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, Afghanistan) - 329 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)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hama and its ingenious norias

Hama is a very old Syrian city that was known at least 4000 years ago, strategically built on the banks of the Orontes River and an obvious stop for anyone travelling between Damascus and Aleppo.

Yet, Hamas deserves a visit in its own right, not only because is has a most charming town center but mostly because of its spectacular large wooden waterwheels – a Roman invention so ingenious that you have to see it in order to fully grasp its significance.

Known under their Arabian name as norias, their earliest traces are found in a mosaic dating from 469 AD but they may have been used before. Anyway, in the fifth century, at least 100 of these waterwheels must have existed. Hard to imagine when we are faced with “only” seventeen survivors in Hama today, for even this small reflection of times past is extremely impressive!

It is not just one waterwheel here and there, but a complete chain of norias on both sides of the Orontes. Their size varies between 23 and 69 feet (7 to 21 meters), a few stories high, and when you stand next to one of them you truly feel dwarfed! When they are activated by high water levels, which happens only rarely because of the dams constructed higher upstream, their creaking and squeaking noise is said to be deafening and terrifying at the same time. One such wheel lies flat on the ground next to the bridge, and clearly proves how ingenious and simple the very concept was.

The oldest still working waterwheels date from the 14th and 15th century and the largest one counts no less than 120 wooden scoops to carry the water to a higher level, i.e. to the connecting aqueduct from where it was led away to the irrigate the neighboring fields.

This is so incredibly ingenious!

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