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)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The unique mosaic from Apamea

During clandestine excavations on the site of Apamea in October 2011, a mosaic with a very rare and unusual scene was discovered as it represented the foundation of Antioch on the Orontes by Seleucos in 300 BC. The work is obviously Roman and has been dated to the 4th century AD. What makes the picture so unique is that it shows the religious sacrifice as performed by Seleucos I and his son Antiochus I.

The name Apamea appears in 300 BC when Seleucos, a successor of Alexander, created one of the grandest cities in the east. At the Susa mass-wedding of 324 BC, Seleucos married Apame, the daughter of Spitamenes of Bactria. Apame accompanied her husband during all of his expeditions and campaigns and after conquering the east, Seleucos established another capital of his empire at Antioch on the Orontes, today's Antakya in Turkey. The region pleased him so much that he built another beautiful city further inland which he named Apamea (see: Apamea, heritage of Alexander) after his wife. Together with Antakya, it became his most important city of his wide empire that reached from the Mediterranean to the Indus. Seleucos truly moved in Alexander's footsteps and like him, he built many cities, which are said to be all named after family members. One city was named after his father, Antioch; five after his mother Laodicea; four after his two wives Apamea and Stratonikea; and last but not least nine were baptized Seleucia after himself.

After being incorporated into the Roman Empire, Apamea had grown to harbor 250,000 people and became very rich. It was a military base and renowned for breeding military horses. This explains the monumental remains of private and official buildings we still see today on both sides of the colonnaded Cardo.

The abovementioned mosaic was created when the city reached its peak of refinement between the 3rd and the 5th century AD. The alarming fact is, however, that the mosaic has disappeared, probably sold on the black market to some art collector. It is quite peculiar that we have a photograph of this beautiful composition made by an unknown author even if it is not the best shot. The mosaic may have been decorating the floor of a house belonging to some high official as it covers about 10 m2.

[Picture downloaded from Pinterest]

A Greek inscription identifies the sacrifice attended by five standing figures above which floats an eagle, representing Zeus, holding a bull’s head in its claws. We see Seleucos I Nicator (the Victorious) and Antiochus I Soter (the Savior) standing on either side of an altar with a fire burning on which a bull is being sacrificed. Seleucos wears a blue tunic underneath his parade cuirass and a purple cloak; his head is crowned with a golden tiara. Antiochus, in turn, is dressed in a white tunic trimmed with two black stripes covered with a purple cloak as well; he wears some jewels. Next to Seleucos, we recognize Heracles and the Muse Calliope and next to Antiochus we find Ktisis, the female personification of the city holding the tools of the architect. The two women are clad in a belted chiton and show their jewelry.

Interpol has now launched an official search for this so out of common mosaic. Unfortunately, this is not the only one that has disappeared from the site of Apamea that has been badly damaged when the IS occupied the region. Please keep on the look out!

[For more mosaic news, read also: More illegal mosacis from Apamea


  1. This historical mosaic from Apamea of Syria had been identified and published first time by Marek Titien Olszewski and Houmam Saad, Interpol à la recherche d’une mosaïque volée à Apamée en Syrie : « La fondation d’Antioche », Archeologia 551, 2017 (Fevrier), pp. 4-5. see:

  2. Yes, this information is indeed four months old - a mere breath in eternity!

  3. In journalistic ethic and this also concerns bloggers when quoting unpublished information published for the first time somewhere it is required to cite the source of where the information or description comes from. The blogger gains in all the case on the reliability of the information and its information is considered serious. If not we have doubts ...

  4. Thank you for pointing this out to me. I'll handle my sources more carefully in the future.