Ptolemaic dynasty – Pharaohs of Greek origin

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

The reign of Ptolemaic dynasty was preceded by liberation of the Egypt from the domination of the Persians. It was thanks to Alexander the Great, who defeated Darius III and liberated Egypt that way. Alexander ruled over a great empire that extended up to India. Early death of Alexander in 323 BC was the beginning of the empire disintegration. The empire was divided among 4 generals - Egypt was gained by Ptolemy, who founded the Ptolemaic dynasty under the name Ptolemy I Soter (Saviour) in 304 BC. This dynasty ruled in Egypt for three centuries and it enriched the Pharaohs land with elements of the Hellenistic civilization. Then it had to retreat to Rome that became a new master of the Mediterranean.

Pharaohs in Greek style

Egypt reached a new economic boom under the centralized rule of the Ptolemaic dynasty. The biggest boom experienced Alexandria, which became the capital of Egypt. The local port developed rapidly, which was situated at the intersection of overland and sea ways into Europe, Asia and Africa as well. The Ptolemaic dynasty lived according to Greek manners and they spoke Koine Greek, which was common for all Hellenistic kingdoms. Because they were skilful politicians, they continued in Pharaoh traditions and worshipped Egyptian cults, especially the one of Isis. Although Egypt lost its political independency, it kept its identity.

First of the Ptolemaic dynasty tried to extend their rule to Judea, Syria, Anatolia, northern Africa and Cyprus. But the significance of the Ptolemaic dynasty started to decline since the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor thanks to never-ending family conflicts. It often happened that the title of the ruler usurped two siblings or both spouses at once, which was the basis of hateful conflicts of the Crown possession.

The Egyptian civilization ended with Rome

Rome, which tried to extend its rule over the whole Mediterranean, used every conflict to play the role of a judge. The land was in decline and a serious economical crisis threatened, when Ptolemy XII came to the throne. Rome threatened to depose the King, because his predecessor Ptolemy XI left Egypt to Rome in his will. But the same Rome took a stand on the side of Ptolemy XII, when his daughter Berenice IV tried to contest his legitimacy. Ptolemy XII died in 51 BC and he determined his children as his successors - Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra VII, who became the last ruler of this dynasty. Neither intelligence nor political skills of Cleopatra or support of Gaius Julius Caesar and Mark Antony later could prevent the fact that Egypt became a Roman province in 31 BC.

The Mediterranean at the time of Ptolemaic dynasty

The Mediterranean at the time of Ptolemaic dynasty

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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