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In the ruins of Herculaneum lies the Villa dei Papiri, a sprawling palace once owned by the father-in-law of Julius Caesar. In the 79CE eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the villa and its extensive library were buried and perfectly preserved. Today, they have been partially excavated. The thousands of documents within the library are still legible.
A document unearthed from within the Villa dei Papiri has just been translated. The document describes an ancient remedy for metastatic cancer in women. It was authored by Julius Caesar's last lover, Queen Cleopatra VII. It is, in fact, the only written text that has ever been attributed to the highly educated, multilingual and scientifically-minded last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt.
The two-thousand-year-old remedy described in the document is the only hope for thousands today.
When her Nobel Laureate husband is murdered, drug discovery biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search leads first to another woman, and then to the two-thousand-year-old document. As Katrina races to solve her husband's murder, she is led from ancient Italy and Egypt into the modern-day conflict that her husband was killed for. And she learns that his death was only the beginning.
The coin on the front cover is a typical, modern depiction of Cleopatra. But the coin on the back cover is the actual image of her. It is this coin that Cleopatra minted during her reign. It is this image that she chose to project for posterity.
Far from the sexy seductress of Hollywood, the queen was not, in fact, considered the least bit attractive by her own peers. How, then, did she so cleverly manipulate the two most powerful Romans in the world - first Julius Caesar, and then Mark Antony? The answer to this question lies in The Vesuvius Isotope.
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