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, October 31, 2016

Locating Alexandria Nicea and Alexandria Bucephalus

For what it is worth, a monument in honor of Alexander has been erected in today’s Pakistan at the very spot where he and his army camped before his Battle of the Hydaspes. The exact location for this battle seems to have been pinpointed at Mong Village in the Punjab which, according to local traditions was built on top of Alexandria Nicaea, a city founded by Alexander to celebrate his victory over Porus in 326 BC.

The first stone of this monument was officially laid by the Greek Ambassador in Pakistan on 24 May 1997 and the building was set in a mixture of Greek and modern styles. The intention was a good one, of course, but construction has come to a standstill and today all doors are locked. The governments of Pakistan and Greece have abandoned the project that could have attracted many tourists and the few visitors, if any, no longer can truly enjoy the decaying map of Alexander’s conquests that stands at the center of the roof. Alexander certainly deserves better!

So far, no archaeological excavations have confirmed the exact location of Nicaea and the search is made particularly difficult because the landscape has changed over the centuries. Sir Aurel Stein, who closely explored the area at the beginning of the 20th century, believed that Alexander would have crossed the Hydaspes River near modern Bhera, close to the village of Mong. His conclusion is based on his analysis of the topography, the river orientation and other natural features like the nearby salt cliffs which all match the descriptions from antiquity. What may carry more weight is the fact that the people of Mong claim that theirs is indeed the Hellenistic city of Nicaea. More often than not, the legend may be closer to reality than we like to admit.

Not far from Mong, but on the other side of the Hydaspes (Jhelum) River the city of Phalia also has a legend of its own as their residents claim that the city is named Alexandria Bucephala after Bucephalus, Alexander’s horse, who died here around the time Alexander was fighting Porus. They even erected a statue in honor of Alexander’s faithful mount in the middle of their city. It is sad to hear that the search of Bucephalus’ grave has been given up and seems no longer to be of interest to the local population.

All in all, the above statements about the locations of Alexandria Nicaea and Alexandria Bucephalus are far too vague to be truly conclusive, but at least the achievements of Alexander and the memory of his dear Bucephalus have not been forgotten – this in spite of his short-lived passage through the Punjab 2,500 years ago.

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