So, my characters need to leave Egypt and head north following the Nile River. They find themselves arriving at a unique city, different to the Egyptian metropolis’ they had been to, and the city’s plan follows a formulated grid. The place was Naukratis, and the only Greek colony founded during the 26th Dynasty (circa 664 BC). It was the trading centre for Greeks living and/or visiting Egypt.
The beginnings of Naukratis was unique and born under the reign of Psammetich I, who wanted to thank the Greek mercenaries for helping to defeat the Assyrian forces. They helped the Egyptians reclaim their land and rule. This gave the Greeks a foothold on Egyptian soil and way for them to establish a political alliance. It was mainly the Greeks from Ionia and Caria that settled here and were the forerunners of the Ptolemies, who came 300 years later.
In the early years, the citizens of Naukratis had pretty much free rein but over time their movements were restricted. They weren’t allowed into Egypt proper and the only access they were granted was through the Canobic mouth. Naukratis, in all aspects was a Greek settlement with sanctuaries, a Hellenion which was a walled market-place and where they had built their temples. What came out of this was a new Greek colony, established further west and called Cyrene. (Read my post: A Greek settlement in North Africa)
The name Naukratis means ‘power over ships’. The site is about 70km from Alexandria and near the village Kom Ge’if (check out this website by Su Bayfield for further information).
Next stop: mainland Greece.