3 places fit for the Three Kings

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Let’s have some vague guesses about where we’d like to think these enlightened gentlemen came from

The twelfth and final night of Christmas is known as the Epiphany or simply Three Kings (as in our featured image by Dan’l Burton, above), and celebrates the arrival of some wise men to see Jesus, as noted in the Gospel of Matthew.

Many countries have a tradition that there were three of these chaps, they brought presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and their names were Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar, hailing respectively from Arabia, Persia and India.

Although these ideas were dreamt up 800 years later and the Bible makes no mention of them, let’s stick to this tradition and have some vague guesses about where we’d like to think these enlightened gentlemen came from.

3 places fit for the Three Kings
Palmyra. The view from Qalaat Ibn Maan, Temple of Bel and colonnaded axis. Photo: Arian Zwegers
3 places fit for the Three Kings
The theatre at Palmyra. Photo: upyernoz
3 places fit for the Three Kings
The Tetrapylon at Palmyra in Syria. Photo: Arian Zwegers

Arabia

The first king, Balthazar, is supposed to come from somewhere in Arabia. At the time of Jesus’ appearance, the very northern part of the Arabian Peninsula was under the control of the Roman Empire, while the south was populated by disparate random tribes.

Let’s assume the Arabian king came from Palmyra which was a grand city on an important trade route, but is currently a ruin site in modern Syria.

3 places fit for the Three Kings
Shiraz. Photo: ali reza_parsi
3 places fit for the Three Kings
Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran. Photo: Fulvio Spada
3 places fit for the Three Kings
Arg-e Karim Khani, Shiraz, Iran. Photo: Fulvio’s photos

Persia

The Parthian Empire was a kind of a big deal to the east, incorporating the land where Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar are today, plus parts of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tajikstan and Pakistan, and pretty much all of Azerbaijan.

Pretty large space for Melchior, our second king, to come from but let’s just say he came from Shiraz and invented wine. Shiraz has always been a centre for scholars and artists so it’s had its fair share of wise men over the centuries.

3 places fit for the Three Kings
Two-headed eagle’s stupa at Sirkap, Taxila. Photo: Nauman Sadiq
3 places fit for the Three Kings
Jinn-inhabited mound, 500 AD, Taxila. Photo: Nauman Sadiq
3 places fit for the Three Kings
Gridiron pattern of Sirkap, Taxila. Photo: Nauman Sadiq

India

It’s pretty unlikely that the last one, Caspar, came from India (how would he get there in time??), but if he had, then 2,000 years ago he would have been coming from the Indo-Scythian Empire.

Taxila was one of the empire’s capitals and can currently be found in modern Pakistan.

The present-day archaeological site in Taxila includes evidence of what some consider is the oldest university in history and is unsurprisingly one of Pakistan’s top tourist attractions. Definitely a likely place for a wise man.

3 places fit for the Three Kings was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Adam Zulawski