Egyptian diasporas: Inscriptional evidence

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Egyptian diasporas: Inscriptional evidence,' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified February 15, 2023,

Comments: Egyptians could be found settled in various parts of the eastern Mediterranean world. Like other immigrants, they were prone to form associations in which to socialize with fellow-Egyptians and honour ancestral deities. In some cases it is clear that mercantile activity brought such people, as with the Alexandrian businessmen in Thrace (who may well be Greeks rather than Egyptians in a broader sense).  There are many instances in which such Egyptians continued to honour Egyptian deities or to establish temples for those deities.

Due to its narrative about migration and settlement itself, one of the most fascinating inscriptions that has come to us is the “Story Concerning a Temple for the Egyptian God Sarapis” (link).  Once again the Greek island of Delos supplies a glimpse into immigrant life.  In this case, the narrator is a third generation priest of the Egyptian god Sarapis, and he reflects back on when his grandfather brought with him his god from Egypt in the first place. However, it seems some tensions continued to exist between these Egyptians and others who contested the building of the sanctuary.


Athens and the Piraeus

Delos island

Rhodes island

Thrace and Moesia

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