First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Alexandria, the large city that lies in Egypt, was built (as Justinus writes in book 11) by Alexander the Great 320 years before the Coming of Christ. For when Alexander journeyed to Jupiter Ammon[Ammon was originally an Ethiopian or Libyan deity, and later an Egyptian one. The real Egyptian name was Amun or Ammun. The Greeks called him Zeus Ammon, the Romans Jupiter Ammon, and the Hebrews Amon. The most ancient seat of his worship was Meroe, where he had an oracle; from there it was introduced into Egypt, where the worship took the firmest root at Thebes in Upper Egypt, which was therefore frequently called by the Greeks Diospolis, or the city of Zeus. Another famous seat of the god, with a celebrated oracle, was in the oasis of Ammorium (Siwah) in the Libyan Desert. The worship was also established at Cyrenaica. The god was represented either as a ram, or as a man with a ram's head. It seems clear that the original idea of Ammon was that of a protector and leader of the flocks. The Ethiopians were a Nomad people, flocks of sheep were their principal wealth, and it is perfectly in accord with the notions of the Ethiopians and Egyptians to worship the animal that is the leader and protector of the flock.] to consult him on the future and to get information as to his origin, he built Alexandria on his return, and arranged that it should be a place of residence for the Macedonians and to be the capital of Egypt. He built three cities named after him, namely, one in Egypt, which some call Canopicum; a second in Asia, and a third in Scythia on the river Tanais. Alexandria was so called because Alexander built it. His name and grave were venerated by Julius and Augustus, the Roman emperors. The city has a circumference of 333 furlongs. It is intersected by small streets on which horses and wagons pass. There are two wide streets in the middle, which intersect one another. The city (as Josephus states) is protected by impenetrable wildernesses, by harborless seas, by rivers, and by wooded swamps. Once upon a time it was very beautiful. It is still fortified by ornate towers and strong, high walls; but the interior is just a heap of ruins and deserted buildings. For a while it contained pagan temples; and Christian churches were still to be seen there. The city had many royal buildings, for each king adorned it with beautiful structures according to his own taste. Where the palace of Alexandria formerly stood there is now a very tall monument made of a single stone, and having a sharp point. It resembles a tower. There is also a Church of St. Mark, in which the Jacobites live; for St. Mark the Evangelist was the first to preach the Christian religion there. When the apostles made him a bishop there, he erected many churches. Upon his death Amanus succeeded him. Many men learned in the Holy Scriptures came from here; such as Philo, by birth a Jew, who wrote much that is useful; Clemens, the priest; the most excellent priest, Origen; Athanasius, the bishop there; Didimus, Theophilus, and many others. Outside the city are two marble monuments to indicate the place where St. Catherine, the virgin and martyr, was beheaded. The Venetians have two industrial establishments there. The Genoese also have one for their merchants and their wares; also the Catalanians, in the king of Sicily's court. And they also have beautiful little churches, in which holy things are accomplished. The Turks, Tartars and other pagans have their ornate houses, which are closed at night by the Saracens. At one point the city is surrounded by the great sea (i.e., the Mediterranean); at another it is bordered by wonderful gardens with fertile soil, watered by the Nile. The Saracens now have custody of the harbor. There are two hills in the city, from which approaching ships can be seen. It is said that pigeons were trained here to carry messages back and forth, so that those in the city were more secure against the enemy. For the pigeons (as Pliny says) were messengers in important matters. It is said that Brutus the Roman tied messages to the feet of pigeons during the Mutinian siege, and thus sent messages to the Roman army.

Alexandria is the name given to several cities founded by or in memory of Alexander the Great. One of them, the capital of Egypt under the Ptolemies, was ordered by Alexander the Great to be founded in 332 BCE. It was built on a narrow neck of land between the Lake Mareotis and the Mediterranean, opposite to the Isle of Pharos, which was joined to the city by an artificial dyke, called Heptastadium, which formed, with the island, the two harbors of the city, that on the northeast of the dyke being named the Great Harbor (now the New Port), that on the southwest Eunostos (the Old Port). These harbors communicated with each other by channels, and there was a canal from Eunostos to the Lake Mareotis. The city was built on a regular plan, and was intersected by two principal streets about 100 feet wide, the one extending 30 stadia from east to west; the other across this, from the sea towards the lake, to the length of 10 stadia. At the eastern extremity of the city was the royal quarter, and at the other end, outside the city, was the cemetery. A great lighthouse was built on the island of Pharos in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Under the care of the Ptolemies, as the capital of a great kingdom and of the most fertile country on earth, and commanding by its position all the commerce of Europe with the East, Alexandria soon became the most wealthy and splendid city of the Roman world. Greeks, Jews, and other foreigners flocked there, and its population probably amounted to somewhere between 500,000 and 750,000 people. But a still greater distinction was conferred upon it through the foundation, by the first two Ptolemies, of the Museum, an institution in which men devoted to literature were maintained at the public cost, and of the Library which contained 90,000 distinct works, and 400,000 volumes, and the increase of which made it necessary to establish another library in the Serapium (Temple of Serapis), which reached 28,000 volumes, but which was destroyed by the bishop Theophilus, at the time of the general overthrow of the pagan temples under Theodosius (389 CE). The great Library suffered severely by fire when Julius Caesar was besieged in Alexandria, and it was finally destroyed by a lieutenant of the Caliph Omar in 651 CE. When Egypt became a Roman province, Alexandria was made the residence of the prefect of Egypt. It retained its commercial and literary importance, and became also a chief seat of Christianity and of theological learning.

Much (all?) of this passage on Alexandria in the Latin edition of the Chronicleis taken from the work of Felix Fabri (c. 1437-1502), a Dominican monk from Germany who in 1480 and again in 1483 journeyed to the Holy Land, Arabia, and Egypt—his last visit being exactly one decade before the publication of the Chronicle. Published three years after his second visit to those lands, his nearly 1500-page text, whose title was Fratris Felici Fabri evagatorium in Terrae Sanctae, Arabiae et Egypti peregrinationem (‘The Wanderings of Brother Felix Fabri in his Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Arabia, and Egypt'), included the very first printed Coptic alphabet anywhere, and had a profound influence on European scholars in the 15th and 16th centuries.