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)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Poor Babylon

Babylon once hosted one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world when during its heydays King Nebuchadnezzar out of love for his homesick wife built the famous hanging gardens. It was here that Hammurabi wrote the very first laws etched in stone and now one of the proud possessions of the Louvre Museum; it is also where the biblical and historical Tower of Babel ruled over the surroundings of the Temple of Ishtar; and where the Achaemenid kings occupied their luxurious palaces till King Darius III of Persia was defeated by Alexander the Great, who died within its very walls.

Babylon, or what is left of it, has been located about 90 kilometers south of Baghdad, Iraq, along the banks of the Euphrates River. Today, the remains of this ancient site are in very poor conditions and we are to close to loose it altogether.

Although the first excavations in the Babylon area started in the early 19th century, serious work began towards the end of that century by successive archaeologists from England, Germany and Italy. Useless to point out that much of the finds are spread between their respective museums. When Sadam Hussein came to power, he wanted to wallow himself in the splendor and fame of this ancient capital and in 1983 he started to build a city of his own on top of the fragile ruins of the dried bricks walls. He inscribed his name in the bricks, just as Nebuchadnezzar had done before him, and as if the damage done to these ancients walls was not enough, he had serious plans to erect a palace of his own atop of some other ruins. The outbreak of the Gulf War put an end to this madness but by then the modern bricks and mortar of Sadam’s megalomania had dangerously damaged the brittle ruins.

After that, in 2003, the coalition forces camped in parts of ancient Babylon’s ten square kilometers for two years. They dug trenches, drove steel stakes into the ancient walls, built roads, parking lots and even a helicopter pad, bringing further damage to Babylon, including the famous Ishtar Gate and the Procession Way through which Alexander the Great made his triumphal entrance some 2,500 years ago.

Peace has not returned yet. For several years, villagers, invading armies and fortune seekers plundered whatever they could. An ever increasing number of people settled in new villages on top of the ruins and now rising groundwater threatens the ancient walls even further. To make matters worse, the Iraqi oil business is spoiling the precious grounds of this wondrous city tearing up the soil to lay down their pipelines 1.7 meters deep right next to two other pipelines that were dug under Sadam Hussein. The Ministry of Oil ignored the pleas from their own Iraqi archaeologists, simply stating that they didn’t find any artifacts while digging – as if they were experts in the matter!

Meanwhile, the UNESCO has written to the Iraqi authorities to express their concern and Iraq’s own department of Antiquities has sued the Ministry of oil demanding the removal of the pipelines. The World Monument Fund, on the other hand, is helping out to protect the damaged ruins of Babylon against the rising groundwater which is caused by new irrigation policies. But overall the situation is at a standstill since the government of Iraq has decided to suspend their contacts with US universities and institutions that are involved in saving Babylon. Let’s hope that these measures are only temporary and that the ban will soon be lifted.

Today, desolation and destruction are all too evident. Poor Babylon.

[Picture of the map is from NBC News and the lion picture is from The Australian]

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