fantastic factoids

Archaeologists and historians have helped us learn a lot about Cleopatra VII, Queen of Egypt from 51 to 30 B.C. We know how she lived, loved, ruled, and how she probably died. Now, a Dutch Egyptologist says we know how she signed documents.

   Peter van Minnen believes he has found a word written by Cleopatra herself more than 2,000 years ago. While studying a piece of papyrus that had been reused in an Egyptian mummy case, van Minnen noticed two different types of handwriting. The main text was a business order written in the handwriting of a royal scribe. But ginesthoi, a Greek word that means "make it so," was clearly written by someone else.

   Van Minnen thinks Cleopatra signed the bottom of the page. Writing the word ginesthoi was the usual way for the queen to approve a business deal. The papyrus even notes the date of the transaction, (which, translated into today’s most commonly used dating system, would be 33 B.C.), three years before Cleopatra's suicide. If you're thinking about adding Cleopatra's signature to your autograph collection, forget it. The papyrus now resides in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, Germany. - Jarrett Lobell

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