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Egypt during the Roman era

History of the Roman Empire in Egypt

After Marcus Antony and the Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII were defeated in the naval battle of Actium, the history of Roman in Egypt started. Following this, Aegyptus (Egypt) became a Roman province, including most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula, and Egypt was the richest Eastern Roman province. Alexandria, by far the richest province outside of Italy, was the capital of that empire since it possessed the largest port and was regarded the second largest city in the Roman Empire throughout Augustus’ administration and that of many of the subsequent Egyptian emperors as Roman pharaohs.

Priests of ancient Egyptian deities and Hellenistic religions in Egypt kept most of their temples and privileges, and therefore served the Roman emperors’ cult. The emperor has been the one to appoint the Roman ruler of Egypt since the first-century B.C.E,  Augustus also established agrarian reforms that provided a greater entitlement to private land ownership and changed local administration into a Roman service structure throughout his multi-year term and the rank of Prefects. He separated Roman Egypt’s people into social classes based on ethnic and cultural factors and exempted Roman citizens from the Egyptian population’s tax.

Egypt’s Religion During the Roman Empire

The Romans initially gave the Egyptians religious freedom and treated them with care in this regard. Egypt, like other Roman republics, was enslaved by pagan religion, and the Egyptians remained so until Christianity originated in Palestine, and Egypt was the first country to be infiltrated by Christianity in the first century AD. Because of its proximity to Palestine, it bears the hand of Saint Mark. This religion began in Alexandria and Lower Egypt and eventually spread throughout Egypt.

The Egyptian Society during the Roman Period

Egyptian civilization was at its lowest point at the time, with the Romans, Greeks, and a few Jews wielding authority, administration, and jobs, while they were barred from serving in the army. Egyptian society at the time was divided into two layers: the Romans, who benefited from the country’s wealth, and the Egyptians, who were the country’s toiling class, who lived in poverty and suffering. The most significant Roman monuments include: They were interested in using and discovering new techniques to develop agriculture to strengthen Egypt’s position as a bread basket in the ancient world after it fell under Roman rule, and they were interested in using and discovering new techniques to develop agriculture to strengthen Egypt’s position as a bread basket in the ancient world. The construction of dams and water channels is one of the most essential of these procedures. Grain production will be increased, and grape production will be expanded. Many Roman monuments exist today that illustrate the Romans’ inventiveness and determination at the period.

Roman monuments in Egypt

1. Fortress of Babylon

Babylon Fortress – Egypt Fun Tours

It was constructed in the middle of the second century AD when the Roman governor (Tragam) ordered the construction of a strong stronghold to serve as a defensive line for Egypt from the east and to ensure Roman military protection. The strategic geographical placement of this fort distinguishes it. The fortress was given this name in honor of one of the surrounding countries, notably the Heliopolis region.

2. The Roman Theatre in Alexandria

Roman Amphitheater - Alexandria
Alexandria Day Tours from Cairo

Kom El-Dikka is the location of the theatre. The structure was built in the fourth century AD. It resembles the shape of a horseshoe or the letter “A” in its most basic form (U). The theatre has 13 rows of stands that are labeled with numbers and letters to make it easier to find a seat. The lower stands were constructed of pink granite, while the remainder were constructed of marble. There are sleeping chambers at the end of the runway, of which there are now none.
The ceilings of the cabins are constructed like domes supported by columns, with a platform in the center for the orchestra to perform.

3. Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa

Kom Esh Shokafa in Alexandria
Kom Esh Shokafa in Alexandria

The largest Roman cemetery in Alexandria is located here. It is positioned on the southern boundary of ancient Alexandria and dates from the second century AD. This cemetery was accidentally discovered in 1892 AD and only revealed in 1955 AD. It is made out of a spiral staircase that connects the three underground stories, with the lower steps being higher than the upper steps. The higher the stairwell, the lower the stairwell gradually becomes until it is nearly non-existent near the ground’s surface.

4. The Pillar of Pompey

Pompey's Pillar - Alexandria -Egypt Fun Tours
Pompey’s Pillar – Alexandria -Egypt Fun Tours

This monument is one of Alexandria’s most well-known Roman structures because it was one of the city’s largest temples during the Greek and Roman periods. It is the only remaining remnants of King Ptolemy III’s Serapeum temple. Between the contemporary Muslim burial location known as the column tombs and the archaeological plateau of Kom El Shoqafa is Pompey’s Pillar. It is built of pink granite and measures 27 meters in length.

5. Philae Temple

Philae Temple in Aswan
Philae Temple in Aswan – Egypt Fun Tours

This temple, known as the Temple of Isis, is one of Egypt’s last intact Greco-Roman remains, located in Aswan.
King Ptolemy II constructed the temple, which encompasses more than a fourth of the island’s surface area.

6. Caesarion’s Temple

Caesarion's Temple - Alexandria
Caesarion’s Temple – Alexandria

This temple was started by Queen Cleopatra to commemorate Marcus Anthony, but she died before it was finished, so Emperor Augustus finished it and dedicated it to his devotion. Only two obelisks survived in the temple after it was entirely destroyed. Cleopatra’s Needles was the name given to them. In 1877, the first obelisk was transported to London and set on the River Thamar. In 1879, the second obelisk was brought to the United States and installed in Central Park.

7. Area of Kom El-Dekka

Kom Ed Dekka Area - Egypt Fun Tours
Kom Ed Dekka Area – Egypt Fun Tours

This region, which is located in the heart of Alexandria, reflects the characteristics of Roman culture. Antiquities discovered in this area revealed that it was known for its exquisite architectural elements. Large baths, theatres, lecture rooms, villas, and residences are examples. The Roman baths and amphitheater were the first landmarks to be discovered in this area, and the Arabic term for them is Kom al-Turab.

8. Ras El Soda Temple

Thanks and devotion to the goddess Isis, the Roman commander Isadros built this temple at the end of the second century. It was discovered in the year 1936. During the sand removal from the Ras al-Sawda area, which is Alexandria’s lone temple, there is a platform that can be reached by ascending stairs and a little base in the middle. A marble foot was placed in the back of the platform to depict King Isadros’ foot, and there are four columns at the back of the platform with five marble statues in the midst. There are stairs on both sides of the platform that lead back down to two rooms, one of which has terraces on the sidewalls, indicating that it was once used as a dwelling for the priests who worked in this temple. Visiting Egypt, taking one of our Egypt Tour Packages, or taking a Nile River Cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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