Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lycia, worth to be known

Lycia is located in southern Turkey, roughly the big bulge between Marmaris in the west and Antalya in the east. It is mostly a mountainous knob that is connected to the rest of Turkey by two valleys only, the Xanthos Valley in the west and the Finike Valley in the east. Even today roads are scarce and follow the same valleys. The main east-west traffic follows the coastal road between Fethiye and Antalya, which is constantly improved but still a lengthy affair – although it offers spectacular views!

To me this is a true shrine of snowy mountain tops, deep gorges and a wealth of archeological sites with an unsurpassed rich history, going way back in time.

The Lycians were referred to as the Luwian people in early eastern and Egyptian inscriptions, i.e. the Luqqu or Luqqa from the 2nd millennium BC. Lycia’s main source of income came from its forests but also from trade with the ships that navigated along its coastline. Neighboring kings from Caria and Lydia tried but failed to conquer Lycia, until the Persians under the Achaemenids managed to impose themselves. Persian rule was fierce and ruthless and Xanthos resisted heavily, preferring even mass suicide rather than submission to the enemy.

The occupation took a different turn when Mausolos, the King and satrap of Caria took over, forming a kind of buffer between the Persians and the Lycians. In the 4th century BC, a certain Pericles tried to unite all Lycian cities under one central rule, without success. It was Alexander the Great who put a final end to the Persian occupation; at the same time, he also stopped the use of the Lycian language in favor of Greek. After Alexander’s premature death and the fight of his successors over the territories he conquered, Lycia came under the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemaics in 310 BC, and in 301 BC it was ruled by Lysimachus, King of Syria. But this kingdom would not live long enough either and finally, by the beginning of the 2nd century, BC Lycia came under the control of Rhodes with the influence of Rome.

Yet Rhodes did not give the Lycians a fair treatment and after many complaints, Rome found it reasonable to grant them their freedom. At this point, the Lycian cities all agreed it was time to unite and the Lycian League, as dreamed of by Pericles, became reality. The six main cities: Xanthos, Pınara, Tlos, Patara, Myra, and Olympos were the administrative, judicial, military, financial and religious centers and each received 3 votes in the meetings of the League. Most of the other cities had 1 vote each while some very small cities shared 1 vote (for instance Istlada, Apollonia, and Aperlai). Some cities and small federal states were allowed to mint their own coins, provided they bear the inscription ΛΥΚΙΩΝ ΚΟΙΝΩΝ. This must have been an enormous boost to the Lycians’ pride leading to their prosperity.

During the 1st century BC, Lycia with the rest of Anatolia became a Roman province, but this domination had its good side too for Rome had the power and the means to protect them against pirates, for instance. When their plundering of commercial ships and coastal cities went beyond limits, Manlius Vulso decided to go after them both by land and sea – and he was successful! The trade routes were open once again and the economy developed.

But then, in the wake of the murder of Julius Caesar, Brutus arrived in Lycia. Finding no support for his cause, he slaughtered the inhabitants of Xanthos (a repeat of what the Persians had done a few centuries before). A year later Marc Antony took over and luckily he decided to rebuild the cities, especially Xanthos. With the reign of Augustus peace returned, at last, reaching its heydays under Trajan and Hadrian.

Unfortunately in the year 141 AD, Anatolia including Lycia was hit by a severe earthquake, destroying many cities. Thanks to the contributions of rich citizens like Opramoas of Rhodiapolis, every single city between Phaselis in the east and Telmessus in the west was rebuilt and Lycia continued developing. But then it was hit again by a major earthquake on the 5th of August 240 AD and the cities were equally destroyed – yet no money seemed to have been available for their reconstruction and the entire region slowly fell into decline. By the 5th century the Byzantine Empire was crumbling down and soon afterward the Arabs invaded the territory.

Each and every site is worth discovering and visiting. One of the most thrilling experiences you can plan is to go out there by boat and explore this mysterious and unforgiving land from the sea. Personally, I have sailed this coast on board of the Almira with Peter Sommer Travels, and I can assure you that this experience will stay with you forever. Time truly comes to a standstill and I easily pictured how the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, the merchants and the pirates, navigated along this coastline. It is no surprise either to hear that the oldest shipwreck (1350 BC) has been found near Uluburun, approximately in the middle of the bulge. The entire cargo has been rescued and is now on display at the Museum of Bodrum – a true revelation!

But not only the coastal cities and sites are worth a visit, Lycia has lots of hidden treasures off the beaten tracks of tourists and/or further inland. Although I have mentioned a few cities above and it is utterly impossible to draw an exhaustive list. Maybe I’ll add just a few names like Rhodiapolis, Limyra, Arykanda, Chimera, Phellos or Letoon

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