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)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Laodicea, great works in progress!

Only recently, Laodicea was in the news because a tablet explaining the laws for the city’s water management dating from Roman times was discovered (see: Water laws, still unchanged after nearly two thousand years).

It appears that excavations have intensified and that a sacred agora, the only such example in the world, has been exposed and is undergoing serious restoration. This agora, the largest sacred area in Anatolia because of the adjacent temple, collapsed after the severe earthquake of 494 AD and was covered under a layer of up to seven meters of rubble. It is leaning against a 100 meter-long and eleven meter-high back wall that was covered with paintings. Over its entire length ran a Stoa and the columns – some 34 of them - that once held the roof are now being reassembled.

At the same time, work has progressed in reviving the Hellenistic theater planning to make it accessible again in two years time. The lower tiers of seats have been preserved but the upper tiers survived only partially. Most of the restoration apparently seems to be needed around the skene, which in the 5th century became part of the city wall.

Archaeologists are still sorting through the reliefs, sculptures, vessels and jewels found on the site, generally transferred to the local museum.

Laodicea, which is located only ten kilometers from Hierapolis (next to Pamukkale) was founded by Antiochus II Theos of Syria and named after his first wife, Laodike. This Seleucid king is the one who is mentioned on one of the Ashoka pillars as Amtiyoko, king of Greater Syria and Bactria (see: When pillars with unknown writing were discovered in India).

In 188 BC, the city was ruled by the kings of Pergamon until it fell to the Romans in 133 BC. At this point and because of its strategic position, Laodicea flourished thanks to the intensive trade in black wool.

As mentioned before, there is far more to discover at Laodicea beside the Agora and the theatre. The list contains buildings like baths, several temples, another theater and a Bouleuterion.  The Stadion is in good condition and still contains the original seating on both sides, taking advantage of the narrow valley in which it has been built. At its western end are the remains of an underground passage used by chariots and horses to access the arena. Many streets were lined with columns and pedestals and there are even traces of a city gate, the Ephesos Gate. North of the city, closer to the adjacent Lycos River, the necropolis has been discovered with many sarcophagi whose lids have been removed in antiquity by tomb raiders.

Quite exceptional, however, is the aqueduct of Laodicea since it is very similar to the one found at Aspendos (see: Aspendos, the unfaithful). In both cases, an inverted siphon carried the water from the summit of a low hill down the valley all the way up to the header tank at the edge of the city. This certainly is great news, as until now Aspendos claimed the monopoly for this kind of Roman architecture. 

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