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, April 3, 2017

About spolia in Babylon

The word “spolia” is defined by Wikipedia as “the repurposing of building stone for new construction, or the reuse of decorative sculpture on new monuments, is an ancient and widespread practice whereby stone that has been quarried cut and used in a built structure, is carried away to be used elsewhere.” Well, that is what I thought also until I came across this article about modern day spolia in Babylon.

Saddam Hussein’s controversial reconstruction of the Palace of King Nebuchadnezzar is well documented but now it appears that bricks from ancient Babylon have been reused in buildings erected in Hillah, south of Baghdad. Elderly locals from the city remember how the bricks were transported by donkey or river barges, and this custom is thought to go back to the 12th century. In 1890 bricks from Babylon were used for the construction of the Hindiya Barrage on the Euphrates. Vandalism, for that is what spolia is, after all, continued far into last century with Saddam Hussein’s madness to rebuild the palace and the American Army setting up their camp inside the old walls and driving their tanks through ancient streets.


The damage cannot be undone but Iraqi authorities are now facing another problem and that is to recover as many Babylonian bricks from the old houses in Hillah and other neighboring towns by monitoring their demolition. As always, there are those who deny the problem and others who claim that the theft of bricks stopped in the 1940s.

Whatever the case, a group of journalists and activists created a social media campaign and hope that the UNESCO will consider reinserting the site of Babylon in their World Heritage List by the end of 2017. On the other hand, Iraqi authorities are aware that the restoration of the houses in Hillah should take place under the control of General Authority for Iraqi Antiquities.

King Nebuchadnezzar II built his city of Babylon in the 6th century BC and is said to have used as many as fifteen million baked bricks for the construction of his palace and surrounding official buildings! After all, Babylon was a huge metropolis covering 900 hectares of land. The square bricks used for this impressive construction carried Sumerian inscription and special regal seals.

It is heartbreaking to see remains from 2,700 years ago from such an important antique metropolis as Babylon disintegrate in front of our very eyes without being able to stop the damage.

Let’s hope for the best, as always.

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