding of the Nile, symbol of abundance and fertility, has never before been discovered at such a large scale, which points to his importance for the Canopic region. Height 5.4 metres, depth 90 centimetres, weight 6 tonnes. Early Ptolemaic period, 4th century BC.
Photo by Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.

It takes hours to go around the whole exhibition and even then, there is more than you can ever hope to really take in. But out of the blur of material, you really get a sense of a world whose horizons were open. These Egyptian cities were clearly proud of their ancient traditions yet foreign ideas had a place with them too. Whether the peoples of this mixed kingdom blended well is impossible to know from Sunken Cities’ exhibition, but the potential beauty of their integration is clear to see.

The ruins of Canopus lying in Aboukir Bay, 2 km east of the western fringe of the Nile Delta. Photo by Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.

22 Powerful Images Of Holy Women Breastfeeding

Given how much trouble some women experience when they breastfeed in public, it’s important to remember that lactating mothers have been honored and even deified throughout human history.

A number of religious traditions have artwork that depicts goddesses or holy figures nursing children.

For example, during the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance in Europe, Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was at times portrayed as breastfeeding her child. In Leonardo da Vinci’s “Madonna Litta,” the mother is seen gazing adoringly at Jesus, who is almost a toddler. He grasps her breast in his right hand ― with no cover-up in sight.

Pope Francis himself is a supporter of breastfeeding moms. While baptizing children in the Sistine Chapel, the pope repeated his support for women who need to breastfeed in public ― and encouraged moms present at the service to breastfeed right then and there.

“The ceremony is a little long, someone’s crying because he’s hungry. That’s the way it is,” the pope said during the service in January, according to Agence France-Presse.

“You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear. Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus,” he added.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, HuffPost has collected 22 images of goddesses or religious figures breastfeeding. This religious art is a reminder that the image of a woman nursing is not something that should be sexualized or censored. Instead, it’s a powerful reminder of the ability of mothers to nourish their children.

Watch the video: Ptolemäer (January 2022).