PROCESSIONS IN HELLENISTIC EGYPT: ANCIENT SOURCES AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE Alexander’s conquest of Egypt in 323 BC led to three centuries of rule by Greek kings, the Ptolemies, until 30 B.C. when Egypt became a Roman province. From the beginning, Alexander had to superimpose his authority on Egypt's theocratic government so he was obliged as the Persian kings before him to seek the assistance of the priesthood. Alexander visited Memphis the capital of Egypt and then he allotted 6 weeks out of his schedule to a visit to Ammon’s Oracle in Siwa (Fig. 114). Alexander respected all the ritual of the visit to the oracle and probably he participate to the oracular procession in order to get responses to his questions and the oracle of Amon at Siwa recognized Alexander as the new Master of the Universe. Excavation in structures along the processional route between the oracle temple at Aghurmi and the Temple of Nektanebo II (Umm Ubayda) noted the presence of Greek building methods that could be built after Alexander visit to memories the event.99 Another important procession in Alexander history related to Egypt is his funerary procession. Following his death, his body was embalmed as Egyptians in Babylon and, after a period of two years, the funeral procession moved toward its destination and thousands of people gathered along the route to see the body of Alexander the Great for the last time (Fig. 115).
When the funeral
procession reached Syria, a battle took place and Ptolemy Lagos captured the body and took it to Egypt in 322 B.C. He kept the body at Memphis. Ptolemies incorporated their own ruler cult to Alexander's. In the late fourth or early third century B.C. the body of Alexander was transported to Alexandria where it was reburied. At a still later date, Ptolemy Philopator placed the bodies of his dynastic predecessors as well as that of Alexander in a communal mausoleum in Alexandria. We don’t have any information regarding the cult itself unless the eponymous priests, but one can imagine that it did not differ from that of other cults. He had an altar and shrine, the procession was an important part and was followed by games and sacrifices and the dedication of statues in several temples. The most reliable information about the description of procession from Hellenistic Alexandria came from the work of Kallixeinos of Rhodes named About Alexandria. Around 280 B.C. Ptolemy II (Fig. 116) instituted the Ptolemaea, a festival in honor of his father (Fig. 117). Greeks cities and Hellenistic kingdom were invited to attend. The Grand Procession comprises divisional processions in honor of many gods such as Dionysus, Zeus, Olympian divinities, Alexander the Great and the
Bagnall, 2001, 227-243.