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 Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 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)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Water laws, still unchanged after nearly two thousand years

The year is 144 AD, the location the city of Laodicea near Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale), the lawmaker Aulus Vicirius Matrialis who was State Governor under Emperor Antoninus Pius, and the law regulating the use and misuse of water is still very current. 

It reads as follows:

Those who divide the water for their personal use should pay 5,000 denarii to the empire’s treasury. It is forbidden to use the city water for free or to grant it to private individuals. Those who buy the water cannot violate the Edict of Vespasian; those who damage the water pipes will pay a fine of 5,000 denarii. The water depots and water pipes of the city should have a roofed protection. The governor’s office will appoint two citizens as curators every year to ensure the safety of the water resource. Those who have farms close to the water channels cannot use this water for agriculture.

These are the explicit does and don’ts as can be read on a marble inscription recently unearthed in Laodicea. It regulates the use of water running down the nearby Karci Mountains that was channeled through the city and that fed many of its fountains. The text was presented by the Laodicea Assembly to the proconsul of Ephesos for approval. This proconsul in turn approved the law on behalf of the Roman Empire. The fact that the law was supervised by Rome proves how important water management already was 1,900 years ago – maybe earlier than that.

Water was vital for Laodicea as it was (and still is) for any other city and it is not surprising that the fines were pretty steep. The basic amount of 5,000 denarii would represent more than 16,000 Euros in today’s money. Those who polluted the water, damaged the water channels or broke the water seals of the pipes could be fined 12,500 denarii, i.e. 40,000 Euros. The same penalty would apply to senior staff that overlooked the illegal use of water. It would make you think twice before tampering the water conduits! There was a system of justice in place also, for whoever denounced the polluters would receive one-eight of the penalty as reward.

The discovery of this law tablet is part of the ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Laodicea, exposing some 2,300 artifacts retrieved from among the monumental columns of the Sacred Agora, the Central Agora and the Stadium Street (see: Laodicea, great works inprogress!). It looks like one of those must-see places in Turkey!

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