Online resources: Naukratis Project

Iekane found in the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, Naukratis 1888,0601.456 British Museum

Naukratis  Ναύκρατις

While most people have heard of the famous Greek Egyptian city of Alexandria founded around 332BC, named after the Macedonian general who conquered Egypt, the Greeks had been in Egypt in large numbers prior to this.

When the rulers of the northern Saite Dynasty employed Greek mercenaries for their armies during the power struggles of the period, many Greeks lived and settled in Egypt. Naukratis lay on the Coptic Branch of the Nile some 70km south east of what would later become Alexandria in the Nile Delta.

Naukratis was most likely founded around 600BC as the first Greek enclave in Egypt. It was not affiliated with any of the Greek city states, but functioned more as a trading outpost. In this role it was an important locus for trade and cultural exchange between Egypt and the wider Mediterranean world.

The formation of the city was perhaps also a means by which the Egyptian administration could keep an eye on the mercenaries who were already in the country. The extent to which the two cultures intermixed (or not) is a fascinating aspect of studying and understanding Naukratis and its place in Egyptian history.

"Naukratis was not just a Greek but also an Egyptian town, with the Egyptian presence at the site contemporary with the Greek – though not necessarily any earlier." - Alexandra Villing

Naukratis was rediscovered and excavated by Petrie in 1880s, and excavations continued by Gardner and Hogarth leading into the 20th Century. (see original EEF excavation report linked below).

Like many sites in Egypt, Naukratis had been extensively damaged by the time it was excavated by Petrie and Hogarth.

Further excavations were made in the 1970s and 1980s (American Research Center in Egypt). Modern excavations at parts of the site have been complicated by a rising water table.
The site of Naukratis in 2011, looking south over the partly dried-up lake now covering much of the central part of the ancient town. Photograph Ross Thomas

Thonis (Heracleion), the now submerged sister port city of Naukratis that lay at the mouth of the Coptic branch of the Nile was rediscovered after a five year search in 1999 by French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio after being spotted in the water by an RAF pilot in 1933. Thonis, its excavation and artefacts along with the Mysteries of Osiris, were the focus of the Sunken Cities travelling exhibition.

The link below is to the main page of the Naukratis Project via the British Museum. It's a great resource for the history of the site, current Fieldwork at Naukratis and for students/scholars there is a Publications list.

Further resources: 
Oxford Handbooks online Naucratis by Myrto Malouta 
Naukratis II 1885-6 (EEF) Petrie, Gardiner et al
Pottery bowl decorated with female heads in relief and friezes of boars, lions, sphinxes and goats. An inscription round the rim may be translated "Asostratos dedicated me to Aphrodite".
Map of Naukratis by the author using Google maps 2019
Site image from 2011

Explore Naukratis in more detail by clicking the link below

Naukratis: the Greeks in Egypt

Details of a British Museum research project entitled Naukratis: the Greeks in Egypt