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Two countries constantly in the the spotlight now are Greece and Egypt.  It’s fitting that Cleopatra decides to show up in LA now.

Cleopatra, I had forgotten so much about you.  When I think of you, Liz Taylor comes to mind instead.  I went to the new Cleopatra: The Exhibition (not the most earth-shattering title, I agree) at the California Science Center to get reacquainted.   Cleo was actually Cleopatra VII, descended from Ptolemy, Alexander the Great’s general, which makes her Greek, not ethnically Egyptian (Lots of Ptolemys and Cleopatras in that family tree!).  But she was the only one in her family to learn Egyptian so that made her very popular amongst the common folk.  She was a skilled politician but the might of the Roman army was too great even for her.  She was the last Pharaoh of Egypt.

Many of the artifacts were found submerged at what was Heracleion, the site of Cleopatra’s palace and temple.  It was destroyed by earthquakes then a tsunami.  Others were found along the eastern Nile delta.

Found at Heracleion.

Colossi, gigantic statues of kings and queens, stood guard at temple openings. Only priests and the Pharaoh were allowed in, but you were allowed to worship the colossi.

Some rings that would look at home at Barneys.

A gold coin.  I guess this is why people want to go back to the gold standard.  Gold lasts.

Absolutely amazed something this delicate could survive for thousands of years underwater! Alabaster. Translucent. Just amazing.

This looks like David Yurman, no?

Gorgeous bracelet and earrings. The bracelet is gold leaf and agate from 117-138 A.D., and the gold and pearl earrings are from 332 B.C. – 313 A.D.

This stunning gold and carnelian necklace is from 332 B.C. – 313 A.D.

Cleopatra saw herself as the earthly embodiment of the goddess Isis and Aphrodite. The knot on this toga is a detail associated with Aphrodite.

I thought jewelry designers/fans would get practical inspiration from this post.  But if you’re a history buff like moi, it’s just thrilling to see stuff like this in person.  This is the only west coast appearance of these artifacts, so check it out if you can.