Shocking but true: Cleopatra was nothing like the person Liz Taylor played in the big-budget 1963 film. That’s one of the first facts I gleaned from The Nature of Things‘ newest episode.
“Searching for Cleopatra,” broadcast as part of The Nature of Things, debuts Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC, pulls back the curtain on the most famous of the Pharaohs. Did she really fall in love with two menâ€”Julius Caesar and Marc Antonyâ€”and die with a little help from a poisonous snake?
Viewers follow archaeologist Kathleen Martinez (pictured above)â€”who has been sifting through the ruins of the huge temple complex of Taposiris Magna, or City of the Dead, outside of Alexandriaâ€”in search of Cleopatraâ€™s final resting place. Martinez has found tantalizing clues that she is in the right area, but nothing concrete. As cameras capture the digging, we are given the history of Cleopatra. What is true is that, over 2,000 years ago, Cleopatra ruled over 7 million people, wasn’t Egyptian and led an army against her brother. Also true: the Romans are credited with the depiction of Cleopatra that led to Hollywood’s version of the ancient ruler.
In addition to Martinez, Canadian Classical Studies professors Kelly Olson, from the University of Western Ontario, and Sheila Ager of the University of Waterloo, share their knowledge of the Egyptian queen and her times and emphasize she was a ruler whose exceptional skill was her ability to grab and hold onto power.
“Searching for Cleopatra” airs as part of The Nature of Things on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.
Image courtesy of CBC.