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, May 24, 2018

Crossing rivers using animal skins

Alexander aficionados like to believe that crossing rivers using animal skins is something Alexander “invented”. Well, I have to disappoint them for as it turns out, the practice was already known by the Assyrians who used this technique as early as the ninth century BC, i.e. at least five hundred years earlier. It is not impossible that the practice is even much older but has not been documented.

[Picture from Nemrud showing Assyrian soldiers using inflatable devices to cross a river from Ancient History]

Cyrus the Great, who Alexander greatly admired, used inflated or stuffed animal skins to cross a Babylonian river as mentioned by Xenophon. Another example is Darius I who used the same technique in 522 BC to cross the Tigris River. Much later, the Romans and the Arabs still resorted to this simple but ingenious solution.

One impressive such depiction comes from the Northwest Palace of Nimrud and shows how King Ashurnasirpal II and his army cross the Euphrates River on their march westwards in order to expand the empire all the way to the Mediterranean. This king immortalized his successes on the walls of his splendid Palace of Nimrud at some time between 865 and  860 BC. A substantial number of these reliefs found their way to museums around the world, including the British Museum in London.

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