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)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

In Search of the City of Persepolis

While the Palace of Persepolis is widely discussed and documented, the city that spread out of the foot of the dominating high plateau is hardly documented. Even in antiquity, the city of Persepolis is only mentioned by Diodorus who details the ferocious and bloody rampage of the Macedonian troops.

Until recently, archaeologists focused entirely and solely on the Palace built by Darius I and his successors but nobody had any idea of what the city of Persepolis must have looked like or even where to find it. Scrutinizing the surrounding land there is nothing to indicate the presence of a construction of any kind, but surely there must have been an important community there to support the needs of the Palace in provisions and services of all kinds.

Many cuneiform tablets have been unearthed in the area but as always, their translation and interpretation is a lengthy process. So far, however, some deciphered inscriptions are referring to business transactions specifying the quantity of goods that were produced or distributed.

Excavations based on recent geophysical surveys revealed that there were clusters of buildings, some of which were occupied by craftsmen, others by officials and still others were important enough to have belonged to the nobility attached to the Achaemenid court. The city of Persepolis was not densely populated but instead was spread over an area of several hundreds of hectares, leaving much open space in between the clusters of houses.

The surveys also revealed erratic straight lines all over the area which at places crossed each other at right angle. These lead scholars to determine that they belong to a pattern of canals that supplied the water necessary to the community and the maintenance of the fields, gardens and parks arranged in between the different settlements. It is obvious that for the Achaemenid kings this city layout was also a matter of prestige as they turned the desert into a paradise, their word for garden.

Since the construction of Persepolis was inspired by Pasargadae which was founded by Cyrus the Great less than a century before, the archaeologists took a closer look at the water canals of Pasargadae, which have been exposed over the years. Their pattern and gentle slopes are perfectly able to work for Persepolis as well. The next step was to locate the water source for Persepolis’ Palace and city. Satellite photography revealed the outline of a channel linking Persepolis to the Seyedan Mountains, some 15 kilometers to the east. The water is still flowing today and its quality is unique because all the other available water sources in the area are brackish.

The ensuing study of the soil had to provide information about the landscaping by extracting earth cores and examining the layer coinciding with Persepolis heydays. The results were quite revealing! At least five different types of trees were imported and grown successfully: plane trees, olive and walnut trees, cypresses and pine trees.

It is hard to imagine the luxuriant vegetation and the opulence that surrounded the Palace of Persepolis and witnessed by Alexander and his troops. Some parts of history definitely need to be rewritten, as far as I am concerned!

Some interesting views and reconstructions are available on this documentary aired by ARTE TV.

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