uncovered houses. The latter were of a composite nature, combining pavements of color marble slabs arranged in intricate geometrical patterns (so called Opus Sectile) with regular mosaics made of small colorful stone cubes. One fine example of the latter kind is a floor mosaic with dolphins from a house discovered under the Odeon portico. At the core of the site, alongside the Odeon Portico, was a row of separate rooms with a few more grouped in lateral wings lining the passages leading to the imperial baths. A well preserved complex of lecture halls was discovered there, dated to the 5th through 7th centuries AD, the first ever to be discovered anywhere in the ancient world.
Altogether there were 20 halls in this complex, of
different size, but aligned the same way and featuring a similar layout of the interior. Most were rectangular (they are 10- 12 m long as a rule and no more than 5-6 m wide), although in a few cases one long end took on the form of an apse or elongated exedra. All had stone benches on three walls, most commonly two or three rows of this seating. Seats of honor, raised and specially distinguished, are present in all of the halls. The grandest of these took on the form of a high “chair” approached by a set of steps. The seating arrangement and the seats of honor, markedly present at the apex of each hall, fully confirm the interpretation of these units as lecture halls. In conclusion, it is very likely that we are dealing with a public educational institution in Alexandria of the Roman and Late Roman period. While the city continued to be a major center of humanities, social studies (including law) and sciences, essentially medicine.
SARAPEION: THE ‘ACROPOLIS’ OF ALEXANDRIA Rhakotis, the village that was incorporated into Alexandria, was the south-western district of Alexandria, which contained the main body of the Egyptian population, the largest of the city. It was in this area densely populated that Ptolemies made a significant contribution; Alexandria’s acropolis with the most important sanctuary of the city, the Sarapeion, dedicated to god Sarapis, (Figs. 25-27). It was a complex of buildings, including a library (the daughter of the Great Library), lecture rooms and smaller shrines. The main temple was built in the Greek style, designed by the Greek architect Parmeniscus. The liturgical language of the cult was Greek. In the huge main temple stood the famous chryselephantine statue of the god Sarapis by the Athenian sculptor Bryaxis.15
Fraser, 1972, 249 and 256.