Egyptian Timeline:

Graeco-Roman Period (332 B.C.A.D. 395)


Prehistoric and Predynastic Periods First Intermediate Period The Middle Kingdom Second Intermediate Period New Kingdom Third Intermediate Period Late Period Graeco-Roman Period Byzantine Period Early Dynastic Period Old Kingdom
Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 B.C., thus ending unwanted Persian rule. The Egyptians willfully accepted him as pharaoh because he adopted the Egyptian kingship and religion. Among other building projects, Alexander laid the foundations of a new city called Alexandria on the Mediterranean Coast, which became the new capital of Egypt. Upon Alexander's death, control of Egypt fell to one of his generals, Ptolemy I Soter, who began a line of monarchs who ruled Egypt for the next 275 years.
Greek became the official language of the government. Demotic, however, was still used by the majority of the Egyptians and used in lesser administrative offices. Likewise, high officials were Greek, while local administration remained in Egyptian hands. Throughout most of Ptolemaic rule, the Egyptians were unsettled with Greek rule and often revolted.
Religiously, the Ptolemies combined Egyptian and Greek religion. They established the national cults of Serapis, of Arsinoe II, and of the Ptolemies themselves. They continued to build many traditional temples all over Egypt, including Philae, Dandarah, and Idfu, as did their successors, the Roman emperors [10250]. The Greeks blended the traditional Egyptian styles with contemporary Hellenistic styles in these edifices, and in other artwork. 10250
The well-known Cleopatra VII was the last of the Ptolemaic rulers and the only Ptolemy to know how to speak Egyptian. After her lover Mark Antony lost the battle of Actium to Octavian, Cleopatra committed suicide and Egypt became simply another province of the Roman Empire.
While Romans filled the upper levels of the administration in Egypt, most power fell into the hands of the Egyptians. City councils were in charge of local administration. The use of the demotic script dwindled, as Coptic began to replace it. But more importantly, Greek continued to be used for administrative purposes; Latin was hardly used at all.
The Ptolemies had exploited the Fayyum for food, heavily increasing its yield and establishing many towns in that region. The Romans took advantage of this, turning Egypt into the breadbasket of the Roman Empire, by exacting heavy taxes from the people mainly in the form of grain. Meanwhile, Egypt was at the center of a vast network of international trade that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to India.
Egyptian temples continued to be decorated in the traditional Egyptian style throughout the Roman period [10246]. There was, however, a steady decline of Egyptian cults as more and more Egyptians accepted Christianity. 10246
Published or last modified on: August 23, 2002
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