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 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)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Egypt, land of the free for ancient Greeks?

The well-known Greek tradeing emporium of Naucratis was established as early as the 7th century BC in the Nile Delta where they lived in harmony with each other. 

So far it was accepted that these Greeks had fled the quarrels and wars at home to form a trade settlement in Egypt. The unexpected result being that although they came from different tribes and areas, they lived and worshipped together, which was a first but huge step towards the creation of a national Greek identity. As mighty Egypt allowed them to operate a lucrative business, even granting them special privileges, Naucratis eventually became a melting pot of Greek and Egyptian art and culture.

[Map from Wikipedia]

Recently, researchers have tried to explain what triggered these Greeks to move. At the time of the settlement, Eastern Greece suffered from the dominating power of Lydia that ruled over western and central parts of Asia Minor (today’s Turkey). The Greeks resented their forced tribute to these Lydian lords. Since the Lydians had a formal alliance with the Egyptian Empire, it is now thought that a group of smart businessmen used this alliance to set up a trading post in Egypt. They still paid tribute to Lydia but in exchange they enjoyed certain rights and liberties acting as their representatives. This way, they made the best of Lydia’s oppressive regime.

This latest theory overturns the previous idea of Naucratis being the land of the free for the Greeks. In spite of their new trading opportunities, they still had to pay taxes to the ruling Lydians. Greek trade, although controlled by the Egyptians and still mediated by the Lydians, contributed however to the ambitions of both allied parties. It makes one wonder how profitable this trade settlement really turned out to be.

It would have been interesting to know what Alexander thought of Naucratis which he must have crossed on his way to Siwah, but unfortunately no such comment has survived.   

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