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Home / Blog / Egypt Encyclopedia blog category / Alexander the Great in Egypt

Alexander the Great in Egypt

Alexander the Great in Egypt

4

March

Alexander the Great in Egypt


ALEXANDER THE GREAT (352–323 B.C.) Although the king of ancient Macedonia for less than 13 years, Alexander the Great changed the course of history. One of the world's greatest military generals, he created a vast empire that stretched from Macedonia to Egypt and from Greece to part of India. 

He conquered Egypt in 332 B.C. When his father, Philip II, died, Alexander became king of the small Greek state, Macedon. Within a few years, he and his army of devoted men united the Greek states and conquered the Levant and a good part of western Asia. When Alexander and his army marched into Egypt and defeated the hated Persians who occupied the land, the Egyptians hailed Alexander as a liberator. Alexander, ever mindful of local customs, made offerings to the Egyptian gods at MEMPHIS, KARNAK, and LUXOR temples and Siwa Oasis. A beautiful oasis in the Western desert where he built the temple of the Oracle to be acknowledged as the descendant of Amun, the chief god of the Egyptians

Legend says that on the long march through the western desert, Alexander and his men became lost, a flock of crows appeared in the sky and led them safely to the oasis.

When Alexander approached the Oracle of AMUN-RE (called ZEUS-AMUN by the Greeks), he asked one question: “Who is my father?” When the Oracle answered “Amun,” Alexander knew he would rule. With the endorsement of the Oracle, Alexander, like all Egyptian kings before him, was recognized as the son of Amun and a god on Earth and was crowned king of Egypt.

Alexander the Great respected Egyptian religion and culture. He contributed to the Egyptian temples to show his reverence and respect for Egyptian deities.


Alexander founded his capital city, Alexandria, in  331  B.C  on the site of a  small fishing village, Rhakotis (Raqote), on the Egyptian shore of the Mediterranean by The architect Deinocrates. Alexandria was based on the Greek city model, complete with a grid design open to the cool breezes from the Mediterranean.  The city, completed after Alexander’s death, grew to be a thriving international port with a population of more than half a million. The most famous building in ancient Alexandria was the “pharos” lighthouse, designated one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by a Greek librarian. Little of the original structure remains today. Another famous landmark in ancient Alexandria was the library, with its priceless collection of papyrus manuscripts. Legend tells us that the library was burned to the ground when Julius Caesar entered Egypt to settle a quarrel between CLEOPATRA VII and her brother Ptolemy XIII.

Alexander never saw his city but moved on to continue his conquest of the Persian Empire. For all his dreams of ruling as a living god, Alexander died of a fever in Babylon in 323 B.C .when asked by his generals, upon his deathbed, who should succeed him, he simply said, “The strongest.” Eventually, Alexander’s empire was divided among the generals. General Ptolemy chose Egypt and established the Ptolemaic dynasty there. His was the last dynasty, ending when Cleopatra VII committed suicide and the Roman Empire conquered Egypt.


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