The Ancient City of Alexandria, Part 1: Rise, Fall, and Pursuit of Knowledge

Known as the intellectual capital of its time, beloved by ancient scholars and scientists, and home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the ancient Egyptian capital of Alexandria earned an impressive reputation over its centuries-long history—one it maintained even beyond the relocation of Egypt’s capital several hundred years ago. At the height of its influence, Alexandria was considered the seat of intellectual discourse in the ancient world.

The city of Alexandria was first conceived by Alexander the Great in the form of a dream. His vision revealed Rhakotis, a small port town on the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, as the perfect site for his empire’s capital. Alexander felt the town’s climate, location, and harbors would best realize his ultimate dream: an intellectual hub where people of all cultures and religions could come together freely and share their knowledge of the world.

Shortly after he founded Alexandria in 331 BCE, Alexander left Egypt to march on Tyre in Phoenicia. His commander stayed behind to build the city in his stead, but the vision for Alexandria wouldn’t be fully realized until after Alexander’s death in 323 BCE. His body was returned to the city by his general, Ptolemy Soter, who established the Ptolemaic Dynasty and oversaw the full expansion of Alexandria during his reign over Egypt.

After Tyre was destroyed, Alexandria would soon overtake its position as an important city for scholarship and commerce. The city gained a reputation as the intellectual capital of the world, as well as a leading cultural center with its diverse religious population. Greek scholars, mathematicians, philosophers, scientists, engineers, astronomers, and poets, as well as Roman emperors and religious figures, would flock to Alexandria to visit its great library and museum. It grew into one of the largest and most prosperous known cities in the world at the time, attracting great scholars like Eratosthenes, Euclid, Archimedes, and Hero.

Although Alexandria fell to the Muslim Arab forces in 642 CE and a new Egyptian capital was founded thereafter, its influence is still felt around the world today. It may be best known for the great Lighthouse of Pharos, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders, as well as the Library of Alexandria, which was estimated to hold over 500,000 books. While neither of these structures have survived the city’s long history, they still serve as testaments to ancient Alexandria’s cultural diversity and commitment to the pursuit of knowledge.

At the height of its power, the ancient city of Alexandria was so ingrained in the popular imagination that it became a timeless legend. At Calevoso Law, we are dedicated to working with innovators, intellectuals, and creative minds who strive to influence the world around them. Give our attorneys a call to take advantage of the legal tools you’ll need to make your mark on the entertainment industry.