A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Despite Hollywood's bias, Cleopatra was not the only woman to rule long ago
Many queens in antiquity were able to stand on their own two feet without seducing generals, and, unlike Cleopatra, they didn't end up losing their kingdoms and committing suicide by snakebite.
Herodotus tells us of Tomyris, queen of the Massegetae in modern Turkistan, who defeated the great Persian king Cyrus in battle. Amanirenas, queen of Nubian Kush, likely led a war to defend her lands against Rome in the 20s B.C. In the 3rd-century A.D., the Arabian queen Zenobia of Palmyra assumed rulership after her husband's death and gallantly challenged the Romans. These women were hardly the only noteworthy queens in the ancient world.
Carly Silver is a junior at Barnard College, Columbia University, in New York City. A religion major, she is concentrating on ancient belief systems and their effects on the development of monotheism.