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Article

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

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl later 4th century bc–early 3rd).

Greek painter. Born in Egypt, Antiphilos was a pupil of Ktesidemos. Although none of his works survives, he painted both large and small pictures and was famous for the facility of his technique (Quintilian: Principles of Oratory XII.x.6). Pliny (Natural History XXXV.114, 138) listed many of his pictures, which included portraits (Philip II and Alexander the Great with the Goddess Athena, in Rome in Pliny’s day; Alexander the Great as a Boy, also taken to Rome; and Ptolemy I of Egypt Hunting) and mythological subjects (Hesione; Dionysos; Hippolytos Terrified of the Bull; and Cadmus and Europa), all of which were in Rome in Pliny’s day. He also painted genre pictures: A Boy Blowing a Fire, a painting much admired for the reflections cast about the room and on the boy’s face, and Women Spinning Wool. The Egyptian city of Alexandria was an artistic centre famous for the depiction of comic figures and grotesques in several media. In that context, Antiphilos contributed a picture of a man called ...

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

R. A. Tomlinson

[Gr. ‘underground’]. The term was used by Herodotus, for example, to refer to the underground tomb chambers of Egypt as well as the sapping tunnels of Persian siege craft. As a specifically architectural term, it can be used for the underground rooms or cellars of buildings, such as the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni (c. 3000 bc) at Malta (anc. Pawla). Rules for their construction were given by Vitruvius (On Architecture VI.viii), but there is no single type or use for these structures. Vitruvius’ instructions can be applied equally to the extensive cryptoportici that run underneath some colonnades, particularly those of Roman fora, for example at Arles (Anc. Arelate; see Arles §1, (i)) or Thessaloniki. The function of these is uncertain, although they were ventilated and lit through openings cut into the steps of the colonnade above; they may well have been general storerooms.

Underground chambers were also used for cult purposes, often oracular. Small underground crypt chambers existed in temples, such as that of ...

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

Greek painter of unknown date. According to Pliny (XXXV.16), it was either Kleanthes or the otherwise unknown Philokles of Egypt who invented outline drawing. Athenagoras (xvii) gave credit to the otherwise unknown Saurios of Samos for the invention of this technique, but included Kleanthes in his list of the earliest artists (those who worked before the gods were depicted), incorrectly assuming that secular subjects were depicted before divine ones. Indeed, deities were shown in at least two of the three paintings by Kleanthes held in the Temple of Artemis Alpheiosa in the territory around Olympia (Strabo: VIII.343; Athenaeus: VIII.346b–c): the Birth of Athena and Poseidon Offering a Tunny Fish to Zeus (Zeus was in labour, perhaps with the second birth of Dionysos). The third painting was the Fall of Troy. No other painting by Kleanthes is recorded, and none of his work survives.

Pauly–Wissowa; Thieme–Becker Athenaeus: Deipnosophists Athenagoras: Intercession Concerning the Christians...

Article

R. J. A. Wilson

Source of a group of late 2nd-century bc Greek works of art. In 1907 an ancient shipwreck was located by sponge-divers in the waters off Mahdia on the east coast of Tunisia. The subsequent careful exploration of the ship and the lifting of its extensive cargo, carried out between 1908 and 1913, was the first operation of its kind in the Mediterranean. The principal cargo consisted of 60 marble columns, together with Ionic and Corinthian capitals, but also on board was a whole range of sculpture in both bronze and marble. The bronzes include an archaistic herm, a Dancing Eros, three grotesque dancing dwarfs (with suspension rings attached), statuettes of Eros with a Lyre, satyrs, Hermes and actors, two lamp holders in the form of an Eros and a Hermaphrodite, and various assorted appliqués, vessels, candelabra (for illustration see Candelabrum), lamps and couch attachments. The marbles, some badly corroded, include heads or busts of ...

Article

Article

F. B. Sear

[Arab. Tolmeita; Tolmeta; Tulmaythah]

Hellenistic and Roman city in Cyrenaica, Libya, the only natural harbour between Eusperides-Berenice (now Benghazi) and Apollonia (now Susa). It was probably founded in the reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes (246–221 bc), although the site had been used as the port of nearby Barca since the 6th century bc. Ptolemais came under Roman control in 96 bc and under Diocletian (reg ad 284–305) became the capital of Libya Pentapolis. Its buildings extend the whole width of a fertile, 2 km-wide coastal plain, bounded to the south by the foothills of the Jabal al-Akhdar (the Green Mountain).

There are traces of the Hellenistic grid plan with at least five transverse streets (decumani) intersected by two main longitudinal ones (cardines), enclosing blocks measuring 180×36 m. Most of the major streets are 8.8 m wide, but the principal thoroughfare, the Street of the Monuments, is 14.8 m wide including the colonnades either side. The city walls, as is so often the case, are unrelated to the street-plan. They are punctuated by square towers and extend from the sea to the Jabal, where they enclose a commanding triangle of high ground. There were probably seven gates in the circuit, of which the best preserved is the Taucheira gate, flanked by two massive square towers with finely drafted masonry....

Article

Noémie Goldman and Kim Oosterlinck

Term for the return of lost or looted cultural objects to their country of origin, former owners, or their heirs. The loss of the object may happen in a variety of contexts (armed conflicts, war, colonialism, imperialism, or genocide), and the nature of the looted cultural objects may also vary, ranging from artworks, such as paintings and sculptures, to human remains, books, manuscripts, and religious artefacts. An essential part of the process of restitution is the seemingly unavoidable conflict around the transfer of the objects in question from the current to the former owners. Ownership disputes of this nature raise legal, ethical, and diplomatic issues. The heightened tensions in the process arise because the looting of cultural objects challenges, if not breaks down, relationships between peoples, territories, cultures, and heritages.

The history of plundering and art imperialism may be traced back to ancient times. Looting has been documented in many instances from the sack by the Romans of the Etruscan city of Veii in ...

Article

Martin Robertson

(fl c. 200 bc).

Ancient Greek mosaicist active in Egypt. His work is known from a signed floor at Tell Timai in the Nile Delta (now Alexandria, Gr.–Rom. Mus.), in which sophilos epoiei (Gk: ‘Sophilos made’) is set in two lines in black tesserae on a white floor. It appears to date to c. 200 bc or possibly a little before. At the edge of the rectangular floor is a frame of black crenellations; in the centre is an emblema in opus vermiculatum framed in isometric meander, with the inscription and a bust of a woman wearing a headdress in the form of a ship’s prow (see Alexandria §2, (iii)). This representation also appears in a circular emblema of coarser execution and apparently later date from the same site (now Alexandria, Gr.–Rom. Mus.). The figure has usually been interpreted as a personification of Alexandria, but Daszewski pointed out that figures that certainly represent the city are quite differently conceived and suggested that these are portraits of a Ptolemaic queen, probably Berenike II (...

Article

Trophy  

Luca Leoncini

Dedication of the remains of a defeated enemy, usually on or near the battlefield. This custom was practised by the Egyptians and the Sumerians as well as other peoples of the Mediterranean region and the Ancient Near East. Except in the case of some Egyptian and Mesopotamian monuments celebrating important victories, however, it was never accompanied by any special artistic production in these areas. In Greece and Rome, however, the artistic commemoration of a victorious battle became very popular.

The first trophy documented with certainty is Greek: the trophy of the Aiginetans in the Temple of Aphaia, celebrating their victory over Samos (520 bc). Trophies were mentioned with increasing frequency throughout the 5th century bc, but they became less popular in the 4th century bc and the Hellenistic age (323–31 bc). Among some of the Greeks, however, including the Spartans and the Macedonians, the custom of dedicating everything that remained on the battlefield to the gods remained for some time. For the rest of the Greeks the trophy was at once a symbol of victory, an ex-voto and a warning to the enemy. Two types of trophies are known. In the first and more common type the enemy’s arms were suspended from a post or cross, arranged as they had been worn by the soldier. This ‘anthropomorphic trophy’ was commonly connected with the figure of Victory. The second type, the ‘cumulus trophy’, was a stack of arms often placed on a pile of stones; the earliest form of trophy appears to have been a simple cone of stones. The array of enemy arms displayed in the two types symbolized the dedication of the defeated who had worn them to the gods who had given the victory. The first example of Victories connected with trophies was possibly the one on the balustrade of the ...