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)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Greco-Roman Temple in Armenia

Finding a good-looking Greco-Roman temple in Armenia is quite a surprise for it is the only remaining such building in that country.


The Temple of Garni dates probably from 77 AD and based on the Greek inscription that has been recovered, it was supposedly built by King Tiridates I of Armenia. Originally, it was dedicated to the sun god Mihr (from the Zoroastrian mythology and related to Mithra) and in the early days of Christianity in the fourth century, it became the summer residence of Khosrovidukht, the sister of Tiridates III – not bad!

Unfortunately, the construction collapsed in 1679 when the region was hit by a severe earthquake and it was only about one hundred years ago that the ruins were discovered. Between 1969 and 1975, the remains were sorted out and put back together to become the tourist attraction we see today.

The Temple of Garni was mentioned by Tacitus as belonging to a fortress overlooking the valley of the Azat River. The location was strategically very important as it was part of the defence of the Ararat Plain. Beside the temple, there are remains of a Roman bath including a mosaic floor with Greek inscription and a royal summer palace.

As to the Greek inscription belonging to the temple, scholars do not agree on the exact translation as the text has been damaged (for details, see Wikipedia).

There is, however, an other theory stating that this was not a temple but a mausoleum built around 175 AD. This idea is based on similar Greco-Roman constructions in Asia Minor like the Nereid Monument in Xanthus and the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos; and also the fact that it is surrounded by several tombs from that same period. When Armenia converted to Christianity, pagan temples were systematically destroyed and it would be odd to find this Temple of Garni as the sole survivor. As a grave, the construction was more plausible to have survived.

Whatever the theory or the origins of this Temple of Garni, it is a very pleasant sanctuary to look at and still makes you wonder about the Hellenistic influence in that part of the world.

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