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 Ariana (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in the Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (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)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Birds without Wings by Louis de Bernières

From time to time I pick a book from my shelves that is not directly related to Alexander, but may be so indirectly like for instance my travel guides to Turkey.

Alexander is always immediately associated with Greece (or Macedonia for that matter), and rightfully so, but we generally tend to forget what he did and left us in today’s Turkey. The Ionian cities along the west coast were Greek and were conquered by Alexander one after the other: Sardes, Ephesos, Miletus, Priene, Didyma and finally Halicarnassus to name just a few. It was in Turkey that Alexander had his first encounters with the Persian army, at the Granicus to start with and a year later at Issus. We should not forget how he took the Pamphylian cities of Perge, Side, Aspendos, Selge before marching north to Sagalassos and beyond to Gordion – whether or not to cut the famous knot. I don’t want to linger on his marching route through Anatolia but he definitely left his marks on the cities and the daily life of its citizen.
Birds without Wings (ISBN 978-0-099-47898-0) is set in an entirely different world, the dwindling Ottoman Empire of the early 1900’s from which ashes arose modern Turkey thanks to the relentless efforts of Mustafa Kemal, Atatürk, i.e. the father of all Turks.
There are scholars who figured out that the Pax Romana could not have existed without Alexander crushing down the Bactrians and Sogdians, keeping the steppe people away for centuries; Christianity owes its success to Hellenism; so maybe one day someone may prove that the Ottoman Empire could not have existed without Alexander, who knows.

Whatever my own thoughts may be, Birds without Wings is absolutely worth reading. It starts with the life of ordinary people living in a small village in southwestern Turkey where Muslims and Christians mingle together in their daily life. But soon enough their entire world is turned upside down with the Armenian cause, followed by the first World War in which the Ottomans automatically became the enemy of British and French powers culminating in the bloody and horrible combats at Gallipoli. The Muslims from the village are summoned to become soldiers, the Christians in a later phase to be practically enslaved in compulsory labor, leaving only old men, women and children to tend the fields and to survive. As if they had not suffered enough, this utter misery was followed by the massive people migration in which the Turkish-speaking Greeks of Turkey were exchanged against the Greek-speaking Turks from Greece – the memory of which may still be felt in today’s relations between Greece and Turkey.

In any case, this book is both a captivating story and an excellent history of Turkey, most of which goes unknown to the rest of the world and certainly to the many tourists who visit this country year after year.

No comments:

Post a Comment