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)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Alexander erected twelve altars on the banks of the Hyphasis

Arrian explicitly tells us that after the mutiny of his army at the Hyphasis River (modern Beas), Alexander ordered the construction of twelve altars to thank the gods for having led him so far as conqueror and be a memorial for his own accomplishments. These altars must have been truly out of proportions, being “as high as the loftiest siege-towers and even broader in proportion”. Each altar was dedicated to one of the Olympian gods: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Athena, Ares, Aphrodite, Hermes and Dionysus.
King Chandragupta, who reigned from 326 to 298 BC and founded the first Indian Empire, has reportedly worshiped at these altars in memory of Alexander the Great. Plutarch tells us that in his time, nearly four centuries after Alexander, the local kings would still stop at these altars to sacrifice on them in the Greek fashion. Philostratus, in turn mentions that Apollonius of Tyana (15-100 AD) visited India and saw the altars still intact and still could read the inscriptions. Pliny also knew of their existence writing that “the Hyphasis was the limit of the marches of Alexander , who, however, crossed it, and dedicated altars on the further bank”. This statement is quite remarkable since this places the altars on the eastern bank of the Hyphasis, while Arrian seems to imply that they stood on the western bank.

The location of these altars triggers the discussion whether Alexander and his men crossed the river or not. Was the Hyphasis River the exact cut-off point and were the altars erected at the exact point where Alexander’s troops mutinied? The early history in this part of the world is not too well-documented, yet we know that in 1616 the first pillars of Asoka were noticed by a travelling Englishman. He witnessed a superbly polished forty feet high monolithic pillar with an undeciphered inscription and assumed it was erected by nobody less than Alexander the Great to celebrate his victory over Porus. Since then, we know that the inscription was made by King Asoka

New studies have indicated that the altars left by Alexander must have stood at the confluence of the Sutlej and the Beas (Hyphasis) rivers, taking into account that in ancient times their confluence was situated 40 miles below the present river junction. This point seems to coincide with the place where Feroz Shah who was Sultan of Delhi in the 14th century found a pillar which he moved to his city. Now it seems that there are at least three such pillars standing in Delhi today. Pending serious archaeological investigation, it is impossible to clarify the origin of these pillars. It seems, however, that based on Asoka’s own inscriptions some of his pillars were not erected by him. This means that it is not impossible that Alexander the Great did in fact erect such grand pillars as part of the famous twelve altars. 

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