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Stele bearing a dedication to Serapis and Isis

Stele bearing a dedication to Serapis and Isis
© BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk


showcase 13

Stele bearing a dedication to Serapis and Isis

Category:
Written documents, tablets / slabs
Date:
Graeco-Roman Period, Ptolemaic Period, 217-204 BCE
Provenance:
Lower Egypt, Alexandria, El-Hadara
Material(s):
Rock, marble
Height:
33 cm;
Width:
23 cm
Hall:
Greco-Roman Antiquities, showcase 13


Description

A marble tablet dedication inscribed in ancient Greek presented to the God Serapis and the goddess Isis, and offered by a man called Archioles son of Cosmos of Lionanios, a Greek quarter, on behalf of divine King Ptolemy Fourth and his divine wife Arsinoë Third.

“On behalf of King Ptolemy and Queen Arsinoë the divine gods who love their father
To the god Serapis and the goddess Isis the Saviours
From Archipolis son of Cosmos of Leonnateus"

King Ptolemy IV (Philopator)

Ptolemy IV ruled from 221B.C. to 204B.C. and his reign is considered to be the beginning of the decline of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Ptolemy IV became king when he was twenty two years old and married his sister Arsinoë III. As he wished to be loved by his subjects, he chose the name of Philopator which means 'the one who loves his father', given that his father Ptolemy III (Euergetes I) was very popular with his subjects. The choice of name nevertheless did not endear him to his people, as he proved to be different from his father and a rather weak ruler.

The Battle of Raphia ( modern Rafah)

While Ptolemy IV was ruling Egypt, Antiochus III of the Seleucid line was a powerful monarch ruling Syria. He coveted the rule of Coele-Syria which at the time was in the hands of the Ptolemies. He therefore went into battle with Ptolemy III at Raphia on 22 June 217 B.C.

At that time, the Ptolemaic army had very few mercenary soldiers and was suffering from low morale. Ptolemy IV had no choice but to recruit native Egyptians to defend his kingdom.

Ptolemy's advisor, Sosibius, reorganized the new army and trained it in the old Macedonian phalanx system. As a result, the army was able to heavily defeat Antiochus in that battle. 

Furthermore, this battle led to the arousal of an Egyptian national spirit, as the Egyptians started to compare their sorry state with that of the Greeks who were given rights and privileges under Ptolemaic rule, while the Seleucid army was made up entirely of mercenaries only. Revolts in Egypt followed and increased in number which resulted in extending military lands and social privileges to Egyptian soldiers.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • إبراهيم نصحي. تاريخ مصر في عصر البطالمة. الأجزاء الأول، والثاني، والرابع. القاهرة: مكتبة الأنجلو المصرية، 1995.
  • أبو اليسر فرح. تاريخ مصر في عصري البطالمة والرومان. القاهرة: مطابع زمزم، 2004.
  • فادية محمد أبو بكر. التاريخ السياسي والحضاري لمصر في عصر البطالمة. الإسكندرية: دار المعرفة الجامعية، 2006.
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