n Ekklesiastikos Pharos - Sea vs. land : the second Arab conquest of Alexandria (ca AH 25/ AD 645-646) : research article

Volume 94, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1018-9556



In 645-646, the Byzantines attempted to recover Alexandria which was first captured by the Arab army under 'Amr bn. al-Āṣ in 641-142. The two Arab conquests of Alexandria are somewhat confused in most sources and actually there is no analytical description of the Arab conquest of the whole Egypt in general in any of them. Unfortunately, there is not any comprehensive work dealing thoroughly with the Arab conquest of Egypt save for A. J. Butler's admirable book, The Arab Conquest of Egypt and the Last Thirty Years of the Roman Dominion (Oxford 1902), revised by P. M. Fraser, which is now obsolete. The itinerary of the Arab army followed in the conquest of Egypt and the description of the agricultural Egyptian society on the eve of the Arab conquest do not belong within this context. Instead, the Arab siege of Babylon in Egypt and its capture is the starting point with only a succinct account of 'Amr's invasion of Egypt and his first conquest of Alexandria before the description of the second Arab conquest of it in 645-646. Special attention is given to the attitude of the various segments of the population of Alexandria and its surroundings towards the Byzantine invading army during the second Arab conquest. These different segments of the population appear in the Arabic sources with the vague terms Rūm and Qubá¹­. Finally, the failure of the Byzantine military policy to undertake successful, long distance, sea born expeditions against the Arabs, in order to regain their lost territory, is stressed.

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