Alexander the Great arrived in Egypt in 332 BC. After defeating the Persian emperor Darius for control of Syria and the Levant, Alexander marched to Egypt. At the time, Egypt was a satrapy in the Persian Empire, held loosely under Persian control since the decline of the Ancient Egyptian Empire at the end of the 7th century BC. Alexander and his army of Greeks were regarded as liberators and to cement the Oracle of Amun at Siwa Oasis pronounced him the new ‘master of the universe’ and a descendent of the Egyptian god Amun.
Alexander did not stay in Egypt long. By 331 BC he was on his way west to complete his conquest of the Persian Empire, but the impact of his conquest in Egypt was significant. Alexander respected Egyptian culture and religion, but he installed a Greek government to control his administration of Egypt. Greek influence in Egypt was reinforced by the settlement of Greek veterans throughout Egypt, where they became a privileged aristocracy that gradually assimilated with the Egyptians. Alexander also founded a new Greek capital, Alexandria, located on the Mediterranean at the mouth of the Nile. Although Alexander would never return to Egypt, dying in Babylon in 323 BC, the Greek rule that he established proved more enduring. In the crisis after Alexander’s death, Ptolomy, one of his generals, claimed Egypt as his kingdom and established hereditary rule. The Ptolomaic Dynasty would last until the Romans conquered Egypt in 32 BC.
Alexandria emerged as a great city in the Mediterranean and a center of Hellenism, spreading Greek learning and culture. It was the site of the legendary Ancient Library of Alexandria and the Pharos Lighthouse, which was built on the site where Qaitbey Citadel stands today. .