EGYPT
The references to cipollino for Egypt are in Cairo and Alexandria. Certainly in Cairo, where considerable time was spent visiting mosques, there was nothing of the extent of cipollino to be found in Libya, Tunisia or Turkey. However, an interesting paper written by James A. Harrell, Lorenzo Lazzarini and Mathias Bruno in 2011 mentions ‘the use of all the stones commonly used by the Byzantines including bianco e nero antico, cipollino rosso, occhio di pavone rosso and verde antico’. These stones were used in Byzantine–Coptic churches which ‘were richly decorated with reused Roman ornamental stones.’ The paper does not specifically mention cipollino verde at this point but does include it in the end paragraph ‘as one of the Roman stones brought into Egypt in significant amounts’.1


Alexandria, founded by Alexander around 332 BC came under the jurisdiction of Rome in 80 BC, after being under Roman influence for over 100 years. Following Antony’s defeat at the Battle of Actium, Octavian took Egypt and appointed a prefect to report direct to him. In 115 AD Alexandria was destroyed during the Jewish-Greek civil wars and this gave Hadrian and his architect, Decriannus an opportunity to rebuild it. This could be a reason for there to be cipollino but in the images seen of the fine Roman Theatre there was no evidence. Vronwy Hankey has a reference to cipollino at Hermopolis Magna in the Roman basilica. Hermopolis is the site of ancient Khmum and is located near the modern Egyptian town of El Ashmunein.2

1 Reuse of Roman Ornamental Stones in Medieval Cairo, Egypt – Department of Earth, Ecological and Environmental Sciences, The University of Toledo, Ohio, USA, 2011, p.3.

2 Hankey V., A Marble Quarry at Karystos, Extrait du Bullletin du Musée de Beyrouth, t. XVIII, Beyrouth, 1965, pp. 53-59.