One of his achievements was this barque shrine in Luxor Temple, which presented him as the legitimate heir of the pharaohs.
Much of eastern Mediterranean was under Persian control until 333 B.C. when Alexander's forces trounced King Darius III at the Battle of Issus in what is today southern Turkey.
Alexander's plan was to control the Mediterranean coast and deprive the Persians of their naval bases before moving inland to finish off Darius' empire once and for all.
After 12 months spent devastating Persian strongholds, Alexander arrived in Egypt in October 332 B.C. The local satrap wisely surrendered without a fight.
With his sights set on pursuing Darius, Alexander's time in Egypt was brief. However, his six months there changed the course of Egypt's history. During this time he founded Alexandria, was crowned as pharaoh at Memphis, visited the famous (and highly regarded in Greece) Ammon oracle at the Siwa Oasis in the Libyan desert, and commissioned a barque shrine at the heart of Luxor Temple.
The room in which the shrine stands was originally built by Amenhotep III as an antechamber to the innermost sanctuary containing the cult statue of Amun.
Inside the shrine, reliefs show Alexander portrayed as the rightful Egyptian king, accompanied by various gods. On the right, the headpieces of Amun-Re and Khonsu can clearly be seen.
Above these scenes is a dedication formula that acknowledges Alexander's esteemed ancestor: "He [Alexander] has created the great chamber anew in white and beautiful sandstone after it existed since the time of the majesty of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebmaatre, Son of Re Amenhotep, Ruler of Thebes."
Alexander's barque shrine wasn't commissioned on a whim. Luxor Temple celebrated and perpetuated the divine royal ka. Each year the spirit of kingship that linked the living king with the gods and all his royal predecessors was renewed with great ceremony. By carving his presence into the walls of the barque shrine, Alexander was now ordained into the everlasting cycle of kingship.
Less than 10 years later, however, Alexander the Great was dead. The royal ka now passed to his general, Ptolemy, who took control of Egypt and founded a new dynasty, destined to last some 300 years; Alexander's greatest legacy.
Photo by AirPano.
Enjoyed this article? Want to know more about ancient Egypt? Subscribe and have Nile Magazine delivered to your door. Enjoy your Nile time!