LOCAL TIME IN Alexandria

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The Roman Amphitheater

Roman Odeum at Kom El-Dikka

In a park in the centre of Alexandria, on the northern side of Midan el-Gumhureya is a Roman amphitheatre, the only example of this type of monument extant in Egypt. The small Odeum, dating originally from the 2nd century AD, was a roofed semi-circular theatre used for music and poetry performed on a stage paved with mosaic tiles and contained seating for more than six hundred people in thirteen tiers of white marble.

The theatre was later remodelled but destroyed during an earthquake probably in the 6th or 7th century. It was discovered during modern building work and excavated by a Polish team of archaeologists during the 1960s. More recent excavations at the site of Kom El-Dikka, which means ‘Hill of Rubble’, have revealed many remains of the Roman central city, including a bath-house, cisterns, a gymnasium and streets of the residential area.

To the east of the Odeum, a large villa dating to the reign of Hadrian has been named the ‘Villa of the Birds’ because of the magnificent mosaic floor in the main room depicting various species of birds. The Villa of the Birds is one of the best-preserved examples of a large Roman residence in Egypt.