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)

Friday, June 1, 2018

The many colonies of Miletus

The colonization by the Greeks, either from mainland Greece or from Asia Minor remains a fascinating subject. I touched the topic before when discussing Magna Graecia (see: Magna Graecia, the forgotten Greek legacy) and this time I will concentrate on the shores of the Black Sea, the Pontus Euxinus of antiquity.

The first settlers arrived in the second half of the 7th century BC mainly from Ionia but by far the most prominent group came from Miletus. Ancient authors go as far as claiming that the city possessed between 75 and 90 colonies but this number does not immediately refer to cities founded and populated by Miletus since they did not have enough manpower to occupy so many settlements. In fact, Miletus rather acted as their organizer and the initial true number of colonies was about 25.

The reason for people from Asia Minor to emigrate is complex but one of the main causes to relocate was the westward expansion of the Persian Empire who even attacked Greece itself. The Ionians were facing a simple choice to either submit to the Persians with the risk to be killed or enslaved or to leave their homeland for new horizons.

The Actual Archaeology Magazine of May 2011 published a very interesting article, “Greek Colonisation of the Black Sea” written by Gosha R. Tsetskhladze about the origins of a great number of settlements on the shores of the Back Sea including both sides of the Cimmerian Bosporus.

Among the first settlements, we find Berezan (modern Borysthenites) founded in the third quarter of the 7th century BC and Tangarog (on the Sea of Azov) in the last third of the 7th century BC (completely destroyed by the sea). Other colonies were located on the western shore of the Black Sea like Histria (at the mouth of the Danube) in ca. 630 BC, Apollonia Pontica (modern Sozopol in Bulgaria) in ca. 610 BC and Tomis (modern Constanta in Romania) at the end of the first quarter of the 6th century BC. On the southern shoreline we find Sinope (modern Sinop in Turkey) from the late 7th century BC and Amisos (modern Samsun in Turkey) from ca. 564 BC. Olbia (in modern Ukraine) was settled on the northern side the Black Sea by the end of the first quarter of the 6th century BC.

Between 580 and 560 BC, Miletus colonized new territories on the Kerch peninsula (western side of the Cimmerian Bosporus) and the Taman peninsula (eastern side of the Cimmerian Bosporus). On the European side of the straight, we find cities like Panticapaeum, Nymphaeum, Theodosia, Myrmekion and Tyritake (all on the Crimean peninsula); and on the Asian side we name Kepoi, Patraeus, Corocondame (destroyed by the sea) and Hermonassa (joined colony of Miletus and Mytilene).

In the wake of Cyrus westwards conquests during which he took the stronghold of Sardes in 546 BC, the Black Sea area was once again flooded by a new wave of Ionians – this time by people not exclusively from Miletus. The Megarians and the Boeotians founded Heraklea in 554 BC on the south shores, and Miletus founded Odessos (modern Varna in Bulgaria) on the western shore. In turn, those colonies who already had settled around the Black Sea created many small settlements of their own.

Around that same time, new cities like Tyras and Nikonian appeared together with some fifty rural settlements under their control. Non-Milesians founded Gorgippia (modern Anapa in Russia), Toricos (near modern Gelendzhik in Russia), Akra (in Russia, destroyed by the sea), Porthmeus (in Russia) and several other colonies on the Cimmerian Bosporus and around 542 BC the Teians established the colony of Phanagoria on the Taman Peninsula (as well as the city of Abdera in Thrace).

Ionians settled even further north along the Black Sea coast and by 422/1 BC, Herakleia Pontica founded a small town that would become the later Chersonesus (near modern Sevastopol in Crimea). The Milesians, once again, founded Colchis (modern western Georgia) who in turn established the cities of Phasis, Gyenos and Dioscuria, and two more settlements, Pichvnari and Tsikhisdziri. The last wave arrived when the Ionians were defeated in their revolt against Persia. Mesambria (modern Nessebar in Bulgaria) was founded on the western shore of the Black Sea by the Chalkedonians and Byzantines, and in western Crimea the Ionians established Kerkinitis and Kalos Limen which later on became part of Chersonesus.

In the days of Alexander and even during the reign of his father Philip, we read about ships bringing corn from the Black Sea to Athens. This leads us to believe that this traffic existed already in earlier centuries. It has been established, however, that the earliest ships loaded with corn circulated at the end of the 5th/beginning of the 4th century BC, and that they were not meant for Athens but for the island of Aegina and the Peloponnese instead. Except in case of emergency, it appears – according to the abovementioned article - Athens was perfectly capable of feeding its citizens.

With so many sites spread over so many countries around the Black Sea (from Turkey, to Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia) one can wonder how much of these colonies still exist or have been excavated and, if so, to what extend. Yet the fact remains that this geographical knowledge was part of Alexander’s baggage and his Companions. The ancient world was much and much larger than what we like to believe!

The heavy colonization shows that emigration is not a modern phenomenon but existed in eons past. Famine may have been a major reason for people to leave their house and hearth but generally it was and is war that triggers the displacement of entire populations. In any case, it is quite amazing to see how many peoples were on the move between the 7th and the 5th century BC. In my opinion, these three centuries of constant emigration explain - at least in part – the general Greek resentment against the Persians. Their occupation of Greece and the burning of the Acropolis is, of course, another valid reason for their grudge.

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