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Jone Johnson Lewis

Was Cleopatra Black? Weighing the Evidence

By February 24, 2014

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That Cleopatra was an African queen is certain -- Egypt is, after all, in Africa -- but was Cleopatra black?

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

Public domain image. Modifications 2006 Jone Johnson Lewis.

Shakespeare uses the word "tawny" about Cleopatra -- but Shakespeare wasn't exactly an eyewitness, missing meeting Egypt's last Pharaoh by more than a millennium. What do we know and not know about Cleopatra's skin color or ancestry?

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