Good morning, we are continuing with our exploration of the Ancient World and Ancient Metropolises with an exploration into the city of Alexandria. Alexandria was the greatest city in the world, so why is its history so mysterious? It was a city where two cultures met: the Egyptian and Greek Cultures. The run time is 52:13.
Alexandria was established by Alexander the Great, and it was a port on the Mediterranean Sea. Alexander the Great had just conquered Egypt and wanted to establish a great city in honor of the conquest. Architects designed it on a grid pattern. For a time, it was a construction project. It was home to the great lighthouse at Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. What was it about this city that made Alexandria so special?
Today, the ancient city is buried under concrete and desert. It takes time and digging to find its mysterious past. What knowledge was stored in the Library of Alexandria? Where was the lighthouse? Why were people drawn to Alexandria? One young Athenian woman came down to Alexandria to seek her fortune, what is her story?
Jean-Yves Empereur is the head of the studies for Alexandria. He has concluded that Alexandria was a grand metropolis on par with Athens and Corinth. It would have impressed the ancient visitor. The lighthouse that guarded the harbor rose one hundred and forty meters into the sky. It was a symbol of Alexandria’s power. The lighthouse was built in 299 BC. It took twenty years to build. The lighthouse was the first sight that greeted the visitor to Alexandria. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the lighthouse, however, the site is now home to a Medieval fortress. Did the ruins of the lighthouse provide the building materials for the fort?
One engineer believes so and believes that the fort was built on the lighthouse’s foundation. So today, archeologists are putting probes around the Fort and through the fort to discover if the fort sits on the remains of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was toppled by an earthquake. Beneath the fort, there is a tunnel system that would provide water. This would have been helpful in a siege situation.
One young woman spotted it upon arrival in Alexandria. She ran into her uncle who was an engineer on the lighthouse site. She reunites with him. This woman has a bold plan, and it is only in Alexandria that she can see it through. She wants to study medicine and become a doctor. This was a shocking prospect even in Alexandria. She disguises herself as a man to study medicine, this is a dangerous prospect for her. However, she is determined to gain the knowledge to be a doctor.
Another archeologist explores an uninhabited island in the harbor. The site was untouched for generations and so this provides a rare opportunity to discover intact finds. This site was abandoned soon after it was built, and no one went to the island ever since. There was a building discovered on the site. On another area of the island, there was an extensive tunnel system found. Why was this island abandoned so soon after the building was done? Was this island a planning office for the city on the mainland? This island will remain a mystery.
In modern-day Alexandria, archaeologists have become rescuers. When there are construction projects around the city the construction workers discover something new about the ruins. When a site is discovered, the archeologists go to work to learn more about the ancient city before the ruins are covered again. On another site, known as the palace, clay pipes are discovered. These clay pipes would have provided water for the city. Thousands of pipes would have been laid in the ground before the building went in. This is a growing body of evidence that shows that Alexandria was planned extensively. The city planners even anticipated that the city would grow and built the roads to handle a high traffic volume. Ancient Alexandria was a modern city.
This documentary is an excellent documentary to show in the classroom. The story of Alexandria was woven together quite nicely and there was a nice flow to it. I would describe it as "no fuss, no muss," and the documentary was narrated simply.
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