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architecture and sculpture as well as depictions in Alexandrian coinage. In the 1930s, the British archaeologist Alan Rowe discovered the foundation plaques of Ptolemy III’s temple, written in both Greek and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the hieroglyphs Sarapis is referred to as Osiris-Apis, indicating the importance of his Egyptian identity for the sanctuary of Alexandria (Fig. 37). The structures of Ptolemy II, which remained in use, and the complex of Ptolemy III, included the main temple of Sarapis (built by Ptolemy II to the north) and a stoa-like structure (northwest). Also, the bishop Epiphanius (4th century AD) mentions a daughter library of the Great Library but does not specify its exact location within this precinct.17

181 Fig. 37. Foundation plaques of Sarapeion

In terms of architecture, the style of the temple was Greek: a Δ-style temple in Corinthian order with a Doric frieze. Nevertheless, several characteristics seem to derive from Egyptian architecture, for instance a Nilometer, a pool and Egyptian-style sphinxes. These elements would have added an Egyptian air to the generally Greek atmosphere of the sanctuary, reflecting the special, GraecoEgyptian nature of Sarapis. A “birth house” dedicated to Harpocrates was adjoined to the temple of Sarapis in the reign of Ptolemy IV; its foundation plaques were also discovered, bearing both Greek and hieroglyphic inscriptions (Fig. 38).


Epiphanius, 53c.

Final study of CulMe-WeOnCT project  
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