Friday, July 13, 2018

Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt (305 BC–30 BC)

The Ptolemaic Dynasty was the longest of all who reigned over the geographic space of ancient Egypt: 275 years (considering only the years between the basileia of Ptolemy I Soter and the death of Cleopatra VII).

The Diadoch Ptolemy, son of a Macedonian nobleman Lagos, had been one of Alexander’s most trusted generals, the man who captured Bessos, murderer of the Persian king Darius III.

In 323 BC he went to Egypt and ruled as satrap (governor) for almost 20 years before he was acclaimed king by his army in 306 BC and crowned on January 12, 304 BC, the anniversary of Alexander’s death according to the Macedonian calendar. A new dynasty was founded, that of the Ptolemies, also called the Lagids after Ptolemy’s father.

The Ptolemys coexisted as both Egyptian pharaohs as well as Greek monarchs. In every appearance they remained completely Greek, both in their language and traditions. This unique characteristic was maintained through intermarriage; most often these marriages were either between brother and sister or even uncle and niece.

The Ptolemies and parts of the Egyptian priestly elite formed alliances, as can be seen on the Memphis decree engraved on the Rosetta stone.

During the Ptolemaic period, there was a significant shift to wheat (triticum durum) and wine production and consumption. The shift from emmer to durum wheat, the latter being the preferred grain of the Greek immigrants, was more the result of a natural shift in crops caused by forced demand for wheat andnot the result of Ptolemaic state direction, although there was a connection between wheat production and royal land.

Octavian, the future Augustus, defeated Cleopatra VII and her ally Mark Antony at Actium in 31 BC and included Egypt as a province of the Roman Empire the following year. The Egypt of the Ptolomies was the last of the Hellenistic kingdoms to lose its independence.
Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt (305 BC–30 BC)
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