Transfigurations of Hellenism: Aspects of Late Antique Art in Egypt, AD 250-700

By László Török | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
CONTINUITY AND CHANGE 2:
NEW PATTERNS OF MONUMENTALITY

Ashes the idol: dirt to be swept away.1


1. The imperial cult sanctuary of the Tetrarchs
in the Amûn temple of Luxor

Two serious revolts in the 290s prompted the military reorganisation of Egypt. The first revolt was suppressed in 293/4 by the Emperor Galerius at Coptos (Upper Egypt). The second was led by the usurper Lucius Domitius Domitianus, who controlled the land for almost a year: it was crushed by Diocletian in summer 298.2 After Alexandria was taken from the rebels, Diocletian travelled in summer or autumn 2983 to Egypt’s southern frontier which he decided to withdraw to Philae from Hiera Sycaminos in Lower Nubia.4 Philae was re-fortified as a frontier post.5 The reorganisation of the frontier garrison was part of a larger scheme that was motivated mainly by concerns about internal security.6 The stationing of two legions

1 Constantine Cavafy: On the outskirts of Antioch. in: Collected Poems trans. E. Keeley and P. Sherrard, ed. G. Savidis. Princeton 1992 207.

2 J.D. Thomas: The Date of the Revolt of L. Domitius Domitianus. ZPE 22 (1976) 253–279; id.: A Family Dispute from Karanis and the Revolt of Domitius Domitianus. ZPE 24 (1977) 233–240; C. Zuckerman: Les campagnes des tétrarques, 296–298. Notes de chronologie. AnTard 2 (1994) 65–70 68 ff.

3 For the date, see L. Castiglione: Diocletianus und die Blemmyes. ZÄS 96 (1970) 90–103 96 with note 17; A.K. Bowman: Papyri and Roman Imperial History. JRS 66 (1976) 153–173 159; FHN III Nos 280, 328.

4 For the history of the frontier between Egypt and Meroe from the Ptolemaic period cf. Speidel 1988; L. Török: Augustus and Meroe. Orientalia Suecana 38–39 (1989–1990) 171–190; FHN II Nos (70), (77), (83), (129), (131), III 188, 210, 220, 230, 240, 278, 292.

5 The fortified camp was not on the island but on the east bank at Shellal and was connected with the camp at Syene/Aswan by a wall, cf. Speidel 1988 773. Diocletian’s “Gate” on the island of Philae, which was built in front of the temple of Augustus at the head of stairs leading to the Nile, was in fact a triumphal arch. There were no fortification walls on Philae before the 5th century. Cf. G. Haeny: A Short Architectural History of Philae. BIFAO 85 (1985) 197–233 231 f.

6 A.D. Lee: The Army. in: CAH XIII 211–237 217 ff.

-139-

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