Hellenism was the blending of Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Indian cultures. (Beck, 1999) The achievements of the Greeks in the ancient world reached their peak in the city of Alexandria. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm) The Hellenistic era spanned over 900 years, from 337 BC to 640 AD. (Goldschmidt, 1994)
Part of the reason for Alexandria's success was it's location, both geographically and politically. If Alexandria had been any more prosperous, it might have replaced Rome as the center of the world, as Rome wasn't as strategically located or as culturally diverse. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm) It was a true bridge between Europe and Africa while being a world all to itself. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm) Alexandria united the Hellenistic world by expanding trade, bringing together different cultures in the Mediterranean, and becoming a major scientific and intellectual center.
The Persian occupation of Egypt ended when Alexander the Great defeated the Persians at the Battle of Issus (near present day Iskenderun in Turkey) in November 333 BC. (Http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) In 332 BC, Alexander entered Memphis, where, unlike the Persian Cambyses who caused the death of the Sacred Apis Bull of Memphis, he sacrificed to it like a true Hellene and he paid homage to other National gods and was apparently accepted without question as king of Egypt. The Egyptians, who despised the monotheistic Persians and chafed under Persian rule, welcomed Alexander as a deliverer. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) From Memphis, Alexander marched down the western arm of the Nile and built a fortified port on the natural harbor near Rhacotis, and named it, in a fit of egotism, Alexandria. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm)
Alexandria was built at the orders of Alexander the Great by the Greek architect Dinocrates at the site of an old fishing village called Rhakitos. (www.Houseofptolemy.org/houseovr.htm) Alexandria was the second largest city after Cairo and the main port of Egypt. (www.Houseofptolemy.org/houseovr.htm) Alexandria was laid out in the typical Hellenistic gridiron plan, with its long axis east and west. The city was divided into quarters by two crossing main avenues. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) The ancient Alexandria was 5.1 km long and 1.7 km wide with a perimeter of 16 km. (Empereur, 1998)
After Alexander died of malarial fever, his empire was divided. Ptolemy I took Egypt, becoming a Pharaoh. Antigonus took control Macedonia and Greece. Seleucus got most of the old Persian Empire, which became known as Syria. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) Ptolemy I Soter was one of the leading generals of Alexander the Great, and after Alexander's death (323 B.C.) (Http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) The dynasty Ptolemy founded in Egypt was known as the line of Ptolemaic Pharaohs. It endured for three centuries, surviving both family feuds and external conflicts, until the suicide of Cleopatra in 30 BC. (Http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html)
Alexandria's power and majesty came from its status as the new capital of Egypt. In 320 BC, it replaced Memphis as the seat of rulership for the Ptolemaic dynasty. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm) Alexandria earned the title "Queen of the Mediterranean". (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm)
The Ptolemies founded the University, the Museum (Shrine of the Muses), and the Library of Alexandria and built the lighthouse at Pharos. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ frd/cs/egtoc.html) In the early 1200's, an earthquake destroyed the lighthouse. (de Camp, 1963) In front of the city was at he island of Pharos, located in the center of the bay, united to the city by a 1290 meter dam called the heptastadon, forming two harbors. (www.Houseofptolemy.org/houseovr.htm)
Under the early Ptolemies, the culture was exclusively Greek. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) The arrival of the Greeks brought an unprecedented amount of change in Egypt as they overlaid the existing society with that of their own. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm) Greek was the language of the court, the army, and the administration. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ frd/cs/egtoc.html)
Because the later Ptolemies didn't live up to the standards set by their ascendants, Egyptians grew more restless year by year and in 206 BC, Upper Egypt openly rebelled. Suppressing these revolts took more out on the treasury than the Ptolemies could afford and brought Egypt under the influence of Rome. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm)
Alexandria's population grew to the size of 300,000 free citizens and at least that many slaves. (Watterson, 1997) In the Ptolemaic Period, Egypt was a heterogeneous culture. Egyptians were free to practice their own religions in the same manner as before the arrival of Alexander the Great. (Watterson, 1997)
When the Assyrians triumphed in Palestine, Jews immigrated to Alexandria, putting the Exodus in reverse. (Johnson, 1999) Alexandrian Jews built large urban areas of merchants and craftsmen. Jews became the largest and most coherent ethnic group. (Johnson, 1999) When the Romans came, Alexandria had the largest and most coherent body of Jews outside Palestine. (Johnson, 1999)
The library of Alexandria was concieved largely as an attempt to bring together in Alexandria the whole of earlier Greek science, art, and literature. (www.interoz.com/ egypt/alexhis1.htm) Ptolemy I, son of Lago (satrap since 323 BC and king from 304 BC to 285 BC) initiated the preparatory plans for the Museion, of which the Library was one of the parts. (www.Houseofptolemy.org/houseovr.htm) While it endured, the library made Alexandria the unquestioned intellectual capital of the world. (de Camp, 1963) It was the mission of the librarians and the rulers who supported it to acquire every known work and archive all Greek knowledge. (www.interoz.com/egypt/ alexhis1.htm) Ptolemy III seized cargoes of ships, made a copy of each book for those that he took them from and kept the original copy. (www.interoz.com/egypt/ alexhis1.htm) At one point, the library had over 750,000 books and articles.
A series of fires gradually destroyed the library. Since the books were stored in more than one building, no single fire destroyed them all. (De camp, 1963) A significant portion of the library was destroyed in Caesar's war against Pompey. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm) The eventual fate of the library is unknown. (www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm)
When Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great it was made the scientific center of the ancient world. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) Much brilliant work was completed in the Museum during the first three centuries. Erotathenes calculated the circumference of the Earth with amazing accuracy. Hipparochos invented latitude and longitude. (de Camp, 1963) In 45 BC, Julius Caesar relied on Alexandrian astronomer Sosigines to help him reform the calendar. (Johnson, 1999) Archimedes, who studied in Alexandria, founded the science of hydrostatics, discovered Archimedes' law (a theorem on water displacement), and he worked out the law of the lever.
Alexandria grew immensely wealthy through its manufacture of glass, papyrus, and linen. (Watterson, 1997) It was intended to be a link between the east and the west. (Watterson, 1997) The city, along with Syria, was one of the birthplaces of the production of glass, a luxury item in those times, and whose techniques would be improved and exported to the rest of the world by the second century AD. (www.Houseofptolemy.org/ houseovr.htm)
Since the beginning of the 2nd century BC, Rome expanded eastward but remained friendly with Egypt. (Watterson, 1997) The reign of the ptolemaic dynasty ended in 30 BC, when Cleopatra, the daughter of Ptolemy XI and wife of Julius Caesar, lost the famous battle of Actium in the Adriatic. (Http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) After the battle of Actium and the suicide of Cleopatra, more than six centuries of Roman and Byzantine rule began. (Http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) Egypt became a roman province, under the rule of Octavian. (http://ce.eng.usf.edu/pharos/alexandria/history/ptolemaic.html) In 212, Rome gave the Egyptians citizenship in the empire. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) By the middle of the 4th century, Egypt was largely a Christian country. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html) After Hellenism], Alexandria suffered a period of decline during the era of Muslim rule. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/ egtoc.html) When Napoleon came in 1798, Alexandria's population was less than 8000. Now, it's more than 2.7 million. (Goldschmidt, 1994)
Alexandria united the Hellenistic world by expanding trade, bringing together different cultures in the Mediterranean, and becoming a major scientific and intellectual center. Alexandria was an important bridge between the cultures of Greeks and Jews. As the library endured, it made Alexandria the unquestioned intellectual capital of the world. The museum of Alexandria was the closest thing to a modern university that the ancient world ever experienced.
Johnson, Paul. The Civilization of Ancient Egypt. Italy: Harper Collins Publisher, 1999
This book has some information on different social and religious groups of ancient Egypt.
Davis, Harold. Alexandria, The Golden City. Illinois: The Principia Press of Illinois, Inc., 1957
Even though this book has interesting stories, it doesn't have much useful information. It didn't provide enough facts.
Empereur, Jean-Yves. Alexandria Rediscovered. New York: George Braziller Publisher, 1998
This whole book is on Alexandria instead of just Egypt. It has full color pictures. It's mostly on the architecture.
Beck, Roger. World History, Patterns of History. Evanston, Illinois: McDougal Littell, Inc., 1999
This textbook has an entire section on Hellenism.
Goldschmidt, Arthur. Historical Dictionary of Egypt. New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1994
This reference dictionary covers every aspect of Egypt from ancient times to the present. It has lots of useful information that is easy to find.
McEvedy, Colin. The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History. New York : Penguin Books, 1967
This had useful information and maps. It was burdensome to read due to the wording of the sentences.
Silverman, David. Ancient Egypt. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997
This book covers all parts of Egyptian history. It's written by more than one person.
Watterson, Barbara. The Egyptians. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 1997
This book has several pages of useful information on Alexandria from it's founding to 250 BC. It mainly describes the achievements of the Egyptions.
The Ancient Egyptian Site http://www.geocities.com/~amenhotep/
This site explores more than 3,000 years of ancient Egypt. The author has made eight publications not including his web site.
Egypt- A Country Study http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/egtoc.html
This web site is the research division of the library of congress. It is by far the most useful web site that I found.
Information on Egypt- History and Civilization http://www.sis.gov.eg/eginfnew/history/html/hist01.htm
This web site is mostly about pre-Ptolemaic Egypt. It has some information about Alexandria's submerged monuments.
The House of Ptolemy: Historical Overviews of Ptolemaic. www.Houseofptolemy.org/houseovr.htm
This has the latest news, announcements, and discoveries on the house of Ptolemy and more than 275 links.
Alexandria, Egypt. http://ce.eng.usf.edu/pharos/alexandria/history/ E. M. Forester
This site has material on every time period of Alexandria.
De Camp, L. Sprague. The Ancient Engineers. New York: Ballantine Books, 1963
De Camp introduces some of the greatest technological achievements of all time.
www.interoz.com/egypt/alexhis1.htm, Jimmy Dunn, 1996
This site has information about geography in and around Egypt.