Egypt

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By Robert B. Jackson

Whilst Egypt grew to become a province of the Roman Empire in 30 BC after the deaths of Antony and Cleopatra, its substantial and mysterious frontier lands had an immense impression at the trade, politics and tradition of the empire. This account - half historical past and half gazetteer -focuses on Rome's Egyptian frontier, describing the traditional fortresses, temples, settlements, quarries and aqueducts scattered in the course of the area and conveying a feeling of what existence used to be like for its population. Robert Jackson has journeyed, via jeep and taking walks, to nearly each recognized Roman web site within the quarter, from Siwa Oasis, forty five kilometers from the trendy Libyan border, to the Sudan. Drawing on either archaeological and old details, he discusses those websites, explaining how Rome extracted unique stone and useful metals from the mountains of the jap wasteland, channelled the wealth of India and East Africa in the course of the barren region through ports at the pink Sea, built and manned fortresses within the far away oases of the Western desolate tract, and facilitated the growth of agricultural groups within the wasteland that at last skilled the earliest large-scale conversions to Christianity in Egypt. Illustrated with many pictures, the amount may be beneficial to archaeologists, classicists, and visitors to the sector.

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Wheel tracks of the ancient carts—measuring approximately 3 meters across—are still visible in some places along this route. As it approaches Wadi Belih, the road bends to the southwest and passes within a kilometer of the small Roman fort of Wadi Belih. Then it turns west, heading past the Badia station, and continues over the watershed pass to Wadi Qattar and beyond, eventually reaching the Nile at Qena. THE FORT AT WADI BELIH Prior to arriving at the Badia fort from the east, one encounters the much-ruined station at Wadi Belih (see map 2).

7 Large cairns alongside the ramp leading to Lycabettos quarry. 15 While this explanation o=ers a logical use for the cairns as safety devices, it does not adequately explain how the heavy blocks themselves were controlled as they were being lowered from one set of cairns to the next. In some places the incline of the ramps is fairly gentle, but in other places it is so steep that it would have been impossible for men holding the sled to control it as it descended the ramp. Perhaps the cairns served both as emergency brakes for the sleds and as anchor points for ropes used to ease the sleds down the ramp.

In reality, this transition was unfortunate because porphyry’s speckled surface renders it unattractive for human Qgures. The famous porphyry statue of Diocletian, Maximian (his coemperor), and their lieutenant caesars, which the crusaders looted from Byzantium in 1204 and which now stands at the corner of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, is an example of the stern, impersonal style to which porphyry lent itself. A pair of magniQcent sarcophagi in the Vatican Museum, however, are outstanding specimens of just how beautiful well-crafted porphyry can be.

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