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Roman amphitheater of Alexandria at Kom El Dekka

alexandria amphitheater

Roman amphitheater, the only one of its kind uncovered in Egypt.

The meaning of the word Kom EL Dekka

Named after a man who passed by this area at the beginning of the 20th century. At the end of the 19th century, El Neweiry saw the many piles of rubble and sand formed by the digging of the Mahmoudiya Canal that connected Alexandria to the Nile River These piles looked just like some huge banks and he gave the area its famous name.

The discovery of the amphitheater

The Roman amphitheater of Alexandria was discovered by chance in 1960.

In 1960, when workers were removing a pile of dust and sand to clear the land for the construction of a government building, they found some massive iron columns that indicated that something might be buried underneath. Immediately thereafter, excavation work began at the Kom El Dekka site and was carried out by the Greco-Roman Museum and the Polish Excavation Mission to Egypt sponsored by the University of Warsaw. Shortly after, the excavation revealed one of the most important discoveries in Egypt in the 20th century.

The use of the Roman amphitheater in different periods of time

The Roman amphitheater was used for various artistic events such as musical concerts and until the 7th century AD. This fact was proved by the architectural elements present in the theater, which show that it was used in three different periods; in the and the

The amphitheater was used for different purposes in its long history and in different periods.

It was used as an odeum, where musical events were performed during the Roman period. The theater at that time had all the elements to allow a perfect performance, such as the dome that once stood above the stage and the section of the orchestra.

In the Byzantine era, the theater was used as a conference hall, where important meetings such as public assemblies and government summits were once held.

The Roman amphitheater was most likely neglected in the early Islamic period and after until it was rediscovered in the mid-20th century to become one of the wonderful historical sites of the city of Alexandria.

The description of the amphitheater

The Roman amphitheater that we see today in Alexandria was built in the 4th century AD and was an example of the architecture of the Greco-Roman period. Amphitheaters were special covered theaters built during the reign of the Romans in Egypt for music ceremonies and poetry competitions.

The amphitheater has a marble audience area symmetrical to the extended wing that can hold 600 spectators.

The audience area has a diameter of about 33 meters and consists of 13 rows of European white marble. The uppermost part is a portico of granite columns, originating from Aswan, some of which are still standing today. The thirteen rows of the Roman amphitheater of Alexandria were numbered with Roman numerals and letters to regulate the seating of the audience on different occasions.

There were also five sections at the top of the audience area where important personalities and wealthy merchants were seated during performances.

These compartments once had ceilings with domes based on large granite columns to protect the audience from the sun and rain. In addition, these domes were used to magnify the sound of music and chants during various performances. Unfortunately, all these structures were destroyed during the earthquake in Alexandria in the 6th century AD. The earthquake also caused damage to many other important structures such as the famous Pharos Lighthouse, where the Qaitbey Fort now stands.

The steps and rows of the Roman amphitheater are based on a thick white limestone wall, which is also surrounded by another wall. These two walls were connected by a series of arches in which the outer wall supports the inner wall, a feature of Roman architecture from the 2nd to the 4th century.

In the center of the structure is the area of the orchestra, where the musical performances used to take place. This section is supported by two large marble columns and displays some of the most beautiful Roman mosaics on the floor.

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