The Roman historian Cassius Dio described Cleopatra as "a woman of unsurpassed beauty," and Hollywood portrayed her as a glamorous seductress. However, all ideas about the Egyptian queen were changed by a small coin, which was found in 2007 in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle.
It featured Cleopatra, but her face was not like Elizabeth Taylor's. The woman looked "ugly" and even "repulsive", writes HystoryExtra.
However, for all the hype that the find sparked, there was nothing out of the ordinary about the coin. A lot of coins with a portrait of Cleopatra have survived to our time, and they, as a rule, depict the same face: a large nose, a sloping forehead, a sharply pointed chin and thin lips.
As surprising as these portraits may have seemed to those who grew up with the "Hollywood Cleopatra", they are the only historical depictions of the queen that we have. Nevertheless, this did not prevent some from calling them inaccurate and exaggerated. According to experts, these porters could be the work of unskilled artists.
However, there is no reason to think that they were untrue. At that time, there was a universal approach to portraiture in the Mediterranean world, and the image of Cleopatra was no exception to this trend. Facial features such as a large nose or a determined chin could be slightly exaggerated, but only because they were considered the most recognizable attributes of the person depicted.
For example, Cleopatra's father is also depicted on coins with a large nose and a sloping forehead. Therefore, experts do not exclude that these traits could well be familial.
On the other hand, her lovers also do not correspond to modern popular ideas: Julius Caesar has a wrinkled, skinny neck and a bald head, which is slightly hidden by a crown, and Antony's protruding chin and broken nose do not at all resemble the features of Hollywood actor Richard Burton.
It was previously reported that the Egyptologist Okasha Ed Dali discovered a large number of medieval sources about Cleopatra, usually not considered in Western works. They describe a completely different Cleopatra, unlike that beautiful seductress as she is known today.