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 Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 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)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Greek city of Leukaspis in Egypt

At last, the recently excavated remains of Leukaspis will soon be opened to the general public!

Leukaspis disappeared from the map after the heavy earthquake of 365 AD and was rediscovered only in 1986 during roadworks under today’s luxury vacation resort of Marina el-Alamein, nearly two hundred kilometres west of Alexandria, in Egypt. Archaeological research exposed more than fifty different constructions belonging to the old town and its necropolis. The remains have all been dated between the 2nd century BC and the 7th century AD, and based on the many statues, the city may have been devoted to the cult of Aphrodite.

Leukaspis was founded in the 2nd century BC by the Greeks, and its name means as much as Wild Shield (or Shell) which may refer to the white sands in the area, although it was also known as Antiphrae. It must have been a quite prosperous harbour-city counting as much as 15,000 inhabitants in its heydays, exporting grain, livestock, wine and olives to other countries around the Mediterranean.

Excavations have revealed that the merchants lived in elegant two-story villas with inner courtyards surrounded by living quarters and prayer rooms. Rainwater was collected from the roofs and channelled underground towards the family cistern, while sophisticated sewer systems evacuated the waste waters. The social and economic life of the city evolved around the intersection of the two main streets. It is here that the remains of a basilica and a hall for public events were found, to be converted into a Christian church in later years. Greek columns and bright limestone walls are still standing up to six foot high in some places and the visitors will also be able to climb down the shafts of the rock-tombs to the underground burial chambers of the necropolis.

Leukaspis was a major stop for the coastal trade between Egypt and Libya, which in later years was extended to other cities around the Mediterranean Sea but mostly to Crete, as it was closer to this city than to Alexandria

Disaster struck in 365 AD when a massive earthquake rocked the entire coast of North Africa, setting off a tsunami wave that also devastated Alexandria. Most settlements along the coast disappeared, if not as a direct result of the earthquake, then certainly because of its long-term effect in though economic times.

Unfortunately, nothing remains of the old harbour as an artificial lagoon was built here in the 1990 (using dynamite) around the new summer residences of top government officials. Luckily the remains of Leukaspis are now protected from such barbaric measures…

As a strange coincidence, today’s Marina also is a holiday village for Egyptians who want to escape the stifling summer heat in search of the cool breezes of the Mediterranean. Plans exist to bring more year-round tourists to this area, away from the pyramids and Pharaonic temples, yet also close to the El-Alamein battlefield and its World War II cemeteries. There are signs that many a soldier from the allied troops sought refuge inside the rock-tombs of Marina.

And just some 30 miles away another tourist attraction could be the massive Temple of Osiris where archaeologists are hoping to find the burial place of the famous lovers Anthony and Cleopatra. After all, she was the last descendant of King Ptolemy I, Alexander’s faithful general and maybe even his half-brother.

[pictures are from Associated Press]

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