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 Drangiana/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)

Monday, September 19, 2016

What about Orraon in Epirus?

It is always intriguing and encouraging to hear how buildings from the Classical and Hellenistic period have survived the centuries. This time, the news comes from Epirus where four well-preserved such buildings have been discovered in the city of Orraon and for once there is only one public structure as the three others are private houses. Instead of mere foundations, archaeologists have found good parts of these houses still standing – a unique revelation.

Orraon or Horraon, located near modern Ammotopas in north-western Greece, was apparently founded at the end of the 4th century BC during the reign of King Alcetas of Molossia. It was a fortified city occupying a strategic location, guarding the route between the Gulf of Amvrakikos and Ioannina ruled by the Molossians (family of Queen Olympias, Alexander’s mother).

Excavations revealed twelve narrow parallel alleys running north-south crossed by two wider streets forming a rectangular layout. The city counted about one hundred houses built with local limestone, the same as was used for the construction of Orraon’ double city walls that were punctuated with bastions and gates. Some of the houses are very well-preserved, at times up to the upper level where we can still admire the window and door jambs. Beside the houses, a large rectangular cistern was also found near the main gate. This cistern, much unlike usual practices in classical times, had no roof. Since the cistern lies on high ground the water cannot have been supplied by a local spring. As no traces of any kind of aqueduct were found either, the water was probably collected from the heavy rains falling profusely in that area, even in summer. A straight staircase on the northeastern side led down to the bottom of the tank enabling people to draw water from it no matter the height of the water level. It seems that a rather high enclosing wall ran around it to keep pollution out and enabling a controlled access to the precious water.

Orraon was destroyed by the Romans in 167 BC but later rebuilt. In 31 BC, however, the inhabitants were forcibly moved out and settled in Nicopolis, the newly founded city by Augustus after his victory at Actium that same year. This is a sad end for such a strategic and fortified city well-worth a visit!

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