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Bactrian and Indo-Greek monarchies  

Kurt Behrendt


A number of Hellenistic kingships that ruled portions of Afghanistan, Central Asia and India in the last three centuries bc. In ancient times the region of Bactria was bounded on the north by the Oxus and on the south-east by the Hindu Kush mountains. The western frontier remained ill-defined and in constant flux. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 bc, Bactria and adjoining Sogdiana were controlled by the Seleucids until c. 250 bc, when the governor Diodotus asserted independence. A large body of coins, Hellenistic in style and iconography and with Greek legends, was minted by the Greco-Bactrian rulers. This style of coinage, but with bilingual Greek and Kharoshthi legends, continued into the Kushana period (1st to 3rd century ad). With the exception of Ai Khanum, a Greek-style city, few remains of the Greeks in Bactria have yet been uncovered. Control of Sogdiana was lost to the local kings in the late ...



Mohammad Gharipour

Bazaar, which is rooted in Middle Persian wāzār and Armenian vačaṟ, has acquired three different meanings: the market as a whole, a market day, and the marketplace. The bazaar as a place is an assemblage of workshops and stores where various goods and services are offered.

Primitive forms of shops and trade centres existed in early civilizations in the Near East, such as Sialk, Tepe in Kashan, Çatal Hüyük, Jerico, and Susa. After the 4th millennium BC, the population grew and villages gradually joined together to shape new cities, resulting in trade even with the remote areas as well as the acceleration of the population in towns. The advancement of trade and accumulation of wealth necessitated the creation of trade centres. Trade, and consequently marketplaces, worked as the main driving force in connecting separate civilizations, while fostering a division of labour, the diffusion of technological innovations, methods of intercultural communication, political and economic management, and techniques of farming and industrial production....


Harness and trappings  

J. H. Crouwel, Mary A. Littauer, Christopher Gravett, Tom Richardson, Walter Smith, William Lancaster, and Fidelity Lancaster

From an early stage, horses were used both as mounts and for pulling chariots in warfare or hunting. Most evidence for forms of harness in the ancient world comes from depictions in art, the earliest figural evidence dating from before 2000 bc in the Near East, although in a few contexts actual harness elements have survived. Even for later periods, secondary sources tend to provide the best evidence for the perishable leather and cloth parts of horse harness and trappings. More durable equipment, such as the horse armour used in medieval Europe, sometimes survives intact.

Ancient chariot horses were attached to their yokes by means of neck or breast straps and backing straps or girths that ran under their bellies, just behind the forelegs. Mounts often wore saddle-cloths or, in later antiquity, primitive saddles held on by girths, breastbands and breechings or cruppers. Both chariot horses and mounts were controlled by bridles, consisting of headstalls and reins and, usually, bits. This equipment was often decorated in varying degrees....



E. Errington


Dynasty that replaced Shaka or Indo-Scythian rule in south-east Afghanistan and the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent in the 1st century ad. The origins of the dynasty are uncertain, and the suggestion that the Indo-Parthians came from the eastern borders of the Parthian empire remains unsubstantiated. Iranian influence is already evident in Afghanistan during the Shaka period. Vonones (c. 75–50 bc), for example, was apparently a Shaka king ruling with his associates in Arachosia (south-east Afghanistan), but he bears the same name as later Parthian kings and has the Iranian title ‘king of kings’ on his coinage.

The founder of the Indo-Parthian dynasty appears to have been Gondophares (reg c. ad 20–50), who took control of the Taxila and adjacent territories, although some Shaka satraps of the region apparently retained a degree of autonomy. The so-called Takht-i-Bahi inscription, dated in the year 103 (probably of the Vikrama Era of ...


Kuh-i Khwaja  

Trudy S. Kawami

[Pers. Kūh-i Khwāja]

Dramatic basalt outcrop that rises from the marshes of Lake Hamun in Iranian Sistan near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. On the south side are the pale mud-brick ruins of Ghaga-shahr, a walled complex often called a palace and usually dated to the mid-Parthian period (1st century ad; see Parthian). On the summit is a small fortification, and numerous Islamic tombs and shrines dot the upper ridges. The striking setting may well be responsible for the continued veneration of the site variously identified as Mt Ushida of the Zoroastrian Avesta, the site of Zoroaster’s preaching, the seat of one of the Three Wise Men of the Christmas story, the castle of Rustam, a hero of the Shāhnāma (‘Book of Kings’), the Persian national epic, and the last resting-place of a Muslim holy man.

The Ghaga-shahr ruins consist of a domed entrance suite, a courtyard whose north side is a terraced wall, and a set of buildings including a presumed fire temple on top of the terrace. Two main building phases can be discerned. The first phase established the basic plan of the site, with the entrance suite, the court, and the north terrace with its façade of applied Doric-style columns and architrave with running volute ornament. Beneath the terrace is a vaulted gallery or cryptoporticus lit by windows placed between the applied columns. This gallery was extensively painted, with a coffered ceiling whose panels alternately held elaborate rosettes and small classicizing figures, an illusionistic cornice with a beribboned laurel band, and a series of large figures, apparently deities, painted on the walls. Remains of paintings in the window recesses show that they too had coffered ceilings, and one window had a row of five male figures (Herzfeld’s ‘spectators’) facing the gallery, in early Sasanian style. The Sasanian style of the gallery paintings, as well as a stucco panel in the doorway of the entrance suite, demonstrates that the first phase extended at least into the early Sasanian period....


Mappa mundi  

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....


Oxus Treasure  

Dominique Collon

Hoard of some 180 items of jewellery and precious objects, mostly dating from c. 550 to c. 330 bc, found in the banks of the River Oxus (Amu Darya) in Bactria in 1877; most are now in the British Museum in London. The exact find-spot is uncertain but was possibly Takht-i Kubad in south-west Tajikistan. The treasure, thought to have been part of a temple hoard, possibly from the Temple of Anahita in Bactra (now Balkh), may have been buried during disturbances in the late 4th century, or perhaps as late as the early 2nd century bc. This discrepancy is due to doubts as to whether some 1500 coins, ranging in origin from Athens to Bactria and in date from c. 500 to c. 180 bc, were part of the original hoard. After its discovery the treasure was taken by merchants to Afghanistan, where they were robbed. Most of it was rescued by a British officer, Capt. ...