In the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, the period between the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) and the conquest of Egypt by Rome (30 BC). Alexander and his successors established Greek monarchies that controlled the area from Greece to Afghanistan. The Macedonian Antigonid kingdom, the Middle Eastern Seleucid kingdom, and the Egyptian Ptolemaic kingdom spread Greek culture, mixed Greek and non-Greek populations, and fused Greek and Oriental elements. They produced effective bureaucracies and a common, creative culture based at Alexandria. A great flowering of the arts, literature, and science occurred particularly in the period 280–160. The decline of the Hellenic states occurred as Rome gained strength and won wars against Macedonia and against Mithradates VI Eupator, turning the kingdoms and their allies into Roman provinces. Egypt was the last to fall, after having been drawn into the civil war between Mark Antony and Octavian (Augustus).
Laocoön, marble sculpture attributed to Agesander, Athenodorus,
—Canali Photo Bank, Milan/SuperStock
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