You’d think these coins would be treasured primarily as priceless ancient artifacts or mementoes of a beloved queen. But they are valuable for another reason. A couple of years ago,** scholars examined another coin bearing Cleopatra’s image and determined: “The popular image we have of Cleopatra… that of a beautiful queen,” was wrong. Apparently, the news that Cleopatra might not have looked like Elizabeth Taylor was shocking to some.
Thus, we have the problem of figuring out what to do about Cleopatra--when you tie most of a woman's achievements/activities to her "incomparable" beauty, how do you now, when she is (ridiculously) judged by current standards to be "ugly," tell her story? How does it change? To what do we attribute Caesar's and Antony's "weakness" (as affection or regard for a woman is so often called)? Surely, Cleopatra's intelligence or cleverness or personality could not have been enough?
These new coins rescue us, again, from those questions.
Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, said the coins found at the temple refuted "what some scholars have said about Cleopatra being very ugly".So she is, indeed, worth our continued fascination.
"The finds from Taposiris reflect a charm... and indicate that Cleopatra was in no way unattractive," he said.
*Though ancient cultures had their own beauty standards and such ephemeral things as beauty standards are subject to change.
**Though the debate about Cleopatra's beauty predates this.