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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


MAREIA (Ancient city) EGYPT
  Mareia or Marea (Marea, Herod. ii. 18, 30; Mareia, Thucyd. i. 104; Mareia, Steph. Byz. s. v.; Maria, Diod. ii. 68 ; Palai Mareia kome, Ptol. iv. 5. § 34), the modern Mariouth, and the chief town of the Mareotic Nome, stood on a peninsula in the south of the lake Mareotis, nearly due south of Alexandreia, and adjacent to the mouth of the canal which connected the lake with the Canopic arm of the Nile. Under the Pharaohs Mareia was one of the principal frontier garrisons of Aegypt on the side of Libya; but from the silence of Herodotus (ii. 30) we may infer that the Persians did not station troops there. In all ages, however, until it was eclipsed by the neighbouring greatness of Alexandreia, Mareia, as the nearest place of strength to the Libyan desert, must have been a town of great importance to the Delta. At Maria, according to Diodorus (ii. 681), Amasis defeated the Pharaoh-Apries, Hofra, or Psammetichus; although Herodotus (ii. 161) places this defeat at Momemphis. (Herod. ii. 169.) At Mareia, also, according to Thucydides (i. 104; comp. Herod. iii. 12), Inarus, the son of Psammetichus, reigned, and organised the revolt of Lower Aegypt against the Persians. Under the Ptolemies, Mareia continued to flourish as a harbour; but it declined under the Romans, and in the age of the Antonines--the second century A.D.- it had dwindled into a village. (Comp. Athen. i. 25, p. 33, with Eustath. ad Homer. Odyss. ix. 197.)
  Mareia was the principal depot of the trade of the Mareotic Lake and Nome. The vineyards in its vicinity produced a celebrated wine, which Athenaeus (l. c.) describes as remarkable for its sweetness, white in colour, in quality excellent, light, with a fragrant bouquet: it was by no means astringent, and did not affect the head. (Comp. Plin. xiv. 3; Strab. xvii. p. 796.) Some, however, deemed the Mareotic wine inferior to that of Anthylla and Tenia; and Columella (R. R. iii. 2) says that it was too thin for Italian palates, accustomed to the fuller-bodied Falernian. Virgil (Georg. ii. 91) describes the Mareotic grape as white, and growing in a rich soil; yet the soil of the vineyards around the Mareotic Lake was principally composed of gravel, and lay beyond the reach of the alluvial deposit of the Nile, which is ill suited to viticulture. Strabo (xvii. p. 799) ascribes to the wine of Mareia the additional merit of keeping well to a great age; and Horace ( Od. i. 37) mentions it as a favourite beverage of Cleopatra.
  Mareia, from its neighbourhood to Alexandreia, was so generally known to Roman travellers, that among the Latin poets, the words Mareia and Mareotic became synonymous with Aegypt and Aegyptian. Thus Martial (Ep. xiv. 209) calls the papyrus, cortex Mareotica (comp. id; Ep. iv. 42) : and Gratius (Cynegetic. v. 313) designates Aegyptian luxury as Mareotic : and Ovid (Met. ix. v. 73) employs arva Mareotica for Lower Aegypt.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


Marea (Mareia, Maria, Maree). A town of Lower Egypt, which gave its name to the district and lake of Mareotis. The lake was separated from the Mediterranean by the neck of land on which Alexandria stood, and supplied with water by the Canopic branch of the Nile and by canals. It served as the port of Alexandria for vessels navigating the Nile.

Individuals' pages


Marea (or Mareia) and Mareotis: Marea was a village, then a city, in Egypt, located on the south side of Lake Mareotis, south and southwest of Alexandria. The lake, fed by canals from the Nile, gave its name to the district. The area developed into a major source of foodstuffs for Alexandria, producing in particular a renowned white wine exported all over the Mediterranean and supporting a large pottery industry to provide amphoras for the wine. The lake offered recreational opportunities for Alexandrians. In late antiquity, the shrine of St. Menas developed in the desert south of the lake, and the region served as a major transit corridor for pilgrims to the sanctuary. The decline of Alexandria after the Arab conquest and the atrophy of the Canopic branch of the Nile led to the shrinkage of the lake and to a reduction in demand for the area’s produce. The ensuing salinization of the area was exacerbated by deliberate breaches of the barrier between the sea and the lake in the Napoleonic era.
Bagnall, Roger, "Marea." Electronic Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World. EEAW, Inc., 2002. (Accessed Nov. 7, 2005 ).

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