Historical Data

According to Herodotus, emissaries from the Greek city-states (Mileto, Chios, Phocaea, Rhodes, Knidos, Halicarnassus and others) founded the city of Naucratis on the western side of the Nile Delta, following an invitation from the pharaoh, around 550 BC.

Naucratis was the only Greek city founded in Egypt before the time of Alexander the Great. Pharaoh Amasis allowed the development of the unique character that Naucratis had, a privileged community in a developed country, and forced the Greeks to settle only in this area, probably so that he could control them more easily. Herodotus describes Amasis as a Greek lover who had many Greek advisers in his court, among them Phani of Halicarnassus, with whom he eventually came into conflict. Amasis himself married a Greek princess, Ladis, made alliances with the tyrant of Samos Polycrates and the king of Lydia Croesus.

Naucratis gradually became a great trading colony of the Greeks. Its merchants were taxed for importing Greek products such as olive oil, wood, silver, gold and wooden objects into the city. Also, the products produced by the inhabitants themselves in Naukratis were also taxed. It was probably the most commercial center of the Mediterranean in its time. Anyone who wanted a special item stopped here, because they could find literally anything.

The new discoveries of the archaeological digs show that the city had twice the area of what was originally estimated (600 instead of 300 acres) while, starting from the 7th century BC. and for the next thousand years, this port was bustling with life and gathered the wealth not only of the region, but also of the entire eastern Mediterranean.

More than 10,000 works of art that have come to light so far have revealed a wealth of information about the commercial port established by the Ancient Greeks in the Ancient Egyptian city, including shipwrecks, clay figurines and bronze tributes to the Feast of Drunkenness, which apparently gathered crowds of people and was dedicated to sailors – after all, Naucratis means the “Lady Who Rules the Ships”.

Apart from this, however, perhaps some of the first apartment buildings in history appeared here, as multi-storey buildings-houses were excavated, the height of which varied from 3 to 6 floors. Naukratis was a large cosmopolitan city with tall brick buildings, imposing public buildings and many temples and sanctuaries, which surrounded a bustling harbor, with all kinds of goods constantly arriving from every corner of the world. The population of the city at its height is estimated at 16,000 souls, although, as Naucratis was a transit center for travelers, merchants and pilgrims, depending on the time it was many times that number. At the time of Amasi, it was the only permitted commercial hub for the import of products originating in the Aegean.

Naucratis was famous for its ceramic and floral art products. The peculiar vases that were made in the Greek colony and named by archaeologists Naucratic, bear the elements of their oriental art. The vases in question are somewhat reminiscent of the Rhodian ones and have a special feature of the white smooth surface, on which they drew red-yellow or reddish animals, with strong detailed lines.

Of course, in addition to obligations, the city tempted them with the entertainment of the time. It was famous for its elaborate banquets and beautiful prostitutes. There Charaxos, brother of the poetess Sappho, was enchanted by Rhodopi whom he bought to grant her freedom. The writer Athinaios was also born here, a great personality of the city according to whom life in Naucratis had all the comforts and its inhabitants worshiped the goddess Aphrodite.

It must be emphasized that it was different from most Greek cities and was not connected to one or more metropolises, as it was originally composed of merchants coming from different Greek cities who later developed the city of Naucratis, separate from the commercial district. In the city there were separate quarters of the Milesians, the Samians and the Aeginetes while the other Greeks of the city lived intermixed.

The people in Naucratis were organized around the common Greek sanctuary Hellenius and the separate sanctuaries of the Milesians, the Samians and the Aeginetes. The “Hellenion” (temple at Naucratis, Egypt) was jointly founded by Chios, Teo, Phocaea, Clazomenes, Rhodes, Knidos, Phasili and Mytilini. In total, 12 cities shared the sanctuary (Herodotus, Histories 2.178-179). These sanctuaries were recognized by the Egyptians. The officers (protectors) appointed by the nine founding cities of the “Hellenion” in times of political unrest served as a refuge for mixed-race Greeks and managed the “trade” since at least the time of Amasis. Merchants from Miletus, Samos and Aegina controlled the market and trade in Naukratis, and by extension trade in all of Egypt.

The prodigious Grammaticus Athenian in the time of Marcus Aurelius, the author of the book entitled “Deipnosophistai”, as well as his contemporary Julius Polydeukis, who wrote a ten-book section under the title “Onomasticon” also came from Naucratis.

This prosperous city was honored with an Episcopal Throne from the 1st century AD. During the first Byzantine times, Egypt was divided into ten administrations, a system followed by the Alexandrian Church in the structure of its Provinces, as mentioned in the most ancient list of the various “Thrones of the Churches”, the one found in the Synodic of Beverigius, as well as in the one published  “from Gyaro “Kodino of Kuropalatus”.

According to the above, the ten administrative regions  (administrative and ecclesiastical)  were: 1. Aegyptus I’, 2. Augustamnica I’, 3. Augustamnica II’, 4. Arkadis, 6. Thebaid I’, 7. Thebaid II, 8. Libya Sicca I’, 9. Libya Pentapolis II, and 10. Tripoli Sirtiki.

Alexandria, Ermoupolis, Metileos, Voutos, Psaneos town, Koprideos town, Sais, Leontopolis or Latopolis, Naucratis, Andros, Nikiou town, Zenonoupolis, Paphna, Onoufis, Tava, Cleopatra, Mareotis, Menelaiton, Schedia, Thermouthis, Sondra,  belonged as sub-administratives of Egypt I.


(Source: https://arxaia-ellinika.blogspot.com και “Study on the Alexandrian Church” by Georgios I. Kipiados, Archon Great Recorder of the Patriarchate of Alexandria)