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, October 9, 2013

Cute anecdote about doping in antiquity

Instead of pure archaeological information, I’m sharing this cute anecdote about the use of “performance-enhancing” drugs in antiquity.

We have to thank the latest excavations at Magnesia on the Meander located about 15 miles east of Miletus for this information. The diggings focussing on the stadium revealed a relief telling us that the most important part of the stadium limited to 60 persons was reserved for a group called the Mandragoreitoi. These were people who produced mandrake, a deliriant and hallucinating drug held in high esteem and apparently encouraged to be used by the competing athletes. Wikipedia defines mandrake as follows: Mandrake is the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora, particularly the species Mandragora officinarum, belonging to the nightshades family (Solanaceae). Because mandrake contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine, apoatropine, hyoscyamine and the roots sometimes contain bifurcations causing them to resemble human figures, their roots have long been used in magic rituals, today also in contemporary pagan traditions such as Wicca and Odinism.

While clearing the old stadium with a capacity of 40,000 people from tons and tons of soil, it was discovered that part of the seats were reserved for the citizens of Ephesos, while some political groups, bakers, gardeners, and bird sellers had combined tickets. Other reliefs found on the podiums tell us about the awards that were granted to competitors in any of the three categories, gymnastics, riding and music. Successful athletes were interestingly enough granted a bundle of clothes, probably a distinctive outfit.

More reliefs await future excavation and the archaeologists hope to find some 125 of them, meaning that more information about the stadium and the competitions will become available.

[Pictures from Hurriyet Daily News]

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