Africa: Ancient cities / Alexandria

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PHOTO: Roger-11 3110'56.22" 2953'47.40"

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Founded in 332 B.C. by Alexander the Great, Alexandria was intended to supersede Naucratis (q.v.) as a Greek centre in Egypt, and to be the link between Macedonia and the rich Nile Valley. If such a city was to be on the Egyptian coast, there was only one possible site, behind the screen of the Pharos island and removed from the silt thrown out by Nile mouths. An Egyptian townlet, Rhacotis, already stood on the shore and was a resort of fishermen and pirates. Behind it (according to the Alexandrian treatise, known as pseudo-Callisthenes) were five native villages scattered along the strip between Lake Mareotis and the sea.