Today I’m honored to be joined by the renowned Dr. Zahi Hawass to learn more about how much of the 1963 classic film Cleopatra was historically accurate.
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Dan LeFebvre: I’d like to start by kind of setting up how the movie Cleopatra, the 1963 movie explains things and it kind of follows from Julius Caesar visiting Egypt, and he finds that Ptolemy is on the throne, but then. His sister, Cleopatra has fled Alexandria because there’s some sort of animosity between them.
And there’s one line in particular that, Caesar says in the movie, he says, as we all know, when the father of Ptolemy and Cleopatra died, he named the two of them to reel jointly over Egypt. So with this setup, dr , can you explain a bit about who Tommy and Cleopatra were from a historical perspective where they really brother and sister that had some sort of animosity over that.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:04:01] They were brother and sisters. But the major problem I, that movie actually, that most of our understanding about , it’s a speculation because, Shakespeare did write something and actually people began to create stories about a chair. We actually, from the historical point of view, we know, we know very little about her.
But the fact that their father appointed her and her brother, there’ll be the King of Egypt. It’s true because in ancient Egypt, and you know, the, the became Egyptianize. They did exactly the life what the HHF shouldn’t did. And therefore, in ancient Isha, the federal has to be a man. The fiddle cannot be a women.
But the Pharaoh cannot be the, the federal cannot be a federal without the support of women, and therefore the father knew that cannot be a Pharaoh by herself. This right yet point is, I’ve got a son that is capable of ruling. But with the support that do have, they’ve colored the country, then it’s really true.
This part is true, but the part about the carpets when she meets, sees that and, and the difficulty all of this because people think that she was in love with Caesar and ah, and Mark Antony, but that really think that she was in love with them for her own sake. She won’t the word, and therefore she thought that the most important two leaders who really can help her is and sees them.
And I would give you one example. When my God to me was defeated on the Akil battle. She wanted to get rid of him and she wanted to go back fabulous. Maybe who would be the third lover. Go ahead and her, but fabulous as this wants to sit. That message don’t matter. God. Three that she died and my continent are people who believe that he did kill himself and therefore wasn’t, didn’t even know how she died.
This idea of what the copra, it just moves our six pair. It has no basic truth at all. And this why I we, you know, we have been excavating. for the last 12 years in cooperation with from the Dominican Republic inside at, didn’t bill called taboo Makena and this didn’t been located about, 50 buyers.
What’s do Alexandria? And this temple was built by number four for the good is ISIS. Then we thought that maybe the idea that built the palace and next door to the Paris, it’s through, but I have no evidence that it was better industrial and no one really ever searched for her tool. And we filled that.
This is a perfect place, but do I been excavating for the last, it will be years. We found
but nothing that we discovered that can tell us about their life. She wasn’t in Finnish women. She spoke many languages. She started in a time that women cannot study in the school is Alexandria, and therefore, I really think that most of the information that has been written in this book . What’s been the drama, and you can’t really accuse drama for facts.
No drama is drama. And that afforded the movie was made in a way to fit, they stood historical background without having evidence such as fixed or archeology discovery.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:08:30] Were there any other, women who ruled like Cleopatra.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:08:36] We have, of course, we have queen Hatshepsut. She ruled for 23 years. She was a very powerful and rough other three Queens in a time of an intermediate period.
They did look through and a strong period. The only one that then we can say I woman as a strong ruler was Hutch.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:09:01] In relation to Cleopatra kind of set the timeline there. Where was she
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:09:05] at? No. Okay. Hudson lived in 1550 BC roll, the 300 BC and NA and it to B, C and therefore there is 2000 years at least between them,
Dan LeFebvre: [00:09:24] quite quite, quite a bit of time.
What you, you mentioned the, school of Alexandria there. And there is a moment in the movie where they talk about the, the burning of the library of Alexandria. And according to the movie, it’s Caesar who is actually burning the Egyptian fleet. So he can control the Harbor, but it doesn’t really talk. It doesn’t really focus on that much.
Can you share a bit of the history about the library of Alexandria?
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:09:50] You know, the library of Alexandria, of course, it was built in a beautiful way and not, they put the, the mind began to take books from all over the world. It was the most important library in the world, but is the library that has many feelings.
People say the dots or the RF scheme, they did that, but those don’t really know, be able to say the Zeus did that, but there was really no. An extra day. It’s very difficult to understand that any who did learn the library of Alexandria, no evidence at all that sees that a digit and therefore it’s a theater about that.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:10:35] But that is an actual theory that he may have done that even though we don’t really know for sure,
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:10:40] we, we, we, we don’t have any proof that’s done because most of the beautiful said that, instead of these, if they did that. As I said, the zoos, I told you, people said that Caesar, I didn’t think that the man was really intellectual.
Like Caesar, Haiti. They could burn accolade lie, but he liked it. Now,
Dan LeFebvre: [00:11:00] you talked earlier about, Cleopatra and kind of using a Caesar and Mark Antony as. For lack of a better term, like a stepping stone, almost like for the political power that she saw in order to, so that she could rule the world. do you think that that was something that was because, not being able to be feral by herself, like she saw, she thought that she needed that support?
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:11:24] It could be. It could be, but you know, that isn’t that you wanted to go in the autumn is of fees. That is the good power. And therefore she wanted the power not only through Egypt, but after that you felt that you can restore, but we do. I don’t really think that this lady, can you pass that? I was in love of any one of them at all.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:11:47] Just using them for their political power and their, their armies and such.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:11:51] Exactly. She was very smart. She was very powerful in mind and just why she thought that the two people are like Caesar MacAnthony could be the one to help her Octavius they’ll not want to have anything to do with her because he promised the people in Rome that you will bring him as a prisoner.
It was his dream really to to declare as a prisoner and this ride, people who created the idea of the Cobra, the Cobra does not exist at all. On that
Dan LeFebvre: [00:12:21] note, you mentioned that that was, you know, with Shakespeare, and there’s a lot of the stories there, even though we may not know exactly what can you tell as what we do know the best, that kind of that story of what happened to Cleopatra at the end.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:12:35] I really don’t know. As an archeologist, I cannot have a gun to have any historical evidence at all to tell us how she died.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:12:47] Is that an uncommon thing for, for somebody in a position of power like her to just not know what happened.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:12:54] Because you know, in that time, nothing and this why the idea that many people began to make a speculation because Debbie’s won’t to drive her as a prisoner.
Then when she failed to make him to be in love with her, she can kind of sense this is what I’m thinking. But it was a no for fat then if the, if it, but again, I want to tell you that anyone who makes make movie. He has the right to make drama. He has the right to change history because this is drama that you can really get size.
You know, all of the films that has been made about Asia, I always, when I began to approve them, I always say that the film that exert should right at the beginning that this movie has nothing to do with historical. If it is, I study it from the mind of the item and to know what they want did. You cannot really get it size as a movie movie.
It’s still decrementing
Dan LeFebvre: [00:14:05] are there. So with that movie in particular coming out in the 1960s are there any new discoveries that we’ve learned about Cleopatra
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:14:14] since then? Nothing. Nothing
Dan LeFebvre: [00:14:17] at all, huh?
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:14:18] Nothing.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:14:19] Oh wow.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:14:20] Nothing. They spoke about this boogie now. And people think that Beyonce should be the best for that.
And I don’t think that was . She was the, African, at all. You cannot have Beyonce as the queen. And I really, people ask me and I sit and Angelina, Judy should be the best for that, for this role. Ask you about that. Hmm. Then Bob, there is no historical evidence came about this screen after the movie was date
Dan LeFebvre: [00:14:54] with the Romans.
They’re in power. Do you think that maybe some of it could have been erased on purpose? Like there’s, there was history but there, but it was lost or maybe lost in the, in the library.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:15:06] I don’t, I really don’t. I really don’t think so. The loose. Of the library of Alexandria and most of ancient Alexandria was gun under the clown.
And they, and there is more than the 55th stop off that. And this why the documents about can life should be bedded somewhere. is that a tool or insight, but mainly maybe the library of Alexandria. I did have something that we do read them. No. Then I really think that the, because Alexandria was buried under the gum, I still today, you know, most of that girl is going to discover as it’s happening and an exempt of that kid by accident.
Oh, really? Completely. Completely. It was found, and it’s really a big lot of sarcophagus underneath one of the houses and the people were all over the world that thought that this could be the tube of an exam, that the gate, it was loose Alexander technique, but for what I want to say that. Maybe the historical evidence about getting back to, it’s still buried somewhere under there in Alexandria.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:16:14] I guess we’ll just have to have to keep looking for it and hope that we can learn more.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:16:19] Exactly. Yes.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:16:21] So before we wrap up, there is one thing that I like to do on this podcast, and it’s kind of giving us starting point. So if somebody is listening to this and they. They want to learn more and they want to dig into some of the true story, some of the history behind it.
And I know you have an impressive career filled with tons of great resources that will help people learn, and this kind of has to do with your work. If where would you recommend somebody begin? Where would you recommend that they start learning more?
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:16:50] You know, I think the best thing I wrote the catalog.
for, for an exhibit about Cleopatra graphic and this catalog is really the, the source about people wants to know about this queen. I introduced in this book, it’s called Cleopatra, that magical queen in this book. Everything that we know about her,
Dan LeFebvre: [00:17:14] there’s really nothing. Nothing since then. But hopefully we’ll get an updated version once we learn more.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:17:21] I always say that you, you never know what the sand of each shift from my high to stay. That has many seconds to be. That’s covered in Alexandria. That’s you can know all over the screen.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:17:33] Do we? Do we know much about the, the rulers before and after her? It’s just that time period or is it mostly just her?
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:17:41] We don’t know. We know about the off old easier for 300 years. We have many important information about , but the idea, because of the collapse of the dynasty under Cleopatra, that was really the period when it came at a five, that it wasn’t going this trunk ruler. And this video may be distributed between here and had brother good CO’s idea of, of the, that that is no historical documents.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:18:15] Well. Thank you so much for your time, dr Haas. I really, really appreciate it. Again, it’s, it’s been an honor.
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:18:20] Okay, thank you.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:18:22] Is there any website or anything you’d like to plug for people to learn more about what you do?
Dr. Zahi Hawass: [00:18:28] My website drhawass.com