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Thursday, 8 May 2014

Alexandria::Ancient City in Egypt_Part_2

Layout of the ancient city

Greek Alexandria was divided into three regions:
Brucheum
 the Royal or Greek quarter, forming the most magnificent portion of the city. In Roman times Brucheum was enlarged by the addition of an official quarter, making four regions in all. The city was laid out as a grid of parallel streets, each of which had an attendant subterranean canal;
The Jewish quarter
 forming the northeast portion of the city;
Rhakotis
 The old city of Rhakotis that had been absorbed into Alexandria. It was occupied chiefly by Egyptians. (from Coptic Rakotə "Alexandria").
Two main streets, lined with colonnades and said to have been each about 60 metres (200 ft) wide, intersected in the center of the city, close to the point where the Sema (or Soma) of Alexander (his Mausoleum) rose. This point is very near the present mosque of Nebi Daniel; and the line of the great East–West "Canopic" street, only slightly diverged from that of the modern Boulevard de Rosette (now Sharia Fouad). Traces of its pavement and canal have been found near the Rosetta Gate, but remnants of streets and canals were exposed in 1899 by German excavators outside the east fortifications, which lie well within the area of the ancient city.
Alexandria consisted originally of little more than the island of Pharos, which was joined to the mainland by a mole nearly a mile long (1260 m) and called the Heptastadion ("seven stadia"—a stadium was a Greek unit of length measuring approximately 180 m). The end of this abutted on the land at the head of the present Grand Square, where the "Moon Gate" rose. All that now lies between that point and the modern "Ras al-Tin" quarter is built on the silt which gradually widened and obliterated this mole. The Ras al-Tin quarter represents all that is left of the island of Pharos, the site of the actual lighthouse having been weathered away by the sea. On the east of the mole was the Great Harbor, now an open bay; on the west lay the port of Eunostos, with its inner basin Kibotos, now vastly enlarged to form the modern harbor.
In Strabo's time, (latter half of 1st century BC) the principal buildings were as follows, enumerated as they were to be seen from a ship entering the Great Harbor.
 The Royal Palaces, filling the northeast angle of the town and occupying the promontory of Lochias, which shut in the Great Harbor on the east. Lochias (the modern Pharillon) has almost entirely disappeared into the sea, together with the palaces, the "Private Port," and the island of Antirrhodus. There has been a land subsidence here, as throughout the northeast coast of Africa.
 The Great Theater, on the modern Hospital Hill near the Ramleh station. This was used by Caesar as a fortress, where he withstood a siege from the city mob after the battle of Pharsalus
 The Poseidon, or Temple of the Sea God, close to the theater
 The Timonium built by Marc Antony
 The Emporium (Exchange)
 The Apostases (Magazines)
 The Navalia (Docks), lying west of the Timonium, along the seafront as far as the mole
 Behind the Emporium rose the Great Caesareum, by which stood the two great obelisks, which become known as “Cleopatra's Needles,” and were transported to New York City and London. This temple became, in time, the Patriarchal Church, though some ancient remains of the temple have been discovered. The actual Caesareum, the parts not eroded by the waves, lies under the houses lining the new seawall.
 The Gymnasium and the Palaestra are both inland, near the Boulevard de Rosette in the eastern half of the town; sites unknown.
 The Temple of Saturn; site unknown.
 The Mausolea of Alexander (Soma) and the Ptolemies in one ring-fence, near the point of intersection of the two main streets.
 The Musaeum with its famous Library and theater in the same region; site unknown.
 The Serapeum, the most famous of all Alexandrian temples. Strabo tells us that this stood in the west of the city; and recent discoveries go far as to place it near “Pompey's Pillar,” which was an independent monument erected to commemorate Diocletian's siege of the city.
The names of a few other public buildings on the mainland are known, but there is little information as to their actual position. None, however, are as famous as the building that stood on the eastern point of Pharos island. There, The Great Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, reputed to be 138 meters (450 ft) high, was situated. The first Ptolemy began the project, and the second Ptolemy (Ptolemy II Philadelphus) completed it, at a total cost of 800 talents. It took 12 years to complete and served as a prototype for all later lighthouses in the world. The light was produced by a furnace at the top and the tower was built mostly with solid blocks of limestone. The Pharos lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century, making it the second longest surviving ancient wonder, after the Great Pyramid of Giza. A temple of Hephaestus also stood on Pharos at the head of the mole.
In the 1st century, the population of Alexandria contained over 180,000 adult male citizens (from a papyrus dated 32 AD), in addition to a large number of freedmen, women, children and slaves. Estimates of the total population range from 500,000 to over 1,000,000, making it one of the largest cities ever built before the Industrial Revolution and the largest pre-industrial city that was not an imperial capital.
 
Ancient remains
 Roman Pompey's Pillar

Due to the constant presence of war in Alexandria in ancient times, very little of the ancient city has survived into the present day. Much of the royal and civic quarters sank beneath the harbor due to earthquake subsidence in AD 365, and the rest has been built over in modern times.
"Pompey's Pillar", a Roman triumphal column, is one of the best-known ancient monuments still standing in Alexandria today. It is located on Alexandria's ancient acropolis—a modest hill located adjacent to the city's Arab cemetery—and was originally part of a temple colonnade. Including its pedestal, it is 30 m (99 ft) high; the shaft is of polished red granite, 2.7 meters in diameter at the base, tapering to 2.4 meters at the top. The shaft is 88 feet (27 m) high made out of a single piece of granite. This would be 132 cubic metres (4,662 cubic feet) or approximately 396 tons. Pompey's Pillar may have been erected using the same methods that were used to erect the ancient obelisks. The Romans had cranes but they were not strong enough to lift something this heavy. Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehrner conducted several obelisk erecting experiments including a successful attempt to erect a 25-ton obelisk in 1999. This followed two experiments to erect smaller obelisks and two failed attempts to erect a 25-ton obelisk. The structure was plundered and demolished in the 4th century when a bishop decreed that Paganism must be eradicated. "Pompey's Pillar" is a misnomer, as it has nothing to do with Pompey, having been erected in 293 for Diocletian, possibly in memory of the rebellion of Domitius Domitianus. Beneath the acropolis itself are the subterranean remains of the Serapeum, where the mysteries of the god Serapis were enacted, and whose carved wall niches are believed to have provided overflow storage space for the ancient Library. In more recent years, many ancient artifacts have been discovered from the surrounding sea, mostly pieces of old pottery.
Alexandria's catacombs, known as Kom al-Shoqafa, are a short distance southwest of the pillar, consist of a multi-level labyrinth, reached via a large spiral staircase, and featuring dozens of chambers adorned with sculpted pillars, statues, and other syncretic Romano-Egyptian religious symbols, burial niches, and sarcophagi, as well as a large Roman-style banquet room, where memorial meals were conducted by relatives of the deceased. The catacombs were long forgotten by the citizens until they were discovered by accident in the 1800s.
The most extensive ancient excavation currently being conducted in Alexandria is known as Kom al-Dikka. It has revealed the ancient city's well-preserved theater, and the remains of its Roman-era baths.
Antiquities
Persistent efforts have been made to explore the antiquities of Alexandria. Encouragement and help have been given by the local Archaeological Society, and by many individuals, notably Greeks proud of a city which is one of the glories of their national history. Excavations were performed in the city by Greeks seeking the tomb of Alexander the Great without success. The past and present directors of the museum have been enabled from time to time to carry out systematic excavations whenever opportunity is offered; D. G. Hogarth made tentative researches on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies in 1895; and a German expedition worked for two years (1898–1899). But two difficulties face the would-be excavator in Alexandria: lack of space for excavation and the underwater location of some areas of interest.

 Scale replica of the destroyed Alexandrine Pharos Lighthouse in Borg el Arab, Alex


 View of Abusir Pharaohs from Temple Of Taposiris Magna

 Since the great and growing modern city stands immediately over the ancient one, it is almost impossible to find any considerable space in which to dig, except at enormous cost. Cleopatra VII's royal quarters were inundated by earthquakes and tidal waves, leading to gradual subsidence in the 4th century AD. This underwater section, containing many of the most interesting sections of the Hellenistic city, including the palace quarter, was explored in 1992 and is still being extensively investigated by the French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team. It raised a noted head of Caesarion. These are being opened up to tourists, to some controversy. The spaces that are most open are the low grounds to northeast and southwest, where it is practically impossible to get below the Roman strata.
The most important results were those achieved by Dr. G. Botti, late director of the museum, in the neighborhood of “Pompey's Pillar”, where there is a good deal of open ground. Here, substructures of a large building or group of buildings have been exposed, which are perhaps part of the Serapeum. Nearby, immense catacombs and columbaria have been opened which may have been appendages of the temple. These contain one very remarkable vault with curious painted reliefs, now artificially lit and open to visitors.
The objects found in these researches are in the museum, the most notable being a great basalt bull, probably once an object of cult in the Serapeum. Other catacombs and tombs have been opened in Kom al-Shoqqafa (Roman) and Ras al-Tiin (painted).
The German excavation team found remains of a Ptolemaic colonnade and streets in the north-east of the city, but little else. Hogarth explored part of an immense brick structure under the mound of Kom al-Dikka, which may have been part of the Paneum, the Mausolea, or a Roman fortress.
The making of the new foreshore led to the dredging up of remains of the Patriarchal Church; and the foundations of modern buildings are seldom laid without some objects of antiquity being discovered. The wealth underground is doubtlessly immense; but despite all efforts, there is not much for antiquarians to see in Alexandria outside the museum and the neighborhood of “Pompey's Pillar”.

 Side view for The Temple Of Taposiris Magna

The Temple Of Taposiris Magna

The temple was built in the Ptolemy era and dedicated to Osiris, which finished the construction of Alexandria. It is located in Abusir, the western suburb of Alexandria in Borg el Arab city. Only the outer wall and the pylons remain from the temple. There is evidence to prove that sacred animals were worshiped there. Archaeologists found an animal necropolis near the temple. Remains of a Christian church show that the temple was used as a church in later centuries. Also found in the same area are remains of public baths built by the emperor Justinian, a seawall, quays and a bridge. Near the beach side of the area, we can see the remains of a tower built by Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The tower was an exact scale replica of the destroyed Alexandrine Pharos Lighthouse.


 Macedonian Army

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