Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Lost Face of Princess Arsinöe IV

Is this the face of Cleopatra's half sister, Princess Arsinöe IV? Based on the bones of one of the most controversial archaeological finds in Egyptian history, some specialists claim that it is.

In 1926, archaeologists found a young woman's bones in a burial chamber beneath the ruins of an Octogon shaped structure under Ephesus. An ancient Greek city on the coast, in what is now western Turkey.

Those archaeologists, and many to follow, would claim that the bones belonged to Princess Arsinöe. The half sister of Cleopatra. Both fathered by Ptolemy XII Auletes, although possibly not by the same mother, the sister's split all allegiance during the clash of power between Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and her brother Ptolemy XII. Arsinöe fled to join the Egyptian Army and to help them wage war against Cleopatra and her Romans.

As we all know, they did not succeed. With Rome's help, Cleopatra was victorious over her brother and his allies and Arsinöe was taken captive and sent into exile to Ephesus.
Only, the half sister's existence would continue to plague Cleopatra and soon after Julius Caesar was assassinated, Cleopatra sent her lover Marc Antony to Ephesus to murder Arsinöe in 41BC.

As for the bones, found in the burial chamber beneath the elaborate Octogan shaped structure, it has been difficult to prove without doubt that they belonged to Arsinöe. Since they were found in 1926, they have disappeared, reappeared, and changed many hands, many times, making any dna potentially contaminated.

They have tried using all modern methods to get a clear identification of the bones, but so far it is to no avail.
It is hoped that whilst there exists no way of positively identifying the bones as Princess Arsinöe IV now that in the future perhaps, with new developments and new technologies, the scientists that strongly believe these bones belong to the murdered Princess, will finally get their proof.

For further details:

- MM


  1. Is the photo an actual CGI reconstruction of the bones?
    Wait...bones? Was she not mummified then? I need to do some reading up on this. I know they identified Hesepshut (I know I've written that incorrectly) through a tooth in a box, a genetic disease that left a specific type of pit marks on the bones (which they discovered using an MRI). Actually, MRIs feature heavily in Egyptian mummy research. I'm just rambling now.

    1. Hi D,
      Sorry I missed you comment when you first posted.
      The Reconstruction was taken from skull measurements as far as I could tell from the articles I read.
      You may want to try this article for some more info:

      I will also add this link to the blog post for anyone else wanting more detail.