Alexandria: An Egyptian city to be discovered from a unique angle at the Muzem Museum in Marseille – Sciences et Avenir

The first city in Egypt built without connection to the Nile, Alexandria was founded in 331 BC. Alexander the Great and was the capital of the Ptolemaic dynasty until the Roman conquest in 30 BC. , 2023) covers this period and several centuries later, until the advent of Christianity around 381 AD. Through some 200 objects, it highlights the heritage and heritage of Alexandria, building bridges with the current city, crossing certain issues that were already significant. during Antiquity. This is especially true for water management.

Alexandria, the city destroyed by the tsunami

From the mythical lighthouse, the equally famous library and Mouseion, nothing left. Likewise, the original Alexandria, built largely on islets that have sunk into the sea, is also intangible. Several large tsunamis between the 4th and 7th centuries AD virtually wiped out the city. Only images engraved on coins, a few ancient texts and rare remains allow some parts to be reconstructed. This is the result of the first section of the exhibition dedicated to urban planning.

This is followed by a space dedicated to the figures who created the city and contributed to its influence, making it one of the greatest cities of the Hellenistic period after Rome. From Ptolemy I, one of Alexander’s generals, to Cleopatra VII and even Roman emperors, they all closely intertwined their culture with the culture of the Egyptians, as evidenced by these statues with features of the Greeks and pharaohs. This cosmopolitanism is also illustrated in the third section on religion and the successful union of the Greek pantheon and Egyptian deities. This is evidenced by the figure syncretic Sarapis, introduced by Ptolemy 1st, who combines the characteristics of Osiris, The Egyptian god of the realm of the dead, the sacred bull Apis, whose image strongly resembles Hades, the Greek ruler of the underworld. These new gods would also integrate the features of Roman cosmogony after the arrival of the latter.

Legacy of ancient Alexandria

The intertwining of Greek and Egyptian cultures can also be seen in the rare everyday items recovered from the excavations, which are presented in the fourth section. They represent, for the most part, the life of the elite and their ornate homes. On the other hand, we know little, the frustration described in contemporary writings is centered on the theme of failure. And this duality persists until death, as evidenced by the excavations carried out in the Necropolis (city of the dead), a huge cemetery where the dead entered. from 3e century BC up to 7e century AD Finally, the exhibition concludes with the heritage of ancient Alexandria, the main port of the western Mediterranean, but also a major intellectual center in which scientific and philosophical ideas traveled throughout Europe.

Helpful information :

Exhibition “Alexandria: the future of the past”, from February 8 to May 8, 2023

Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (Mucem), 1 Esp. J4, 13002 Marseille

Tel: 04 84 35 13 13


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