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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Monday, January 26, 2015

What if … Alexander had lived a few more years to conquer western Mediterranean?

That is another ballgame altogether. Alexander definitely had drawn his plans as contained in his notebooks (hypomnemata). He had already started exploring the coastline of the Arabian peninsula, an expedition that was cut short because the peninsula turned out to be far larger than expected. His ships went as far as the Straight of Hormuz without knowing that they had reached the headland that Nearchus had seen when sailing up from India into the Persian Gulf in 324 BC.

The projects were all on a grand scale, far beyond the visions of any of Alexander’s successors and are best documented by Diodorus and Curtius. Instructions had been given already to build a thousand warships, triremes up to septiremes in Syria, Phoenician, Cilicia and Cyprus to be eventually sailed into Babylon’s harbor. They would serve for a campaign along the coast of North Africa in order to conquer the strong Carthaginian realm. Interestingly he planned to build a road along the coast of Libya as North Africa was named in his days, running all the way to the Pillars of Hercules, i.e. modern Gibraltar. Knowing that the first coastal road through today’s Libya was built by Mussolini in 1937, clearly shows how daring a project this was. The conquest of the coastal regions that would also include Hiberia (Spain) and Sicily, evidently implied the establishment of a series of ports and dockyards on the way where the ships could forage on provisions and get repairs done. Curtius even goes so far as to mention that Alexander’s plan was to reach the Alps, and return to Epirus via the seacoast of Italy.

Alexander’s visions were not limited to warfare only, they included the arts as well. Six expensive temples were to be built, each costing 1,500 talents, located at Delos, Delphi, and Dodona; one at Dion in his homeland and dedicated to Zeus; one at Amphipolis for Artemis Tauropolus; and finally a temple in honor of Athena at Cyrnus (modern Corsica). Second to none, a special temple dedicated to Athena should be constructed at Ilium (Troy) also. To remember his father, Philip II, he intended to erect a tomb as great as the largest pyramid in EgyptDinocrates of Rhodes, who had already worked for Alexander in planning the city of Alexandria in Egypt, reconstructing the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, and assembling the monumental funeral pyre for Hephaistion, had also drawn plans to carve an immense image of Alexander in the flank of Mount Athos in Greece’s Chalcidice – plan that may or may not have been taken into account by the king.

These plans clearly prove Alexander’s determination and do not leave room for failure. He was going to conquer the entire Mediterranean, something the Romans achieved only several centuries later but their empire was not the making of one man and did not take shape in one lifetime. The Greek language, for centuries the lingua franca all over the Middle-East including today’s Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and helping to spread Christianity, would also been spoken and used in our western countries; Latin may not have had a chance beyond a local nucleus. Our world definitely would have looked very different considering that the knowledge of Greek philosophers, mathematicians, artists and sailors would have flowed straight through our veins!

Unfortunately, when Perdiccas found these orders after Alexander’s death, he decided that the expenses were far too high and Diodorus mentions that even the Macedonians, when these plans were read out aloud, realized that the projects were excessive and impractical. Well, I would say this is only one way to present the case since there definitely was no shortage of money to sponsor the Successors’ wars for forty years! But, on the other hand, if things had evolved differently with Hephaistion or Craterus at the helm in Babylon instead of Perdiccas, who knows what could have happened to Alexander’s dreams.

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