The Eastern Mediterranean has been in the headlines over the years as an object of sharply varying representations. It is a junction of three continents and is known to connect three major countries including Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Research indicates that Egypt had a strong connection or relation to other cultures in the Mediterranean. In other words, Egypt played a crucial role in the transmission of cultural and religious ideas and practices across the Mediterranean.
According to Abulafia, one of the roles of Egypt in the transmission of cultural ideas across the Mediterranean is that it served as an export destination for various cultural artifacts from other countries in the region (24). The highlands of Crete were known for pottery and other exotic objects such as pieces of ivory, ostrich egg, and faience. Melos was known for its large quantities of obsidian. Moreover, Knossos was known for its production of a special type of cloth. These materials were exported to neighboring lands such as Egypt. Other goods exported to Egypt and other countries in the region were enormous jars that were used primarily for the storage of oil and other goods as well as products of eggshell-thin pottery. In addition to acting as an export destination in the Mediterranean region, Egypt had an influence on the naming of some of the cultural sites and towns such as Amnisos (Abulafia 25).
Abulafia further argues that one of the hallmarks of civilization in the Mediterranean was the inception of writing (25). Scribes facilitated the spread of writing as a practice and they majorly used it in religious contexts. Another major function of writing was the maintenance of accounts by the scribes who as a result, enjoyed an efficient and demanding administration (25). Most of the writing in the Mediterranean region drew inspiration from Egyptian writing. For instance, the Cretan script used symbols that resembled Egyptian hieroglyphs (Abulafia 25). The only difference came between the Egyptian language and other languages such as the Cretan language that because of its sound system, had signs that were quite un-Egyptian. Abulafia argues that although the idea of writing was borrowed from Egypt by other Greek and other cultures, the Egyptian writing system was not.
Other than its role in the transmission of the mentioned cultural ideas and aspects across the Mediterranean region, Egypt also had a role to play in the transmission of religious ideas in the region. Persia had a leader known as Alexander who traversed the Mediterranean region. He took control of many countries in the region thanks to his influence and power. Alexander traveled to Canopus and sailed around Lake Mareotis and disembarked at a site in Egypt, which is the present-day Alexandria. It was in Alexandria that he made a decision on where the agora was to be built. Alexander also decided how many temples were to be established in the area as well as the gods to which the temples were to be dedicated. The religious practices that started in the Egyptian city of Alexandria later spread to other neighboring lands.
In sum, Egypt played various roles as a node in the transmission of cultural and religious ideas and practices across the Mediterranean. The country acted as an export destination for various cultural artifacts produced by neighboring lands. Also, most of the writing in the Mediterranean region drew inspiration from Egyptian writing. It can also be seen that the city of Alexandria in Egypt was chosen as a key religious site where temples were built. The religious practices in Alexandria later spread to other countries in the Mediterranean region.
Abulafia, David. The great sea: a human history of the Mediterranean. Oxford University Press, 2011.