After publishing my article about the Kalash People (see: The Kalash, a lost tribe of Alexander the Great?), I received a comment making me aware of the Burusho people, also living in northern Pakistan. This asked for some research, of course.
The Burusho or Brusho people live at the foot of the Karakorum Mountains in Northern Pakistan and their language, strangely enough, seems not to be related to any other. They are better known as the Hunza People after the main valley of Hunza where they live but they are also spread over the Nagar and Yasin valleys of Gilgit Baltistan.
Yet, they pretend to be descendants of the Macedonian soldiers that were part of Alexander the Great’s army that crossed the region in 326 BC. Stories like this one still circulate in much of today’s Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, but legend or not, the Burushos or Hunzas believe that it was a Macedonian soldier who founded the town of Baltit. Genetic evidence, however, reveals only a 2% component – very much like that of the Kalash people; they also have some East Asian genetics suggesting some ancestry from north of the Himalayas. DNA research, on the other hand, shows that the Hunzas share ancestry with the speakers of Pamir languages (Afghans) and the Sinti (Gypsies). The strangest of all assumptions is that they may be related to the lost or imaginary kingdom of Shangri La! Time to tell tales. According to Dr. John Clark who lived among the Hunzas for nearly twenty years, the Burushos do not count their age only in calendar years but also in a personal estimation of wisdom, making them often reach ages of above one hundred!
It is obvious that during his thousands of miles-long marches, Alexander’s men have left many children behind. If you consider that this army counted an average of some forty thousand soldiers, I dare anyone to figure out how many children they generated. These offspring are not mentioned as such in our history books, but their presence obviously is non-negligible. Alexander arranged for 30,000 of such boys to be trained as “Macedonian” soldiers; on average, there must have been at least as many girls also. Basic math makes this total account for one and a half child per capita, but their numbers simply must have been much higher. We will remember that at his Susa wedding, Alexander officially granted a proper dowry to over the 10,000 soldiers in his army who had taken a Persian wife. No account exists for the many concubines or occasional affairs that must have occurred all along the road, producing, even more, future soldiers to swell the ranks of his army.
The valleys of Gilgit Baltistan are still too remote at present for serious scientific research, and I personally feel too insecure as well. We are already struggling with Alexander’s heritage in Central Asia and Pakistan is definitely no exception. Only time will shed more light on this possible heritage.