Egypt and its many relations with ancient Sicily

Conference in Cairo, from Anubis dogs to Archimedes' ship

19 November, 13:13

    CAIRO - Eugenio Benedetti Gaglio, president of the Italian Charity Society (SIB), held a conference in Cairo titled "Relations Between Egypt and Ancient Sicily", which looked at various aspects of the topic at hand, including ancient Anubis guard dogs, the giant ship designed by Archimedes, and Arab leaders.
    The conference took place in collaboration with the Italian Institute of Culture, and began tracing history from 401 BC, when Dionysius I of Syracuse, the king, moved the people of Mendolito, an ancient Sicilian city, to Etna.
    There, he founded a temple dedicated to the divinities Adr e Anuthe, and thus was born Adranu, in honour of Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead.
    It was guarded by thousands of dogs of the "Pharoah Hound" breed, which has survived through to modern times.
    Relations between Sicily and Egypt influenced Sicilian customs and fashions, as well as prosperous trade between the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Kingdom of Syracuse.
    The relationship saw its culmination in the marriage in 306 BC between the King of Syracuse, Agathocles, and the princess Theoxena, daughter of Ptolemy I.
    Benedetti Gaglio, winner of the 2018 Telamone Prize, recalled how Ptolemy I arrived in Sicily with a procession of elephants and a temple of Isis, which was also reported by Cicero in 70 AC.
    The height of these relations was reached with the Syracusia, a 110-metre ship designed by Archimedes and built in 240 BC at a Sicilian naval shipyard.
    The ship, powered by oars, could hold 1,100 tons of cargo and a crew of 500 men.
    It was the largest ship in antiquity, and was sent by Hiero II of Syracuse as a gift to the pharoah of Egypt Ptolemy III.
    The ship was a true floating city, with seven decks depicting the city of Syracuse.
    It included tiered gardens with trees, temples, marble baths and gyms with mosaic flooring, a sundial, 20,000-litre water tanks, eight catapults, and ballistae for archers.
    According to reports, in Alexandria Ptolemy had it brought on dry land and turned it into his residential palace.
    In his journey through the centuries, Benedetti Gaglio told the story of the Arab-Sicilian leader Jawhar al-Siqilli (Jawhar the Sicilian), who was born in Ibla (modern-day Ragusa) in 911.
    Jawhar conquered all of North Africa and created the Fatimid Caliphate, founded the city of Cairo, and had the Al-Azhar Mosque built there.

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