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)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Lydia and its abundance of gold

Lydia, now in modern Turkey, does not immediately ring a bell but the proverbial expression of “being as rich as Croesus” certainly will.

We have to go back to the 6th century BC when Croesus was King of Lydia, which covered all of Asia Minor west of the Halys River, except Lycia to the south. He was the last ruler to oppose Persia’s conquest of Asia Minor and their invasion of Greece. Croesus' opponent was nobody less than the powerful Cyrus the Great

While preparing for this mighty confrontation, Croesus consulted the oracle of Delphi to know what his chances were. As always, the oracle answered in an ambiguous way stating that should Croesus attack the Persians, he would destroy a great empire. He obviously believed what he wanted to believe (that he would be victorious) but the reality turned out to be just the opposite and he was defeated by Cyrus in 546 BC.

Lydia had a common border with Media which Cyrus had united with Persia, the Halys River and this is where Croesus and Cyrus met in a fierce but inconclusive fight. As winter approached, Croesus disbanded his army (a common practice in his days) but Cyrus did not and carried out another attack in Thymbria (near Troy) followed by the conclusive one in Sardes where he captured Croesus. The death of this great Lydian king is shrouded in mystery and legend. The most current theory is that Cyrus ordered him to be burned on a pyre but that Croesus somehow escaped death with a great deal of variations as to how that happened.

According to history, Croesus was the first to issue coins with a standard tenure in gold used for general circulation. However, the coins were made of electrum which was found in the alluvial deposits of the Pactolus River that ran through Sardes, the capital of Lydia. It did not take local metallurgists too long to discover how to separate gold from silver and in the process they were able to produce each metal with a high degree of purity.

After the Persian victory, gold was adopted by the Achaemenids to become the main currency for their coins, the Daric. The value of the Lydian gold and silver coins was trusted throughout the antique world, making Sardes inevitably one of the richest cities. It is no surprise that Alexander, even one century later, was most determined to conquer Sardes and its precious treasury.

Beside these precious gold/electrum mines, Lydia was also an important center for manufacturing and dying delicate woolens and carpets. It makes me wonder whether these were the ancestors of today’s carpet industry in Turkey, who knows?

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