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Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 332 BC (the exact date is disputed Aleksándreia; see also List of traditional Greek place names. Alexander's chief architect for the project was Dinocrates. Ancient accounts are extremely numerous and varied, and much influenced by subsequent developments. One of the more sober descriptions, given by the historian Arrian, tells how Alexander undertook to lay out the city's general plan, but lacking chalk or other means, resorted to sketching it out with grain.

A number of more fanciful foundation myths are found in the Alexander Romance and were picked up by medieval Arab historians. The 14th century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun ridiculed one where sea-monsters prevented the city's foundation, but were thwarted when Alexander descended below the sea in a glass box, and armed with exact knowledge of their appearance, goes on to erect metal effigies on the beach which succeed in frightening the monsters away.

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