The Ptolemaic and Roman Serapea of Alexandria

During Late Antiquity, Ancient Egypt was ruled by two groups of nonnative rulers who introduced their own cultural ideas to the country. These two groups were the Ptolemies and the Roman Empire. The Ptolemaic kings and the Roman emperors each built various kinds of buildings in the famous Egyptian city of Alexandria. One of these buildings was the Serapeum, a pagan temple built in honor of the Greek-Egyptian god Serapis.

Despite the fact that they worshipped the same god, the Ptolemaic and Roman Serapea had their differences in terms of architecture and how they were destroyed. The Ptolemaic Serapeum was of greater significance than the Roman Serapeum because it was built by rulers who had a stronger sense of religious identity; the Roman Empire’s major shift in religious identity would have ill effects for the Roman Serapeum in the late fourth century.

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