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)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Thessaloniki continues writing history

Thessaloniki as such did not exist in Alexander’s days. The city was founded eight years after his death by Cassander, the eldest son of Antipater, Regent of Macedonia. Those were turbulent years and on his deathbed Antipater appointed Polyperchon as his successor instead of his own son, Cassander. That did not go down well with Cassander who simply murdered the old general. Well, we know that he mercilessly murdered all those who were in his way to the throne of Macedonia. Olympias, Alexander’s mother was assassinated in 316 BC. Roxane, his widow, and young Alexander IV, his legitimate heir to the throne, were poisoned upon his orders some six years later. About the same time, Heracles, Alexander’s son by his mistress Barsine was eliminated also.

The thirst for power clearly went to Cassander’s head and to legitimize his position inside the Argead Dynasty, he took Thessalonica , Alexander’s half-sister as his wife and self-proclaimed himself as king of Macedonia. As such he ruled from 305 till 297 BC and Thessalonica  gave him three sons, Philip, Antipater and Alexander. The city of Thessaloniki was named after her.

Because of its location, it soon became and still is one of the most populous and wealthy cities of Macedonia. When the Romans conquered Macedonia in 168 BC, it developed into an important hub on the Via Egnatia that connected Europe to Asia and prospered thanks to its spacious harbor. Consequently, it is not surprising that most of the remains of Thessaloniki  date from the heydays of the Roman Era.

Of course, there are testimonies left by the Ottomans who ruled from 1430 until 1912 when the city got involved in the Balkan War and gained its independence. The fire of 1917 devastated two third of Thessaloniki’s historic center, leaving 77,000 people homeless but exposing the Forum and its adjacent Odeon in return. Eventually, the city was rebuilt on a grand scale with little or no consideration for its antique legacy.

For the past ten years or so, Thessaloniki  is building a metro line through the city standing right on top of its antique levels, archaeologists have their work cut out. 

For these metro works, the underground of major streets has been exposed, especially parts of the ancient Via Egnatia and the Decumanus Maximus. Many stretches like the old commercial heart of the city have survived in amazingly good conditions.

In an ideal world, a metro station could be combined with an underground museum. This is a great idea as locals and tourists could enjoy a close up look at the glorious past of Thessaloniki  but skeptics declare that the two are not compatible as it is, for instance, impossible to move antique roads.

Smaller artifacts labeled as movable finds count 300,000 pieces, 50,000 of which are ancient coins. Plans are to exhibit at least part of these finds in two completed metro stations, probably Panepistimio and Papafi stations.

The metro should be completed by 2020 but repeated discussions about archaeological salvage and preservation regularly bring the works to a standstill. Besides, many local shopkeepers and residents are fed-up with the ongoing inconveniences and all they want is to be put out of their misery.

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