Skeleton of Cleopatra's sister identified

March 16, 2009 at 12:21 PM
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VIENNA, March 16 (UPI) -- Anthropologists say they've identified a skeleton as Princess Arsinoe, who was ordered killed by her sister Queen Cleopatra of Egypt.

"When I stood in the lab and handled the bones of Cleopatra's blood sister -- knowing that in her lifetime she touched Cleopatra and perhaps Julius Caesar and Mark Antony as well -- I felt the hairs go up on the back of my neck," said Fabian Kanz, a researcher with the Medical University of Vienna.

Kanz and his associates were asked to resolve whether a skeleton found in Turkey in 1926 was Arsinoe, killed in 41 B.C. to eliminate her as a rival to Cleopatra, last of the Egyptian pharaohs, the BBC reported Monday.

The skeleton was found in an octagonal tomb, the design of which echoed the lighthouse of Alexandria, with which Arsinoe was associated. Arsinoe and Cleopatra were daughters of Ptolemy XII by different wives.

Kanz said Arsinoe's skeleton showed characteristics of white Europeans, ancient Egyptians and black Africans, indicating Cleopatra likely was of mixed race, too, The Times of London reported Monday.

The results vindicate the work of Hilke Thur of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, who has long claimed the skeleton was Arsinoe. The findings are the subject of a new television documentary, "Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer."

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