Monday, March 12, 2012

Alexandria and Egypt

Al Ahram Weekly

Alexandria, the brilliant Greek city state known as "The Bride of the Mediterranean", wore its distinctly Egyptian flavour with pride, and it was more pharaonic than previously supposed. Salvaged sphinxes, statues, papyrus columns and blocks of stone inscribed with the names of pharaohs attest to this. The sea bed in the Great (Eastern) harbour is carpeted with such works -- some usurped from earlier structures and transported to adorn the Ptolemaic city.

Ptolemy I, the general who inherited Egypt, took immediate steps to accommodate the local population. On the spacious summit of a high rock in Alexandria (where the so-called Pompey's Pillar stands today) he constructed the Serapeum, a temple to house the god Osir-Apis (Serapis in Greek), a hybrid god is attributed to two sources: an Egyptian familiar with local tradition, and a priestly family acquainted with Greek rituals.  

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