Thanks an Italian archaeologist-egyptologist – Giuseppina Capriotti – we can see the faces of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony‘s twins. Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene were portrayed on a sandstone sculpture which produced for about in 37 BC by an unknown Egyptian artist. There are engraved stars on the back of the sculpture, so the archeologist thinks it was originally a part of the ceiling somewhere.
This sculpture was discovered near the Temple of Dendera on the west bank of the Nile in 1918. It shows two naked children, a female and a male, they are same size. Both of them have an arm over the other’s shoulder, while the other hand grasps a serpent. The children’s identification issued by an analysis of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean which made by the University of Warsaw.
“Unfortunately the faces are not well preserved, but we can see that the boy has curly hair and a braid on the right side of the head, typical of Egyptian children. The girl’s hair is arranged in a way similar to the so-called melonenfrisur (melon coiffure ) an elaborated hairstyle often associated with the Ptolemaic dynasty, and Cleopatra particularly.” – said Giuseppina Capriotti.
The researchers compared the statue of Pakhom, who was the governor of Dendera. It produced for about 50-30 BC The statue there is at the Detroit Institute of Arts now. The statues have several features in common as the big eyes, round faces and they have little chins as well.
Cleopatra (69 BC – 30 BC) was the last pharaoh of the Ancient Egypt. She was a member of the Ptolemaic Greek Dynasty and she was only 17 when she became the Queen of Egypt. Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene weren’t the firsts children of Cleopatra. In 47 BC she had already given birth a child for Julius Caesar, the child name was Caesarion. When they met Cleopatra was only 21 and Caeser was 52 but they became lovers. When Cleopatra asked that Caesar wished to name Caesarion his heir, Caesar refused it and chosen his grandnephwe, Octavian. At this time the Roman dictator was already married to Calpurnia Pisonis and he didn’t want a scandal. In addition many Roman people hated the ‘foreign queen’. Caesarion was murdered by Octavian’s order. After Caesar’s death, Mark Antony, one of the triumvirs in 41 BC met first with Cleopatra, who so charmed Antony that he chose to spend the winter of 41 BC–40 BC in Alexandria with the Queen. When the twins were born, according to the new research in 40 BC, they were simply named Alexander and Cleopatra. They were officially recognized three years later by Antony. In this time Alexander got the Helios (Sun) and Cleopatra got the Selene (Moon) names. In 36 BC was born their son, Ptolemaiosz Philadelphosz.
There are very few information about what happened with the three children after suicide of Cleopatra and Anthony. When the twins were 10 and Ptolemaiosz was 4, they moved to Rome, where Octavius’s sister, Octavia took care of them. Some years later Alexander Helios and Ptolemaiosz disappeared wihtout trace. Cleopatra Selene married to King Juba II of Mauretania. We can see her picture on coins with Juba’s, which means that she ruled as an equal partner.
Written by Ilona Kaszanyi