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)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Andriake, port of Myra

The site of Andriake lies just across the road from Myra. Driving up, I can’t miss noticing the huge Granary that Hadrian built there: 65 meters long by 32 meters wide, a real eye catcher! It is now marshy land and it seems nothing much has been done to revive the ruins when I stop here in the Spring of 2008, but there is enough to entice me.

The road ends at the harbor from where the day-tourists are taken by glass-bottom boats to visit the sunken remains on the north side of Kekova Island, which I saw when I sailed the Lycian Coast with Peter Sommer Travels. There is plenty of activity in the local dry-docks where seasoned craftsmen are hammering and soldering to get their vessels in shape for the upcoming season. I walk through the sand that the Lycian winds have blown into Andriake harbor over the past centuries, turning it into a swampy area with plenty of waterfowl.

It is not difficult finding the Granary that Hadrian built here when he visited Myra in 131 AD although there is no real path leading to it. After passing the remains of uninspiring walls amidst the bushes, I come to an open space revealing the building on the higher side of the slope. This Granary or Horrea is composed of nine successive rooms which could hold a total of 6,000 cubic meters of grain. Each chamber inside the building is connected to the next while each has its own wide entrance door to the outside also. There must have been huge locks on these doors, I think, looking at the empty space in the side wall where the bolt obviously fitted in. The façade and the partition walls are built with rectangular blocks but for the back wall, the more sturdy polygonal technique was used. Looking closely, I discover the bust of Hadrian and his wife Sabina still in place above the central room. Between the square guardhouses that frame the façade at each end, I also find the reliefs depicting the dreams of the warehouse keeper who served here in the 5th century AD. One of the door lintels shows a relief of shield and spears, and between the windows above (that must have provided the necessary ventilation) protruding blocks may have held decorative statues.

Andriake does not look much today but in antiquity, it was a chief port for the Egyptian vessels on their way to Rome. Egypt was the breadbasket of the Roman Empire, so Andriake was a major transshipment port for grain from Alexandria. Like the bay of Iasos in Western Turkey, Andriake harbor could be closed off by a strong chain.

As I walk on, I reach the Agora or Plakoma that was surrounded by shops on three sides. What strikes me here is the huge underground cistern half hidden under the large white slabs of the Agora floor where the city stored its fresh water. What I see is nothing more than a partial pavement half hidden under the low bushes, with gaping openings to the entrails of the cistern. I move around with caution, carefully avoiding these pitfalls.

There are more walls and buildings that look like Basilicas and baths but I cannot figure them out properly in this overgrown terrain. From my readings, I remember that there must have been statues here to honor Germanicus and his wife Agrippina who visited Myra in the year 18 AD, but I’m not sure where.

I leave the rest of the city with its hexagonal tower, its mixture of polygonal and rectangular walls, and the necropolis with Lycian sarcophagi higher up the hillside for what it is. I have seen enough for now.

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