Cleopatra’s Sister Murdered By Jealous Queen; Remains Reportedly Unearthed In Turkey

By iScienceTimes Staff on February 27, 2013 11:53 AM EST

Cleopatra's Sister
Monuments like this Library are scattered across Ephesus, the city where Arsinoe IV's remains were reportedly found. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Cleopatra's sister, Arsinoe IV, was exiled to Ephesus after rebelling against her sister and Julius Caesar in 41 B.C. Soon after, Cleopatra had her sister murdered because the jealous queen believed Arsinoe IV (possibly her half-sister) would be a threat to her empire. Arsinoe IV's body was lost to history, but one researcher claims that she has found Cleopatra's sister and will share her findings at a March 1 lecture at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. Hilke Thur, a Vienna-based archaeologist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, began examining the tombs around Ephesus in 1975 as a student and has spent much of her career there.

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"My specialty is interpreting buildings and monuments. The excavations of one monument, The Octagon, began in 1904. In 1926, a grave chamber was found inside The Octagon. The skeleton inside it has been interpreted to be that of a young woman about age 20," Thur told the Charlotte News-Observer. "I found some ancient writers telling us that in the year 41 B.C., Arsinoe IV -- the half-sister of Cleopatra -- was murdered in Ephesus by Cleopatra and her Roman lover, Marc Antony. Because the building is dated by its type and decoration to the second half of the first century B.C., this fits quite well. I put the pieces of the puzzle together."

Thur believes the octagonal shape of the monument is a tribute to the great Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. If so, then the tomb is designed to reflect Arsinoe's hometown of Alexandria. She believes bone fragments found inside the tomb belong to Cleopatra's sister and has based part of her theories on data collected from a skull removed from the tomb that was lost by the Germans during WWII. Unfortunately, testing done on the bone fragments believed to belong to Cleopatra's sister did not yield conclusive results.

"They tried to make a DNA test, but testing didn't work well because the skeleton had been moved and the bones had been held by a lot of people. It didn't bring the results we hoped to find," Thur said. "I don't know if there are possibilities to do more of this testing. Forensic material is not my field. One of my colleagues on the project told me two years ago there currently is no other method to really determine more. But he thinks there may be new methods developing. There is hope."

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