April 26, 2012

Roman Egypt

Roman Egypt
Although Rome conquered Egypt with the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, the country did not become a Roman province in the normal manner. Octavian (who became Augustus in 27 BC and the first emperor of Rome) took Egypt as his personal estate. It was ruled by a prefect, answerable to the emperor, and no member of the Imperial family or the Senate was allowed to visit the country without the express permission of Augustus. Egypt's production of vast quantities of grain was an important factor in the maintenance of stability in Rome - 'Give them [the mob] bread and circuses', Juvenal wrote, and Egypt provided the bread with the annual grain fleet that sailed from Alexandria .

Ancient Rome
Successive Roman emperors after Augustus maintained the pharaonic fiction, appearing in Egyptian dress on reliefs or statues and carrying out the old rituals. Without the provision of an identifying cartouche they can rarely be recognized. From Augustus until the reform of the mint at Alexandria under Diocletian in AD 294 coinage was struck on the Greek module, mainly tetradrachms (four-drachm pieces) that bore the emperor's likeness as a Roman, an inscription identifying him around his head in Greek, and often with a reverse type that harked back to ancient Egyptian themes or deities.

Roman Egypt was immensely prosperous and many new cities were founded, especially in the Faiyum area, with the classic Roman buildings of baths, basilica and agora. Some temples were still built following the old plans, - for example, Esna reflects the layout of the earlier Ptolemaic temple at Dendera and has several 1st century AD emperors represented in reliefs on its walls. One of the best known buildings in Egypt, Pharaoh's Bed or Trajan's Kiosk, on the island of Philae, was built by Trajan (AD 98-117) and was intended to be a grand monumental entrance to the temple of Isis, but it was never finished. On Philae occurs the latest known firmly datable hieroglyphic inscription, carved in AD 394. Pompey's Pillar at Alexandria has nothing to do with him but was erected in the reign of Diocletian (AD 284-305). Generally, however, Roman period monuments, apart from the sand-swept town sites, are few in Egypt. Although paying lip-service to the old ideas and religion, in varying degrees, pharaonic Egypt had in effect died with the last native pharaoh, Nectanebo II in 343 BC, a thousand years before the rise of Islam and the fall of Egypt under its sway in AD 641.

Related Web Search :
  • Roman Egypt
  • Greco Roman Egypt
  • Roman Invasion of Egypt
  • Roman Empire Egypt
  • Egypt Roman
  • Egypt Under Roman Rule

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