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 Drangiana/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)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heracleion, ancient Greek port in Egypt

Many cities have been named after Heracles and we find plenty of examples in Greece as well as in Turkey, but this Heracleion was discovered about 30 feet under the surface of the Mediterranean at Abukir Bay in the Nile delta. Before the foundation of Alexandria by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Heracleion, which the ancient Egyptians called Thonis, was a major port going back to the 8th century BC.


Thonis-Heracleion as it has been baptized for convenience was a main trade hub as well as an important religious centre. Herodotus for instance told us about a great temple that was devoted to Heracles after he set foot on Egyptian soil. He also mentions that Helen of Troy visited Heracleion with Paris before the Trojan War. Strabo visited Egypt four hundred years later and recorded that the Temple of Heracles was straight to the east on the Canopic branch of the River Nile. Evidence has shown that the city was spread along a network of canals which must have given it a leisurely appearance.

After 13 years of underwater excavations, 64 ancient beautifully preserved shipwrecks and more than 700 anchors have been dug out of the mud. More archaeological material shows that the city reached a peak between the 6th and the 4th century BC, including a wide variety of artifacts like  gold coins, weights from Athens (never found in Egypt before) and giant tablets with ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian inscriptions. Some religious objects, like a 16-foot stone sculptures supposedly from one of its temples, and limestone sarcophagi apparently used for mummified animals were also unearthed.


The one mystery that remains to be solved is why so many ships sank. It has been suggested that the overall weight of the large buildings on the water-logged clay and sand inevitably led the city to sink in the wake of an earthquake.

Whatever the cause, it often occurs to me that Alexander, although he never knew about the America’s or Australia, had a far better knowledge of his world than we have today as we keep on discovering so many lost cities he was familiar with!
[visit Goddio's Heracleion website for more pictures].   

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