Naucratis (Mejia)

Carlos Mejia Jr.

What was Naucratis?

According to Herodotus, Naucratis was a settlement as well as a trading post established by the Greeks that had a joint venture to twelve different places: “Ionians from Samos, Miletos, Chios, Teos, Phokaia and Klazomenai; Dorians from Rhodes, Knidos, Halikarnassos and Phaselis; Aiolionas from Mytilene on Lesbos and the people of Aigina, the island close to Athens.” (Villing) Although Naucratis was across the Mediterranean Sea from its twelve trading areas, it became a very successful trade route between Greece and Egypt. Naucratis, along with its sister port, Thonis/Herakleion, protected the Canopic branch from marauders and began a long series of trading ports across the Nile River.

Who was in Naucratis?

Amasis, who was a friend of Greece, was a Pharaoh in Egypt that oversaw Naucratis and its trade. He let anyone who came to Egypt live in Naucratis to start their new lives as a kind gesture. Those who did not want to live there were allowed to build sanctuaries for their personal gods. The cities of Rhodes, Cnidus, Halicarnassus, and many more all founded the largest and most famous sanctuary called the Hellenion. The city was very diverse, besides having Greeks and Egyptians live there, Cypriots, Persians, and Phoenicians were the most notable.


Where was Naucratis located?

The settlement was located on the Canopic branch of the Nile River, approximately seventy-two kilometers southeast of the open sea and Alexandria. Its sister port, a harbor town called Thonis/Herakleion, was located just downstream at the mouth of the branch. With recent discovery, historians have found extensive canals and harbor infrastructure underwater between the two ports that show that Thonis/Herakleion was the first port for ships en route to Naucratis.

Who has visited Naucratis?

Being one of the main ports, Naucratis was expected to see an abundance of traders, as well as their goods. Greek aristocrat Charaxos, who was the brother of archaic Greek Poet, Sappho, was well known for trading wine from Lesbos in order to fund for his ‘sightseeing’ voyage. It is said that Athenian statesman, Solon, has traveled to Egypt for both business and to see the country. The most notable individual would be Plato, who was constantly trading olive oil in exchange for this voyage to Egypt.


What kind of trade happened?

The main target of goods that were worth the most was the goods that were foreign to Egypt. Lebanon trading their wine and wood was a huge focus while Greece would trade olive oil in amphorae. The Phoenicians took a huge part in trading, being the ones that travelled the most. Historians have translated an Aramaic tax register from an unknown port that had a list of Phoenician ships sailing to Naucratis with an abundance of imported goods to trade. They brought in Sidonian wine, cedar wood, a variety of metals, Samian Earth, and building materials. Within archaeology, it is different to determine exactly what else was traded, due to the fact that several of natural resources were perishable. Egypt traded grain, papyrus, alum, and natron, which were some of the most important goods to come across of.

Why was Naucratis important in Ancient Greece history?

Not only was it the main trade route between Greece and Egypt, but it also extended all across the Mediterranean. The most notable were between East Greece to the Phoenician coast, Cyprus, mainland Greece, the Nile Delta, North Africa, Sardinia, Etruria and Spain. Within all the trading, several different cultures were able to adapt with all the newly founded resources. What one country lacked in resources, there was a possibly that it would be for trade in the port of Naucratis.


How does Naucratis look now?

Now, Naucratis is located near the modern villages of Kom Ge’if, Nebira and El-Neqrash. About sixteen kilometers west of the Rosetta branch of the Nile and fifteen kilometers east of the Libyan plain. It does not have an direct lines to the Nile anymore , even though in past times it was on the eastern bank of the Canopic Nile branch. Very few structures are still standing today, such as pillars and several staircases but not enough stands to determine that it was once a great port of Egypt.

Work Cited

Villing, Alexandra. “Naucratis: A City and Trading Port in Egypt.” British Musuem. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.



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