One of the more interesting film projects recently announced for development is Cleopatra, a movie based on the ancient Egyptian queen of the same name. The project is interesting for a variety of reasons, one of which is the backlash that it sparked. Many individuals were upset upon hearing that actress Gal Gadot was cast as the titular Cleopatra. They’ve stated that Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress, isn’t the correct race to be playing Cleopatra. However, an Egyptologist is now insisting that Gal Gadot is actually an appropriate choice to play the ancient Egyptian queen.
Here’s what Sarah Parcak, an Egyptologist and anthropology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, had to say on Twitter:
“Cleopatra was Cleopatra VII (yes there were many others!). She was of Macedonian Greek descent (father= Ptolemy XII Auletes) but… was was her mother’s ethnicity? Egyptian? Greek? Other? Many possibilities. We don’t know for sure,” Parcak explained. “Her mom was *probably* Cleopatra V, the only attested wife of Ptolemy XII. We know of one child she had, it’s not 100% certain she is the mother of Cleopatra. Cleo V’s ethnicity is unknown, very little known about her generally, hence Cleopatra’s ethnicity= 50% Greek, 50% ?”
She further hypothesized in her Twitter thread what Cleopatra could have looked like:
“So what *could* she have looked like? The people of Alexandria today (yes Alexandria was Egypt’s capital during the Ptolemaic Era) have much lighter skin compared to people in southern Egypt, many with reddish hair and green/blue eyes.
Of course there is Turkish influence and I’m not saying that the people of Alex today look like people did 2000+ years ago. However- Alex was a hugely cosmopolitan city in Cleopatra’s time. You would have seen every type of person imaginable from all over the known world.
Cleopatra probably had lighter skin, not unlike the people of Alex today, but *we don’t know for sure*. Her mom could have been from southern Egypt, or Macedonia, or anywhere in the Ptolemaic world (and if she was a secondary wife or concubine all bets are off).”
Sarah Parcak then concluded her analysis, stating:
“Don’t cancel me for what I’m about to say,” Parcak said. “Archaeology and history tell us she wasn’t 100% Egyptian, even if she acted like a proper Egyptian queen and spoke/read Egyptian. She was half Macedonian and half who knows, but probably more than 50% Macedonian playing the odds.”
“So, hiring a hugely bankable Mediterranean actress to play Cleopatra is… not as off as you might think,” Parcak finished.
Cleopatra will be directed by Patty Jenkins. The film was written by Laeta Kalogridis. The film will be produced by Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven, Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and her Pilot Wave Motion Pictures partner Jaron Varsano. Laeta Kalogridis will be executive producing the project.