In the third century bc, a number of kingdoms and states maintained a delicate balance of power across the ancient Mediterranean world. Amongst these, the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt; the Antigonids, Macedonia; and the Seleucids, a vast region that at its height encompassed much of the Middle East and stretched as far as India. All three of these Hellenistic kingdoms and their ruling families could trace their origins back to the wars that followed the death of Alexander the Great in 323 bc. 1 By the early second century bc, the order created by this network came under sustained pressure, from the Romans in the west, and from the Parthians in the east, and was entirely restructured by the end of the first century bc.