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Greeks in Egypt

 
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 3:46 pm    Post subject: Greeks in Egypt Reply with quote

Is it true that many of the famous Greek philosophers, mathematicians and scientists studied in Egypt? I'm sure some of them went to Alexandria (it was quite an intellectual centre i think-i mean, it had the library!)

But I've seen several sources saying that Pythagoras, Plato and Ptolemy were initiated in 'Egyptian mysteries' or were 'taught in Egypt'. Is there any truth to this? I even saw one book saying that Pythagoras got his famous theorem from the Egyptians who 'invented the 3-4-5 triangle'. (I'm sure Anneke can help with this Wink )

I'm full of questions today because tomorrow I'm starting college so it means I may not go to this forum much...
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think quite few of the great greek intellectuals ended up at Alexandria. I know for sure that Euclid was there.
I think it may have been because it was the greatest center of learning in the western world at that point. (Kind of like people from many nationalities converging on Princeton or Cambridge now).

I don't know when the influx of the Greeks began.
Nectanebo (Nakhtnebef in Egyptian) was the first ruler of the 30th dynasty. This was supposedly the last true Egyptian dynasty. They would be followed by the Ptolemies after the invasion of Alexander the Great.

Touregypt (article by Jimmy Dunn):
Quote:
Nectanebo I was the son of General Djedhor, perhaps a descendent of Nepherites I. He was probably a close associate of the Athenian general, Khabrias (Chabrias), who had commanded the Greek mercenaries that formed the core of Hakoris' army in the later part of that king's reign Khabrias probably helped Nectanebo in his rise to power, though he was later recalled to Athens in the winder of 380/379 BC. It is known that Nectanebo I married a lady with the Greek name Ptolemais, and it is not unlikely that she was a daughter of Khabrias.


So there may have been some presence of Greeks even before Alexander ever got there.
The Library of Alexandria was started under the second Ptolemy, so that was much later. I don't know when the Greek scientists, philosophers etc started to make their way to Egypt.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anneke wrote:
The Library of Alexandria was started under the second Ptolemy, so that was much later. I don't know when the Greek scientists, philosophers etc started to make their way to Egypt.

Not sure about that one as well, but during the 26th Saïte dynasty Amasis rose to power after deposing Apriës (Wahibre). This happened after Apriës had sent Amasis to quell a revolt in the Cyrenaica (Lybian-Tunisian coastal region). When he got there, Amasis took the side of the rebels though and instigated his coup. In this "colony" of the Cyrenaica there was a rather large Greek immigrant population and they'd form the backbone of the revolutionary forces. Amasis married the daughter of the Cyrenaican leader, who very probably was one of these Greek immigrants. The name of his daughter escapes me. Back in homeland Egypt Amasis founded Naucratis, a city in the Delta, becoming a settlement strictly intended for the housing of Greek mercenary forces (since Egyptians and these Greek soldiers didn't seem to find each other very "amusing"). This goes back to the 7th century BC, quite a while before the time of Alexander already.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did find this quote:

It was at the library that Archimedes invented the screw-shaped water pump that is still in use today. At Alexandria Eratosthenes measured the diameter of the Earth, and Euclid discovered the rules of geometry.

Ptolemy wrote the Almagest at Alexandria. This was the most influential scientific book about the nature of the Universe for 1,500 years.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They knew the diameter of the earth? That means they knew it was round...and I thought that at the time people thought the earth was flat!!!
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
They knew the diameter of the earth? That means they knew it was round...and I thought that at the time people thought the earth was flat!!!


Eratosthenes had observed that the shadows of sticks of the same height had different length shadows depending on where you were.
He (correctly) deduced that the earth's surface had the be curved and then figured out the diameter.

The scientists of that time really were very good. Too bad so much of that knowledge was lost to the west for centuries.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Segereh wrote:

Not sure about that one as well, but during the 26th Saïte dynasty Amasis rose to power after deposing Apriës (Wahibre). This happened after Apriës had sent Amasis to quell a revolt in the Cyrenaica (Lybian-Tunisian coastal region). When he got there, Amasis took the side of the rebels though and instigated his coup. In this "colony" of the Cyrenaica there was a rather large Greek immigrant population and they'd form the backbone of the revolutionary forces. Amasis married the daughter of the Cyrenaican leader, who very probably was one of these Greek immigrants. The name of his daughter escapes me. Back in homeland Egypt Amasis founded Naucratis, a city in the Delta, becoming a settlement strictly intended for the housing of Greek mercenary forces (since Egyptians and these Greek soldiers didn't seem to find each other very "amusing"). This goes back to the 7th century BC, quite a while before the time of Alexander already.


I read that the Greeks had already been part of Psamtik I's army. It seems that he was able to gain power after alligning himself with the daughter of Montuemhet, who was the God's Wife of Amun.

Touregypt:
He (Psametik) was able to insert his own daughter, Nitokris, as her successor. He was therefor able to effect both secular and religious ties that were to hold his growing presence in Egypt together, while he went after his Delta opponents. In order to do this, he raised a conscript army, as well as employing the services of mercenaries, many of whom were Greek, including Carians. This involvement with foreign mercenaries apparently caused some concern about their control within Egypt, and archaeological evidence suggests that sites such as Naukratis, among others, were established to facilitate this, along with offering Egypt an increased commercial presence within the Mediterranean world.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They were clever boffins indeed...is it true that an Alexandrian scientist also discovered that the earth orbited the sun before Copernicus did?
(I also heard on a TV programme that Arab astronomers at Timbuktu discovered this before copernicus. But who really discovered it first-the Arabs, the Greeks or Copernicus?)

Seems like Alexandria was like the Harvard or the Oxford of the time-where all the brainy people of the ancient world gathered.
Does anyone know anything about Pythagoras and if he studied in Egypt?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's an article about Naukratis on touregypt:
http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/naukratis.htm


A quote:
"Herodotus tells us that Ahmose II gave the site to the Greeks, along with a monopoly on sea trade to Egypt. He also tells us that it was the first and only city in which the early Greek merchants were allowed to settle and so from that standpoint along the city has considerable historical importance. However, historians believe that Ahmose only reorganized an existing settlement of foreigners, providing them with new trading privileges. We know of the city's existence from at least 688 BC due to a passage of Athenaios in which he mentions a merchant of Naukratis trading there from Cyprus in the twenty-third Olympiad. Besides, Herodotos tells us that Ahmoses "gave the city of Naukratis ", indicating that the city existed to be given. In fact, Petrie provides some evidence that the city existed from a very remote time, though most of his earliest discoveries appear to date no earlier then the middle of the seventh century BC."
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Segereh wrote:
Amasis married the daughter of the Cyrenaican leader, who very probably was one of these Greek immigrants.


I have only heard of Nectanebo marrying a Greek woman (Ptolemais).
I looked at touregypt and Amasis = Ahmose II was the son of a general and the lady Takheredeneset

He married two women by the names of Tentheta and Nakhtsebastetru. He may have had a third wife named Khedebneithireretbeneret, who was actually a daughter of his great nemesis, Apries.

What's with those names anyway? They remind me more of the names of some of the Nubians.
I hope for Khedebneithireretbeneret's sake that they had a cute nickname for her Twisted Evil

I'm only partially kidding. The names do not sound traditional ancient egyptian to me. (i'm defnitely not arguing that they are Greek either Smile)
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Meresankh
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2004 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
They were clever boffins indeed...is it true that an Alexandrian scientist also discovered that the earth orbited the sun before Copernicus did?
(I also heard on a TV programme that Arab astronomers at Timbuktu discovered this before copernicus. But who really discovered it first-the Arabs, the Greeks or Copernicus?)

Seems like Alexandria was like the Harvard or the Oxford of the time-where all the brainy people of the ancient world gathered.
Does anyone know anything about Pythagoras and if he studied in Egypt?


Indeed, Alexandria was the main intellectual centre of the Western world from ALexander the Great's time up to the decline of the Roman Empire. Eratosthenes' estimate of the size of the Earth was not much off modern measurements actually. Aristotle seems to have been the first person to mention the notion that the Earth and planets could circle the sun, though he favoured the geocentric theory. Later the idea was revived by a Greek called Aristarchos who lived c.310-230BC. It wouldn't really be true to say that the Greeks 'discovered' that the planets orbited the sun, however, just that they speculated on this matter. The geocentric system was always favoured.

During the dark ages, it was the Arabs who largely preserved the Greek legacy, and eventually passed it on to Western Europe. So it's not surprising that there should be old documents at Timbuktu (where there was an Islamic academy from the 14th century onwards) showing the planets orbiting the sun, as this idea was definitely known to the Arabs. There was also an Indian astronomer called Aryabhata who proposed on this in the 5th century AD, so the Arabs might have been influenced by him too.

There is a long tradition that Pythagoras studied in Egypt as a young man, though there's no certain proof of this. It does however seem likely that geometry and astronomy were introduced to the Greeks from Egypt and Mesopotamia, as they had been studied there for thousands of years before the Greeks.
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