According to archaeological excavations, Ancient Egypt had its very own version of ‘Hong-Kong’.
Recent excavations have revealed the existence of an ancient Greek colony of extremely great commercial importance in the Nile delta: Naukratis. Studies have revealed that its importance is far greater than previously thought. According to reports from researchers, over 10,000 artifacts have been discovered revealing very important details about the trading port established by the ancient Greeks. The excavation which is led by the British museum has unearthed a series of major discoveries including shrines to deities, jewelry, amulets and statues, among many other items in what is believed to be Ancient Greece’s earliest settlement in northern Africa. The settlement is believed to have been of great importance and value and dates back from the seventh century.
The British Museum wrote on its website:
“Naukratis was frequented by traders from many Greek cities as well as by Phoenicians and Cypriots; it became famous for its elaborate symposia (dining parties) and beautiful hetairai (courtesans).
“Naukratis functioned as the main trading port in the Western Nile Delta until the foundation of Alexandria and continued to be significant also throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Officers (prostatai) appointed by the nine founding cities of the Hellenion administered the emporion (Greek trading post) at least from the time of Amasis. Imports into Egypt included wine, oil, and silver, and exports from Egypt grain, flax, natron, papyrus, perfume and other semi-luxuries.
“In the seventh century BC, Egypt once more opened up to the Mediterranean world, developing close contacts with other civilizations such as Greece. Egyptian Pharaohs of the Saite dynasty employed Greek mercenaries in their army. Greek goods appeared in Egypt and Egyptian goods in Greece. Greek culture began to incorporate Egyptian traits, based on first-hand knowledge of Egyptian monuments and ideas.
The precise location of the site was given by an English Egyptologist in 1884, but after several excavations archeologists came to believe that the settlement was small and decided not to continue the search.
Dr Ross Thomas, the British Museum curator who leads the project, told the Guardian’s Observer: “It’s exceptionally rare. To find [Greek ships] this far into Egypt is exciting.
“Previously, people thought the ships just stopped at the Mediterranean [coast] and offloaded on to barges. We can now confirm for the first time that seagoing vessels travelled this far into Egypt.”
“[…] excavations suggest that in its prime, the city once was the home to 16,000 residents and that inscriptions around the city detail the lives of the inhabitants. “There are more Greek inscriptions of the sixth century from Naukratis than in any Greek sanctuary. They tell us a lot about the traders: there are some women represented; usually, it’s just male traders. There are characters that also appear in other Greek cities, so we can start to track where people are coming from, he added.”
Archaeologists have found remains of Greek ships, amphorae and Egyptian terracotta figurines dedicated to the ‘festival of drunkenness “among more than 10,000 objects. Researchers pointed out that now Naukratis should be regarded as “the Hong Kong of his time.”