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Overview Greco-Roman Monuments in Egypt

Egypt has had various foreign rulers in charge at different times in its history, especially during the Greco-Roman times. Egypt was once ruled by the Greeks, who installed Alexander the Great as the new ruler. The Greeks brought with them a large number of changes in Egypt and overlaid Egyptian society with their own culture. The Greek rulers followed the ancient Egyptian tradition of having many gods and built temples and statues in honor of their own Greek gods. Even today the record of this remains in the form of statues, reliefs and funerary objects that give a glimpse into the time of Greek rule in Egypt.



Romans also played a big part in shaping Egypt’s history. Their rule began after the death of Cleopatra. The ascension of Roman Emperor Constantine marked the beginning of a new era and the Romans even initiated the practice of having two rulers in Egypt. Egypt was conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. and by Romans in the year 30 B.C. The unique geography of Egypt made the country the most prized possession of the Roman Empire. Dynasties that were a part of the Greco-Roman period in Egypt include Macedonian Kings (332- 304 BC), Ptolemaic Kings (304-30 BC) and the Roman Emperors (30 BC-396 AD).

During their rule the Greeks and Romans constructed a number of monuments that still draw visitors to this day. Some of the main regions which are home to these remarkable monuments include Alexandria, Aswan, Cairo, Luxor and more.

There are many temples and archeological places in Aswan that date back to the Roman-Greek era including the following:


Dendera Temple


The temple started being built under Ptolemy III's reign, but had numerous changes made by the later Roman Ptolemic rulers. The temple has a famous painting of Queen Cleopatra and Caesaron. Horoscope inscriptions are another central attraction. The temple of Hathor at Dendera was constructed in 125 B.C. and belongs to the Greco-Roman period. Dendera since then has become a cult centre. The Birth House of Nectanebo is 200 years older than this temple.


Kalabsha Temple


The temple was shifted to its new location in 1970 alongside other Nubian monuments. This is the highest sandstone temples located in Nubia and has walls covered with inscriptions and texts showcasing Egyptian deities like Osiris, Isis and others. The temple was moved due to the threat created by the building of the Aswan High Dam and is dedicated to the Lower Nubian Sun God Mandulis.


Philae Temple


This beautiful temple complex lies to the south of Aswan and the temple is dedicated to goddess Isis. It was constructed during 3rd century B.C. The island of Philae and the temples were threatened during the turn of the century when the Aswan High Dam was constructed. Fortunately a new Coffer Dam was constructed in 1977 that helped in pumping the water out. Agilkai was modified to resemble Philae and temples were reassembled and opened to public again in 1980.

Fort Babylon


The history of Fort Babylon in Cairo dates back to Pharaonic times. The fortress was built after the Persian occupation of Egypt purely for military superiority. After being occupied by Copts there were many churches and monasteries built within the enclosure and much of the original construction remained intact until the 19 century. However, after the British conquest of Egypt most of it was demolished with just the towers and gates remaining.

Alexandria, which is the second largest city and major port in Egypt, was built by the Greek architect Dinocrates on the orders of Alexander the Great. The town has many monuments dating back to the Greco-Roman era.


Pompey’s Pillar


Constructed in honor of the Emperor Diocletain, it once stood as a magnificent structure rivaling Caesareum and Soma. Near this are subterranean galleries where three Apis bulls were buried and three sphinxes. The pillar got its name because Romans incorrectly believed it to serve as a container of Pompey’s head who was murdered in 48 B.C. Pompey’s Pillar is the tallest ancient monuments of Alexandria.


The Greco-Roman Museum


The museum is a historical treasure with vast collection from the 3rd century B.C. utnil the 3rd century A.D. spanning the Roman and Ptolemaic periods.


The Catacombs of Kom es-Shouqafa


The tombs represent the last major construction of ancient Egyptian culture that is still standing. The artisans and architects involved in its construction are believed to be versed with Greco-Roman style. The monument has amazing integrated art that’s difficult to find anywhere else.


The Roman Theater


This Roman Theater remains was uncovered after a long excavation and is well preserved with galleries, mosaic flooring and marble seats with room for 800 viewers. During Ptolemaic times, the area was a pleasure garden and was called the Park of Pan. The theater once served as an Odeon for musical performances. Inscriptions indicate this to be a wrestling arena as well. The theatre has 13 semi-circular tiers made from white marble which was imported from Europe. Moving out one can see walls of stone, substantial arches, bricks of Roman baths and remains of Roman houses.


Agaysron Temple


Built by Cleopatra, VII, this was named after Mark Antonyos. There were two obliques transferred from another temple in the entrance having names of the Pharos rulers Tohotmos III and Sitty I and Ramses II.


Other Archaeological Sites


Next to the Roman Theater there are many Egyptian antiquities some of which display the Romanian bathrooms which showcase special historic character of that era. Greco-Roman monuments in Egypt can be found at many places, but Alexandria seems to have the largest collection of the remaining vestiges of the Greek and Roman times in Egypt. This makes sense, since it was the former capital of Egypt during that era. 

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