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 of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, 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)

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Alexander still triggers our imagination

Alexander keeps surfacing from the strangest of places, a proof – if needed – that the world has not forgotten him.

This thought came to me while reading an article about the latest excavations carried out in an ancient Jewish village of Galilee, i.e. in Israel and that in spite of the ongoing conflicts in the region. Archaeologists are in the process of uncovering a stunning mosaic floor that belonged to a synagogue at Huqoq dating from the fifth century.

After previously uncovered mosaics with biblical scenes, archaeologists have now come across images that do not fit that pattern. There is for instance a bull pierced by spears with next to him a dead soldier holding a shield, and another scene showing young men seated around an elderly man holding a scroll seen through an arcade topped with burning oil lamps. And then there is this mosaic depicting two bearded men. One wears a diadem and is clad in an elaborate battledress and a purple cloak while leading a large bull by the horns. He is accompanied by a phalanx of soldiers and a group of elephants with shields tied to their sides. This description alone triggers my imagination and I immediately think of Alexander, of course, for who else would be surrounded by a phalanx and elephants? In the mosaic he is met by a grey-haired elderly man in a white ceremonial tunic and mantle, followed by young men with sheathed swords wearing the same outfit.

It is evident that no elephants are involved in any of the bible stories. Archaeologists confirm that battle elephants are automatically associated with Greek armies ever since Alexander the Great. They now concluded that this might be a scene from a Jewish legend in which Alexander is meeting a Jewish high priest. It may be tied to Alexander’s speculative visit to Jerusalem that is mentioned by Flavius Josephus and apparently also in some rabbinic literature. Something worth investigating!

The article, unfortunately, does not show any picture of this stunning mosaic floor (luckily moved from the site for conservation) except for the head of what could be Alexander.

2 comments:

  1. Can not see where it fits the bearded head, but one of the images you see part of the mosaic with the elderly and the bottom of the phalanx. Thanks for bringing this interesting archaeological site
    http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=39&Issue=5&ArticleID=9

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    1. I agree. In spite of what looks like a thorough explanation I cannot figure this out either, but thought it interesting to hear Alexander pop out of that discovery. Here too, only time will tell.

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