It was discovered in 1918 near the temple of Dendera on the west bank of the Nile and acquired by the Egyptian Museum in Cairo – but its significance has only just been realised.
Now researchers believe that a 33-foot sculpture catalogued merely as ‘JE 46278’ actually depicts Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene – the twin babies of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII.
The revelation comes courtesy of Giuseppina Capriotti, an Egyptologist at the Italy’s National Research Council.
She described the statue’s unusual looks to Discovery News: ‘It shows two naked children, one male and one female, of identical size standing within the coils of two snakes. Each figure has an arm over the other’s shoulder, while the other hand grasps a serpent.’
She added: ‘Unfortunately the faces are not well preserved, but we can see that the boy has curly hair and a braid on the right side of the head, typical of Egyptian children. The girl’s hair is arranged in a way similar to the so-called melonenfrisur (melon coiffure ) an elaborated hairstyle often associated with the Ptolemaic dynasty, and Cleopatra particularly.’