Edmund Richardson on Charles Masson and Discovering the Lost Cities of Alexander the Great


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Charles Masson set out one day to hunt down the lost cities of Alexander the Great. He was an private in the East India Company's army until he deserted, and was as such trying to both locate and excavate a mysterious lost city, whilst also being on the run. His story is full of hardship, and Edmund Richardson discusses why a man would choose to abandon his station, journey into the middle of a previously unexplored region (at least by Westerners), and start hunting for the lost city of Alexandria under the Caucasus.

Later, when the British invade Afghanistan and threaten his excavation, he is faced with a terrible choice: either join with the British and abandon his friends, or betray those who were close to him.

Stories about Alexander the Great abound, and hearing these stories may have inspired Charles Masson's passion. One of the more famous accounts is the Alexander Romance, a long series of tales about his adventures, a lot of which are probably fictionalised - at one point Alexander takes a submarine to the bottom of the sea. As Edmund himself notes, the Romance has been "translated and adapted into everything from an Icelandic Alexanders Saga to an Ethiopian Romance - so it's travelled much further than even Alexander himself." Try this translation of the Greek version of the Romance by Richard Stoneman if you're interested: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/351/35185/the-greek-alexander-romance/9780140445602.html

Find out more here: https://www.ukri.org/news/100-new-generation-thinkers/

Producer: Peter Curry

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