Week 7 Blog – Emma Greene

I have always found the decline of the Ptolemaic Era very interesting, and I actually wrote a research paper about this subject just last year. However, the focus of that paper was just on Cleopatra and her dealings with Rome. I want to take this opportunity to look at the earlier rulers of the Ptolemaic Period.

After Alexander the Great’s rule, obviously there was a little bit of confusion as to who would rule next. That honor fell to Ptolemy Soter, who was actually a close friend of Alexander the Great. Under his rule and the rule of the pharaohs after him, there began to be a lot of mixing of Egyptian and Greek aspects of life. In terms of bureaucracy, Greeks held the majority of the positions of power in Egyptian society. There were also designated communities for specific peoples, like the Greeks , Jews and even the Egyptians. The economy of Egypt changed as well; it was still agricultural in nature, but the invention of the water wheel made it easier to manipulate the waters of the Nile to be able to get water to more fields of wheat. Wheat would continue to be one of Egypt’s main exports, but the type of wheat exported did change. Instead of emmer wheat, which had been used practically since Predynastic times, the Egyptians started planting free threshing wheat, which did not need as much tending and made it easier to extract the wheat with just a gentle threshing, as opposed to the strenuous ritual associated with emmer wheat. The Egyptians still did extensive trade, mainly via sea routes, and its main export was papyrus, which had been used in ancient Egypt for centuries as a writing implement. Gold mines were also utilized, but not as much gold was mined compared to before the Ptolemaic period. Religion also changed drastically; a new triad of deities combined the powerful Egyptian and Greek gods  Serapis, Isis and Herpocrates, and the temple was actively supported right up until the end of the Ptolemaic period.

2 thoughts on “Week 7 Blog – Emma Greene

  1. I was also very intrigued by the Ptolemaic Period. As expected, following the departure of Alexander one of his close allies took over his throne. The combination of Grecian and Egyptian cultures didn’t negatively impact the Egyptian people, but instead brought on more economic prosperity. The mixing of cultures also lead to a mixing of communities, although this was more of a separation between the two societies. What lead to the separation between the two cultures was probably the overall takeover of Egypt by the Grecian rulers and citizens. Although much of what the Greeks brought Egypt was benefical, much of the Old Egypt was lost. In much of the readings I found it very focused on the outsiders coming in to Egypt and less about the indigenous people. Egypt did become a more prosperous land with all of the added benefits that the water wheel provided for them. However the increase in people in the land also required more food which was probably the reason behind the farming of another kind of wheat. The Egyptians were very successful at trading and exporting goods while the Greeks brought on a whole new sense of technology. What was interesting about the integration of these culture was how similar and yet quite different they were.

  2. In response to your post, I agree and also believe that the decline of the Ptolemaic Era was interesting and symbolic of change in Egypt that impacted society and culture. I believe that adding the information about confusion happening after Alexander the Great’s rule in relation to who would be the next ruler. Ptolemy Soter, a close friend of Alexander the Great commenced his rule at this time and was responsible for the mixing and blending the two cultures of Greek and Egypt which was very impacting and significant event because it resulted in a new and improved culture and lifestyle among the Egyptian people that was responsible for bringing about much change and improvement to the Egyptian culture. In my opinion, the different communities that were home to specific races such as Jews, Greeks, and Egyptians are similar to today’s composition of ethnic neighborhoods in big cities such as Mexican-town, Greek-town, etc. in that they are places where single ethnic groups/races can express their native cultures around peers.
    I like how you mentioned how the Egyptian economy changed as well. For example, including the part about how in was still agricultural in nature but the added invention of the water wheel added the advantage of enabling the people to manipulate the waters of the Nile in order to get more water to the fields wheat. Also, I know now that wheat would continue to be one of the country’s main exports. Finally, you did a great job of including the part about the Egyptians still doing extensive trade on their sea routes. Also the part about the Gold mines is very interesting to me, I would enjoy learning much more about this and how the amount of gold mined before the Ptolemaic period was very significant. Overall, this was a very good and informative post that was easy to understand and read quickly, while still being very essentially informative.

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