Saturday, 19 May 2007

Not-so-great Alexander?

© National Geographic News

According to National Geographic News, Alexander may not have been so Great after all. New research has shown that changing sea levels and shifting sands helped him to conquer the island city of Tyre in 332 B.C.

Scholars have always wondered at the amazing feat of engineering which Alexander's army accomplished in constructing a 740m-long causeway to connect Tyre with the mainland. But now, researchers have found evidence to suggest that the waters were probably only 1-2m deep!

The building of the 60m-wide causeway still ranks as a major undertaking.

(A view of how the causeway might have looked can be seen on the cover of this Ancient Siege Warfare book.)

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Remains of the Day

Last week, Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer of Jerusalem's Hebrew University announced the discovery of King Herod's tomb.

Photo: Der Spiegel

It was well-known that Herod chose to be buried at the fortress of Herodium, but his tomb had never been located. Until now.

The ruined mausoleum, on the north-eastern slope of the artificial hill, contained pieces of a large sarcophagus (ca. 2.5m long), assumed by Netzer to have belonged to Herod. It is noteworthy that no inscriptions have been found at Herodium, neither on the sarcophagus nor in the building remains, so epigraphic proof is lacking.

It is thought that the red-tinted limestone sarcophagus was smashed in an act of ancient vandalism.