The multiethnic environment of Ptolemaic Alexandria resulted in cross-cultural transmission of funerary practices and associated material culture that introduced many traditions to Egypt from the Mediterranean world. Along with an influx of mercenaries serving in the Ptolemaic army came cultural and artistic knowledge from their places of origin, which they (or their families) incorporated into their burials. One motif, which appears on late 4th–3rd-century painted funerary monuments from Alexandria, is that of a soldier on horseback, alluding to images of the heroic hunter or warrior on horseback found in tombs in the regions of northern Greece. These Alexandrian monuments commemorated members of the Ptolemaic cavalry, some of whom are identified as Macedonian or Thessalian by accompanying Greek inscriptions. The image of a soldier astride his rearing horse not only emphasized the deceased’s military status, but also established a link with Macedonian and Ptolemaic royal iconography. This type of self-representation served a number of purposes: to signal the deceased’s cultural and geographic origins, demonstrate his elite role in Ptolemaic society and imply connections to the Ptolemaic court, all of which were important to the immigrant inhabitants of early Alexandria as they sought to express their identity in a new geographical, cultural, and political setting.
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