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, December 25, 2014

An update on the Terrace Houses of Ephesus

Truly something for puzzle-aficionados! Roll up your sleeves and dig in the bunch of 120,000 shards to recreate an ancient mosaic floor. So far, archeologists have successfully fitted together 50,000 pieces in four years, an ambitious and challenging project since they don’t know what the ultimate picture is supposed to look like! On average, the team can assemble 50 to 60 pieces a day but on a lucky day they may assemble as much as 200 pieces. If you don’t fancy investing your energy in this time-consuming guesswork, you still can look over the shoulder of these courageous people while visiting the so-called Terrace Houses when you are in Ephesus (see also my previous article: Ephesus and its terrace houses).

The luxury of these villas has nothing to envy to the modern rich and famous. The brilliantly decorated walls and floors are only part of the amenities, for these Romans from the first centuries AD were familiar with floor heating and cooling through cold water channels; the ceilings were decorated with gold leaves and marbles from fifty different quarries were used.

While at first the archeologists were able to distinct two villas, they now know that one of them belonged to Flavius Furius Aptus, probably a priest at the Temple of Dionysus. His most splendid room was his dining room with a pool in the middle, famous for its floor mosaics and wall paintings where he received his guests. After repeated earthquakes the building collapsed leaving the 120,000 shards of marble for us to sweep up and put back into place.

Meanwhile the painted walls of the Terrace Houses are undergoing a thorough cleanup in the hope to give us a glimpse of their original glory. After the initial restoration, archeologists are now working with a new process using the latest technology. This year alone 120 m2 spread over eight rooms were strengthened and cleaned with these special chemicals. They aim at recreating the decoration with small touches without interfering with the paintings themselves.

I find it most unfortunate that many trips to Ephesus do not include a visit to these Terrace Houses. A separate entrance fee (well-worth the hidden beauty) is being charged and tour operators tend to rush their customers down through the Curetus Street without stopping at these remarkable rooms. What a shame!

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