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MAREA: Political Geography

Mediterranean > Egypt > Cities > Marea

The principal settlement of the Mareotis, which gave its name to the region, was Mare(i)a. It has since 1866, when el Falaki made the suggestion, been identified by some scholars with extensive remains of a port on the south side of the western extension of the lake, about 45 km from Alexandria. Nearby are important villas with wine-production facilities, including a double villa probably used as a way-station for pilgrims to the sanctuary of St. Menas. Recent scholarship, led by M. Rodziewicz, has challenged this identification, arguing that the port, which has no known earlier remains or pottery, is the late antique Philoxenite, a 5th century construction to serve pilgrims headed to Abu Mina. If this is correct, the location of Marea itself remains to be settled. J.-Y. Empereur has suggested Ammareya (El-Amrieh), about 13 km northeast of the port, as a possibility. Other scholars, including Gauthier and Kees, have preferred Kom el-Idris, near modern Mirgheb, still further to the northeast on the peninsula that marks the separation of the western extension of the lake from the basin near Alexandria.

The Mareotic nome extended to the west of the lake as far as Kashn el Eish and perhaps to Marina el Alamein, probably to be identified with Leukaspis/Antiphrae of the ancient geographers. Its territory included the narrow coastal strip north of the lake (the Tainia) and the more extensive lands extending south of the lake.

Mareotis was part of Egypt until in 538 the emperor Justinian detached it from Aegyptus Prima and added it to the diocese of Libya (Edict 13. 1.9.17-22). It never had its own bishop, but was directly under the control of the bishop of Alexandria.

Bagnall, Roger, "Marea." Electronic Encyclopædia of the Ancient World. EEAW, Inc., 2002. (Accessed ).