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, 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)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A double highway in antiquity

We like to believe that the double highway is an invention from the 20th century. Well that is not so since remains of what is likely to be the first double highway ever have been discovered in Anavarza, near the village of Dilekkaya in the province of Adana, Turkey.


The origins of the city go back to the days of Assyrians and was successively occupied by the Sassanids, the Byzantines (Emperor Justinian I rebuilt the city after a destructive earthquake in 525 AD and renamed it Justinopolis), the Armenians and the Ottomans. It still holds traces from Hellenistic and Roman times who named it Caesarea. The fact that Anavarza was situated on the main road east after leaving the Cilician Gates made it one of the most important cities of Cilicia in the third and fifth centuries, after being overshadowed by nearby Tarsus during the first and second centuries AD.

Unfortunately Anavarza’s well preserved remains have been damaged by powerful earthquakes as recent as 1945, during which the three aqueducts that stood there for nearly two thousand years collapsed. Among the ruins are colonnades along two streets, a gymnasium, a triumphal arch, a theater, a stadium and a fort.

The most striking element, however, is this double columned highway, approximately 35 meters wide and 2.7 kilometers long. It has been established that columns were of the Corinthian order and were erected at 2.15 meters intervals. At present, work is underway to restore a 250-meter section of this highway in the hope to make it accessible for tourists in a few years’ time.

So far, 1,360 columns have been unearthed and plans are to restore them. The entrance gate also will be put back together as no less than 500 pieces have been found lying around the monument. Two more streets will be excavated and archaeologists hope to locate the sewage system as well as the stores on either side of the streets.

Once again, Anavarza may become one of the most magnificent cities from the ancient world after being cleared and restored. After all, this city is larger than Ephesos, for instance! 

It is not unthinkable that Alexander passed through this city, this very highway even, on his way from Tarsus to Issus. In any case, it is a place worth to be added to our next travel plans.

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