Map of the Roman Empire - Naucratis

Naucratis
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Ancient Naucratis  This city in Egypt's Nile Delta was originally a Greek trading settlement, it was established in 610 B.C. Naucratis was favored by the Pharaohs before the Persians conquered the area. Later Naucratis became a Hellenistic city. Modern name is en-Nibeira. Archaeological discoveries revealed highly decorated objects of beauty, Greek pottery with images and inscriptions are now seen in Museums around the world.

Naucratis A city in the Delta of Egypt, on the eastern bank of the Canopic branch of the Nile. It was a colony of the Milesians, flourishing in the reign of Amasis, about B.C. 550, and remained a purely Greek city. It was the only place in Egypt where Greeks were permitted to settle and trade. Its importance was lessened after Alexandria was founded. It was the birthplace of Athenaeus and Iulius Pollux. Important excavations were made here by Mr. Flinders Petrie in 1885 and 1886, with the result of adding greatly to our knowledge of the Graeco-Egyptian period. Naucratis possessed a temple to Aphrodité, one to Heré, and a smaller one to Castor and Pollux, besides a very great one, the Panhellenion, the central religious meeting-place of all the Greeks in Egypt. In the heart of the city stood the oldest temple of all, dedicated to the Milesian Apollo. The recent discoveries have added to our knowledge of the relations of Greece with earlier Egypt, and the writing found here is of great value in the study of the Greek alphabet. An ancient factory for making Greek imitations of the Egyptian scarabs is one of the curious things revealed by Mr. Petrie's researches. For an account of Petrie's archaeological discussions and of the temple-ruins, see his monograph Naukratis (1886); and his Ten Years' Digging in Egypt (1895). - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.

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Naucratis NAU´CRATIS
NAU´CRATIS (Hdt. 2.179; Strab. xvii. p.801 ; Ptol. 4.5.9; Callimach. Epigr. 41; Plin. Nat. 5.10. s. 11; Steph. B. sub voce: Eth.), was originally an emporium for trade, founded by colonists from Miletus, in the Saitic nome of the Delta. It stood upon the eastern bank of the Canopic arm of the Nile, which, from the subsequent importance of Naucratis, was sometimes called the Ostium Naucraticum. (Plin. Nat. 5.10. s. 11.) There was, doubtless, on the same site an older Aegyptian town, the name of which has been lost in that of the Greek dockyard and haven. Naucratis first attained its civil and commercial eminence in the reign of Amasis (B.C. 550) who rendered it, as regarded the Greeks, the Canton of Aegypt. From the date of his reign until the Persian invasion, or perhaps even the founding of Alexandreia, Naucratis possessed a monopoly of the Mediterranean commerce, for it was the only Deltaic harbour into which foreign vessels were permitted to enter; and if accident or stress of weather had driven them [2.402] into any other port or mouth of the Nile, they were compelled either to sail round to Naucratis, or to transmit their cargoes thither in the country boats. Besides these commercial privileges, the Greeks of Naucratis received from Amasis many civil and religious immunities. They appointed their own magistrates and officers for the regulation of their trade, customs, and harbour dues, and were permitted the free exercise of their religious worship. Besides its docks, wharves, and other features of an Hellenic city, Naucratis, contained four celebrated temples:--(1) That of Zeus, founded by colonists from Aegina; (2) of Hera, built by the Samians in honour of their tutelary goddess; (3) of Apollo, erected by the Milesians; and (4) the most ancient and sumptuous of them all, the federal temple entitled the Hellenium, which was the common property of the Ionians of Chios, Teos, Phocaea, and Clazomenae; of the Dorians of Rhodes, Cnidus, and Halicarnassus; and of the Aetolians of Mytilene. They also observed the Dionysiac festivals; and were, according to Athenaeus (xiii. p. 596, xv. p. 676), devout worshippers of Aphrodite.

The two principal manufactures of Naucratis were that of porcelain and wreathes of flowers. The former received from the silicious matter abounding in the earth of the neighbourhood a high glaze; and the potteries were important enough to give names to the Potter's Gate and the Potter's Street, where such wares were exposed for sale. (Id. xi. p. 480.)

The garlands were, according to Athenaeus (xv. p. 671, seq.), made of myrtle, or, as was sometimes said, of flowers entwined with the filaments of the papyrus. Either these garlands must have been artificial, or the makers of them possessed some secret for preserving the natural flowers, since they were exported to Italy, and held in high esteem by the Roman ladies. (Boetticher, Sabina, vol. i. pp. 228, seq.) Athenaeus gives a particular account (iv. pp. 150, seq.) of the Prytaneian dinners of the Naucratites, as well as of their general disposition to luxurious living. Some of their feasts appear to have been of the kind called “s?µß??a,” where the city provided a banqueting-room and wine, but the guests brought their provisions. At wedding entertainments it was forbidden to introduce either eggs or pastry sweetened with honey. Naucratis was the birthplace of Athenaeus (iii. p. 73, vii. p. 301); of Julius Pollux, the antiquary and grammarian; and of certain obscure historians, cited by Athenaeus, e. g. Lyceas, Phylarchus, Psycharmus, Herostratus, &c. Heliodorus (Aethiop. vi. p. 229) absurdly says that Aristophanes, the comic poet, was born there. Naucratis, however, was the native city of a person much more conspicuous in his day than any of the above mentioned, viz., of Cleomenes, commissioner-general of finances to Alexander the Great, after his conquest of Aegypt. But neither the city nor Aegypt in general had much reason to be proud of him; for he was equally oppressive and dishonest in his administration; and having excited in the Delta a general feeling of discontent against the Macedonians, he was put to death by Ptolemy Lagus. (Arrian, Exp. Alex. 3.5, 7.23; Diod. 18.14; Pseud. Aristot. Econ. 2.34. s. 40.)

Herodotus probably landed at Naucratis, on his entrance into Aegypt; but he did not remain there. It was, however, for some time the residence of the legislator Solon, who there exchanged his Attic oil and honey for Aegyptian millet; and is said to have taken sundry hints for his code of laws from the statutes of the Pharaohs. (Plutarch, Plut. Sol. 26.)

Naucratis, like so many others of the Deltaic cities, began to decline after the foundation of Alexandreia. Situated nearly 30 miles from the sea, it could not compete with the most extensive and commodious haven then in the world; and with the Macedonian invasion its monopoly of the Mediter-ranean traffic ceased. Its exact site is unknown, but is supposed to correspond nearly with that of the modern hamlet of Salhadschar, where considerable heaps of ruin are extant. (Niebuhr, Travels in Arabia, p. 97.) The coins of Naucratis are of the age of Trajan, and represent on their obverse a laureated head of the emperor, and on their reverse the figure of Anubis, or a female holding a spear. (Rasche, Lexic. R. Numar. s. v.) - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.

Naucratis or Naukratis, (Greek: Ναύκρατις), loosely translated as "(the city that wields) power over ships" (Piemro in Egyptian, now Kom Gieif), was a city of Ancient Egypt, on the Canopic branch of the Nile river, 45 mi (72 km) SE of the open sea and the later capital of Ptolemaic Egypt, Alexandria. It was the first and, for much of its early history, the only permanent Greek colony in Egypt; acting as a symbiotic nexus for the interchange of Greek and Egyptian art and culture.

The modern site of the city has become an archaeological find of the highest significance and the source of not only many beautiful objects of art now gracing the museums of the world but also an important source of some of the earliest Greek writing in existence, provided by the inscriptions on its pottery.

Background
Archaeological evidence suggests that the history of the ancient Greeks in Egypt dates back at least to Mycenaean times and more likely even further back into the proto-Greek Minoan age. This history is strictly one of commerce as no permanent Greek settlements have been found of these cultures to date.

After the collapse of Mycenaean Greek civilization and the ensuing Greek dark ages (c1100 - 750 BC) a "renaissance" of Greek culture flourished in the 7th century BC and with it came renewed contact with the East and its two great river civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Nile.

The first report of Greeks in 7th century BC Egypt is a story in the Histories of Herodotus of Ionian and Carian pirates forced by storm to land on or near the Nile Delta. It relates the plight of the Saite Pharaoh Psammetichus I (Psamtik) (c. 664-610) of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt overthrown and in desperation, seeking the advice of the Oracle of Leto at Buto who cryptically advises him to enlist the aid of "brazen men" who would "come from the sea." Inspired upon seeing the bronze armor of the shipwrecked pirates, he offers them rewards in return for their aid in his campaign of return to power. Upon the success of this endeavor he makes good on his word and bestows on the mercenaries two parcels of land,[1] "camps" (στρατόπεδα) on either side of the Pelusian branch of the Nile.[2]

History
Literary. In 570 BC the Pharaoh Apries (Wahibre, reigned 589-570 BC) led the descendants of this mercenary army made up of 30,000 Carians and Ionians against a former general turned rebel by the name of Amasis. Although fighting valiantly they suffered defeat and Amasis II became Pharaoh (reigned 570-526 BC). Amasis shut down the "camps" and moved the Greek soldiers to Memphis where they were employed "to guard him against the native Egyptians."[3]

Herodotus: "Amasis was partial to the Greeks, and among other favors which he granted them, gave to such as liked to settle in Egypt the city of Naucratis for their residence." Notice that he says "gave the city (polis)" which seems to indicate the existence (now born out by archaeological evidence) of a "city" already there. This older city, settlement more likely, was no doubt small and inhabited by a mix of native Egyptians, Greeks and possibly even Phoenicians. Thus it seems the city was turned over to the Greeks, "chartered", in the years immediately following 570 BC.[4]

Amasis indeed converted Naucratis into a major treaty-port and commercial link with the west. This was done most likely as a means to contain the Greeks and concentrate their activities in one place under his control. It became not the colony of any particular city-state but an emporion (trading post) similar to Al Mina, the largest market port of north Syria.

According to Herodotus the walled shrine known as the Hellenion was a co-operative enterprise financed by nine eastern Greek cities:

Four Ionian:Chios, Klazomenai, Teos and Phocaea.
Four Dorian: Rhodes, Halicarnassus, Knidos and Phaselis.
One Aeolian: Mytilene.
Miletus, Samos and Aegina had their own separate sanctuaries. Thus the natives of at least twelve Greek city-states worked in a collaboration that was not only rare but proved to be lasting... - Wikipedia

 

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