Alexander the Great was to assemble a new empire that would incorporate all the nations in one unified and ‘civilized’ world, known also as Oikoumene. Then, the king of the world –this was to be Alexander the Great himself- would rule these nations in justice, from the one side respecting and further supporting the local traditions, and from the other side, creating a unified ideological and -as much as possible- cultural environment, where the Greek element would play a key role. In addition Alexander appointed himself as the guardian of Oikoumene, so barbaric nations would not be able to attack the civilized nations inside. Within this context, Egypt would be part of Alexander’s Oikoumene, while Alexandria would be the window of Egypt to the Mediterranean. This new image and role was according to the new era that was starting, in a world that different nations and cultures were attempting to share common values. On the 7th of April 331 BC, Alexander the Great founded the city of Alexandria on the isthmus between the ‘ocean’ and Lake Mareotis. The new city incorporated the site of Rhakotis, which became the Egyptian district. Various literary accounts indicate that other initial settlers were incorporated into the population of Alexandria. These were the inhabitants of Canopus, the residents of 12 or 16 villages, the inhabitants of unspecified adjacent cities or, more generally, everybody who lived within a 30-mile radius from the site1. According to Diodorus, Alexander himself apparently laid out the plans for the most important streets on a grid system, as well as the position of the market square and individual temples (Figs. 2 and 3). The rest of the urban planning was delegated to Deinocrates of Rhodes2.
Fig. 2. Alexander the Great as Builder (British Museum)
Scheidel, 2004, 22.
Bagnall, 2004, 51.