Continuation of Egyptian Culture by non-Egyptians

The way in which Egyptian culture was continued by non-native Egyptians after the Egyptian state had essentially dissolved was quite interesting. The perpetuation of Egyptian culture is evident from the first occupation of Egypt by non-Egyptians. Non-Egyptian rulers of Egypt perpetuated and even supported native Egyptian religion and often bureaucratic control as well. This is evident as early as Hyksos rule in the 2nd Intermediate period, but happens again with the Kushite conquest in the 25th Dynasty. The Kushite kings “built Egyptian-style temples, with their walls inscribed in Egyptian hieroglyphs” (chapter 9, p. 268), as well as using the 2 cobras on their crowns, rather than the traditional vulture and cobra of the Egyptian kings.

The practice of supporting Egyptian institutions was also continued by the Persians, likely as “an attempt to legitimize the Persian king as pharaoh” (Chapter 9, p. 271). In addition to the Persians, the Greeks who ruled Persia after Alexander, as part of the Ptolemaic Dynasty also perpetuated and supported native Egyptian religion. None of these instances of non-Egyptians continuing Egyptian culture are all that surprising though, as foreign rulers, the conquers would want a way to relate to the conquered  and to make their rule feel more legitimate, and using Egyptian religious practice offered a way to do this. Even the Romans, who didn’t support the Egyptian religious institutions, still allowed them to exist, but what really ended Egyptian religion, and the strong culture that was associated with it, was the influx of Christianity into Egypt.

The continuation of Egyptian culture, as evident in religious practices, continued even after Egypt had largely ceased practicing its traditional religion. In Nubia, which wasn’t, for a large part of Egyptian chronology even part of Egypt, but was nonetheless connected to Egypt through trade and hegemony, Egyptian culture and religion continue into the late 6th century. What this really shows is how Egyptian culture had an influence on all of the surrounding polities, so much so that even after Egypt had been assimilated into Greek and later Roman culture, Egyptian culture still continued, especially outside of Egypt.

One of the other things that I wondered about this week was how exactly the city of Alexandria was founded. Did there exist a settlement in its location originally, or was it only a site where Alexander camped for a while and then moved on, or did he just decree that a city was to be built there? How exactly does a person found or create a city out of nothing…I think this would be interesting to look into in more detail