Back to WHKMLA Main Index . WHKMLA, Students' Papers Main Page . WHKMLA, Students' Papers, 15th Wave Index Page



Alexandria: A Center of Interregional Trade and Hosts to Foreign Merchants


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Doyeong
Term Paper, World History Class, June 2012



Table of Contents


I. Introduction
I.1 Purpose of Study
I.2 Scope of Study
I.3 Method of Study
II. Alexandria in Antiquity
II.1 Historical Background
II.2 Interregional Trade
II.3 Trade Structure
II.4 Trade Items
II.5 Analysis
III. Alexandria in the Egyptian Medieval Period
III.1 Historical Background
III.2 Interregional Trade
III.3 Trade Structure
III.4 Trade Items
III.5 Analysis
IV. Revival of Alexandria in Modern Egypt
IV.1 Historical Background
IV.2 Interregional Trade
IV.3 Trade Structure
IV.4 Trade Items
IV.5 Analysis
V. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography



I. Introduction
            Alexandria from its roots had a cosmopolitan identity. Since the time of Alexander the Great, the city served a diverse array of functions, as a center of knowledge and academics, as a center of various ethnicities and cultures of the Macedonian and Ptolemaic Empires, as a center of military power, and last but not least, as a center of international, intercultural trade. Today, Alexandria still functions as one of the most important cities in Egypt alongside Cairo, as a center of commerce, transportation, and traveling in Egypt. However, the status of the city as a cosmopolitan city, serving as a center of national trade and economy, has not always been so. Faced with decline at times, it is said that it resorted to nothing more than a fishing village at its dark ages. (1) However, the city restores some of its prestige with modernization and the threats of colonization.
            As such, the history of Alexandria well exemplifies the growth and decline of cities with its fluctuations over time. Such rise and fall of cities, however, are often multicausal; many factors may lead to such changes through time. Amongst various factors, this paper will explore how interregional trade acts as the indicator, and at times the driving force of the status of a city, with the city of Alexandria as the subject of focus.

I.1 Purpose of Study
            This paper aims to clarify the change of Alexandria's role and historical trends in interregional trade throughout the course of time. Analysis will be also made on how Alexandria's trade reflects the contemporary events. References to domestic and international historical events will be made. Trade items and patterns conducted in interregional trade will be analyzed throughout the course of time.

I.2 Scope of Study
            This paper covers Alexandria from its foundations until the beginning of WWI. Focus will be on time periods when Alexandria functioned as a site of interregional trade. Periods where it did not serve such as cosmopolitan function will be given less attention.

I.3 Method of Study
            This paper attempts to cover both primary and secondary sources for its analysis of Alexandria and its trade. When possible, primary sources such as travelogues, journals of trade, and memoirs have been incorporated in its analysis, mostly as reference data. However, this does not apply for all periods of time, as linguistic and chronological barriers prevent the analysis of all periods of Alexandria's history through primary sources. In such cases, secondary sources will be explored with greater weight.

II. Alexandria in Antiquity
            Alexandria was cosmopolitan from its formations. Numerous cities were given the name of "Alexandria" following the conquests of Alexander of Macedonia, but the most prosperous of these cities out of the aforementioned is the Alexandria discussed here in the paper. This section focuses on the trade role of Alexandria from the Hellenistic Era, Ptolemaic Egypt, extending to the period of Roman annexation, with reflection to important historical events.

II.1 Historical Background
            Founded in 332-331 B.C.E. by Alexander the Great, the city was planned to provide the link between the Nile Valley regions and Greece. The intention was to establish a trading city fit for dealing with his empire that encompasses from Greece to encompassing parts of Asia that would be part of his empire, including regions in the Persian Empire and all the way to the Indian peninsula, as a center of interregional trade. This, along with its location on the coast, makes the region suitable for trade. The contemporary historian Strabo reports that "the site chosen lay close to the Nile, yet west of its mouths, and since the prevailing current was from west to east the harbour was not in danger of silting up ..." (2) The city was protected by the Pharos Island from the North, the Libyan Desert to the West, and the Nile Delta to the East. Of all, the future prospects of the city as a trading center that would encompass the largest empire of the time, a clear advantage.
            In addition to its favorable location, the substitution of the roles of older cities which served as centers of trade such as Naucratis in commerce by Alexandria, the foundation of the Library of Alexandria and its attraction of traveling scholars, as well as the various tourist attractions for ancient travelers including Alexander's tomb made Alexandria a favorable place for trade. (3) The Ptolemaic Empire, which succeeded Alexander, continued the development of the city as its capital. The Pharos Island, the entrance into Alexandria from sea, became fortified, the Heptastadion was built, the dyke that served as a causeway and aqueduct, and the Great Harbour has been built. (4) By the 3rd century BCE, Alexandria became the largest city in the world, and for a few more its size and population was exceeded only by Rome. (5)
            Since the annexation of Ptolemaic Egypt by the Roman Empire, the city continued to prosper. However, by the 3rd century CE, Alexandria became alienated from its function as a center of commerce. This was due to the reassertion of the local power of the area. Also, stability within the empire broke with the continuation of civil wars between its Greek and Jewish populations as well as the pagan and Christian populations of the city, coupled by the massacres ordered by Emperor Caracalla of the Roman Empire, leading to further decline of the city. In 616, the city was taken by the Sassanid Empire under Khosrau II. (6)

II.2 Interregional Trade
            Trade with Alexandria was conducted notably with Greece and Rome. However, international trade existed with considerable Alexandrian exports and imports.
            For one, the trade with Mediterranean regions constituted an important bulk of Alexander¡¯s trade. Carthage and Rome in the Iberian and Italian peninsulas were all trade partners of Alexandria at the time. Much of the trade with these regions focused on metalwork and glass. In contrast, trade with Greece and the Aegean regions, most primarily Rhodes and Delos consisted of lighter products compared to that of West/Southern Europe. Most of the imports from Greece consisted of the Greek population and the transplantation of new crops such as olive trees and grapes. Alexandria exported papyri and essential food items to the Greeks. Overall, small scale trade characterized trace with Greece, while larger amounts of imports and exports were conducted with Carthage then Rome. (7)
            Sea routes encompassing the Levant to the Indian Ocean was developed during the antiquity. By the 1st century BCE, the Greeks, Egyptians, Arabs, Phoenicians, Israelites, and Indians were engaged in maritime and overland long distance trade in luxury goods, including spices, gold and precious metals, pearls, and leather of rare animals. Extending from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, Alexandria was at the very end of the maritime trade line, being reached by boat from the Nile through the sea routes in the Red Sea and then the land route from Berenike. A land route also existed, but required to cross the desert of Western Arabia and the Libya. By the 2nd century BCE, the Greeks of Alexandria took control of the sea routes to India and were able to use the seasonal monsoon winds to reach the West Coast of India faster. The Romans further developed such trade routes, and by the first millennium BCE, Alexandria became the dominant trading center for Indian spices into Greece and Rome. Alexandria's role in the spice trade, however, was discontinued with the decline of Alexandria and subsequently the Roman Empire. (8)

II.3 Trade Structure
            The trade structure of Alexandria was one defined by administration and control. At first, private enterprises took control of trade. But as time passed, much of the profit went into the royal treasury by extensive taxation and import tariffs. A defining characteristic of trade during the Ptolemaic times is the royal monopolies that exist on the system. In terms of taxation, high import and export tax characterizes the remaining manufactured products, including high taxation upon retail sales upon the merchandise. This was based on the belief descended from the ancient Egyptian kingdoms - as all the land belonged to the king and the royal family, all goods and profit gained from those lands would also be theirs. This trade structure was continued down to the Roman dynasty. (9) Although no there were no Egyptian kings to directly control the trade and exercise royal monopoly on certain favorable products, Alexandria was placed under direct imperial control by the Roman Emperor, starting from Octavian. Through this process, the emperor could systematically control the Alexandrian trade and industry, bypassing the Roman Senate; during Roman annexation, Alexandria functioned mainly as the grain supplier for the Roman Empire. Overall, such state control was intended to develop the city further into a center of commerce and also for royal and imperial interests. (10)

II.4 Trade Items
            Various items have been traded at this cosmopolitan city. Trading items included ranged from necessities such as grain and textile to products that require skilled production such as metalware and glassware, to luxury items such as pottery, perfume, and papyrus.
            The trade of necessities, such as grain and textiles, is a key element. In the Ptolemaic and Roman Empire, Alexandria served either as a capital or a second city. Here the city, due to its favorable location, was subject to extensive shipping of grain. Its function as a granary was one of the most important of its functions, particularly toward the Roman times with direct imperial administration. Production of textiles has been an integral element of Egyptian industry as well, its importance continued from the ancient pharaonic kingdoms, and continued throughout the Ptolemaic rule and the times of Roman annexation. (11) Textile products such as carpets, curtains, tapestry hangings, and so on were either produced in Alexandria. Embroidery was also an important business in Alexandria, after some of textile products have been produced in other cities.
            Out of the industries of Alexandria, metallurgy and glassware production were also notable. The Ptolemies had a wide range of the metalware, the most prominent being gold and silver. Such gold and silver was not produced in the area, but rather was brought from the southern/ regions of the empire such as Memphis or the Nile Delta and were turned into products through metalwork in Alexandria. Glassware production was also widely accounted for in the description of Alexandria's industry and trade. Its systemized production suggests a substantial and well-established body of craftspeople in the area. The style in which the products were made are said to contain Greek influence, which suggests the extensive interaction between the two regions, conducted in reality both culturally and by trade. (12)
            Luxury items also comprised an important part of Alexandrian trade. Pottery remains a controversial item, as disputes exist among how much of it was produced in Alexandria. Evidences against local production include the lack of potter's clay reserves in the neighborhood of the city at the time and the lack of pottery in the graves of Ptolemaic rulers. The local 'Tanagrincs' are apparently created from inferior clay ("Nile Mud"), but blackglazed ribbed vases and Hadra vases are of dubious origin. However, the sufficient amount of the former in Alexandrian graves and the suitable conditions of clay required for the latter makes it difficult to reject entirely the Alexandrian origin of these works. A considerable amount of pottery, nevertheless, remains to be those imported from other Hellenistic centers such as Pergamon, Miletus, and other cities along the Aegaean Sea. Faience also comprises an important product of manufacture and trade alongside pottery, with combinations of Greek and Egyptian elements coexisting on the ¡®Hellenized¡¯ faience work. (13) Perfume was also a main industry in Alexandria at the time. Aromatics were produced since pharaonic times, but its manufacture was greatly developed in Alexandria. The aromatic gums from Somaliland, Arabia, and India would have to be imported which shows that the rapid increase of this commodity during the Ptolemaic and Roman times would have assumed the trade with those areas. Aromatic trees were being planted on the outskirts of Alexandria for the possibilities of local production, and the retail trade on perfumes and similar aromatic products were subject to royal monopolies during the Ptolemaic rule. The royal monopolies also held for the production of papyrus. Though papyrus was not the only writing material available and used at the time, the development of Greece and the Hellenistic world increased its demand, and historical records hints at possibility of mass production to meet the demands. Finally, spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and pepper constituted much of the import from the Indian trade, followed by a great Greco-Roman demand. (14)

II.5 Analysis
            Trade is clearly here the indicator of the degree of importance in which the city served in trade and commerce. This is shown primarily by the degree of trade conducted throughout time; In the Hellenistic and Ptolemaic times, when Alexandria functioned as a cosmopolitan center of trade with various trade items on the market, the city continued to prosper. However, with ongoing internal conflicts and social unrest, the amount of trade started to decrease ad its importance a trading center declined. Also, Alexandria became less effective as a site of trade as its emphasis in grain production and export began to consist too much portion its trade with more stringent Roman imperial control near the end of the Empire. This indirectly made the sale of other products less favorable. However, during Ptolemaic times when royal monopolies also could have made detrimental effects on trade, commerce actually flourished. This discrepancy through time is most likely due to the fact that during the Ptolemaic era, the trade in Alexandria focused more on the production and sale of luxury goods such as aromatics, pottery, and papyrus, in which not many competitors existed throughout the region at the time. Thus such monopolies could function without severely affecting the Alexandrian economy. However, focus on grain production and sales is not only trivial (yet nevertheless extensive and could be expected to be advantageous, due to the strategic location of the city), but also led to the decline of the other more profitable industries that existed on the area.
            Also, an analysis of the trade in these regions items provides hints at the industry of the area, the interregional relations, and even the social structure of the time. Most notable were the sale of luxury goods and products requiring skills, such as metalware and glassware - this implies the existence of skilled people, and a systemized body of these people as the trade and supply of these items were extensive. Also inferable is the prosperity of the city and especially those of the upper and royal classes, as the supply of such luxury goods were great.

III. Alexandria in the Egyptian Medieval Period
            Alexandria under Arab Rule was facing decline. No longer the capital of the succeeding empires, the relative importance of the city fell; cities such as al-Fustat (modern day Cairo) were given more important attention, and in the process, Alexandria's role diminished. However, Alexandria was not in immediate decline, and its trade resumed; there were even times when Alexandrian trade began to prosper again. Here the "Egyptian Medieval Period" encompasses the time period from the conquest of Alexandria by the Persians (616 CE) to the fall of Mamluk Sultanate (1517).

III.1 Historical Background
            After the conquest of Alexandria by the Sassanid Persians, the city was recaptured by the Byzantines, only to be conquered again by the Arabs (641 CE). Then came the various Arab conquest kingdoms that controlled Egyptian territory including Alexandria.
            Though Alexandria had lost much of its former glory, its role in intercultural trade cannot be neglected. Its population in the 13th century has been estimated at around 65,000, a significant decrease from the 300,000 estimated at 642, the time of the Arab conquest; this was due to a considerable portion of its ethnic Greek population moving to Byzantium. (15) However, Alexandria still played a vital role as a port city in Mediterranean trade. While many of the edifices and former economic roles have disappeared by the time of Muslim conquest, as the Arab Muslim conquests did not involve massive destruction of its area of conquest, its strategic locations, as well as the remains of the foundations for international trade, still remained somewhat intact. In fact, the acquisition of territory under a single administration actually somewhat aided the development of its conquered cities. Thus there are little reasons to believe that that Alexandria under Arab rule would have immediately headed toward decline. In fact, the constant need for shipping and transporting the navy and their items actually contributed to the maintenance of Alexandria's economic role, especially during the Ayyubid dynasty. (16)
            During the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt (1250-1517), Mediterranean trade actually flourished. Alexandria's importance in intercultural commerce during the time actually reached a new zenith in Egyptian history. Alexandria traded, directly or indirectly, goods from parts of Europe, Persia, India, and even China. Such cosmopolitan array of trading networks marked a new phase in the history of the city.

III.2 Interregional Trade
            Since the fall of the Roman Empire (476), Alexandria's trade met decline. The Arab conquest led to immediate results such as the replacement of Alexandria's status as capital and the emigration of its Greek population, which was a big blow to the commerce of Alexandria. However, these factors did not entirely damage its status as a trade center. In fact, much of the previous trade resumed. Due to its strategic location at the coast, near the crossing point between continents and seas, Alexandria remained to be an important site of trade. Participating in trade with Alexandria were countries from all over the world including Byzantium, Ethiopia, North Africa, Granada, Syria, Yemen, and further east, but most notable were trade between the Egyptians and the Europeans. Trading ships from Alexandria went as far as Almeria in the Iberian Peninsula. European and Muslim countries had envoys and agents in the city, the most prominent of these being the Italian states such as Amalfi and Genoa, but in particular the Republic of Venice. Back then, much of the Mediterranean trade was dominated by the Italian city states, such as Florence, Venice, and Genoa. Alexandria and Venetia founded a trade route, the connections that led to which has roots at as early as 828, when relics of St. Mark were said to be transported from Alexandria to Venice. Trade relationships, however, were set in place by the 10th and 11th centuries, its routes extending to the Middle East, Asia, and India. (17) Here the spice trade had reinitiated - spices either locally produced or produced in the Near East or India were sold to the Venetian traders. The trade along the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and the Black Sea greatly profited the city. After the establishment of the Sultanate, the Mamluks strategically kept and developed the city into a cosmopolitan center of interregional trade that reaches India and East Asia, and its zenith was met by the 13th and 14th centuries.

III.3 Trade Structure
            The trade during that of includes elements of state control and elements of market economy. Alexandria during the early phases of Arab rule, while having lost its administrative functions as the capital city to al-Fustat, al-Qatta¡¯i, then Cairo, remained to be an important port city for other empires to come, especially during the Mamluk period.
            Alexandria contributed to the wealth of the Mamluk state, and the Mamluks in turn contributed to the further development of the city. Numerous tariffs were imposed upon export and import products, but due to the diversity and the advantageous collection of these items such tariffs did not significantly deter trade - rather, due to the high demand of these trade items, the Mamluk state was able to acquire great sums of profit, essential to the fiscal state of the empire.
            In return, the state contributed to Alexandria in more than fiscal terms. The sultan's deputy at Alexandria held a higher social status than deputies of other cities, and made considerable profit out of emoluments and tariffs. The sultan himself would personally visit the city for inspection and improvements upon fortifications, water delivery, and in overall the physical state of the city. The Alexandrian canal to Cairo, the khalij, which served transportation functions as well as water supply, was cleaned, repaired, and reestablished through work of many generations. Such was necessary for the continued prosperity of the city, vulnerable to arid environments and a lack of ready supply of water. (18)
            It has been seen that Alexandria provided a great financial contribution to the state, especially towards the Mamluk Sultanate. By the 14th century, the tolls, duties, taxes, tariffs, and fines collected by the state has been estimated to be 100,000 dinars a year, just simply by foreign trade. (19) While big businesses have not completely been monopolized by the state, state officials were closely interrelated with such businesses since the Ayyubids. The Matjar al-Sultani, or state trade, has been established since then. (20) While social groups of merchants and craftsmen existed, the authority behind the decision-making lay in the state and not the community. At times, the more profitable long-distance trading businesses were favored in their interests more than the local retail dealers, with concentration on these businesses were deemed more profitable by the state. Mercenaries and soldiers have been set by the state for their protection during long-distance trade. (21) However, as will be shown later in the analyses, such control became debilitated as time passed with the bubonic plague and competition from European merchants with the Era of European Discoveries.

III.4 Trade Items
            While the old glory of the city during the Hellenistic Era was not fully recovered, Alexandria regained much of its functions as a cosmopolitan city. For one, the cosmopolitan nature of the city led to the trade of luxury products all over the world. From Chinese porcelain to Persian Gulf pearls, and Indian spices, the sheer items traded in Alexandria shows the scale of the interregional trade it encompasses. (22) Most importantly, it restored its strategic position in the spice trade. Local aromatics and spices made good business, but more important was spice traded from the Indian Ocean. Here the Venetian traders were eager to import the spices even with Alexandria as an intermediary.
            From the Europeans, Egypt imported through Alexandria raw materials such as wood and fur. Other imports include iron, sheet metal, silver, gold, and copper. In addition, the Europeans sold their slaves in Alexandria. The markets for exports include luxury products such as spices but were not limited to such items. Cloth manufacture was still Alexandria's most prominent manufacture products, arranging from products made of linen, silk, wool, and cotton. Such products reached not only Europe or the nearby states in the Levant but all the way to India. It was said that the fabric donated by the Pope to the Churches in the Italian peninsula has Alexandrian origins. As exports, cotton alongside all the luxury products cannot be neglected - a long center of textiles, cotton production in Alexandria profited itself in international trade. Silk and textiles too, of course, were traded extensively. Though not directly produced in Alexandria, many goods produced in other parts of Egypt were traded and exported from Alexandria, the examples of which would include Egyptian sugar, wine, and glass. Other exports include alum, corn, flax, sugar, and soap. (23) Overall, as an intermediary in trade, Alexandria was able to attract much profit in the process.

III.5 Analysis
            To overlook Alexandria during Arab and Mamluk rule simply as a city in decline is an overgeneralization and at times simply false. Though the few centuries following the end of Roman annexation was a period in Alexandrian decline, the port function of Alexandria, favorable for military conducts and interregional trade, and its favorable location near the Mediterranean and the Nile still made the city favorable as a site for cross-cultural trade. Thus its strategic location and the attraction of luxury goods greatly contributed to the wealth of the city. Here, note that the state was thus able to make profit out of the trade while imposing regulations and fiscal extractions, while supporting the city in terms of finance and infrastructure.
            However, by the 15th century, this interregional trade began to decline. Again, social unrest was a primary reason. Notable environmental disasters such as earthquakes proved critically detrimental to the city. Worse in terms of impact was the Bubonic Plague, which destroyed the Egyptian population in huge numbers. Due to the constant repetition of the plague, with eighteen occurrences reported during the 14th and 15th centuries, a third of the Mamluk Egyptian population were taken down by the disease. An aggravation of this situation, however, was mainly due to increased state regulations. To compensate for the deficit in state income, the state increased control over its interregional trade and exacted greater profit out of the trade through taxation and tariffs. This decline in trade was made worse when international situation shifted disadvantageously for the Mamluks. Prompted by the increase in prices by the Mamluk state, European travelers during this time, at the time of the Age of European Discoveries, found new trade routes for cheaper imports and Asian goods. Leading in this competition for trade was Portugal, which eventually dominated Indian trade. In addition, the Mamluk state demanded exorbitant tithes from merchants who cross the port as one of its tax increase to fill up its revenues, leading to the ruining of Alexandria's economy. Such factors led to the decline of the trade in Alexandria, and eventually lead to the fall of the Sultanate. Without the proper industry to support commerce, state control over Alexandrian trade was not self-sufficient but rather doing itself more harm than good. Thus we see that the imposition of state authority remains sound only when its trade structure and the domestic industry is sound.

IV. Revival of Alexandria in Modern Egypt
            Alexandria, despite its resurgence of trade with the Venetians during the Mamluk period, has lagged behind other cities of Egypt since its conquest by the Ottoman Turks. By the 18th century, the city is said to have resorted to a fishing village of a population of about 4,000 inhabitants, a sharp decrease from the 65,000 in the 13th century (24) However, this gradual yet clear decline of the city was faced with an opportunity for change. The regaining of importance of the city following Mohammad Ali and his industrialization plan as well as the following series of domestic and international affairs, the revival of Alexandria, will be explored in this section. The time span covers from 1517, the fall of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt by the Ottoman Empire to the end of the Khedivate and the beginnings of World War I in 1914.

IV.1 Historical Background
            The domestic calamities, as well as Portuguese competition and state regulations aforementioned were a severe blow to the city. However, the city did not immediately head towards decline; its trade to some extend rebounded in the 16th century, with some degree of large-scale trade taking place. Reports on cargo during trade show significant numbers; for example, a Jerbi merchant would buy from an Alexandrian Jewish merchant 1,680 dinars of gold. (25) However, trade was disrupted through a series of failures in spice trade and coffee trade, as well as numerous years of crop failure and famine. This, along with the plague from which Alexander was vulnerable due to its state as a port city and due to the lack of quarantine unlike other European port cities of the time, led to the clear decline of trade as well as the overall population of the city. This continued until the Egyptian expedition the French headed by Bonaparte Napoleon.
            At the time, the Mamluks in Egypt were rebelling against the Ottoman government. Here, Napoleon used the internal division within the country to justify his invasion into Egypt, posing as liberators of Alexandria, and crushed Mamluk forces. The French interest, in reality, was to conquer permanently the Egyptian territory for the location was strategically advantageous for commerce and military. French occupation was characterized by high taxation, dearth of basic necessities such as food and water, inflation, and depopulation. With the invasion of other parts of Egypt following the example of Alexandria, the Ottoman Turks attempted to re-establish control. Mohammad Ali, a military general in the Ottoman army, realized the potential of the city; its strategic location regarding the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Nile in its vicinity and its aptness for transportation and trade. Thus came the restoration plans of the city, beginning with the construction of the Mahmudiyya Canal (1819) that allows access to the Nile, reconstruction of its harbors, and the construction of commercial and industrial buildings. Reforms on its transportation, sewage system, city planning, military, and various infrastructures such as roads and railways, has been made. Alexandria was developed as a deepwater port and a naval station.
            However, in this process of industrialization, Mohammed and his descendants became more and more dependent upon the economies of European powers such as Britain and France, whose interest in controlling Egypt was clear. In 1882, British forces declared a protectorate over Egyptian territory due to the state bankruptcy caused by excessive expenses on the sides of the Khedives following Ali. Until the beginning of the World War I, Egypt only marginally maintained its sovereignty, only to be replaced by a Sultanate of Egypt by British forces.

IV.2 Interregional Trade
            Interregional trade of Alexandria during the Ottoman Eyalet status of Egypt was constantly in decline until the end of the 18th century. Though there are reports of trade conducted with other regions in the African continent such as the Maghribi merchants of Northwest Africa, interregional trade, reflecting the constant decline of the city, has been decreasing and declining. This was aggravated by the series of failures in its attempt to revival its spice and coffee trade. (26)
            Since the development and restorations brought by Mohammed Ali, Alexandria's trade with Europe had increased by a considerable margin. The international trade conducted by Alexandria primarily consisted European nations, such as Britain, France, and Austria. Its population reaching 60,000 by 1821 and 270,000 by 1874, Alexandria became the fourth leading Mediterranean port by the 1870s, and its location near the Mediterranean was a great advantage for trade with European powers. (27) Trade with Europe began to flourish as Egypt became more and more assimilated into the European economy. Businesses from France and Britain would support financing of Mohammad Ali's reconstruction and reform programs. Alexandria would import its raw materials and its yield of grain and cotton, as well as textile, a long-lived industry of the area, though met by competition with British India with the Industrial Revolution. However, the extensive spending of the Khedivates following Ali led to greater economic dependence upon European powers. With greater interaction between Egypt and European nations, more and more Europeans would live in Alexandria, exercising influence and control over its economy. This, though not overtly, foreshadows the forfeit of the shares of the Suez Canal into European companies and the subsequent occupation of Egyptian territory, Alexandria being no exception.

IV.3 Trade Structure
            The Ottoman state before the Napoleonic invasion was rather negligent of the city - its canal dried away and there was a dearth of water in the city, leading much of its population to leave the city. Also, much of its provincial revenues were hemorrhaged to the multazims, military households of Janissary corps. Such administrative incapacity led to the failure of the city and led to constant decline of the not only the trade of the city but the city itself. (28)
            By the end of the 18th century, European powers began to take interest in Egypt, and in particular Alexandria. Simultaneously taking place was the reforms and development plans of Mohammad Ali. So the city was in a state of reconstruction and development, and at the same time, under a degree of colonial threat. Much of the reconstruction and reforms were state-run and were the ideas of Ali and his descendants, but in the process British and French companies would help finance such projects. In this process, many feared the growing dependency of the Egyptian economy on European countries would lead to a threat to their own independence. As a result, one of the attempts to maintain sovereignty took the form of attempts made by Mohammad and his descendants to nationalize some of its important industries, such as its textile industry, incorporating the local guild systems into the state monopoly. However, the European powers were unwilling to let such policies go uncensored - the opposition of European countries, coupled by the lack of fuel and administrative control led to the failure of these plans for nationalization and state monopolization.

IV.4 Trade Items
            Exports of cotton and spices remain the most significant of trade export items of Alexandria during the Eyalet period. There remained, to some degree, the sale of silk and pottery, but the trade of luxury items overseas was to continually decrease. This was due to both the internal calamities of the city, as well as the isolationist policy that the Ottoman Empire ensued. However, with Mohammad Ali and European interest in Egypt, Alexandrian trade met a new phase in history.
            Alexandria in its modern history again acts as an exporter of raw materials and agricultural products. Alexandria's primary exports to Europe include grain, cotton, and coal. Wheat, beans, and corn consist most of the export granular items of Alexandria, succeeding the its history as the granary for European countries during the Antiquity. (29) Cotton was also initially a lucrative trade item for Alexandria, used to fuel the textile industry of the foreign countries. Over 40 million pounds of cotton has been exported from Alexandria annually by the 1850s. (30) This was also compounded by the American Civil War, as the Confederate States during war cessation in its export of cotton into Europe. (31) This alternatively benefited Egypt, and Alexandria's exports of cotton were met with a boom - most of its production of cotton was used for exports. Its status as a coaling station during the height of the Industrial Revolution is also notable, being reported that Alexandria was one of the primary coaling station on the route to India, alongside Suez, Aden, etc. (32)
            On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution had an alternative impact on Alexandria's textile industry, which boasts a long history from the Ptolemaic times. Textile was initially a profitable export item for the city. However, the surge of the Industrial Revolution led to the mass production of textile, headed particularly by Britain. Thus the production of local textile became a less lucrative business for the Alexandrians. However, towards the end of the 19th century, the Khedivate went through industrialization. Alexandria was no exception, and the industrialization promoted greatly the textile industry of the city.

IV.5 Analysis
            Since the Ottoman conquest of Egypt and the internal environmental, social, and administrative problems led to the not immediate but inevitable decline of Alexandria's role as an interregional center of trade. However, this all changed by the late 18th century; since then, Egypt was placed under a double-edged sword, between brink of modernization and the threats of colonization. Despite the continual decline that preceded this period in time, the past industries and adequate state control led to the development of the regaining of Alexandria's former glory as a center of interregional trade. However, it is somewhat ironic that the failure in state management of its fiscal matters has led to its occupation by the British forces due to the compilation of debts in financing its expenditures for its own development.

V. Conclusion
            Alexandria, from its foundations, possesses elements that make it favorable for trade. Its location, with the Mediterranean and the Nile in close vicinity, in the vertex of continents (by political division) and simultaneously protected by natural borders, make it a strategically advantageous for commerce, and contributes greatly to its cosmopolitan identity. The long history of its prominent industries, such as grain and cotton production, textile industry, and the trade of luxury items from long distance trade has long supported its status as the center of interregional trade. As a planned city, the extensive infrastructure of the city that encompassed not only administrative and commercial functions but also academic, multiethnic, as well as religious functions from its foundations, though met with destruction and reconstruction at times, also adds much its status.
            However, these advantageous factors are not all to a cosmopolitan center of cross-cultural trade. Trade, after all, is a human activity. The trade throughout Alexandrian history was characterized by the relationship between contemporary historical events and state administration, among its high and lows. During its heydays, Alexandria exemplified how the imposition of such state authority could coexist with economic prosperity; the state and the city would fiscally aid one another, adding on to each other¡¯s functions. However, the analysis of Alexandria and its trade shows that tangled international relations or domestic environmental or social unrest would break this balance, and would aggravate the problem.
            In different time periods, Alexandria was a center of interregional trade and hosts to merchants from all over the world, but for different reasons. During the Antiquity, its prime ages were largely due to solid foundations as a cosmopolitan city and stable sale of luxury goods, such as spices and aromatics. Another golden age met during the Mamluk Sultanate was due to its intermediary position in the intercontinental trade network. A more modern heyday came with the modernization plans starting with Mohammad Ali and increased contact and interaction with European powers. Through the study of the times of prosperity and decline of Alexandria alongside the chronological trends of its interregional trade, this paper has explained the possible factors that centers on international trade as the indicator and at times the cause of status of the city of Alexandria.


Notes
           
(1)      Alexandria, Archnet.com
(2)      Heeren 1840, pp.34-40
(3)      History of Alexandria, Wikipedia
(4)      Fraser 1972, pp.125-127
(5)      History of Alexandria, Wikipedia
(6)      Ibid.
(7)      Fraser 1972, pp.130-134
(8)      Spice Trade, Wikipedia.
(9)      Fraser 1972, pp.135-136
(10)      History of Alexandria, Wikipedia
(11)      Fraser 1972, pp.135-136
(12)      Rollin 1841, p.163
(13)      Fraser 1972, pp.138
(14)      Ibid.
(15)      Bosworth 2007, pp.17-20
(16)      Reimer 1997, pp.25-30
(17)      Bosworth 2007, pp.17-20
(18)      Alexandria, Archnet.com
(19)      Bosworth 2007, pp.17-20
(20)      Ibid.
(21)      Ibid.
(22)      Mamluk Egypt, Wikipedia.
(23)      Bosworth 2007, pp.17-20
(24)      Alexandria, Archnet.com
(25)      Reimer 1997, pp.32-33
(26)      Ibid.
(27)      Alexandria, Archnet.com
(28)      Reimer 1997, pp.35-36
(29)      Ibid.
(30)      Homans 1860 vol.I, pp.26-30.
(31)      Reimer 1997, pp.35-36
(32)      Simonin 1869, p.256


Bibliography The following websites were visited in February to July 2012

1.      Beawes, Wyndham and Jacques Savary des Brusions, Lex Mercatoria Rediviva, or the Merchants Directory: Being a Complete Guide to All Men in Business. 1773. Dublin. Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=VYJHAAAAYAAJ
2.      Homans, Isaac Smith. A Cyclopedia of Commerce and Commercial Navigation, Vol. I. 1860. Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=5CcZAAAAYAAJ
3.      Homans, Isaac Smith. A Cyclopedia of Commerce and Commercial Navigation. Vol. II. 1860. Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=kygZAAAAYAAJ
4.      Rollin, Charles, The Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Grecians, and Macedonians. Robinson, Pratt & Co. 1841. New York. Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=egoPAAAAYAAJ
5.      Heeren, Arnold Hermann Ludwig et al., A Manual of Ancient History, Particularly with Regards to the Constitutions, the Commerce, and the Colonies, of the States of the Antiquity, 3rd ed. Published by David Alphonso Talboys. 1840. London. Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=DMIoAAAAYAAJ
6.      P.M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria. Clarendon Press, 1972, Oxford. Questia http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=59641515
7.      Reimer, M.J. Colonial Bridgehead: Government and Society in Alexandria, 1807-1882. Westview Press, 1997, Boulder, Colorado. Questia http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=9045267
8.      Article: History of Alexandria. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alexandria
9.      Article: Mamluk Egypt. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamluk_Sultanate_(Cairo)
10.      Article: Ottoman Egypt. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Egypt
11.      Article: Eyalet Egypt, Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyalet_Egypt
12.      Article: Spice Trade. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spice_trade
13.      Alexandria, from Digital Library. Archnet.com. http://archnet.org/library/places/one-place.jsp?place_id=1455
14.      Article: Muslim Conquest of Egypt. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_conquest_of_Egypt
15.      Simonin, Louis. Underground Life: Or Mines and Miners. Chapman and Hall. 1869. http://books.google.com/books?id=k0IDAAAAQAAJ
16.      Bosworth, Clifford Edmund. Historical Cities of the Islamic World. 2007. Google Books http://books.google.com/books?id=UB4uSVt3ulUC
17.      Ganse, Alexander. History of Egypt, 641-1250. World History at KMLA. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/northafrica/xegypt6411250.html
18.      Ganse, Alexander. Mamluk Sultanate of Cairo. 1250-1517. World History at KMLA. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/northafrica/xmlegypt.html
19.      Ganse, Alexander. History of Ottoman Egypt. 1517-1914. World History at KMLA. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/northafrica/xottegypt.html
20.      Ganse, Alexander. History of Modern Egypt. World History at KMLA. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/northafrica/xegypt.html


Back to WHKMLA Main Index . WHKMLA, Students' Papers Main Page . WHKMLA, Students' Papers, 15th Wave Index Page