“The Alexandrian School” – digitized exhibition goes online

We are presenting the digital version of the exhibition “The Alexandrian School” prepared in 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of Polish archaeological research in Alexandria. The exhibition was displayed at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. It showcased the achievements of archaeologists working since 1960 with the PCMA UW expedition at the site of Kom el-Dikka.

This site, located in the center of the modern city of Alexandria, is the only area of this size (approx. 4 ha) in the ancient metropolis – the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt – systematically investigated by archaeologists. Over the past five decades, the entire downtown quarter of ancient Alexandria has been uncovered and explored, including a unique theater with its dazzling marble auditorium, a complex of late Roman imperial baths and cisterns, as well as the Alexandrian Academy’s lecture hall complex, and a series of villas with figural and geometric mosaic floors.

The results of these explorations and the finds were presented at the exhibition on photographic boards accompanied by some artifacts from the period. They showed the most important stages of the archaeological research, as well as the extent of the conservation work that was carried out parallel with the excavations. This combination resulted in the creation of a unique archaeological park, with restored ancient public buildings, a residential quarter, columned porticos, and passages.

The title of the exhibition is a reference to the term “Polish school of Mediterranean archaeology”, a term coined to describe the legacy of Professor Kazimierz Michałowski, who gave rise to the existence of this field of research in Poland. Alexandria was, and remains, its flagship site. During half a century of excavations, it served as a training ground for several generations of Polish researchers. But the title also refers to the 22 lecture halls discovered at Kom el-Dikka, the so-called auditoria that, together with the amphitheater-odeon rebuilt in the 6th century into an auditorium, formed the academic complex of late ancient Alexandria.

This unique architectural complex is a material testimony to the continuation of the tradition of the famous Alexandrian school, known e.g. from achievements in the field of rhetoric, law, and philosophy (including Philo, Hypatia, Klemens). So far, it is the only academic complex discovered by archaeologists in the entire Mediterranean basin, although similar institutions must have functioned in other parts of the ancient world.

Read more on the PCMA UW research at Kom el-Dikka

Book accompanying the exhibition (in Polish): Wojciech Kołątaj, Renata Kucharczyk, Grzegorz Majcherek, Franciszek Pawlicki, Starożytna Aleksandria. 50 lat polskich badań archeologicznych i prac konserwatorskich na Kom el-Dikka, Warszawa: PCMA, 2012

Exhibition: „Szkoła Aleksandryjska. 50 lat polskich badań archeologicznych i prac konserwatorskich na Kom el-Dikka”
Partners: Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, Royal Castle in Warsaw, National Museum in Warsaw.
Exhibition curator: Dr Franciszek Pawlicki (PCMA UW).
Plates: PCMA UW. Theatre model: Piotr Zambrzycki. Artifacts: 29 objects from the Collection of Ancient and Eastern Christian Art and 44 coins from the Department of Coins and Medals, 16 objects from the Collection of Oriental Art, all of the National Museum in Warsaw; herma of Alexander the Great (a gypsum copy of a bust by Lysipus) by Łazienki Królewskie Museum in Warsaw.
Exhibition folder: text A. Twardecki (NMW), phoptos Z. Doliński (NMW), design F. Pawlicki, DTP P. Zakrzewski.