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, Afghanistan) - 329 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, March 3, 2016

Sicily and the Sea, temporary exhibition in Amsterdam

The exhibition Sicily and the Sea is a real treat! It is presently running at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam and can be visited till 17 April 2016.

It has, in fact, a collection of finds from several Greek and Roman ships that sank, generally during a storm, around the island of Sicily. The names of most of these places are not well-known, but there are plenty of maps to clarify the locations.

The objects retrieved from shipwrecks come from a wide area around the Mediterranean island: the Gela shipwreck is a Greek merchant ship of 17x6m, with a crew of 3 or 4, dating from 500-480BC, that sailed from mainland Greece to the Sicilian colonies; the Capistello shipwreck is an Italian merchant ship of 20m long, with a crew of 3 or 4, dating from 300-280 BC, that sailed from Campania to North Africa; the Levanzo shipwreck is Roman, with a crew of 3 or 4, dating from 275-300 AD, that sailed from North Africa to Rome; and the Scauri shipwreck is Sicilian,  with a crew of 2 or 3 crew, dating from about 450AD.

Exhibited are for instance a cargo of red colored vessels retrieved from the Panarea shipwreck, dated to 400-350BC; copper ingots found off Pantelleria dating from around 1500 BC; a bronze Phoenician statuette from around 1000 BC found off the coast of Sciacca; a Corinthian helmet found off Camarina and dated to between 600 and 500BC; a lovely Pyxis with a painted marriage ceremony from Centuripe and dated 3rd century BC. There is more, of course, like this Greek bowl with stamped decoration found near the Lipari Islands and dated to the 3rd century BC; a quite unusual Greek terracotta altar or incense burner recovered from a ship off the Panarea Islands and dated to the 3rd century BC together with some votive anchors; a marble male torso that could be either Greek or Roman, and might represent one of the Dioscuri found off Marsala and dated to 200–1 BC; a Sicilian-Greek Hercules found off Catania  from the 2nd century BC; and a rare Carthaginian hoard of bronze coins found off Pantelleria, dated 264-241 BC. The list is simply too long, for there are also some ship’s anchors and a choice of amphorae of all sizes and shapes, not forgetting the cute Phoenician or Egyptian glass beads with a human face.


The most remarkable pieces, however, are the three ships' rams, one Carthaginian, and two Roman. The Carthaginian ram is unique, the only one ever recovered from the bottom of the sea. They all belong to the fierce battle that ended the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage in 241 BC near the Egadi Islands, south of Sicily. Here, underwater archaeologists have recently recovered ten Roman battering rams and one Carthaginian. This means that the three battering rams that are shown at this exhibition are by themselves reason enough to go to Amsterdam. There is no way to distinguish the Carthaginian battering ram from the Roman ones; it seems to come down to their respective inscriptions. How unique to see this!

A full set of my pictures is available in my album Sicily and the Sea (please click).

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