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)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Additional scrutiny of the Caryatids of Amphipolis by Andrew Chugg

Yes, Andrew Chugg,  as can be expected, has written a second analysis just after the caryatids were discovered. He decided to explain the meaning of the presence of these ladies. (For his first comment, see: A wonderful analysis of Amphipolis by Andrew Chugg).

Although the best-known caryatids are those of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis of Athens, they are a very common feature in Greek and Roman architecture. The caryatids guarding the entrance door of the Amphipolis’ tomb are slightly out of common because of their posture, facing each other in a mirror effect with an upraised arm in the center and the outside arm holding up their dress.

Andrew Chugg shows us that the Amphipolis’ caryatids closely resemble the one found at Tralles (modern Aydin, Turkey) dating from the first century BC. He adds however that little has changed in the general representation of the caryatids, either for those from the Classical or from the Hellenistic periods.

More interesting, I think, is his comparison with the miniature caryatids found on the throne of Eurydice, Alexander’s grandmother (Philip’s mother) that stood in her tomb at Aegae. These caryatids, separated from each other by columns, also hold the ceiling with one arm while the other picks up their dresses but they show more dynamic in their movement. These caryatids, in combination with the now lost sphinxes, draw a clear parallel with Amphipolis and tend to point towards the burial site of a Macedonian queen of the fourth century BC. A detail, but a rather important one, is that women and adolescent girls only served Macedonian queens and not their kings, meaning that they only appear in female burial sites. Andrew Chugg here quotes Plutarch and goes as far as to link the baskets in which Queen Olympias kept her snakes (λίκνων) to the baskets carried on the heads of the Amphipolis’ caryatids. This makes Olympias a favourite occupant of the Amphipolis tomb.

He also mentions Diodorus who wrote that Cassander left Olympias behind where she fell after being murdered, but no source speaks of her burial. Yet it is unthinkable that Olympias’ relatives or supporters, or the Macedonians in general would not have provided a fitting burial to the mother of Alexander the Great.

So far, we generally have accepted the idea that Olympias was buried at Pydna but this assumption seems to be solely based on a fragmentary inscription found in the area. The reconstruction of the text, i.e. filling in the blanks, is purely speculative and is subject to lots of interpretations. According to Andrew Chugg it is improbable that Olympias died at Pydna as her death occurred weeks after she surrendered to Cassander who had his hands full with the revolt in Amphipolis. It makes no sense for Cassander to stay in Pydna pending Olympias execution while he was so badly needed to defend his position in Amphipolis.

Of course, this still doesn’t prove that Olympias is actually buried at Amphipolis even though she may be the main candidate. As stated earlier, second in line could be Roxane, for which I have my personal doubts since I cannot believe that the Macedonians treated her with enough reverence to build such a lavish burial site – even though she was the wife of their Alexander.

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