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)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Unraveling a mysterious wall in the middle of the Jordanian desert

Jordan is much more than the splendid site of Petra and intriguing Wadi Rum, there is a huge desert stretching away to the northeast of the country that is sparsely inhabited and seldom visited by the tourists.

For that reason, it is not surprising that this 150-kilometer-long stone wall which the local Bedouins call Khatt Shebib was detected from a plane in 1948 for the first time. It is so remote that these remains have come only now under investigation. Studies are being made using what is called low-level oblique photography from helicopters to expose the overall complexity of this odd wall that does not fit any precise time in history. All we know is that it predates Roman times.

This Khatt-Shebib follows an erratic pattern, whereas some walls run parallel to each other, some are branching off the main line while other sections run an interrupted course. Because of its length, it is impossible to study it on the ground and the researchers have to rely solely on photographs, even old ones as some stones have been removed since their first discovery.

It is believed that the walls must have stood a meter or a meter and a half tall, whereby stones were simply piled one on top of the other without recognizable pattern or style. They cannot have served as a defense because they simply are too low for that and they have too many gaps. Further into the eastern desert, traces of forts have been discerned, probably built to defend the water points and possible routes, but there is no hard proof for any such theory or any other. It may well be a demarcation line between the area used for farming and that attributed to herding, or between the desert and the farming lands.

But then, there is the question raised by the hundreds of small towers, measuring only two to four meters in diameter. Their obvious role could be watchtowers but it is unlikely that they served any military purpose. Another possibility is that they were used as a shelter by local desert hunters in case of a sandstorm or simply as a place to store food. It is all down to guesswork.

There must have been a reason to pile up these loose field stones, and one worth the huge effort involved in manipulating such an enormous amount of stones over a stretch as long as 150 kilometers. Given this length, the idea and the concept must have come from a well-organized central power – but who?

The theory that the wall predates the Romans is based on pottery shards found nearby, but this evidence is too scarce to tie it to a certain time-frame, although researchers are inclined to consider the Iron Age or the Nabataean era.

Hopefully, one day the riddle will be solved?

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