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)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The world’s first Parliament building - Patara

Only a few people will have heard about the opening of the first ever Parliament building in the ancient city of Patara, Turkey.

First discovered in 1991, restoration works started in 2010 and it took two full years to complete the project, re-erecting and repairing inside and outside walls, gateways, and the entire seating area. When I visited Patara in 2007, works were still in full progress and the building was fenced off but it now shines in full splendor. It may feel somehow overdone, too well reconstructed, but on the other hand, this is the closest one can get to taste what it is like to sit inside a Council House – and this one is regarded as being the world’s first democratic Parliament (to use modern words).

[Picture from The Hurriyet Daily News]

The Lycian League for which this Council House was built has always fascinated me. The very idea matured in the early 2nd century BC after Lycia came under control of Rhodes with the influence of Rome. Yet Rhodes did not give the Lycians a fair treatment and after many complaints, Rome judged it only fair to grant them their freedom. Finally, the Lycian cities all agreed it was time to unite and the Lycian League, as dreamed of by Pericles several centuries earlier now became reality. The six main cities: Xanthos, Pınara, Tlos, Patara, Myra, and Olympos were the administrative, judicial, military, financial and religious centers and each received three votes in the meetings of the League. Most of the other cities had one single vote each while some very small cities shared one vote (for instance Istlada, Apollonia, and Aperlai). Besides, some cities and small federal states were allowed to mint their own coins, provided they bear the inscription ΛΥΚΙΩΝ ΚΟΙΝΩΝ. This must have been an enormous boost to the Lycians’ pride and eventually to their prosperity.

The building we see here in Patara was however built in the first century AD and served for five hundred years. It could seat 400 representatives coming from all the member-cities of the Lycian League, squeezing inside the walls of this 43 meters long and 30 meters wide Council House. When the Lycian League was at last dissolved, the building was still used as a theater.

Like Patara’s theater, the Council House had been swallowed and hidden under the moving sand dunes for centuries, which in a way helped to preserve the stone, making it look like new.

[Click here to see all the pictures of Patara]

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