The ROMAN PROVINCE OF EGYPT (Latin : Aegyptus, pronounced ; Greek :
Αἴγυπτος Aigyptos ) was established in 30 BC after Octavian
(the future emperor
The province came to serve as a major producer of grain for the
empire and had a highly developed urban economy. Aegyptus was by far
the wealthiest Eastern Roman province, and by far the wealthiest
Roman province outside of Italia . In
* 1 Roman rule in
ROMAN RULE IN EGYPT
Maps of Roman
As a key province, but also the 'crown domain' where the emperors
succeeded the divine Pharaohs ,
The second prefect,
Aelius Gallus , made an unsuccessful expedition
Arabia Petraea and even
Arabia Felix . The
From the reign of
Under Antoninus Pius oppressive taxation led to a revolt in 139, of the native Egyptians , which was suppressed only after several years of fighting. This Bucolic War, led by one Isidorus , caused great damage to the economy and marked the beginning of Egypt's economic decline. Avidius Cassius , who led the Roman forces in the war, declared himself emperor in 175, and was acknowledged by the armies of Syria and Aegyptus.
On the approach of Marcus Aurelius, Cassius was deposed and killed
and the clemency of the emperor restored peace. A similar revolt broke
out in 193, when
Pescennius Niger was proclaimed emperor on the death
Pertinax . The Emperor
Septimius Severus gave a constitution to
There was a series of revolts, both military and civilian, through the 3rd century. Under Decius , in 250, the Christians again suffered from persecution, but their religion continued to spread. The prefect of Aegyptus in 260, Mussius Aemilianus , first supported the Macriani , usurpers during the rule of Gallienus , and later, in 261, became a usurper himself, but was defeated by Gallienus.
Two generals based in Aegyptus, Probus and
Domitius Domitianus , led
successful revolts and made themselves emperors.
ROMAN GOVERNMENT IN EGYPT
Further information: List of governors of Roman
The Romans introduced important changes in the administrative system, aimed at achieving a high level of efficiency and maximizing revenue . The duties of the prefect of Aegyptus combined responsibility for military security through command of the legions and cohorts , for the organization of finance and taxation, and for the administration of justice.
The reforms of the early 4th century had established the basis for another 250 years of comparative prosperity in Aegyptus , at a cost of perhaps greater rigidity and more oppressive state control . Aegyptus was subdivided for administrative purposes into a number of smaller provinces, and separate civil and military officials were established; the praeses and the dux .
By the middle of the 6th century the emperor Justinian was eventually forced to recognize the failure of this policy and to combine civil and military power in the hands of the dux with a civil deputy (the praeses) as a counterweight to the power of the church authorities. All pretense of local autonomy had by then vanished. The presence of the soldiery was more noticeable, its power and influence more pervasive in the routine of town and village life.
Roman trade with India started from Aegyptus according to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st century).
The economic resources that this imperial government existed to
exploit had not changed since the
A massive amount of Aegyptus's grain was shipped downriver (north)
both to feed the population of
The Roman government had actively encouraged the privatization of land and the increase of private enterprise in manufacture, commerce, and trade, and low tax rates favored private owners and entrepreneurs. The poorer people gained their livelihood as tenants of state-owned land or of property belonging to the emperor or to wealthy private landlords, and they were relatively much more heavily burdened by rentals, which tended to remain at a fairly high level.
Overall, the degree of monetization and complexity in the economy, even at the village level, was intense. Goods were moved around and exchanged through the medium of coin on a large scale and, in the towns and the larger villages, a high level of industrial and commercial activity developed in close conjunction with the exploitation of the predominant agricultural base. The volume of trade, both internal and external, reached its peak in the 1st and 2nd centuries.
By the end of the 3rd century, major problems were evident. A series of debasements of the imperial currency had undermined confidence in the coinage, and even the government itself was contributing to this by demanding more and more irregular tax payments in kind, which it channeled directly to the main consumers, the army personnel. Local administration by the councils was careless, recalcitrant, and inefficient; the evident need for firm and purposeful reform had to be squarely faced in the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine I .
This wealthiest of provinces could be held militarily by a very small
force; and the threat implicit in an embargo on the export of grain
supplies, vital to the provisioning of the city of
In the first decade of Roman rule the spirit of Augustan imperialism looked farther afield, attempting expansion to the east and to the south. Most of the early Roman troops stationed there were Greco-Macedonians and native Egyptians once part of the dissolved Ptolemaic army finding service for Rome. Eventually Romans or Romanized people were a majority.
SOCIAL STRUCTURE IN EARLY ROMAN EGYPT
Fayum mummy portraits Citizen of Roman
The social structure in Aegyptus under the Romans was both unique and complicated. On the one hand, the Romans continued to use many of the same organizational tactics that were in place under the leaders of the Ptolemaic period. At the same time, the Romans saw the Greeks in Aegyptus as “Egyptians”, an idea that both the native Egyptians and Greeks would have rejected. To further compound the whole situation, Jews, who themselves were very Hellenized overall, had their own communities, separate from both Greeks and native Egyptians.
The Romans began a system of social hierarchy that revolved around ethnicity and place of residence. Other than Roman citizens, a Greek citizen of one of the Greek cities had the highest status, and a rural Egyptian would be in the lowest class. In between those classes was the metropolite, who was almost certainly of Hellenic origin. Gaining citizenship and moving up in ranks was very difficult and there were not many available options for ascendancy.
One of the routes that many followed to ascend to another caste was through enlistment in the army. Although only Roman citizens could serve in the legions, many Greeks found their way in. The native Egyptians could join the auxiliary forces and attain citizenship upon discharge. The different groups had different rates of taxation based on their social class. The Greeks were exempt from the poll tax , while Hellenized inhabitants of the nome capitals were taxed at a lower rate than the native Egyptians, who could not enter the army, and paid the full poll tax.
The social structure in Aegyptus is very closely linked to the
governing administration. Elements of centralized rule that were
derived from the
Just as under the Ptolemies,
If a common Egyptian wanted to become a Roman citizen he would first have to become an Alexandrian citizen. The Augustan period in Egypt saw the creation of urban communities with “Hellenic ” landowning elites. These landowning elites were put in a position of privilege and power and had more self-administration than the Egyptian population. Within the citizenry, there were gymnasiums that Greek citizens could enter if they showed that both parents were members of the gymnasium based on a list that was compiled by the government in 4–5 AD.
The candidate for the gymnasium would then be let into the ephebus . There was also the council of elders known as the gerousia . This council of elders did not have a boulai to answer to. All of this Greek organization was a vital part of the metropolis and the Greek institutions provided an elite group of citizens. The Romans looked to these elites to provide municipal officers and well-educated administrators. These elites also paid lower poll-taxes than the local native Egyptians, fellahin . It is well documented that Alexandrians in particular were able to enjoy lower tax-rates on land.
These privileges even extended to corporal punishments. Romans were
protected from this type of punishment while native
whipped. Alexandrians, on the other hand, had the privilege of merely
being beaten with a rod. Although
The Gnomon of the Idios Logos shows the connection between law and status. It lays out the revenues it deals with, mainly fines and confiscation of property, to which only a few groups were apt. The Gnomon also confirms that a freed slave takes his former master’s social status. The Gnomon demonstrates the social controls that the Romans had in place through monetary means based on status and property.
CHRISTIAN EGYPT (33 AD–4TH CENTURY)
PART OF A SERIES ON THE
HISTORY OF EGYPT
Early Dynastic Period 3100–2686 BC
Old Kingdom 2686–2181 BC
1st Intermediate Period 2181–2055 BC
Middle Kingdom 2055–1650 BC
2nd Intermediate Period 1650–1550 BC
New Kingdom 1550–1069 BC
3rd Intermediate Period 1069–664 BC
Late Period 664–332 BC
Macedonian and Ptolemaic
Roman and Byzantine Egypt 30 BC–641 AD
French occupation 1798–1801
British occupation 1882–1922
* v * t * e
The Patriarchate of
The ancient religion of
In a religious system which views earthly life as eternal, when earthly life becomes strained and miserable, the desire for such an everlasting life loses its appeal. Thus, the focus on poverty and meekness found a vacuum among the Egyptian population. In addition, many Christian tenets such as the concept of the trinity, a resurrection of deity and union with the deity after death had close similarities with the native religion of ancient Egypt. Or it may simply have been because branches of the native religion and Christianity had converged to a point where their similarities made the change a minor one.
By 200 it is clear that
Edict of Milan in 313,
Constantine I ended the persecution
of Christians. Over the course of the 5th century, paganism was
suppressed and lost its following, as the poet Palladius bitterly
noted. It lingered underground for many decades: the final edict
against paganism was issued in 435, but graffiti at
Philae in Upper
No sooner had the Egyptian Church achieved freedom and supremacy than
it became subject to a schism and prolonged conflict which at times
descended into civil war.
Egyptian Christians took up monasticism with such enthusiasm that the
Valens had to restrict the number of men who could become
LATER ROMAN EGYPT (4TH–6TH CENTURIES)
The reign of Constantine also saw the founding of
The fall of the Western Empire in the 5th century further isolated the Egyptian Romans from Rome's culture and hastened the growth of Christianity. The triumph of Christianity led to a virtual abandonment of pharaonic traditions: with the disappearance of the Egyptian priests and priestesses who officiated at the temples, no-one could read the hieroglyphs of Pharaonic Egypt, and its temples were converted to churches or abandoned to the desert.
The Eastern Empire became increasingly "oriental" in style as its links with the old Græco-Roman world faded. The Greek system of local government by citizens had now entirely disappeared. Offices, with new Byzantine names, were almost hereditary in the wealthy land-owning families. Alexandria, the second city of the empire, continued to be a centre of religious controversy and violence.
Cyril , the patriarch of
The new religious controversy was over the nature of Jesus of
Nazareth . The issue was whether he had two natures, human and divine,
or a combined one (hypostatic union from His humanity and divinity).
This may seem an arcane distinction, but in an intensely religious age
it was enough to divide an empire. The
The Monophysite belief was not held by the miaphysites as they stated
that Jesus was out of two natures in one nature called, the "Incarnate
Logos of God". Many of the miaphysites claimed that they were
misunderstood, that there was really no difference between their
position and the Chalcedonian position, and that the Council of
Chalcedon ruled against them because of political motivations alone.
The Church of
* Andropolis (Kherbeta)
Butus (near Desuq? Com-Casir?)
* Coprithis (Cabrit, Cobrit)
Phatanus (El-Batanu, El-Batnu)
Mariotes (Lake Mariout)
* Menelaite (Idku)
* Metelis (Kom el-Ghoraf)
* Busiris (Abu-Sir)
Cynopolis in Aegypto (Banâm Benâ)
* *Diospolis Inferior (*Tell el-Balamun)
* Pachnemunis (Kom el-Khanziri)
* Phragonis (Tell-El-Faraïn, Côm-Faraïn)
SASSANIAN PERSIAN INVASION (619 AD)
Byzantine Empire by 626, after
The Persian conquest of
A Byzantine counteroffensive launched by Emperor
The Persian conquest allowed
Miaphysitism to resurface in the open in
Egypt, and when imperial rule was restored by Emperor
ARAB ISLAMIC CONQUEST (639–646 AD)
An army of 4,000
Arabs led by
Amr Ibn Al-Aas was sent by the Caliph
Umar , successor to
Muhammad , to spread Islamic rule to the west.
Arabs crossed into
Arabs sent for reinforcements, and in April 641 they besieged and
Mummy Mask of a Man, early 1st century AD, 72.57,
Funerary masks uncovered in Fayoum , 1st century. *
* ^ Publishing, Britannica Educational (2010-04-01). Ancient Egypt: From Prehistory to the Islamic Conquest. Britannica Educational Publishing. ISBN 9781615302109 . * ^ Wickham, Chris (2009-01-29). The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000. Penguin UK. ISBN 9780141908533 . * ^ Maddison, Angus (2007), Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History, p. 55, table 1.14, Oxford University Press , ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1 * ^ Christiansen, Erik (2004). Coinage in Roman Egypt: The Hoard Evidence. Aarhus University Press. * ^ A B Turner, E. G. (1975). " Oxyrhynchus and Rome". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology . 79: 1–24 . JSTOR 311126 . * ^ Alston, Richard (1997). "Philo's In Flaccum: Ethnicity and Social Space in Roman Alexandria". Greece and Rome. Second Series. 44 (2): 165–175 . doi :10.1093/gr/44.2.165 . * ^ Lewis, Naphtali (1995). "Greco-Roman Egypt: Fact or Fiction?". On Government and Law in Roman Egypt. Atlanta: Scholars Press. p. 145.
* ^ Bell, Idris H. (1922). "Hellenic Culture in Egypt". Journal of Egyptian Archaeology . 8 (3/4): 139–155 . JSTOR 3853691 . * ^ Bell, p.148 * ^ Lewis, p.141 * ^ Sherwin-White, A. N. (1973). The Roman Citizenship. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 391. * ^ A B Turner, E. G. "Roman Oxyrhynchus". Journal of Egyptian Archaeology . 38: 78–93 . JSTOR 3855498 . * ^ Delia, Diana (1991). Alexandrian Citizenship During the Roman Principate. Atlanta: Scholars Press. p. 31. * ^ Delia, pp.31–32 * ^ Delia, p.32 * ^ "Egypt". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs . Retrieved 2011-12-14. See drop-down essay on "Islamic Conquest and the Ottoman Empire" * ^ A B Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1 ), "Sedi titolari", pp. 819-1013
* Angold, Michael. 2001.