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 Drangiana/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)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Ingenious Tower of the Winds in Athens

The Horologion of Andronikos or best known as the Tower of the Winds is an octagonal tower built from Pentelic marble by the architect and astronomer Andronicus of Cyrrhus in Macedonia. It stands near the eastern Propylon on the Roman Agora and dates from Hellenistic times, probably from the 2nd century BC (although some are inclined to date it to around 50 BC).

It is one of those buildings that proves – if proof is needed – the highly developed knowledge about wind and water in antiquity.

The Tower of the Winds has just been cleaned and restored (2016) and is truly worth the visit. The tower is 12 meters high and measures eight meters in diameter. The top of its conical roof that is still in place was topped in antiquity by a bronze weather vane like we know from our own church steeples. Each of the eight sides of the tower faces a specific wind direction that is illustrated with appropriate friezes: Boreas for the North, Kaikias for the Northeast, Eurus for the East (but according to some it is the god of the southeastern winds), Apeliotes for the Southeast (although he is the god of the rising sun and thus East), Notus for the South, Lips for the Southwest, Zephyrus for the West, and finally Skiron for the Northwest. Underneath each relief is a sundial, eight in total, making it the first clock tower in history.

Inside the tower, a mechanism powered a water clock or clepsydra driven by the water coming down from the Acropolis. The mechanism has recently been compared to that of Anticythera. It functioned thanks to water pressure created by the interior of a cylindrical space situated on the south side of the monument. The water channels are clearly visible in the tower’s pavement.

The construction has been preserved over the centuries as the tower was converted into a Byzantine church and during Ottoman rule, it was used by the whirling dervishes. It is hard to imagine that by then the tower had sunk into dust and dirt, meaning that only the upper half was still visible.

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