Greco-Roman Museum


a detailed mosaic, probably a floor piece (but hung on the wall)

The museum — like most of the sites we visited — was under major construction when we showed up. One whole wing is being redone, and as a result, the rather haphazard organization of artifacts is even more haphazard. Things are just sort of stacked against the walls at random.

miscellaneous heads and hands

It was a bit frustrating, of course, since the museum has one of the best collections of Roman and Greek artifacts in Egypt. Nearly 40.000 items are arranged throughout the museum, dating from about 300 BC to 300 BCE. If you follow the museum from the main entrance counter-clockwise they are in roughly chronological order.

part of a fresco of a pull pulling a waterwheel

 

Many of the displays are devoted to the Greco-Roman god Serapis who was a weird fusion of the Osiris myth with the god Dionysus. He is shown as a bearded human, or as a huge bull. The statue of the granite bull in the museum was carved during the time of Hadrian. The Romans managed to keep all the old cults while blending them with their own religion.

 

a statue of the apis bull and part of a greco-roman frieze

It led to some really odd statues, both in the museum and some carvings in the Catacombs of Shouqafa — including a bizarre Anubis in a roman tunic.

  

the odd mixture of roman and egyptian symbology

There are dozens of disembodied heads and busts in the museum, usually of the Ptolemies and Roman emperors. There is a huge headless porphyry (red stone) statue, which our guide told us was either a) a representation of Christ or b) Diocletian, who mean to exterminate the christians.

a damaged painted plaster fresco

 

the open-air garden museum

Out in the gardens is a collection of statuary, a lion-headed sphinx, a completely reconstructed temple sanctuary and tomb, and a giant head of Marc Antony.

a reconstructed sanctuary, built in the garden

stacked capitals and a font

 

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