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)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Macedonian Tomb of Agios Athanasios in Thessaloniki

The name “Agios Athanasios” may not say much, except to those who visited the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, where it occupies a very privileged room of its own – and rightfully so!

Macedonia is rich in tombs with painted decorations on the inside and outside walls, and even on the sarcophagi, but this grave site has very well preserved frescos. The Tomb of Agios Athanasios is located under an enormous tumulus in the area of Thessaloniki, yet only 15 kilometers away from Pella (click here to watch a wonderfully well-done reconstruction). It has been looted but the small single chamber offers a unique example of richly decorated walls in surprisingly fresh colors. It dates from the last quarter of the fourth century BC, the Alexander-era. Reason enough to stop here for a moment.

As customary, the front of the tomb was entirely painted with golden winged griffons in the pediment trimmed by alternating dark blue triglyphs and white metopes. Underneath runs the frieze that depicts a symposium, a meeting for men only. This is a rare colored version of the feast where we see the participants comfortably stretched on their couches enjoying their food and wine, while young women play the guitar and the flute. Further down the frieze is a cortege of young men on foot and on horseback making their way to the event while they are being watched by Macedonian soldiers leaning on their spears and shields. The doorway is guarded by two grieving young men wearing a chlamys. Such a richly decorated tomb supposedly belonged to a renowned Macedonian military, more so since remains of his armor were found inside the nearly destroyed burial chamber.

The Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki has put these friezes in the limelight, reworking the panels digitally in order to make them available for everyone on a touch-screen. Using the sliding frame of the reference bar underneath, selections of this fresco can be studied in detail. There is also a large looking-glass that enables the curious visitor to magnify every single corner of the painting. Another program allows the visitor to touch specific personages or details which reverse to their original condition as the scenes were before their wear and tear over time got a hold – they look as colorful as on the day they were painted.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technique we are able to see in detail how the guests behaved, how they were catered with food and wine, and what they wore for such a symposium; that also applies to the military equipment of the infantry standing around.

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