Egypt in South Africa

The Graeco-Roman Period, 332 BCE-CE 395

Alexander introduced the rule of the Ptolemies, took the role of a pharaoh, but retained the Persian government system. He also restored damaged temples and built a new city, Alexandria from where he and his successors ruled Egypt. Once again Egypt became very prosperous. A centre for learning, including the now destroyed library of Ptolemy II, was established in Alexandria.  Rebellion again occurred in Upper Egypt (Delta) and although it was subdued, Egypt became a Roman province when the last of the Ptolemies to rule, Cleopatra VII, committed suicide.
 
Although the Roman Caesars respected Egyptian traditions and portrayed themselves as pharaohs the Egyptians were very bitter about the Roman domination of their country and rebellions were frequent. Anti-Roman agitation became more focused after the introduction of Christianity in the first century CE. The Egyptian Christians were called Copts (from the Greek ‘Aiguptos’ and Arabic ‘qibt’) and they were severely persecuted by Rome, but this all changed when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. In 392 CE Emperor Theodosius ordered all the pagan temples to be closed and hieroglyphs stopped being used.
 
The only remaining clues to the history of Egypt were the biblical story of Joseph, reports of the Greek historian Herodotus, who wrote about ancient Egypt, and the reports written by the Egyptian priest, Manetho, in the third century CE.
 
The Arabs, who came to Egypt in 641 CE, were Muslims, under the leadership of Amr ibn el-As. They thought the monuments and temples to be magical and full of secrets. This led to the idea of Egypt as a land of sorcery.
The Citadel Fortress in Cairo with Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali (c) Iziko Photo Archive.