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Ancient Egypt

Greek and Roman Rule

History >> Ancient Egypt

The Late Period of Ancient Egyptian history came to an end in 332 BC when Egypt was conquered by the Greeks. The Greeks formed their own dynasty called the Ptolemaic Dynasty that ruled for nearly 300 years until 30 BC. In 30 BC the Romans took control of Egypt. The Romans ruled for over 600 years until around 640 AD.

Alexander the Great

In 332 BC, Alexander the Great swept down from Greece conquering much of the Middle East all the way to India. Along the way he conquered Egypt. Alexander was declared pharaoh of Egypt. He established the capital city of Alexandria along the northern coast of Egypt.

When Alexander the Great died, his kingdom was divided among his generals. One of his generals, Ptolemy I Soter, became pharaoh of Egypt. He established the Ptolemaic Dynasty in 305 BC.

Bust of Ptolemy I Soter
Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen
The Ptolemaic Dynasty

The Ptolemaic Dynasty was the last dynasty of Ancient Egypt. Although Ptolemy I and later rulers were Greek, they took on the religion and many traditions of Ancient Egypt. At the same time, they introduced many aspects of Greek culture into the Egyptian way of life.

For many years, Egypt prospered under the rule of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Many temples were built in the style of the New Kingdom. At its peak, around 240 BC, Egypt expanded to control Libya, Kush, Palestine, Cyprus, and much of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.


During this time, Alexandria became one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean. It served as the major trade port between Asia, Africa, and Europe. It also was the center of Greek culture and education. The Library of Alexandria was the largest library in the world with several hundred thousand documents.

Decline of the Ptolemaic Dynasty

When Ptolemy III died in 221 BC, the Ptolemaic Dynasty began to weaken. The government became corrupt and many rebellions occurred throughout the country. At the same time, the Roman Empire was becoming stronger and taking over much of the Mediterranean.

Battle with Rome

In 31 BC, Pharaoh Cleopatra VII allied with Roman general Mark Antony against another Roman leader named Octavian. The two sides met at the Battle of Actium where Cleopatra and Mark Antony were soundly defeated. One year later, Octavian arrived in Alexandria and defeated the Egyptian army.

Roman Rule

In 30 BC, Egypt became an official Roman province. Daily life in Egypt changed little under Roman rule. Egypt became one of the most important provinces of Rome as a source of grain and as a trade center. For several hundred years, Egypt was a source of great wealth for Rome. When Rome split in the 4th century, Egypt became a part of the Eastern Roman Empire (also called Byzantium).

Muslim Conquest of Egypt

In the 7th century, Egypt came under constant attack from the east. It was first conquered by the Sassanids in 616 and then by the Arabs in 641. Egypt would remain under control of the Arabs throughout the Middle Ages.

Interesting Facts About Egypt under Greek and Roman Rule Activities

More information on the civilization of Ancient Egypt:

Timeline of Ancient Egypt
Old Kingdom
Middle Kingdom
New Kingdom
Late Period
Greek and Roman Rule

Monuments and Geography
Geography and the Nile River
Cities of Ancient Egypt
Valley of the Kings
Egyptian Pyramids
Great Pyramid at Giza
The Great Sphinx
King Tut's Tomb
Famous Temples
Egyptian Food, Jobs, Daily Life
Ancient Egyptian Art
Entertainment and Games
Egyptian Gods and Goddesses
Temples and Priests
Egyptian Mummies
Book of the Dead
Ancient Egyptian Government
Women's Roles
Hieroglyphics Examples
Amenhotep III
Cleopatra VII
Ramses II
Thutmose III

Inventions and Technology
Boats and Transportation
Egyptian Army and Soldiers
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Egypt

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