ALEXANDRIA, general designation of cities whose foundation is credited to Alexander the Great (356-23 B.C.). Pseudo-Plutarch mentions seventy of these, which must have included purely military settlements; among those whose existence seems well attested, thirteen were in the Iranian territories. They were founded for administrative, military, or commercial purposes and most of them became important regional capitals. Some took the place of already existing towns, others were genuinely new creations. Beginning in the west, they were: Alexandria of Susiana (Pliny 6.138). Later renamed Antioch and later again Spassinou Charax, it was a commercial city that remained prosperous until the Sasanian period. The birthplace of the geographer Isidore of Charax, it was probably located between the Tigris and the Kārūn near present-day Ḵorramšahr. Alexandria of Persis (inscription at Magnesia on the Maeander, OGIS N 233). Location and history unknown. Alexandria of Margiana (Quintus Curtius 7.10; Pliny 6.147). Capital of Margiana, i.e., the Marv region, it was destroyed by “barbarians,” rebuilt, and named Antioch (Strabo, Ptolemy, Ammianus Marcellinus); it was probably located at Giaour Tepe. Alexandria of Ariana (Pliny 6.16-63; Strabo 11.8-10, 15.2; Isidore of Charax 15; Ammianus Marcellinus 23.6). The capital of Ariana, identified with Herat; no archeological traces have yet been discovered. Alexandria of Carmania (Pliny 6.107; Ptolemy 6.8; Ammianus Marcellinus 23.6). Opinions on the question of whether it existed differ; it is perhaps to be identified with Tapa Yaḥyā. Alexandria Prophtasia (Strabo 11.8, 15.2; Pliny 6.61; Ammianus Marcellinus 13.6; Pseudo-Plutarch De Alex. fort.). Capital of Drangiana, i.e., the Sīstān region, and one of the largest cities of the Hellenistic east. It perhaps became the capital of the eastern Parthian principality of the Surenas and is probably located at Nād-e ʿAlī. Alexandria of Sacastene (Isidore of Charax 18; perhaps Stephanos Byzantinos 15). Its existence and location remain uncertain. Alexandria of Arachosia (Stephanos Byzantinos 12, “Alexandria;” Isidore of Charax 19, “Alexandropolis;” Strabo 11.8; Pliny 6.61; Ammianus Marcellinus 33.6, “City of the Arachosians”). Capital of Arachosia, located either at Ḡaznī or, more probably, at old Qandahār, where the ancient ramparts were being excavated and two bilingual inscriptions of Aśoka have been discovered. Alexandria of Bactriana (Stephanos Byzantinos 2). Identified with Bactra, the capital of Bactriana (see Bactria and Balḵ). Archeological investigation of the Greek layers has been halted; only the Greek rampart could be studied. Alexandria of the Oxus (Ptolemy 6.12, and 6, where it is placed in Sogdiana). Formerly thought to be located at Termeḏ, evidently it should be identified with the important archeological site of Āy Ḵānom. Alexandria Eschate or of the Tanais (Arrian 4.1, 3-4; Quintus Curtius 8.6; Pliny 6.49). A fortress on the Jaxartes built in twenty days as an outpost against the nomads. Appian (Syriake 57) attributes its foundation to Seleucus. It was probably destroyed and then rebuilt under the name Antioch; it is located in the outskirts of Leninabad in Soviet Tajikistan. Alexandria of the Caucasus (Arrian 3.28, 4.22; Strabo 15.2; Quintus Curtius 6.3; Diodorus Siculus 17.83; Pliny 6.62). Capital of the Paropamisadai, probably identifiable with the ancient remains at Bagrām, north of Kabul; other hypotheses are Bāmīān, Čarīkār, or Parvān. Alexandria of Gedrosia or of Makarene (Pliny 6.97; Diodorus Siculus 17.104; Quintus Curtius 9.10; Arrian 6.21-24; Strabo 15.723). Destroyed by the Arachosians and subsequently rebuilt, it is thought to be the same as Ora or Rhambakia.
J. G. Droysen, Geschichte des Hellenismus, 1878.
V. Tscherikower, Die hellenistischen Städtegrunden, 1927.
E. Badian, Alexander the Great, 1950.
G. A. Koshelenko, Grecheskiĭ polis na ellinisticheskom vostoke, 1979.
Pauly-Wissowa, I/1, cols. 1388-97.
Originally Published: December 15, 1985
Last Updated: August 1, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, pp. 830-831
P. Leriche, “Alexandria,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, pp. 830-831; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/alexandria-general-designation-of-cities-whose-foundation-is-credited-to-alexander-the-great-356-23-b (accessed on 18 May 2014).