Cleopatra: A Figure Closer to Our Time Than We Think

When we picture Cleopatra, the legendary last pharaoh of Egypt, images of the Great Pyramids often loom in the background. Yet, surprisingly, Cleopatra’s life was closer in time to the modern era than to the construction of these ancient wonders! Let’s delve into this mind-boggling historical timeline.

The Numbers Tell the Story

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza: Construction of these iconic monuments is estimated to have been completed around 2560 BC.
  • Cleopatra’s Reign: Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt from 51 BC to 30 BC.
  • The iPhone Era: The first iPhone was unveiled in 2007 AD.

Doing the math, we discover that:

  • Cleopatra lived over 2,500 years AFTER the construction of the pyramids.
  • Cleopatra lived about 2,000 years BEFORE the invention of the iPhone.

Why Does This Feel Counterintuitive?

The association of Cleopatra with the very earliest periods of ancient Egypt is likely due to several factors:

  • The Monumental Pyramids: The sheer scale and enduring nature of the pyramids make them seem synonymous with the very beginning of Egyptian civilization.
  • Hollywood Portrayals: Films often depict Cleopatra in settings surrounded by ancient Egyptian imagery, reinforcing this visual association.

The Vastness of Ancient Egypt

Understanding this timeline twist helps us appreciate the immense span of ancient Egyptian history. Cleopatra’s reign marks a much later period in this civilization – closer to the era of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire than to the pyramid-building pharaohs.

A World of Change

The two millennia separating Cleopatra from the iPhone saw a world in constant flux. Empires rose and fell, technological advancements transformed societies, and cultural shifts reshaped the globe. Yet, even in Cleopatra’s time, the Great Pyramids would have been considered legacies of an incredibly distant past.


The fact that Cleopatra lived closer to our modern smartphone era than the construction of the Great Pyramids is a fascinating reminder of history’s deceptive depths. It challenges our perceptions and underscores the enduring influence of ancient Egypt on our collective imagination.

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