This article discusses the Ptolemaic legacy and Egyptian independence; the annexation of Egypt; and the first Roman prefects in Egypt. In contrast to earlier changes of ruler, the annexation of Egypt by Octavian represents a particularly lasting break in the country's history. Octavian was quickly able to stabilize Roman authority in the newly created province. As in the other provinces of the empire, a new, well-designed, and effective administration was speedily introduced. It was headed by the prefect, the direct representative of the emperor. To secure his rule, Octavian-Augustus also sought engagement with the priests, the elite of the country. This is evident in the numerous temples that were built, particularly in areas of strategic and economic importance.
Roman Egypt is the only part of the ancient world where documentary evidence for the age composition of the general population has survived. Pertinent information is provided by extant census returns from the first three centuries of Roman rule. Gathered every fourteen years, these documents list the members of individual households with their names, familial status, and ages. Knowledge of the age distribution enables us to track mortality rates and infer average life expectancy, which is a critical measure of overall well-being. This article discusses mortality patterns, causes of death, and disease and physical well-being.
Marjorie S. Venit
Distinguished in the first century
The vast range of animals found in ancient Egypt not only contributed to creating its language and religion, but they were also a mainstay of its economy, and played key roles in daily life, ranging from providers of food to companionship. They are also key indicators in our understanding of the changing environment. The study of Egyptian fauna can thus elucidate many aspects of ancient Egyptian culture. This article outlines the sources available for the study of animals in Egypt, such as artistic images, texts, and physical remains. It provides an overview of the history of Egyptian archaeozoology, outlines current methods, and goes on to look at the future of this discipline within Egyptology.
This chapter sketches the nature of evidence to be gained from careful analysis of the ceramic remains in ancient Egypt, and the ways to achieve it, explaining some of the advances made in recent years. Pottery provides the most ubiquitous archaeological source material derived from ancient Egypt. Early archaeologists only tended to show interest in pottery when it was intact and/or of aesthetically pleasing shape or decoration, but this important source material has turned into primary evidence when dating a site. It provides information on the history of use of a site as well as on socio-economic issues, such as importations from other sites or even abroad, and glimpses into possible functions of sites.
In addition to providing food, companionship, and raw materials for clothing, furniture, tools, and ornaments, animals also played a key role in religious practices in ancient Egypt. Apart from serving as sacrifices, each god had one or more animal as a totem. Certain specially marked exemplars of these species were revered as manifestations of that god that enjoyed all the privileges of being a deity during their lifetime and which were mummified and buried with pomp upon their death. Other animals, which did not bear the distinguishing marks, were mummified and offered to the gods, transmitting the prayers of devotees directly to their divinities. These number in the millions and were a significant feature of Egyptian religious belief and self-identity in the later periods of Egyptian history.
This article reviews archaeological studies in the Nile Delta. It discusses problems of archaeological work in the Delta; previous work in the Delta; current research and survey; survey and recording; and excavation. The Nilotic landscape of Egypt was a fantasy place in the Roman imagination. For the people who lived there, the archaeological remains suggest a vibrant society with new towns springing up to manage the agricultural lands. The old Pharaonic temple cities were reinvigorated as metropoleis, with all of the trappings of Roman life from a monetized economic system to marble statuary brought from Italy, and with industrial areas manufacturing goods for local consumers and visitors.
This essay assesses the body of archaeological research connected to the New Kingdom settlement site of Amarna (ancient Akhetaten), the short-lived capital of Egypt founded by king Akhenaten around 1347 BC as the cult centre for the solar god the Aten. Amarna, by far the largest exposure of pharaonic settlement to survive from Egypt, is unsurpassed as a case site for the study of ancient Egyptian urbanism and daily life. This essay provides an overview of the ancient city, evaluates past and ongoing excavations at the site, and summarizes the archaeological discourse on the city as a physical, functioning and experienced space.
Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom
This chapter discusses the evolution of scholarly interest in Christian antiquities in Egypt after 1900. The archaeology of early Christianity developed much later than the field of Egyptology and initially focused only upon the clearing of monumental churches. Growing interest in Byzantine art and archaeology in the mid-1920s fostered greater support for excavations of expressly Christian settlements, which were primarily monastic communities. The wealth of archaeological evidence preserved in Egypt’s arid climate, such as documentary evidence (ostraca and papyri), textiles, manuscripts, and small finds such as items made of leather, reeds, ivory, and wood, helped foster a greater appreciation for Egypt’s history after the age of the pharaohs.
This article discusses the archaeology of the Fayum region, covering land reclamation projects; discoveries and archaeological excavations; layout of Graeco-Roman settlements; and houses of the Roman period. The Fayum was developed in Hellenistic and Roman times to maximize agricultural output, which also led to the foundation and development of several settlements. Although many sites were known by name following the discovery of papyri in the late nineteenth century, early explorations were not well documented or published by the excavators, and considerable damage was wrought by illicit digging and sebakhin activity. Fortunately, a number of ongoing projects, combining archaeology, papyrology, and archival research, are constantly improving our knowledge of Fayum settlements, and in particular the interrelationship between the temple, its dromos, and the residential areas of the towns and villages.