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Oracle of Siwa

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Done for my project about Alexander the Great.

During the early phase of Alexander’s campaign, Egypt surrendered to the Macedonian army without a fight. Although the Persians were known for their tolerance towards the conquered nations, their long rule in Egypt had not always been well received by the natives of the Nile, particularly for religious differences between both civilizations. Around the same time as the Persian invasion of Egypt, the Greeks founded Cyrene, a coastal colony in the neighbouring Libya. Not far from Cyrene, but deep in the Sahara Desert, there was an oasis inhabited by Libyan Berbers that had received a strong influx of Egyptian culture, the Siwa Oasis. The Greek Cyrene and the Egyptian Siwa Oasis stablished contact with each other, reason why the Oracle of Amun, an important temple located at Siwa and dedicated to the god Amun, was famous among the Greeks. Alexander was proclaimed pharaoh at Memphis, one of the ancient capitals of Egypt. But that wasn’t enough for him. He had been told by his mother from an early age that Philip II of Macedon wasn’t his father, but Zeus was. The Greeks identified the Egyptian god Amun with Zeus, so Alexander took his men with him and began a pilgrimage across the Sahara to Siwa, looking for answers from the Gods. The journey was hard, with a torrid climate, no water, sandstorms, snakes and scorpions beneath the dunes. The Macedonians described that desert as an endless sea of sand. They finally reached the oasis, where a massive palm tree forest and water springs still exist today. The priests received Alexander in the temple of Amun, where they confirmed that Amun was his father. From that moment on, Alexander would refer to Philip as his mortal father, but he would start referring to himself as son of Zeus (also called Zeus Ammon), and coins would depict Alexander with ram horns, symbol of Amun.


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