The Serapeum of Alexandria in the Ptolemaic Kingdom was an ancient Greek temple, Ptolemy III built it . It dedicated to Serapis, People made him the protector of Alexandria. There are also signs of Harpocrates. It refers as the daughter of the Library of Alexandria.

View of the Serapeum remains in Alexandria

The Serapeum at Alexandria was an ancient burial ground for the bulls of the Egyptian god Apis. It was  near the city of Alexandria, and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The bulls were mummified and buried in underground tombs, and were believed to be incarnations of the god Apis. The Serapeum was an important religious site in ancient Egypt, and many of the tombs were with intricate carvings and inscriptions. Today, only a few ruins of the Serapeum remain, but it is still an important historical site that provides insight into the religious beliefs and practices of ancient Egypt.

History of Serapeum

The site is on a rocky plateau, overlooking land and sea. By all accounts, the Serapeum was the largest and most magnificent of all temples in the Greek quarter of Alexandria.

Besides the image of the god, the temple precinct housed an offshoot collection of the Library of Alexandria. The geographer Strabo tells that this stood in the west of the city.

Sadly, nothing now remains above ground, except the enormous Pompey’s Pillar. According to Rowe and Rees 1956, accounts of Serapeum’s still standing buildings they saw there have been left by Aphthonius, the Greek rhetorician of Antioch “who visited it about A.D. 315”, and Rufinus, “a Christian who assisted at the destruction of [it] during the end of the fourth century”; the Pillar marks the “Acropolis” of the Serapeum in the account by Aphthonius, that is, “the upper part of the great Serapeum area”.

Closure and destruction


Firstly, the Serapeum of Alexandria closed in July of 325 AD, likely on the orders of the Christian emperor Constantine. Emperor Theodosius I (379-395) gradually made pagan feasts into workdays, banned public sacrifices, and closed pagan temples. The decree promulgated in 391 declared that “no one is to go to the sanctuaries, [or] walk through the temples”, which resulted in the abandonment of many temples throughout the Empire. This set the stage for riots in Alexandria in 391 .

According to Wace,

The Serapeum was the last stronghold of the pagans who fortified themselves in the temple and its enclosure. The sanctuary was stormed by the Christians. The pagans were driven out, the temple was sacked, and its contents were destroyed.

Roman soldiers destroyed the Serapeum  in 391 and not rebuilt. After the destruction, a monastery was established, a church was built for St. John the Baptist, known as Angelium or Evangelium. However, the church fell to ruins around 600 AD, Pope Isaac restored it (681–684 AD), and finally destroyed in the 10th century. In the 20th century, a Muslim cemetery, Bāb Sidra, was at the site.

Significantly, The destruction of the Serapeum was but the most spectacular of such conflicts, according to Peter Brown. Several other ancient, and modern authors, instead, have interpreted the destruction of the Serapeum in Alexandria as representative of the triumph of Christianity and an example of the attitude of the Christians towards pagans. However, Peter Brown frames it against a long-term backdrop of frequent mob violence in the city, where the Greek and Jewish quarters had fought during four hundred years, since the 1st century BC. Also, Eusebius mentions street-fighting in Alexandria between Christians and non-Christians, occurring as early as 249.

Lastly, There is evidence that non-Christians had taken part in citywide struggles both for and against Athanasius of Alexandria.