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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Memory of a Revolution

Alexander Sarcophagus

  This magnificent sarcophagus was discovered in the ancient city of Sidon, now in modern day Lebanon.  Beyond the impeccable beauty of the piece, the exquisitely sculpted work tells of a change in the times and turmoil as Alexander the Great began his conquest.  Sidon had originally been a Phoenician port city and pseudo-capital, which had branched out birthed the creation of Carthage and Tyre.  However, during the time of this piece's construction, Alexander the Great had arrived, taken over this ancient city, and promoted a Hellenistic way of life.  While the city was called "persian" since it payed homage and tributes to the shah, Sidon was not directly owned by the shah and basically had its own independence despite offerings.  For this reason, when the Macedonians invaded simply asking for the same, the Sidonians welcomed them with open arms in the fourth century BCE.
     Since this sarcophagus is located in the royal necropolis of Sidon, the structure is believe to house the king of the time, Abdolonymos.  This object clearly shows the significance of the Macedonians in the eyes of the people of Sidon.  Sculpted on each side is the Battle of Issus, the famous battle during 333 BCE where Alexander defeated Darius III.  Clearly adored by the people, Alexander is shown dominating the Persians, adorned in the skin of the Nemean Lion.  Alexander had boasted that he descended from the line of Heracles, and the "defense" of this belief shows impeccable faith in this leader.  Despite the many wars that the two peoples faced against each other, their unity remains as shown through this piece.  Even at death, the king of this region wished to show hommage to such a great and powerful ruler.  Created from the combined Greek, Macedonian, and Phoenician styles, this piece shows the brotherhood which can come out of war.

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