Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hidden treasures in northern Pakistan

It is beyond doubt that Alexander marched through northern Pakistan after crossing the Hindu Kush to India. His exact route has not been established mainly because little or no excavations have been undertaken in that part of the country. From time to time, however, some spectacular and less spectacular finds trickle to the outside world, like the enormous hoard of coins retrieved from a well at Mir Zakah (see: Alexander’s real face).

At Barikot in Pakistan, ancient Bazira, archaeologists recently discovered a large amount of weapons and coins from the Indo-Greek period (2nd century BC to 1st century AD), as well as earthenware that had been imported from Greek Bactria and even from as far away as the Mediterranean at some time during the 2nd century BC.

It is evidently not a direct legacy of Alexander’s passage, but the successive layers of occupation of Bazira could clearly be identified. Beneath the Indo-Greek remains that included a defensive wall from the 2nd century BC, archaeologists exposed the Mauryan settlement from the 3rd century BC. Outside the defense wall, they found remains from the Gandhara culture going back to the 8th and 7th century BC. These excavations confirmed that all the pre-Greek layers have been purposely destroyed in order to build the defensive wall and a fortress that could be Greek. Only one tenth of the fort has been excavated so far and the work will take at least another thirty years or so to be completed.

During these operations, a large late Kushan temple from the 3rd century AD has also been located at the northern end of the site. It is a little surprising to hear about this Buddhist temple considering that today’s inhabitants are either Muslim or share the Kalash belief of multiple gods.

The Swat Valley is still shrouded in mystery and the most recent excavations reveal that several towns were built one on top of previous settlements. Archaeologists are hoping to gather more information about the origin of the mysterious Kalash people. The most recent studies seem to indicate that their forefathers came from Europe and it remains to been proven whether these people arrived in the wake of Alexander the Great or were traders passing through the Swat Valley.


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    1. That's an interesting theory. Can you tell me on what basis you are linking these people to Africa?

  2. The image on the coin is clearly that of a black king or nobleman who ruled in that region. Kushan temple? Doesn't that tell you about the likely origins of the people who built it? Hindu Kush (Dravidians?), Kush, Cush, Kish, Kushites----all mean the same. They are all of African origin.


  3. The great Kushan emperor Kanishka being one of my historical favorites, I take the liberty to butt into this interesting discussion. First of all, the term Hindu Kush - many theories are proposed for the origin of the term. For the Persians and the Arabs, the term meant 'killer of Hindus' from the word Persian 'koshtan= to kill' or for others, it meant Mountains of India since 'kuh' = mountain in the local idiom.

    Now for the origins of the Kushans- we know from historical records, especially Chinese, that they came from Yuezhi, in the modern-day Xinjiang, China and the portraits show them having definitively Central Asian Iranic features ( see: Head of a Kushan prince from Khalchayan palace, Uzbekistan) and were dressed in heavy calf length coats and high boots (see coins of Vima Kasphises and Kanishka). However they looked, whatever they wore and where ever they came from, they created a great syncretic empire and culture; were great patrons of Buddhism who also revered Greek, Bactrian, Persian and Indian divinities. The world owes them the beautiful Greco-Indian Gandhara statuary.

    One coin possibly reflecting an African face and allowing to assert that Kushans were Africans seems far-fetched to me. Once upon a time, but very long time ago, did not we all come from East Africa ? I have certainly noticed similarity of features and morphology between some Sudanese or Ethiopians and Indians, especially from the South. There were historically attested ancient trade and other links between East Africa and India, most probably with the ancient Nubian Kingdom of Kush in the present Sudan too. But just because two words sound alike does not impute the fact that the Kushans originated in China. Furthermore, there are other similar geographical names from other parts of the world like for example Kushan Pass ( Iran), Kush region (Turkey), Kush tribe (Egypt) , Kushalanagara city (India) , Kushalgarh region (Pakistan), Kushanshahr satrapy (Ancient Sassanian Persia), Kushikino city (Japan) and many, many more

    There have been noblemen of Abyssinian descent even in later 16th century Indian courts ( see Mughal miniatures featuring courtiers of African descent), it would not be surprising to have an African looking face on a Indic Kushan coin but mostly the Kushan coins, very much, feature Central Asian features and attires.

    1. Thank you so much for this clear historical overview. Highly appreciated!