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 Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 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)

Monday, August 21, 2017

About Indo-Bactrian writing

How unfortunate that we can take in only so much when visiting places or exhibitions. I often regret that I did not look further into certain details and one of these missed elements is the Indo-Bactrian script. I have seen plenty of such documents at exhibitions about the Silk Road and at the Musée Guimet in Paris but I merely glanced at them without any mental connection to their writing or tenure. Well, I should have for after all the Bactrian Empire is a heritage of Alexander’s conquest of Central Asia.

Time to catch up!

The other day, I came across an article about the Kharosthi script, another name for the Indo-Bactrian writing that originated in the aftermath of Alexander during the 4th and 3rd century BC in what is now Pakistan. This Kharosthi was a form of Prakrit, an Indo-Aryan language that was used two generations after Alexander by King Asoka for his pillar inscriptions (see: When pillars with unknown writing were discovered in India).


For the good order, we have to go back to the Achaemenid kings who in the early 5th century BC introduced Aramaic, their official language, to their newly conquered territories in Gandhara and along the Indus. They wrote their Aramaic using a North Semitic script which was customized to suit the phonetics of Gandhara, a Prakrit dialect, and this resulted in the creation of Kharosthi. Kharosthi writing was also used for most inscriptions in northwestern India between 220 BC and 200 AD. Sogdiana and Bactria, at the very heart of Central Asia generally used the Kharosthi inscriptions in the days of the Kushan Empire (1st-4th century AD). Because of the flourishing trading along the Silk Road, Kharosthi writing is found all over Central Asia, particularly during Shanshan rule (starting during the 1st century BC) while further examples have been found more to the east in China during the reign of Emperor Ling (168-189 AD).

Kharosthi was not only used for inscriptions or for written documents but it was also stamped on coins during the short-lived Indo-Greek Kingdom when bilingual texts were frequent. A few rare examples showed Kharosthi on pottery found as far as Bengal.

Eventually and due to the increased influence of the Brahmi script, Kharosthi gradually was confined to specific regions till by the 4th century AD it disappeared entirely.

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