Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christopher Columbus - Mini Biography,Trips and Legacy

Name: Cristoforo Colombo (Italian)
Also Known As: Christopher Columbus, Cristobal Colon (Spanish)
Birth/Death: 1451 CE - 1506 CE
Nationality: Italian
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy

credit/source: youtube.com and  Bio

In Another video link  Colombus describes his Journey through his letter to the King and Queen, upon landing in Portugal. March 14th 1493..


Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, hoping to find a route to India (in order to trade for spices). He made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America during the years 1492-1504.

photo: enchantedlearning.com
Christopher Columbus Route 1492

photo: eyewitnesstohistory.com

The First Trip:
Columbus sailed for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. On his first trip, Columbus led an expedition with three ships, the Niña (captained by Vicente Yáñez Pinzon), the Pinta (owned and captained by Martin Alonzo Pinzon), and the Santa Maria (captained by Columbus), and about 90 crew members. They set sail on Aug. 3, 1492 from Palos, Spain, and on October 11, 1492, spotted the Caribbean islands off southeastern North America. They landed on an island they called Guanahani, but Columbus later renamed it San Salvador. They were met by the local Taino Indians, many of whom were captured by Columbus' men and later sold into slavery. Columbus thought he had made it to Asia, and called this area the Indies, and called its inhabitants Indians.
While exploring the islands in the area and looking for gold to loot, Columbus' men traveled to the islands of Hispaniola (now divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Cuba, and many other smaller islands. On the return trip, the Santa Maria was wrecked and the captain of the Pinta sailed off on his own to try to beat Columbus back. 
Columbus returned to Spain in the Nina, arriving on March 15, 1493. 

The Second Trip:
On a second, larger expedition (Sept. 25, 1493-June 11, 1496), sailed with 17 ships and 1,200 to 1,500 men to find gold and capture Indians as slaves in the Indies. Columbus established a base in Hispaniola and sailed around Hispaniola and along the length of southern Cuba. He spotted and named the island of Dominica on November 3, 1493.

The Third Trip:
On a third expedition (May 30, 1498-October 1500), Columbus sailed farther south, to Trinidad and Venezuela (including the mouth of the Orinoco River). Columbus was the first European since the Viking Leif Ericsson to set foot on the mainland of America.

The Fourth Trip:
On his fourth and last expedition (May 9, 1502-Nov. 7, 1504), Columbus sailed to Mexico, Honduras and Panama (in Central America) and Santiago (Jamaica). Columbus is buried in eastern Hispaniola (now called the Dominican Republic). 

credit/source: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/page/c/columbus.shtml


Christopher Columbus did not “discover” the Americas, nor was he even the first European to visit the “New World.” (Viking explorers had sailed to Greenland and Newfoundland in the 11th century.) However, his journey kicked off centuries of exploration and exploitation on the American continents. The consequences of his explorations were severe for the native populations of the areas he and the conquistadores conquered. Disease and environmental changes resulted in the destruction of the majority of the native population over time, while Europeans continued to extract natural resources from these territories. Today, Columbus has a mixed legacy—he is remembered as a daring and path-breaking explorer who transformed the New World, yet his actions also unleashed changes that would eventually devastate the native populations he and his fellow explorers encountered.
Did you know that: Christopher Columbus was not the first person to propose that a person could reach Asia by sailing west from Europe. In fact, scholars argue that the idea is almost as old as the idea that the Earth is round. (That is, it dates back to early Rome.)
credit/source: http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/christopher-columbus
All video and photos are credit to the original writers'sources and references.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Marco Polo The Italian Explorer,History,Book and Legacy

Marco Polo's Route `160-1295
Marco Polo (1254-1324) was an Italian voyager and merchant who was one of the first Europeans to travel across Asia through China, visiting the Kublai Khan in Beijing. He left in 1271 (he was a teenager at the time) with his father (Nicolo Polo) and uncle (Maffeo Polo); they spent about 24 years traveling. [Nicolo and Maffeo had previously made a trip to China, from 1260-1269, during which the Kublai Khan (the conqueror of China) requested holy oil blessed by the Pope.]

Polo sailed south from Venice, Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea to the Middle East. They then went southeast overland to Persia (now Iran), then through the Pamir Mountains and the Gobi Desert, to Beijing, China. They explored the area south of Beijing, including Yunan and Szechuan. Returning to Beijing, they traveled east to Tankchow (at the mouth of the Yangtse River), then south to Hangchow, China. They then sailed south along the coast of China, to what are now Vietnam and Sumatra. They sailed west to Sri Lanka and India, and then back to Ormuz (on the Persian Gulf). They went northwest overland to the Black Sea, then the Mediterranean Sea, and back to Venice, Italy.
Marco Polo's written accounts of his travels were the first Western record of porcelain, coal, gunpowder, printing, paper money, and silk; Polo wrote "Book of Ser Marco Polo" around 1298.
credit/source: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/page/p/polo.shtml


Marco Polo was born in 1254, in Venice, Italy. He traveled extensively with his family, journeying from Europe to Asia from 1271 to 1295. He remained in China for 17 of those years. Around 1292, he left China, acting as consort along the way to a Mongol princess who was being sent to Persia. His book Il Milione describes his travels and experiences and influenced later adventurers and merchants.
credit/source: http://www.biography.com/people/marco-polo-9443861#early-life
The road to Xanadu: 1271-1275

This time the journey east takes four years. The little party travels by sea from Venice to Syria, then rides or walks the rest of the journey - to Tabriz and by a southerly route, through Yazd and Kerman, before joining the Silk Roadto the north of the Hindu Kush. Eventually, after skirting the Gobi desert, they reach Kublai Khan's summer palace - the stately pleasure dome which he has built north of the Great Wall at Shang Tu, transliterated by Marco Polo into Italian as Ciandu and now widely known as Xanadu.

The Polo brothers receive a warm welcome from Kublai. They present to him young Marco - an encounter which, according to Marco, inspires immediate Mutual admiration. Certainly Marco is offered employment.

Marco Polo in China: 1275-1292

Marco spends seventeen years in China, fulfilling a wide variety of tasks in Kublai Khan's administration. He is in effect a member of an occupying force, speaking Mongolian but not Chinese, so his understanding of the people is limited. But he travels a great deal, often trading on his own account as well as serving the emperor, and he describes many cities.

Hangzhou is his favorite. He pretends not to be certain which is more impressive - the number of its bridges or the number of its prostitutes. His interests seem more with the latter. Those who sample these women, he says (as if speaking of someone else), 'are so much taken with their sweetness and charms that they can never forget them'.

Marco has often been criticized for failing to mention one peculiarity of China - the drinking of tea, which is already by this time a Chinese addiction. The two oddities which strike him most forcibly are a marvelous black stone, useless for building with, which the Chinese dig up and burn (one of the earliest references to coal); and their use of bank notes (see Bank notes in China).

Paper money is not a Mongol innovation, being in use already in the Song dynasty, but Marco gives a fascinating description of government officials stamping the notes with a cinnabar seal.

The Book of Marco Polo: 1298-1299
Marco has no intention of writing a book. Luckily for us he finds himself a prisoner in Genoa in 1298 (he has been in command of a Venetian galley in a war against the Genoese). A fellow captive is an author of romances, by the name of Rustichello. During a winter of enforced idleness, Marco tells him the story of his adventures. Rustichello writes it down.

The Book of Marco Polo, wherein is recounted the Wonders of the World becomes so popular that numerous manuscript copies of it are made in several languages.

Marco's contemporaries see his book primarily as what its title says - a book of wonders, rather than a factual account - and Rustichello's trade as a writer of romances has caused some more recently to question how much of the book is true, or whether Marco even made the journey to China.

But Chinese sources confirm many details which were unknown in the west in Marco's time. The most he can probably be accused of, in providing one of the world's greatest travel books, are two familiar failings - a selective memory and a story-teller's tendency to exaggerate. There is, however, no truth in the tradition that he brought back the secrets of gunpowder, the compassprinting or noodles.

credit/source: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ac96

Three years after returning to Venice, Marco Polo assumed command of a Venetian ship in a war against Genoa. He was captured and, while being held in a Genovese prison, he met a fellow prisoner and romance writer called Rustichello. When prompted, he dictated his adventures to Rustichello. These writings, written in French, were titled "Books of the Marvels of the World," but are better known in English as "The Travels of Marco Polo."
The book was a wild success, though many readers questioned Polo’s reliability, possibly leading to the book’s popular Italian title, "Il Milione," short for "The Million Lies." Some questioned whether Polo even went to China or if the entire thing was hearsay. Polo stood by the book, however, and went on to start a business, marry, and father three daughters. When Polo was on his deathbed in 1324, visitors urged him to admit the book was fiction, to which he famously proclaimed, “I have not told half of what I saw.”
Though no authoritative version of Polo’s book exists, researchers and historians in the subsequent centuries have verified much of what he reported. It is generally accepted that he reported faithfully what he could, though some accounts probably came from others that he met along the way. Regardless, the information in his book proved vital to European geographic understanding and inspired countless explorers — including Christopher Columbus, who, it is said, took a copy of Polo’s book with him in 1492.
credit/source: http://www.livescience.com/27513-marco-polo.html

 Photo and facts  are all credit to all original writers' sources and references.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Genghis Khan Founder of Mongol Empire: Facts & Biography

A statue of Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, in Ulaanbatar, Mongolia.
Credit: Peter Zachar/Dreamstime

Genghis Khan was a 13th-century warrior in central Asia who founded the Mongol Empire, one of the largest empires in history. By the time he died, the empire controlled a vast amount of territory in China and central Asia, and its armies had ventured as far west as Kiev in modern-day Ukraine. The successors of Genghis Khan would go on to control kingdoms with territories in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.
Despite his great achievements, and ferocious reputation, there is much about Genghis Khan that we don’t know. For instance, there is not a single authentic portrait of the man that survives to present day, writes Jean-Paul Raux, a professor emeritus at the Ecole du Louvre, in his book “Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire” (Thames & Hudson 2003). All of the images of him that exist were created after his death or by people who otherwise never met him.
Additionally, until Genghis Khan gained control over the Uyghur people, the Mongolians did not have a writing system. As such many of the records that survive of him were written by foreigners. An important Mongolian record that survives is called the “Secret History of the Mongols,”but was written anonymously (as its name suggests) apparently sometime after Genghis Khan’s death.
From what modern-day historians can gather he was born sometime around A.D. 1160 (the exact year is uncertain) and died in August 1227, apparently of natural causes, while in the process of waging a punitive campaign against the Tangut people (who were slaughtered after Genghis Khan died).
Genghis Khan was born with the name Temujin (also spelled Temuchin). At the time, Mongolia was ruled by different clans and tribal groups. His father, named Yesukai, “was lord and leader of 40,000 tents or families. Even his brothers, including those senior to him, acknowledged him as their leader and head of the Borjigin clan,” writes the late Syed Anwarul Haque Haqqi, who was a professor at Aligarh Muslim University, in his book “Chingiz Khan: The Life and Legacy of an Empire Builder” (Primus Books, 2010).
Temujin's mother, Hoelun, had been captured by his father’s clan and forced to become Yesukai’s wife (something that was common in Mongolia at the time). The boy was named Temujin to celebrate his father's triumph over an enemy, also named Temujin, writes Haqqi, who notes that naming a newborn child after an auspicious event was a common practice.
We know nothing of his early life “but it is reasonable to suppose that as the years rolled by and childhood turned into youth (he) was brought up in the hard and harsh atmosphere of nomadic life, in which the tribal lords and chiefs fought, drank, and duelled, married and slept with their weapons underneath them — a rigorous life in which chiefs shared the miseries, hungers and privations of their people,” writes Haqqi.
Around the age of 9, Temujin was betrothed to Börte, the 10-year-old daughter of Dai Sechen, the leader of the Jungirat tribe (there are different spellings of these names). Haqqi believed that Temujin lived for some time with his father in-law, although this is a source of debate among scholars.
At some point Temujin’s father, Yesukai, died (apparently poisoned) and Temujin returned home to find his father dead. The family’s power faded as many of his father’s followers deserted them.
Temujin, his family and remaining followers were forced to eke out a living on marginal pasturelands, contending with thieves and old rivals of Yesukai hoping to kill his family. Around the age of 14, Temujin is said to have murdered his half brother Bektor. 
After a few years, Temujin felt that he was strong enough to return to Dai Sechen and take Borte’s hand in marriage. He overestimated his own strength, and Borte was kidnapped in a raid by a tribe called the Merkit. Temujin had to seek out the help of his friends Jamuqa and Toghrul (also called the Ong Khan or Wang Khan) to free her (they were both glad to help, as they hated the Merkit).
Chinese historical sources say that at some point Temujin was captured by the Jin Dynasty (who controlled part of China) and was held there for a number of years. Whether this is accurate or not is unknown.
The records do show that around 1200 Temujin had allied himself with Toghrul and would launch a campaign against the Tatars, which they defeated in 1202. The two would later have a falling out, and Toghrul was killed after his forces were defeated by Temujin. Temujin also had a falling out with Jamuqa and eventually had him killed also.
In 1206, Temujin had conquered most of Mongolia and the remaining tribes were forced to acknowledge him as their leader. He took the name Genghis Khan (also spelled Chingiz Khan or Tchingis Qaghan). The name has different translations, one of them being “oceanic sovereign,” writes Raux.
In the years after taking over Mongolia, Genghis Khan would launch a successful campaign against the Jin Dynasty, taking their capital Zhongdu (near modern-day Beijing) in 1215. He then turned his attention to the west, moving deeper and deeper into central Asia. In 1219, he launched a successful campaign against the shah of Khwarezm (based in modern-day Iran) reportedly with an army of up to 200,000 men.
Why Genghis Khan felt compelled to launch these campaigns is a matter of debate among scholars. Morris Rossabi of Columbia University writes in a section of the book “Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire” (University of Washington Press, 2009) that several ideas have been put forward. It’s possible that the wars in Mongolia had exhausted the country’s supply of animals and Genghis Khan needed to raid other countries to prevent starvation. Another idea is that a period of dry weather in Mongolia led to Genghis Khan decision to seize new lands for his people. Yet another idea is that Genghis Khan felt he had a divine right to conquer the world. [Related: Wet Climate May Have Fueled Mongol Invasion]
Whatever his reasons, his rapid conquests stunned the medieval world, Rossabi notes. While his tactics — the use of the composite bow, cavalry and feigned retreats — were not new, and he had to seek foreign help in order to learn how to conduct siege warfare, Genghis Khan made innovations in the form of government and organization. He transformed Mongolian society from one based on tribes to one capable of conquering and running an empire.
“Once he had conquered territories beyond Mongolia, he instituted a more sophisticated administrative structure and a regular system of taxation,” Rossabi writes. “Recruiting captured Turks, Chinese and others, he began to devise a more stable system that could contribute to a more orderly government, with specialized official positions.”
He devised a system of laws and regulations to run this new empire of his. “In accordance and agreement with his own mind he established a rule for every occasion and a regulation for every circumstance; while for every crime he fixed a penalty,” wrote the Persian writer Ata-Malik Juvayni, who lived in the 13th century, in his book “History of the World Conqueror” (Translated by John Andrew Boyle in 1958).
Genghis Khan said that plunder from his campaigns must be shared among his troops and insisted they follow a vigorous training routine focused on hunting. This was “not for the sake of the game alone, but also in order that they may become accustomed and inured to hunting and familiarized with the handling of the bow and the endurance of hardships,” Juvayni wrote.
Policies like these helped keep his army together, even when they were a long way from home. They are a “peasantry in the guise of an army, all of them, great and small, noble and base, in time of battle becoming swordsmen, archers and lancers and advancing in whatever manner the occasion requires,” wrote Juvayni.
While Genghis Khan was known for his brutality, he often ordered his troops not to harm artisans and to leave clerics alone, respecting holy men of other faiths. Khan himself followed a system of beliefs that revolved around Mongolian shamanism.
Genghis Khan sought out Daoist priests, whom he believed knew the secret to eternal life. However, in the midst of a campaign against the Tangut people (whom he said had broken their word to him) he died, apparently of natural causes. His body was returned to Mongolia and his tomb was said to have been relatively modest for a ruler of his stature, although its location is unknown today.
After his death his son, Ogedai, succeeded him until his own death in 1241. Rossabi notes that future successions were contested, leading to disputes, wars and eventually the empire breaking into different states. “Such conflicts and the ensuing disunity would be prime factors in the collapse of the Mongol empire,” he writes.
To the people who became subjects of the empire, the rise of Genghis Khan was stunning and, to some, almost divine.
“Before the appearance of (Genghis Khan) they had no chief or ruler. Each tribe or two tribes lived separately; they were not united with one another, and there was constant fighting and hostility between them,” Juvayni wrote.
credit/source: http://www.livescience.com/43260-genghis-khan.html
All photo and video are all credit to the original writer's sources.

Mongol leader Genghis Khan never allowed anyone to paint his portrait, sculpt his image or engrave his likeness on a coin. The first images of him appeared after his death.
CREDIT/SOURCE: http://www.history.com/topics/genghis-khan

credit/source: youtube.com, BBC News and Mitra Y

 Mitra Y


Friday, November 25, 2016

Alexander the Great: Facts and Biography

Alexander the Great (*356; r. 336-323): the Macedonian king who defeated his Persian colleague Darius III Codomannus and conquered the Achaemenid Empire. During his campaigns, Alexander visited a.o. Egypt, Babylonia, Persis, MediaBactria, the Punjab, and the valley of the Indus. In the second half of his reign, he had to find a way to rule his newly conquered countries. Therefore, he made Babylon his capital and introduced the oriental court ceremonial, which caused great tensions with his Macedonian and Greek officers.

Philip's Legacy

Alexander (statue from Delos)

Alexander's father Philip had been king of Macedonia and had changed this backward kingdom in a strong state with a powerful army. In order to achieve this aim, he had embarked on an expansionist policy: every year, he waged war, and the Macedonian aristocrats benefited. To keep his monarchy intact, Philip had to continue his conquests; if he stopped, the noblemen would start to ask questions.
Towards the end of his life, Philip had contemplated a war against the nearby Persian empire, which was weakened after the death of king Artaxerxes III Ochus, but Philip had been murdered before he could leave (336 BCE). With help of two powerful courtiers, Antipater and Parmenion, Alexander succeeded his father and inherited the Persian war. He needed the first year of his reign to organize his kingdom, and left Antipater as his viceroy.

Asia Minor

The Granicus

In the spring of 334, Alexander and Parmenion crossed the Hellespont and attacked the local Persian army, which was defeated near the river Granicus in the northwest of what is now called Turkey. After their first victory, the Macedonians went to the south, where the Persian stronghold Sardes surrendered and the Macedonians could occupy Greek cities like EphesusPriene, and Miletus.
Their advance was halted when they reached Halicarnassus, the capital of Caria, which was defended by a Greek commander in Persian service, Memnon of Rhodes. The siege lasted long and although a large part of Halicarnassus was finally captured, its citadel, situated on an island, was not. The Macedonians had lost precious time and the new Persian king, Darius III Codomannus, had been able to build up a large army.


The Alexander Mosaic

In 333, the troops of Alexander and Parmenion advanced through what is now called Turkey, and in November, they met the army of Darius at Issus. Battle was joined on a narrow strip of land, where the Persians were unable to benefit of their superior numbers. They were defeated for the second time, and Alexander could proceed to the south, where he besieged and captured Tyre and Gaza. Early in 331, he added Egypt, which was without defense, to his conquests. From now on, the Persian empire had no ports anymore, and Macedonia was safe. In spite of a Persian offer to negotiate, Alexander decided to continue the war.
Something had changed. Alexander had always been the leader of the Macedonians and something like an ordinary nobleman. After Issus, however, he had started to claim to be a real king, and after his visit to Egypt, he presented himself as the son of the supreme god Zeus, in his manifestation as the Egyptian Ammon. Not everyone accepted this, and we sometimes hear about complaining courtiers; from his side, Alexander started to spy upon Parmenion's son Philotas. His ambitions had grown.

To the east

Cuneiform tablet mentioning the battle of Gaugamela

In the summer of 331, the Macedonians crossed the Euphratesand wanted to proceed to Babylon, but the Persian commander Mazaeus forced them to a more northern route, which brought them to the plain east of the Tigris. At Gaugamela, Darius waited for Alexander. Unfortunately for him, there was a lunar eclipse, and the omens were extremely unfavorable: the precise circumstances predicted a defeat for the ruler of Babylonia and Persia, and a successful, eight-year reign for an intruder from the west. This proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: the only contemporary source we have, the Babylonian Astronomical Diary, mentions how Darius was deserted by his own men.
In the autumn, Alexander reached Babylon and Susa, and in January the Macedonians fought their way through the Persian Gate, a mountain pass in the Zagros. They spent the winter of 330 in the Persian capital Persepolis, which they sacked in the spring.

The Dasht-e Kavir, where Darius was killed

Meanwhile, Darius was building a third army in Ecbatana, but some of his reinforcements never arrived, and ultimately, the great king decided to go to the east, where he would find new troops. Alexander followed him at lightning speed and intercepted his opponent, who was murdered near a town called Choara. According to the Macedonian propaganda, the assassins were Persian noblemen, and Alexander announced that he would punish them. After all, he had conquered a substantial part of Asia by now, and if he wanted to rule it, he needed help from the Persian aristocrats. Punishing the murderers was one way to obtain their support.
His soldiers did not like this. There was attempt to kill the king and it turned out that Parmenion's son Philotas had been aware of this conspiracy. He had not reported it and was therefore executed. His father, who held an independent command, was killed too. From now on, Alexander relied on "new men" like Craterus. Unhappy soldiers were placed in a punitive battalion. For two years, there was no opposition left.

credit/source: The British Museum and youtube.com

Central Asia

Meanwhile, the last Persians had found a new leader, Bessus, who is also mentioned - perhaps correctly - as Darius' murderer. He was powerful in what is now Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, and Alexander ordered his soldiers to march across the Hindu Kush. It was a detour, but the stratagem was successful: Bessus was surprised and was arrested by his own men, who surrendered him to Alexander's friend Ptolemy.

The Jaxartes, the northeastern frontier of Alexander's empire

Alexander now advanced to the northeastern part of the Persian world. Five years after he had crossed to Asia, he had conquered a large part of it and rooted out all opposition. But at this very moment of triumph, things started to go wrong. There was an insurrection among the Sogdians, led by a man named Spitamenes, who may have been an influential man in the Zoroastrian religious community. He started a guerilla, using fast horsemen to attack everywhere; every time the Macedonians were ready to strike back, he had already disappeared. Alexander needed local supporters and hired the Dahae, who turned out to be loyal. He also married a local princess, Roxane, to win additional local support. But even after these diplomatic moves, the counter-guerrilla continued. Eventually, Alexander ordered mass deportations to become master of the situation. In the winter of 328/327, Spitamenes was killed.

The proskynesis ritual

Alexander had needed reinforcements and had hired many Greek mercenaries. At the same time, the "king of Asia" was increasingly relying upon eastern troops. His army was slowly becoming less Macedonian, and he had to adopt a new court ceremonial to become acceptable to his Asian courtiers and soldiers. Earlier attempts to win their hearts by accepting Persian royal garments had been acceptable to the Macedonians, and Alexander expected that they would also accept the introduction of proskynesis, the Persian court ritual. However, the Macedonians flatly refused because the gestures involved in proskynesis (bowing, prostrating, kissing) were associated with the cult of the gods. If Alexander needed one court ritual, he needed to become a god.
During a drinking party, something terrible happened: Alexander killed a nobleman named Clitus. It was an accident, but deep in his heart, the king wanted to strike at the Macedonian nobility anyhow, because it had been against proskynesis. Yet, the king felt guilty, until the philosopher Anaxarchus convinced him that as a king, he was "a god among men" and therefore beyond good and evil. This was the next step towards deification.

The Punjab

Indus and Aornus

Late in 327, the Macedonians crossed the Hindu Kush again, and invaded the valleys of the Kabul and Swat. In fact, there was no justification for this attack, but Alexander's courtiers no longer asked questions. Many Indians seemed to identify the conqueror with an avatar of a local deity, who was identified by the Macedonians with their god Dionysus. Fighting was hard and merciless; on more than one occasion, Alexander massacred people who had already surrendered. In the spring of 326, he reached the mighty Indus, where he attacked a group of refugees on a mountain citadel called Aornus. The only reason seems to have been that there was a local myth that the god Krishna had been unable to capture this mountain, a challenge that Alexander could not leave unanswered.
He now proceeded along the Uttarāpatha (the modern Grand Trunk Road) to the east, and reached Taxila. Its ruler Omphis surrendered and invited Alexander to attack the king of the next Indian state, Porus. This man waited for the invaders on the bank of the river Jhelum, which he believed to be unpassable. However, during a stormy night full of rain, the Macedonians were able to cross the stream, and Porus was defeated because his chariots were unable to proceed in the mud. It was not a big battle -only a sixth of Alexander's army was employed- but it was celebrated as a victory of the greatest importance. The king of Asia minted coins on which he was shown with a thunderbolt, claiming that he had caused the rainfall. Again, Alexander claimed divinity.

Commemorating the battle of the Hydaspes

He wanted to advance to the east, and indeed crossed two rivers, but then, his soldiers refused to go on. Alexander was furious. He must have imagined a different way to celebrate his thirtieth birthday. But he finally allowed himself to be persuaded by Coenus, one of the heroes of the battle at the Jhelum, and by the gods, who sent evil omens. This was important. To the king, it was imperative to stress that the gods, and not the soldiers, had forced him to return; had it been otherwise, he would have lost his authority.
Now, the return voyage started: with a large fleet, the Macedonians sailed to the south. Alexander used his normal strategy, attacking refugees and non-combattants first, in order to terrorize the soldiers. Especially the Mallians, who gave their name to modern Multan, suffered heavily. Alexander was severely wounded but recovered and continued to the south, until he reached the Indian Ocean.

Return to Babylonia

He divided his army. Craterus commanded one division, Nearchus was to lead a naval expedition, and a third division was to proceed through the Gedrosian desert, commanded by the son of Zeus in person. This was to be the greatest mistake of Alexander's career: he lost many people in the hot and waterless area. Yet, there were survivors, who recognized Alexander as their god during a drinking party in Carmania, where their king presented himself as if he were the god Dionysus. 
Alexander now ordered the executions of several governors whom he suspected of treason. Probably correctly: in Sogdia, the Punjab and the Indus valley, there had been large insurrections, which Alexander was no longer able to suppress. Modern scholars have called these executions the "reign of terror" and our main source, the Greek historian Arrian of Nicomedia, writes that Alexander's rule now became "harsher" (oxyteros).
Early in 324, he returned to Persepolis and Susa, where he ordered his officers to marry Iranian ladies. During this mass wedding, the king married to two princesses. Alexander was now planning to conquer Arabia and proceed to the western Mediterranean, and started to reorganize the eastern part of his empire. Everywhere, he appointed Europeans as satraps(governors) and at the same time, he recruited young Asians to serve in his army. The Macedonians were allowed to go home, but they refused. They had conquered the east, but now they saw that the conquered nations were taking over the army. Yet, Alexander overcame their complaints and ordered Craterus to bring back the veterans to Europe.


Alexander with the features of Helios, the sun god

In October, Alexander's lover Hephaestion died in Ecbatana. The king was shocked, and as a consolation, he massacred the Cossaeans, a mountain tribe in the Zagros, who were forced to give up their nomad lives and settle in towns. The king also ordered his subjects to sacrifice to Hephaestion as if he were a demigod. The implication was, of course, that he himself - as the greatest of the two lovers - was a god. Indeed, several Greek cities ordered that Alexander should be venerated as the "invincible god".
In the spring of 323, Alexander wanted to return to Babylon, where his fleet and army were gathering for the Arabian expedition. However, the Babylonian astronomers, the Chaldaeans, warned him not to enter the city, because he would die. After all, the omen of the battle of Gaugamela had predicted an eight-year rule. Alexander ignored the warning. At the end of May, he fell ill, and on 11 June, he died.
Alexander was succeeded by his brother Arridaeus. A few weeks later, Roxane gave birth to a son, who was called Alexander. By then, the Greeks had already revolted and civil war between Alexander's officers was about to begin.
Credit/source: http://www.livius.org/articles/person/alexander-the-great/
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Upon his recovery from Hephaestion's death, Alexander returned to plans for expanding his empire but would never realize them. He died in Babylon at the age of 32 on 10 or 11 June 323 BCE after suffering ten days of high fever. Theories concerning his cause of death have ranged from poisoning to malaria to meningitis to bacterial infection from drinking contaminated water (among others). Plutarch says that, 14 days before his death, Alexander entertained his fleet admiral Nearcus and his friend Medius of Larissa with a long bout of drinking, after which he fell into a fever from which he never recovered. When he was asked who should succeed him, Alexander said, “The strongest”, which answer led to his empire being divided between four of his generals: Cassander, Ptolemy, Antigonus, and Seleucus (known as The Diadochi or `successors').
Alexander Sarcophagus (detail)

Plutarch and Arrian, however, claim he passed his reign to Perdiccas, the friend of Hephaistion with whom Alexander had carried their friend's body to his funeral in Babylon. Perdiccas was also Alexander's friend as well as his bodyguard and fellow cavalryman, and it would make sense, considering Alexander's habit of rewarding those he was close to with favors, that he would choose Perdiccas over others. However that may be, following Alexander's death, the generals ignored his wishes and Perdiccas was assassinated in 321 BCE.


His longtime comrade, Cassander, would order the execution of Alexander’s wife Roxana, Alexander’s son by her, and Alexander’s mother Olympias to consolidate his power as the new King of Macedonia (a title he would later lose to Antigonus and his heirs). Ptolemy stole Alexander's corpse as it was en route to Macedon and spirited it away to Egypt in hope of securing the prophecy that the land in which it was laid to rest would be prosperous and unconquerable. He would found the Ptolemaic Dynasty in Egypt which would last until 30 BCE, ending with the death of his descendant Cleopatra VII. Seleucus founded the Seleucid Empire, comprising Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and parts of India, and would be the last remaining of the Diadochi after the incessant 40 years of warbetween them and their heirs. He came to be known as Seleucid I Nicator (the unconquered). None of his generals possessed Alexander’s intelligence, understanding, or military genius but would found dynasties which, with exceptions, ruled their respective regions until the coming of Rome.
Their influence over the regions they controlled created what historians refer to as The Hellenistic Period in which Greek thought and culture became entwined with that of the indigenous populace. According to  Diodorus Siculus, one of the stipulations of Alexander's will was the creation of a unified empire between former enemies. People of the Near East were to be encouraged to marry with those of Europe and those of Europe to do likewise; in so doing, a new culture would be embraced by all. Although the Diodachi failed in the peaceful fulfillment of his wishes, through the Hellenization of their empires they contributed to Alexander's dream of a cultural unity; even if such unity could never be fully realized.

credit/source: http://www.ancient.eu/Alexander_the_Great/

Perhaps Alexander's greatest legacy was founding great cities and spreading the Greek culture. Alexandria, in Egypt, is a city today of more than 4.5 million people. Furthermore, Greek language, religion and culture were spread throughout the Middle East and used for centuries after Alexander’s death.
In what is today northern Afghanistan, an archaeological site called Ai Khanoum is a testimony to just how far Greek culture spread. It was one of the cities founded by Alexander, and researchers have found Greek inscriptions and depictions of Greek gods. One of the artifacts uncovered there is a bronze statuette of Hercules, a hero Alexander believed to be an ancestor. 
credit/source: http://www.livescience.com/39997-alexander-the-great.html
Did you know that:
Alexander the Great's tomb was one of the biggest tourist attractions of the ancient world. Roman emperors including Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Caligula traveled to Alexandria to pay their respects; and Augustus was reportedly so overwhelmed during his visit that he accidentally broke the nose off Alexander's mummy while laying a wreath at his grave.

credit/source: http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/alexander-the-great