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 Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 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)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How we can be tricked into relying on the internet

The internet is a most wonderful source of information but once again I discovered how tricky and misleading some of this information can be. It happened recently when on Pinterest I came across these three magnificent heads, most likely terracotta’s, labeled as Alexander, Olympias and Philip. They were very lively and very lifelike, so much so that I could hardly believe the labels to be correct.

I questioned the different sources who had posted these pictures on Pinterest but got no reaction at all. Are people just swallowing anything these days? The doubtful labels, however, linked these heads to the Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome. That was another reason to raise my eyebrows since that museum is specialized in Etruscan art and I fail to see their connection with Alexander and his family.

Getting nowhere, I decided to contact the Museum of Villa Giulia in order to clarify this interpretation. It was not surprising to learn that they had no knowledge of this Macedonian royal family in their collection.

The picture of this so-called Alexander is, in fact, a representation of Apollo recovered from the Etruscan Sanctuary of Scasata at Falerii Veteres, modern Civita Castellana in the province of Viterbo and has been dated to the end of the fourth/early third century BC. It was part of a terracotta group that enhanced the front pediment of the temple dedicated to Apollo, an oracle shrine. Some sources imply that this Apollo was inspired by the Alexander head created by Lysippos – not entirely improbable, I’d say.

It appeared that another nearby temple had been excavated as well and it had been determined that it was dedicated to Minerva (Athena), Juno (Hera) and Jupiter (Zeus). This temple yielded stunning terracotta sculptures from the early fourth century BC among which a cult statue of Juno, the one that is apparently mistaken for Olympias.

As to the head that supposedly represents Philip, I have no further information but I could speculate that if it was found near the Juno terracotta it might depict Jupiter.

These three heads are absolutely superb and I believe they are well worth a visit to the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia next time you are in Rome.

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