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.
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