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Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Alexander Sarcophagus

This is my first post in two months as we’ve been overseas on holidays in the UK and Turkey. I thought I’d post some photos (holiday snaps) of some of the great sites and museums we visited. First up are some photos of the famous Alexander Sarcophagus of Sidon (325-311 BC), in the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

The Alexander Sarcophagus is one of four carved sarcophagi, discovered during the excavations conducted by Osman Hamdi Bey at a necropolis near Sidon, Lebanon in 1887. It was originally thought to have been the sarcophagus of Abdalonymus (died 311 BC), the king of Sidon appointed by Alexander immediately following the Battle of Issus (333). More recently it is thought it was made for Mazaeus, a Persian noble and governor of Babylon.

The carvings on one long side depict Alexander fighting the Persians at the Battle of Issus, while the opposite side shows Alexander and the Macedonians hunting lions together with Abdalonymus and the Persians. One short side shows a hunting scene and the other a battle, possibly the Battle of Gaza 312 BC, fought between Ptolemy I of Egypt and Demetrius I of Macedon. The above reference is from Wikipedia.

Alexander fighting the Persians at the Battle of Issus
Lion hunting scene

Battle scene

Panther hunting scene
The reliefs were all painted and the original colours are still clearly visible. Experts have been able to reconstruct how these actually looked.

Reconstruction of Alexander fighting

Reconstruction of Battle scene

In the museum there are these two really well preserved steles/stelai below, also from Sidon. Nick Sekunda’s excellent Montvert book, The Ptolemaic Army, has quite a bit of information on these.

Detail of Sidon Stele (3) – Stele of Salmas

Detail of Sidon Stele (7) – Stele of Dioskourides

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