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Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

Article

Dominic Montserrat

[Antinoë; now el-Sheikh Ibada]

Egyptian site 75 km north of Asyut. The town was officially founded by the Emperor Hadrian in October ad 130 to commemorate his favourite, Antinous, who had been drowned there. However, there was a Late Predynastic (c. 3000 bc) cemetery on the site and Ramesses II (reg c. 1279–c. 1213 bc) built a temple there using decorated blocks and columns from buildings at Tell el-Amarna. The Roman town was designed on a grid plan and boasted an amphitheatre and hippodrome, a temple to the deified Antinous and a colonnaded main street with a triumphal arch: the last, now destroyed, was still standing when Edmé Jomard (1777–1862) visited and drew the site in 1803. The necropolis of Antinoöpolis has yielded important Roman artefacts, particularly illustrated papyri, textiles (e.g. Lyon, Mus. Hist. Tissus, 28.927 and encaustic mummy portraits of distinctive shape and technique. The last were produced by a local school of artists and often embellished with gilded wreaths and stucco jewellery before being bound into the mummy wrappings (e.g. Detroit, MI, Inst. A., 25.2); their style and iconography blends Egyptian and Hellenistic elements. Brick tombs of the 6th century ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Gordon Campbell

Product of a technique first used in ancient Egypt and later developed in ancient Rome. The outer of two superimposed layers of glass was ground away to leave a pattern consisting of a pattern standing in relief on a contrasting ground, usually white on dark blue. The finest surviving example is the Portland Vase (early 1st cent. ...

Article

Simon P. Ellis

Ruined city on the North African coast at the end of a narrow peninsula pointing into the Bay of Tunis. Now an archaeological site at the edge of Tunis itself, Carthage was founded, according to legend, by the Phoenician queen Elyssa in 814 bc. It became a major Mediterranean power until its destruction by the Romans in 146 bc. Carthage flourished as a Roman city, Christianity reaching it by the 2nd century ad. The city was revived by Emperor Justinian, but it was finally destroyed by the Arabs in ad 698.

For later history see Tunis.

In the 6th and 5th centuries bc the city’s interventions in disputes between the Greek and Phoenician city states of Sicily made Carthage the leading western Phoenician colony, and it formed a close alliance with the Etruscans. From the 5th century bc the Carthaginians spread into the African hinterland, eventually controlling the area that is today the northern half of Tunisia. They also concluded three alliances with the newly emergent power of Rome. Further conflict in Sicily, however, precipitated (...

Article

T. W. Potter

[Phoen. Iol; Lat. Caesarea; Fr. Charachel]

Algerian seaport with a sheltered anchorage and a hinterland of fertile valleys, set amid high mountains. It was settled at least as early as 600 bc, probably by Carthaginians, who called it Iol. It rapidly grew into a prosperous trading post that had town defences by 200 bc. Its most illustrious ruler was Juba II of Mauretania (reg 25 bcad 23), who, educated in Rome and a friend of Augustus, sought to make his city as Greco-Roman in appearance as possible. Iol was renamed Caesarea, and, with the help of imported craftsmen, many public buildings of Roman type were built, including a theatre, an amphitheatre, a forum, a palace and huge town walls. Juba also acquired much fine Classical sculpture (Cherchel, Mus. Archéol.) and some ancient Egyptian objects.

In ad 40 Caesarea was made capital of the province of Mauretania Caesariensis, and under Claudius (reg ad 41–54) it was awarded colonial rank. Its continued prosperity is attested by the remains of a 45 km-long aqueduct, probably built in Hadrian’s reign (...

Article

Article

Cyrene  

F. B. Sear and Susan Kane

[Arab. Shaḥḥāt]

City in Libya, 8 km from the coast and 620 m above sea-level on a plateau of the al-Jabal al-Akh?ar (Green Mountain). The Greek city flourished from its founding as a Dorian colony c. 630 bc to Hellenistic times, and its Greek culture was maintained during the long period of Roman rule, when its fortunes declined somewhat.

F. B. Sear

Cyrene’s principal monuments, restored by their Italian excavators, reveal the splendours of the Greek city. It changed only superficially in Roman times, when alterations to existing buildings were more common than new projects.

Herodotus (IV. cl–clviii) related how a party of Therans, forced by drought to leave their native island, settled at Cyrene because of its high rainfall. Their leader, Battos, became king and established a dynasty that lasted until 440 bc. The site is protected on three sides by gorges with gently sloping ground to the east. A low hill, the acropolis, rises to the west and immediately below its north slopes is the Sanctuary of Apollo. Springs emerge from the rock at this point, ensuring a constant water supply. The plateau is divided by the valley street, which runs from the east gate down to the Sanctuary of Apollo and then past the north necropolis to the port of Apollonia, 19 km away. Parallel to the valley street is the Street of Battos, which runs from the south-east gate through the agora to the acropolis. A main transverse street intersected both streets just east of the Hellenistic gymnasium. The earliest settlers presumably occupied the acropolis, and the eastern fringe of the later agora seems to have been used as a burial ground, which suggests that the early town could not have extended far to the east. Other evidence for the early city is pottery from ...

Article

Djemila  

T. W. Potter

[anc. Cuicul.]

Roman town in Algeria, founded c. ad 97 as a colony for army veterans. It was given a local, non-Roman name (Cuicul), but its modern name Djemila (Arab.: ‘beautiful’) is a fitting description for one of the most picturesque sites in North Africa. It lies 60 km from the Mediterranean Sea in rugged, mountainous but fertile countryside, its well-defended position enhanced by the construction of defences enclosing an area of some 200×400 m. The uneven topography necessitated a polygonal arrangement of walls, but within them the streets were laid out in orderly, parallel lines. Systematic excavation since 1909 has revealed many of the internal squares and buildings.

The gate into the colony is still standing; from here the cardo maximus leads to the forum, a great square with elegant porticos on two sides. Here also was the capitolium, the curia, the judicial basilica and a macellum (market building). The basilica (built after ...

Article

Dougga  

M’Hamed Fantar

[anc. Thugga.]

Site of one of the best-preserved Roman towns in Africa, built on a plateau overlooking the valley of Oued Khalled in north-western Tunisia. A fine collection of archaeological material has been found there. Dougga dates back to the earliest phase of Libyan antiquity and certainly belonged to the kingdom of Numidia long before the reign of Masinissa (d 148 bc); writing on the invasion of Agathalus at the end of the 4th century bc, Diodorus Siculus mentioned the king Ailymas, whose domain included the territory of ‘Tebagga’. During the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage (218–201 bc), Dougga was under the Carthaginians, but it was won back by Masinissa and retained by his successors until the death of Juba I in 46 bc. Of the Numidian town there remain the megalithic wall (4th century bc), the dolmens and the Mausoleum of Atban, one of the finest Libyo-Punic ...