Greek, around 330 BC, From Priene, Asia Minor
In 336 BC Alexander the Great embarked on a programme of territorial expansion, which would eventually extend the boundaries of the Greek world to Egypt in the south and to India in the East. In 334 BC Alexander crossed the Hellespont, the narrow strait separating Europe and Asia, and went first to Troy. There he dedicated his armour to Athena and laid a wreath at the tomb of Achilles, the legendary hero and champion of the Greeks in the Trojan War. This act prefigured Alexander’s role as a new Achilles liberating the Greek cities of Asia Minor from Asiatic rule.
That same summer of 334 BC, a successful engagement with the Persian army at the river Granicus, east of Troy, opened the gates of Asia Minor, and Alexander proceeded to tour the Greek cities of the west coast, expelling their Persian garrisons.
On reaching Priene, he made a further dedication to Athena. There the townspeople were laying out their new city and building a temple to its patron goddess. Alexander offered funds to complete the temple, and the inscription on this wall block, cut into a block of marble, records his gift. The inscription was found in the nineteenth century by the architect-archaeologist Richard Pullan leading an expedition on behalf of the Society of Dilettanti. It reads: ‘King Alexander dedicated the Temple to Athena Polias’.
Source: British Museum
For some years, Egypt was under the control of the Persian King, and while other outside forces had ruled Egypt over the years, the Persians seem to have had few friends in Egypt. In fact, Egyptian elements had already mounted revolts, weakening the Kings hold over the country when Alexander the Great arrived at Egypt’s border in the Sinai during October of 332 BC. The Egyptians, apparently seeking any relief from the Persian ruler, seem to have almost welcomed Alexander with open arms, so his armies met little resistance. Soon, he arrived with his army in Memphis, where he made an offering to the Apis bull and was crowned king of Egypt. He took as his Egyptian throne name, Setp n Ra Mery Amun.
Alexander’s visit to the Western desert Siwa Oasis to consult with the Oracle of Amun, where his kingship was made divine as the son of Amun, is well documented. But apparently, this great warrior who was also one of histories grandest politicians, gained considerable respect in other areas of the Western Desert as well. Some Egyptologists believe that he may very well have traveled through the Bahariya Oasis on the way back to his new capital, Alexandria, on Egypt’s northern coast. This oasis prospered considerably during his rule, and counted among its population many Greeks.
The temple of Alexander the Great located in the Bahariya Oasis has the distinction of being the Macedonian ruler’s only known temple in Egypt. The temple was built during Alexander’s lifetime and dedicated to Amun and Horus.
Ahmed Fakhry never found the stela of Tuthmose II that he was searching for when he stumbled across the temple in 1938, but this discovery, very near the (then unknown) Valley of the Golden Mummies, most certainly made up for that failure. It was to be Fakhry’s last day in the Bahariya Oasis and he was exploring a spring called Ain el-Tabinieh, about three miles west of El Qasr (Bawiti), that had been mentioned by Sir Gardner Wilkinson in 1837. Here, he discovered a mound surrounded by stones that he thought might be a New Kingdom temple.