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The conquests of Alexander the Great

This map is part of a series of 16 animated maps showing the history of Ancient Greece.

In 336, Philip of Macedon was assassinated and Alexander, his twenty-year old son, was proclaimed king. He immediately ordered the execution of his potential rivals and moved quickly and savagely to repress a rebellion by the Greek cities against their Macedonian overlords.

In 334, Alexander decided to continue his father’s plans to bring the Greeks into an alliance against the Persians and then launched a new military campaign in Asia Minor.

His first victory came at the Battle of the River Granicus, opening up the road to Sardis, the capital of the Satrap of Lydia, and then to the Greek coastal cities of Ephesus, Miletus, and Halicarnassus. He moved further inland as far as Gordium where he cut the “Gordian Knot”, and imposed his authority over the whole peninsula as far as the River Halys.


Once the Greek cities in Asia Minor had been liberated, Alexander launched a campaign against the Persian Empire’s Mediterranean lands. He crossed the Taurus Mountains and won a victory over King Darius on the Plain of Issus. After the Achaemenid King had withdrawn to the Euphrates, Alexander took Tyre, and then Gaza and, meeting with no resistance, took over Egypt where he was probably crowned Pharaoh.  

Early in 331, he founded Alexandria and consulted the Oracle of the god Amon at the Siwa Oasis before returning to Tyre.


Although the Persians were ready to negotiate, Alexander began preparations for a new campaign against the Empire. During the summer of 331, he crossed the Euphrates and the Tigris and again defeated Darius, this time at Gaugamela. The Persian king fled again, leaving the path open to the Empire’s capitals: Babylon, Susa and Persepolis, the last burnt in revenge for the destruction of the Acropolis in Athens 150 years earlier. Resistance to the Greek invader remained strong until Darius was assassinated by his entourage.

From then on, Alexander proclaimed himself heir to the King of Persia and sought to avoid the break-up of the Empire. Despite the misgivings of his generals, he launched a number of difficult campaigns against the eastern provinces. During the year 329, the Greeks crossed the Hindu-Kush Mountains and moved into Central Asia. It took Alexander three years to impose his rule over the local chieftains of Bactria and Sogdiana.

In the spring of 326, Alexander, having assembled a new army, moved into the Indus valley and defeated the troops of King Porus and their elephants. When his soldiers refused to go further, he traveled down the Indus to the sea and organized the return of his army via three separate routes. As a token of his desire to merge the Greeks and Asians into a single people, Alexander organized the marriage of 10,000 of his companions with Asian women at Susa, and he himself wed Darius’ eldest daughter. 


He died in Babylon in 323 without heirs, and it was his generals, the diadochi, who divided up his inheritance.