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 Dragiana/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)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Alexander de Grote, Macht als Noodlot by Peter Bamm

This book, written by Peter Bamm, is rarely mentioned in any literature about Alexander the Great. Yet I think this is a must for any novice willing to learn the basics about the person and the campaigns of AlexanderASIN: B0000COC3F

It was my very first substantial book I read about Alexander and I was hooked for the rest of my life! It was published in 1968 and may seem out of date here and there (the Macedonian city of Aegae is still believed to be in Edessa) with its black and white illustrations, but the photographs perfectly reflect the desolation of the eastern landscapes he was confronted with, the high mountain ranges, the wide wild rivers and unforgiving deserts. The illustrations are engraved in my memory forever and the vivid descriptions of Peter Bamm really make Alexander come alive.

Peter Bamm takes you by the hand as the story unfolds and leads you through a first-hand experience.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amidst Shrapnel in Afghanistan

A near miracle, I dare say, to see archaeologists at work in Afghanistan while the fighting between Taliban and the Western forces is still an ongoing business. An article from Reuters, meaning that we can consider the information as trustworthy, reports on 17 August 2010 about Buddhist remains that are being discovered south of Kabul.

Mohammad Nader Rasouli, head of the Afghan Archaeological Department, mentions that two statues were found, respectively seven and nine meters high, and some coins. They also uncovered a temple, some stupas, rooms decorated with colorful fresco’s and gold. Some of the finds have been dated to the 5th century, but there may be artifacts dating from the BC era.

The site is located in the Aynak region of the Logar province, close to the area where the Chinese have recently started mining copper ore. The mine exploitation is not harming the excavations but looters and smugglers are. They were there even before the government could start excavation work last year. Always a pity when those things happen.

The situation is grim, as can be expected for we all remember how the radical Talibans destroyed the giant Buddha statues at Bamyan at the end of last decade; many more antiquities and historical sites were destroyed or pillaged in the process.

Rasouli says that they don’t have the resources to move the relics to a safe place, but he hopes to build a museum there instead, adding "We need foreign assistance to preserve these and their expertise to help us with further excavations."

Safeguarding a country’s archeological heritage is never easy but in war zones it is always worse. Let’s hope that a reasonable solution can be found for in my eyes Afghanistan is part of the land conquered by Alexander the Great. There must be an enormous wealth in archeological treasures from his days and from Hellenistic times still hidden out there … somewhere…

Thursday, May 5, 2011

All Alexander’s Women. Sisygambis’ Letters by Robbert Bosschart

The title alone made me stop in my tracks: Sisygambis' Letters (ISBN 1439272018)! I got “hooked” on this subject after attending a lecture by Robbert Bosschart at the Zenobia Congress 2010 when I heard his thorough investigation about the women in the life of Alexander the Great for the first time. Beside this book, which is a historic novel, he also wrote another one, All Alexander’s Women, that records his in depth study of the matter, and I have to admit that I find this quite exciting.

How Bosschart dared talking about “all his women” made me raise my eyebrows at first for Alexander didn’t have that many wives or concubines. But Bosschart is not exactly talking about spouses and mistresses, but rather about the mother figures in Alexander’s life: his own mother Olympias, of course; Queen Ada of Caria; and most of all about Sisygambis, the Queen Mother of Persia. Alexander’s sister Cleopatra also enters the picture, although we know very little about her and most is pure speculation.

This novel gives us a kind of detective story in which a Swiss archeologist with the significant name of Barsine gets hold of several secret papyri which she is able to decode. These documents turn out to be the private correspondence between Queen Ada and Queen Sisygambis mostly, but there are also a few coded messages written by Alexander personally. This is evidently a very utopian happening, but all in all through these documents we are able to shed an entirely new light on the Persian world in which Alexander had to move as a King.

New to me, and this is no fiction, is to hear that women in the East (which includes Persia) were very much emancipated. They occupied high positions, could exercise a profession and were considered the equals of men! Once you manage to let that knowledge sink in, it is quite amazing and even more unbelievable to realize that thanks to the Romans and the Christian belief we needed more than two thousand years to start the process of emancipation all over again!

Keeping this concept of emancipation in mind, the person of Olympias –whose forefathers came from Troy – is to be seen in an entirely different light. The role of Barsine, the widow of Memnon and mistress of Alexander (she gave him a son, Heracles) cannot be neglected either, particularly if you remember that she spoke Greek and was able to converse with Alexander. Through her, he would have been aware of the protocol at the Persian Court, meaning that when he went to Sisygambis’ tent after the Battle of Issus, he must have known how to carry himself and how to handle this situation with the correct procedure. And let us not forget Queen Ada, who was put back on the throne of Caria by Alexander himself after the siege of Halicarnassus. She was not a queen by name only, but one who had full power to rule. Remember that unlike in other cities, Alexander did not leave a Macedonian garrison behind to have a finger in the pie. That is no small matter!

We are used to look at Alexander as a conqueror, a fighter, and maybe even as a politician, but rarely as a human being and certainly not in a world were a woman had as much to say as a man. It is an intoxicating thought to even consider what our world would have looked like had Alexander lived long enough to organize his empire taking this aspect into account! We certainly would not have known a Roman Empire, and Christianity would not have spread (or would have spread differently) in a world of religious tolerance and equality between men and women. I am sure the Greeks and more so the Macedonians will have taken great care to leave that knowledge out of their records!

A subject for deep reflection and lengthy discussions, no doubt! This very book, although it is a historic novel, is no less exciting and makes highly entertaining and intriguing reading!