The Kush - History

The Kush - History

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Although it is not clear precisely when the Kingdom of Kush or Nubia arose, there is some evidence that it predated Ancient Egypt. By the year 3,000 BC, there was already contact between Egypt and Nubia. Nubia became an Egyptian tributary for nearly 1,000 years regaining its independence when the New Kingdom disintegrated. For a brief period, the newly independent Kush Kingdom conquered Egypt. In 663 B. C.E., Kush was driven out of Egypt.

The Kush economy was primarily agricultural and Kush was also a major trading center for the region. Kush society, however, was largely urban. The Kingdom of Kush developed its own phonetic language. It is believed that the extensive foreign trade engaged in by the Kush -- exports of ivory, gold, ebony and slaves -- were initially government monopolies. By the latter period of the Empire, a private merchant class was apparently in existence. In the first millennium, the state of Kush began to decline and it was soon conquered by the Axums.

Kingdom of Kush (727BC – 350 AD)

The Kush Empire was centered in North East Africa, in the south of Ancient Egypt. The central towns of Kush were located along the Nile River, along the White Nile River, and the Blue Nile River.

For more than 1400 years the Kingdom of Kush managed to remain a regional empire in Africa. In the 2nd millennium B.C., this ancient Nubian Kingdom hit its peak, when it controlled an extensive region of the River Nile in the present day Sudan.

Kingdom of Kush become powerful in northern Africa because it was a financial center running a valuable ivory, flame, iron, and gold marketplace in particular.

The Kingdom had been a trade partner and an Egyptian military opponent — Kush Empire also controlled Egypt as the twenty-fifth Dynasty — and adapted some of the traditions of Ancient Egypt.

Some of the Egyptian gods were worshiped by the Kushites they mummified themselves and created their separate pyramids. Now there are over 200 pyramids in the region around the former Kushite capital of Meroe – more than those in the whole of Egypt.

The Period of Kush Empire

Kush Kingdom persisted for more than 1400 years. It was first set up around 1070 BCE after it got its independence from Egypt. It has sharply became the superpower Kingdom in North-East Africa. Kush took over Egypt in the 727 BCE and reigned before the Assyrians entered. After Rome defeated Egypt and gradually fallen in the 300s CE, the kingdom began to fall.

The Capitals of Kush Kingdom

Two varying capitals were in the Kingdom of Kush. Napata was the first base. In the northern Kush region, Napata was situated along the Nile River. During Kush’s control, Napata operated as the capital city. At around 590 BCE, Kushites moved to Meroe and made it their new capital. Meroe had stronger protection from the war with Egypt far south. It was also an iron-working center, a major advantage to the Kingdom.

Ancient Kush city of Meroë (Meroe)

Kush and Egypt

In several ways, like governance, tradition, and belief, the Kush kingdom mirrored ancient Egypt. Like the Egyptians, at burial sites, the Kushites set up pyramids, adoring the Egyptian gods, and mummifying the dead. Kush’s ruling elite also saw itself as Egyptian in several aspects.

Resources of Ancient Kush

Gold and iron formed two of Ancient Kush’s most valuable resources. The gold enabled Kush get rich because the Ancient Egyptians and other neighboring states could exchange it. Iron was the earliest metal of its kind. The strongest tools and guns were made out of it.

Kushites Culture

Beyond the Pharaoh and the political elite, priests used to be the most powerful social class in the Kingdom of Kush. They passed laws and talked with the gods. Artisans and scribe were under the priests. Artisans worked on the gold and iron which were the most important of the Kushite Empire. Farmers also were praised for providing the state with food. The lower surface is servants, workers, and slaves.

The same as the Egyptians, throughout the lives of the Kushites religion played a major role. They respected the life after death very much. Women were much respected and could also be leaders in the kingdom of Kush. There were several queens in the Kushite Kingdom.

Hindu Kush: An Epic Landrace Strain

Not only is Hindu Kush a region made famous by its popular crop, Hindu Kush is an eponymously named landrace strain. In fact, it’s because of landrace strain that the words “Kush” and “Indica” are used interchangeably. What’s a landrace strain you ask? According to the well-known seed bank, Seed Supreme:

“A landrace strain is pure, never crossed and always grown in its natural environment: this isolation and the resulting inbreeding means these varieties are highly stable and extremely vigorous. It was only a generation or two ago that, were you talking about marijuana at all, it was one of these pure strains you might know them from family stories of the travelling days, sampling all there was to be had on the hippy trail.”

All popular Kush strains — like Bubba Kush, Purple Kush, and Cali Kush — trace their lineage directly to Hindu Kush. Likewise, Master Kush and OG Kush, two of the most beloved Kush strains, were originally bred by legendary seed bank, Sensi Seeds. In fact, many of the best strains — including cannabis royalty AK-47 and White Widow — are grandchildren to Hindu Kush. Of course, Hindu Kush’s offspring have been genetically and commercially crossbred (so they aren’t technically landrace strains). Nonetheless, boasting a royal lineage, it should be no surprise why Kush varieties are so popular.


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I am a Sudanese Nubian as well, there is no evidence that in any of the Kingdoms of Ta-Seti (land of the Bow because of our skilled archers and army) known as Nubia ever named themselves Kushites. There was one Kingdom called Ksh, and also a bowl described in this in Nubia. just like Nubia had other kingdoms and regions such as Meroe, Napata, Napta Playa, Kerma, Alodia (Alwa) and Nobadia. Now Nubians or Nobas recieved their name from the Nubian King Selko, and united the Black and Red Nuba's or Nobadian's. also in Kemet (Ancient Egypt) they referred to a our region of Ta-Seti as Nbt (Nubt) land of gold, which was described as a city or land of Gold. However, Ethnically we were never called Kushites.

I am Nubian, and I find the name "Kush" weired and derogative. In modern Nubian language "Kush" is from Kushad which means "bad".
I guess that this insulting name "Kush" was given the the great old Nubian state, land, people and empire by unfriendly foreign nation!
My question here, is there any Nubian archeological eveidence to prove that the Nubian made and used the term "Kush" to describe themselves?

So the Egyptians has a very complex writing system and life in general, and the people of the Kingdom of Kush didn't have any of those things but they were still able to take over? Seems like more than an anomaly.


Chinese sources describe the Guishuang (貴霜), i.e. the Kushans, as one of the five aristocratic tribes of the Yuezhi. [32] There is scholarly consensus that the Yuezhi were a people of Indo-European origin. [20] [33] A specifically Tocharian origin of the Yuezhi is often suggested. [20] [21] [23] [22] [34] [24] An Iranian, specifically Saka, [35] origin, also has some support among scholars. [36] Others suggest that the Yuezhi might have originally been a nomadic Iranian people, who were then partially assimilated by settled Tocharians, thus containing both Iranian and Tocharian elements. [37]

The Yuezhi were described in the Records of the Great Historian and the Book of Han as living in the grasslands of eastern Xinjiang and northwestern part of Gansu, in the northwest of modern-day China, until their King was beheaded by the Xiongnu (匈奴) who were also at war with China, which eventually forced them to migrate west in 176–160 BC. [38] The five tribes constituting the Yuezhi are known in Chinese history as Xiūmì (休密), Guìshuāng (貴霜), Shuāngmǐ (雙靡), Xìdùn (肸頓), and Dūmì (都密).

The Yuezhi reached the Hellenic kingdom of Greco-Bactria (in northern Afghanistan and Uzbekistan) around 135 BC. The displaced Greek dynasties resettled to the southeast in areas of the Hindu Kush and the Indus basin (in present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan), occupying the western part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom.

In India, Kushan emperors regularly used the dynastic name ΚΟϷΑΝΟ ("Koshano") on their coinage. [39] Several inscriptions in Sanskrit in the Brahmi script, such as the Mathura inscription of the statue of Vima Kadphises, refer to the Kushan Emperor as , Ku-ṣā-ṇa ("Kushana"). [39] [40] Some later Indian literary sources referred to the Kushans as Turushka, a name which in later Sanskrit sources was confused with Turk, "probably due to the fact that Tukharistan passed into the hands of the western Turks in the seventh century". [41] [note 1] Yet, according to Wink, "nowadays no historian considers them to be Turkish-Mongoloid or 'Hun', although there is no doubt about their Central-Asian origin." [41]

Some traces remain of the presence of the Kushans in the area of Bactria and Sogdiana in the 2nd-1st century BC, where they had displaced the Sakas, who moved further south. [46] Archaeological structures are known in Takht-i Sangin, Surkh Kotal (a monumental temple), and in the palace of Khalchayan. On the ruins of ancient Hellenistic cities such as Ai-Khanoum, the Kushans are known to have built fortresses. Various sculptures and friezes from this period are known, representing horse-riding archers, [47] and, significantly, men such as the Kushan prince of Khalchayan with artificially deformed skulls, a practice well attested in nomadic Central Asia. [48] [49] Some of the Khalchayan sculptural scenes are also thought to depict the Kushans fighting against the Sakas. [50] In these portrayals, the Yuezhis are shown with a majestic demeanour, whereas the Sakas are typically represented with side-wiskers, and more or less grotesque facial expressions. [50]

The Chinese first referred to these people as the Yuezhi and said they established the Kushan Empire, although the relationship between the Yuezhi and the Kushans is still unclear. Ban Gu's Book of Han tells us the Kushans (Kuei-shuang) divided up Bactria in 128 BC. Fan Ye's Book of Later Han "relates how the chief of the Kushans, Ch'iu-shiu-ch'ueh (the Kujula Kadphises of coins), founded by means of the submission of the other Yueh-chih clans the Kushan Empire." [46]

The earliest documented ruler, and the first one to proclaim himself as a Kushan ruler, was Heraios. He calls himself a "tyrant" in Greek on his coins, and also exhibits skull deformation. He may have been an ally of the Greeks, and he shared the same style of coinage. Heraios may have been the father of the first Kushan emperor Kujula Kadphises. [ citation needed ]

The Chinese Book of Later Han chronicles then gives an account of the formation of the Kushan empire based on a report made by the Chinese general Ban Yong to the Chinese Emperor c. AD 125:

More than a hundred years later [than the conquest of Bactria by the Yuezhi], the prince [xihou] of Guishuang (Badakhshan) established himself as king, and his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang (Kushan) King. He invaded Anxi (Indo-Parthia), and took the Gaofu (Kabul) region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda (Paktiya) and Jibin (Kapisha and Gandhara). Qiujiuque (Kujula Kadphises) was more than eighty years old when he died. His son, Yangaozhen [probably Vema Tahk (tu) or, possibly, his brother Sadaṣkaṇa ], became king in his place. He defeated Tianzhu [North-western India] and installed Generals to supervise and lead it. The Yuezhi then became extremely rich. All the kingdoms call [their king] the Guishuang [Kushan] king, but the Han call them by their original name, Da Yuezhi.

In the 1st century BC, the Guishuang (Ch: 貴霜) gained prominence over the other Yuezhi tribes, and welded them into a tight confederation under yabgu (Commander) Kujula Kadphises. [53] The name Guishuang was adopted in the West and modified into Kushan to designate the confederation, although the Chinese continued to call them Yuezhi.

Gradually wresting control of the area from the Scythian tribes, the Kushans expanded south into the region traditionally known as Gandhara (an area primarily in Pakistan's Pothowar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region) and established twin capitals in Begram. [54] and Peshawar, then known as Kapisa and Pushklavati respectively. [53]

The Kushans adopted elements of the Hellenistic culture of Bactria. They adopted the Greek alphabet to suit their own language (with the additional development of the letter Þ "sh", as in "Kushan") and soon began minting coinage on the Greek model. On their coins they used Greek language legends combined with Pali legends (in the Kharoshthi script), until the first few years of the reign of Kanishka. After the middle of Kanishka's reign, they used Kushan language legends (in an adapted Greek script), combined with legends in Greek (Greek script) and legends in Prakrit (Kharoshthi script).

The Kushans "adopted many local beliefs and customs, including Zoroastrianism and the two rising religions in the region, the Greek cults and Buddhism". [55] From the time of Vima Takto, many Kushans started adopting aspects of Buddhist culture, and like the Egyptians, they absorbed the strong remnants of the Greek culture of the Hellenistic Kingdoms, becoming at least partly Hellenised. The great Kushan emperor Vima Kadphises may have embraced Shaivism (a sect of Hinduism), as surmised by coins minted during the period. [10] The following Kushan emperors represented a wide variety of faiths including Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Shaivism.

The rule of the Kushans linked the seagoing trade of the Indian Ocean with the commerce of the Silk Road through the long-civilized Indus Valley. At the height of the dynasty, the Kushans loosely ruled a territory that extended to the Aral Sea through present-day Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan into northern India. [53]

The loose unity and comparative peace of such a vast expanse encouraged long-distance trade, brought Chinese silks to Rome, and created strings of flourishing urban centers. [53]

Rosenfield notes that archaeological evidence of a Kushan rule of long duration is present in an area stretching from Surkh Kotal, Begram, the summer capital of the Kushans, Peshawar, the capital under Kanishka I, Taxila, and Mathura, the winter capital of the Kushans. [60] The Kushans introduced for the first time a form of governance which consisted of Kshatrapas (Brahmi: , Kṣatrapa, "Satraps") and Mahakshatrapa (Brahmi: , Mahakṣatrapa, "Great Satraps"). [61]

Other areas of probable rule include Khwarezm and its capital city of Toprak-Kala, [60] [62] Kausambi (excavations of Allahabad University), [60] Sanchi and Sarnath (inscriptions with names and dates of Kushan kings), [60] Malwa and Maharashtra, [63] and Odisha (imitation of Kushan coins, and large Kushan hoards). [60]

Kushan invasions in the 1st century AD had been given as an explanation for the migration of Indians from the Indian Subcontinent toward Southeast Asia according to proponents of a Greater India theory by 20th-century Indian nationalists. However, there is no evidence to support this hypothesis. [64]

The recently discovered Rabatak inscription confirms the account of the Hou Hanshu, Weilüe, and inscriptions dated early in the Kanishka era (incept probably AD 127), that large Kushan dominions expanded into the heartland of northern India in the early 2nd century AD. Lines 4 to 7 of the inscription [65] describe the cities which were under the rule of Kanishka, among which six names are identifiable: Ujjain, Kundina, Saketa, Kausambi, Pataliputra, and Champa (although the text is not clear whether Champa was a possession of Kanishka or just beyond it). [66] [67] [68] [69] The Buddhist text Śrīdharmapiṭakanidānasūtra—known via a Chinese translation made in AD 472—refers to the conquest of Pataliputra by Kanishka. [70] A 2nd century stone inscription by a Great Satrap named Rupiamma was discovered in Pauni, south of the Narmada river, suggesting that Kushan control extended this far south, although this could alternatively have been controlled by the Western Satraps. [71]

In the East, as late as the 3rd century AD, decorated coins of Huvishka were dedicated at Bodh Gaya together with other gold offerings under the "Enlightenment Throne" of the Buddha, suggesting direct Kushan influence in the area during that period. [73] Coins of the Kushans are found in abundance as far as Bengal, and the ancient Bengali state of Samatata issued coins copied from the coinage of Kanishka I, although probably only as a result of commercial influence. [74] [72] [75] Coins in imitation of Kushan coinage have also been found abundantly in the eastern state of Orissa. [76]

In the West, the Kushan state covered the Pārata state of Balochistan, western Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan was known for the Kushan Buddhist city of Merv. [60]

Northward, in the 1st century AD, the Kujula Kadphises sent an army to the Tarim Basin to support the city-state of Kucha, which had been resisting the Chinese invasion of the region, but they retreated after minor encounters. [77] In the 2nd century AD, the Kushans under Kanishka made various forays into the Tarim Basin, where they had various contacts with the Chinese. Kanishka held areas of the Tarim Basin apparently corresponding to the ancient regions held by the Yüeh-zhi, the possible ancestors of the Kushan. There was Kushan influence on coinage in Kashgar, Yarkand, and Khotan. [58] According to Chinese chronicles, the Kushans (referred to as Da Yuezhi in Chinese sources) requested, but were denied, a Han princess, even though they had sent presents to the Chinese court. In retaliation, they marched on Ban Chao in AD 90 with a force of 70,000 but were defeated by the smaller Chinese force. Chinese chronicles relate battles between the Kushans and the Chinese general Ban Chao. [69] The Yuezhi retreated and paid tribute to the Chinese Empire. The regions of the Tarim Basin were all ultimately conquered by Ban Chao. Later, during the Yuánchū period (AD 114–120), the Kushans sent a military force to install Chenpan, who had been a hostage among them, as king of Kashgar. [78]

Kushan rulers are recorded for a period of about three centuries, from circa AD 30 to circa 375, until the invasions of the Kidarites. They ruled around the same time as the Western Satraps, the Satavahanas, and the first Gupta Empire rulers. [ citation needed ]

Kujula Kadphises (c. 30 – c. 80) Edit

. the prince [elavoor] of Guishuang, named thilac [Kujula Kadphises], attacked and exterminated the four other xihou. He established himself as king, and his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang [Kushan] King. He invaded Anxi [Indo-Parthia] and took the Gaofu [Kabul] region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda [Paktiya] and Jibin [Kapisha and Gandhara]. Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises] was more than eighty years old when he died."

These conquests by Kujula Kadphises probably took place sometime between AD 45 and 60 and laid the basis for the Kushan Empire which was rapidly expanded by his descendants. [ citation needed ]

Kujula issued an extensive series of coins and fathered at least two sons, Sadaṣkaṇa (who is known from only two inscriptions, especially the Rabatak inscription, and apparently never ruled), and seemingly Vima Takto. [ citation needed ]

Kujula Kadphises was the great-grandfather of Kanishka. [ citation needed ]

Vima Taktu or Sadashkana (c. 80 – c. 95) Edit

Vima Takto (Ancient Chinese: 閻膏珍 Yangaozhen) is mentioned in the Rabatak inscription (another son, Sadashkana, is mentioned in an inscription of Senavarman, the King of Odi). He was the predecessor of Vima Kadphises, and Kanishka I. He expanded the Kushan Empire into the northwest of South Asia. The Hou Hanshu says:

"His son, Yangaozhen [probably Vema Tahk (tu) or, possibly, his brother Sadaṣkaṇa], became king in his place. He defeated Tianzhu [North-western India] and installed Generals to supervise and lead it. The Yuezhi then became extremely rich. All the kingdoms call [their king] the Guishuang [Kushan] king, but the Han call them by their original name, Da Yuezhi."

Vima Kadphises (c. 95 – c. 127) Edit

Vima Kadphises (Kushan language: Οοημο Καδφισης) was a Kushan emperor from around AD 95–127, the son of Sadashkana and the grandson of Kujula Kadphises, and the father of Kanishka I, as detailed by the Rabatak inscription. [ citation needed ]

Vima Kadphises added to the Kushan territory by his conquests in Bactria. He issued an extensive series of coins and inscriptions. He issued gold coins in addition to the existing copper and silver coinage. [ citation needed ]

Kanishka I (c. 127 – c. 150) Edit

The rule of Kanishka the Great, fourth Kushan king, lasted for about 23 years from c. AD 127. [80] Upon his accession, Kanishka ruled a huge territory (virtually all of northern India), south to Ujjain and Kundina and east beyond Pataliputra, according to the Rabatak inscription:

In the year one, it has been proclaimed unto India, unto the whole realm of the governing class, including Koonadeano (Kaundiny, Kundina) and the city of Ozeno (Ozene, Ujjain) and the city of Zageda (Saketa) and the city of Kozambo (Kausambi) and the city of Palabotro (Pataliputra) and as far as the city of Ziri-tambo (Sri-Champa), whatever rulers and other important persons (they might have) he had submitted to (his) will, and he had submitted all India to (his) will.

His territory was administered from two capitals: Purushapura (now Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan) and Mathura, in northern India. He is also credited (along with Raja Dab) for building the massive, ancient Fort at Bathinda (Qila Mubarak), in the modern city of Bathinda, Indian Punjab. [ citation needed ]

The Kushans also had a summer capital in Bagram (then known as Kapisa), where the "Begram Treasure", comprising works of art from Greece to China, has been found. According to the Rabatak inscription, Kanishka was the son of Vima Kadphises, the grandson of Sadashkana, and the great-grandson of Kujula Kadphises. Kanishka's era is now generally accepted to have begun in 127 on the basis of Harry Falk's ground-breaking research. [81] [82] Kanishka's era was used as a calendar reference by the Kushans for about a century, until the decline of the Kushan realm. [ citation needed ]

Huvishka (c. 150 – c. 180) Edit

Huvishka (Kushan: Οοηϸκι, "Ooishki") was a Kushan emperor from the death of Kanishka (assumed on the best evidence available to be in 150) until the succession of Vasudeva I about thirty years later. His rule was a period of retrenchment and consolidation for the Empire. In particular he devoted time and effort early in his reign to the exertion of greater control over the city of Mathura. [ citation needed ]

Vasudeva I (c. 190 – c. 230) Edit

Vasudeva I (Kushan: Βαζοδηο "Bazodeo", Chinese: 波調 "Bodiao") was the last of the "Great Kushans". Named inscriptions dating from year 64 to 98 of Kanishka's era suggest his reign extended from at least AD 191 to 225. He was the last great Kushan emperor, and the end of his rule coincides with the invasion of the Sasanians as far as northwestern India, and the establishment of the Indo-Sasanians or Kushanshahs in what is nowadays Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India from around AD 240. [ citation needed ]

Vāsishka (c. 247 – c. 267) Edit

Vāsishka was a Kushan emperor who seems to have had a 20-year reign following Kanishka II. His rule is recorded at Mathura, in Gandhara and as far south as Sanchi (near Vidisa), where several inscriptions in his name have been found, dated to the year 22 (the Sanchi inscription of "Vaksushana" – i.e., Vasishka Kushana) and year 28 (the Sanchi inscription of Vasaska – i.e., Vasishka) of a possible second Kanishka era. [83] [84]

Little Kushans (AD 270-350) Edit

Following territory losses in the west (Bactria lost to the Kushano-Sasanians), and in the east (loss of Mathura to the Gupta Empire), several "Little Kushans" are known, who ruled locally in the area of Punjab with their capital at Taxila: Vasudeva II (270-300), Mahi (300-305), Shaka (305-335) and Kipunada (335-350). [83] They probably were vassals of the Gupta Empire, until the invasion of the Kidarites destroyed the last remains of Kushan rule. [83]

The Kushan religious pantheon is extremely varied, as revealed by their coins that were made in gold, silver, and copper. These coins contained more than thirty different gods, belonging mainly to their own Iranian, as well as Greek and Indian worlds as well. Kushan coins had images of Kushan Kings, Buddha, and figures from the Indo-Aryan and Iranian pantheons. [86] Greek deities, with Greek names are represented on early coins. During Kanishka's reign, the language of the coinage changes to Bactrian (though it remained in Greek script for all kings). After Huvishka, only two divinities appear on the coins: Ardoxsho and Oesho (see details below). [87] [88]

The Iranian entities depicted on coinage include:

  • Ardoxsho (Αρδοχþο): Ashi Vanghuhi
  • Ashaeixsho (Aþαειχþo, "Best righteousness"): Asha Vahishta
  • Athsho (Αθþο, "The Royal fire"): Atar[87]
  • Pharro (Φαρρο, "Royal splendour"): Khwarenah
  • Lrooaspa (Λροοασπο): Drvaspa
  • Manaobago (Μαναοβαγο): Vohu Manah[89]
  • Mao (Μαο, the Lunar deity): Mah
  • Mithro and variants (Μιθρο, Μιιρο, Μιορο, Μιυρο): Mithra
  • Mozdooano (Μοζδοοανο, "Mazda the victorious?"): Mazda *vana[87][90]
  • Nana (Νανα, Ναναια, Ναναϸαο): variations of pan-Asiatic Nana, Sogdian Nny, Anahita[87]
  • Oado (Οαδο): Vata
  • Oaxsho (Oαxþo): "Oxus"
  • Ooromozdo (Ooρoμoζδο): Ahura Mazda
  • Ořlagno (Οραλαγνο): Verethragna, the Iranian god of war
  • Rishti (ΡΙϷΤΙ, "Uprightness"): Arshtat[87]
  • Shaoreoro (ϷΑΟΡΗΟΡΟ, "Best royal power", Archetypal ruler): Khshathra Vairya[87]
  • Tiero (Τιερο): Tir

Representation of entities from Greek mythology and Hellenistic syncretism are:

    (ZAOOY) [91] (Ηλιος) (Ηφαηστος) (Οα νηνδο) (ϹΑΛΗΝΗ) (Ανημος)
  • Erakilo (ΗΡΑΚΙΛΟ): Heracles
  • Sarapo (ϹΑΡΑΠΟ): the Greco-Egyptian god Sarapis

The Indic entities represented on coinage include: [92]

  • Boddo (Βοδδο): the Buddha
  • Shakamano boddho (þακαμανο Βοδδο): Shakyamuni Buddha
  • Metrago boddo (Μετραγο Βοδδο): the bodhisattava Maitreya
  • Maaseno (Mαασηνo): Mahāsena
  • Skando-Komaro (Σκανδo-koμαρo): Skanda-Kumara
  • Bizago: Viśākha[92]
  • Ommo: Umā, the consort of Siva. [92]
  • Oesho (Οηϸο): long considered to represent Indic Shiva, [93][94][95] but also identified as AvestanVayu conflated with Shiva. [96][97]
  • Two copper coins of Huvishka bear a 'Ganesa' legend, but instead of depicting the typical theriomorphic figure of Ganesha, have a figure of an archer holding a full-length bow with string inwards and an arrow. This is typically a depiction of Rudra, but in the case of these two coins is generally assumed to represent Shiva.

Kushan worshipper with Zeus/Serapis/Ohrmazd, Bactria, 3rd century AD. [98]

Kushan worshipper with Pharro, Bactria, 3rd century AD. [98]

Kushan worshipper with Shiva/Oesho, Bactria, 3rd century AD. [98]

Shiva-Oesho wall painting with fragment of a worshipper, Bactria, 3rd century AD. [99]

Mahasena on a coin of Huvishka

Coin of Kanishka I, with a depiction of the Buddha and legend "Boddo" in Greek script

Coin of Vima Kadphises. Deity Oesho on the reverse, thought to be Shiva, [94] [95] [102] or the Zoroastrian Vayu. [103]

Kushan Carnelian seal representing the "ΑΔϷΟ" (adsho Atar), with triratana symbol left, and Kanishka the Great's dynastic mark right

The Kushans inherited the Greco-Buddhist traditions of the Indo-Greek Kingdom they replaced, and their patronage of Buddhist institutions allowed them to grow as a commercial power. [104] Between the mid-1st century and the mid-3rd century, Buddhism, patronized by the Kushans, extended to China and other Asian countries through the Silk Road. [ citation needed ]

Kanishka is renowned in Buddhist tradition for having convened a great Buddhist council in Kashmir. Along with his predecessors in the region, the Indo-Greek king Menander I (Milinda) and the Indian emperors Ashoka and Harsha Vardhana, Kanishka is considered by Buddhism as one of its greatest benefactors. [ citation needed ]

During the 1st century AD, Buddhist books were being produced and carried by monks, and their trader patrons. Also, monasteries were being established along these land routes that went from China and other parts of Asia. With the development of Buddhist books, it caused a new written language called Gandhara. Gandhara consists of eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Scholars are said to have found many Buddhist scrolls that contained the Gandhari language. [105]

The reign of Huvishka corresponds to the first known epigraphic evidence of the Buddha Amitabha, on the bottom part of a 2nd-century statue which has been found in Govindo-Nagar, and now at the Mathura Museum. The statue is dated to "the 28th year of the reign of Huvishka", and dedicated to "Amitabha Buddha" by a family of merchants. There is also some evidence that Huvishka himself was a follower of Mahayana Buddhism. A Sanskrit manuscript fragment in the Schøyen Collection describes Huvishka as one who has "set forth in the Mahāyāna." [106]

The 12th century historical chronicle Rajatarangini mentions in detail the rule of the Kushan kings and their benevolence towards Buddhism: [107] [108]

Then there ruled in this very land the founders of cities called after their own appellations the three kings named Huska, Juska and Kaniska (. ) These kings albeit belonging to the Turkish race found refuge in acts of piety they constructed in Suskaletra and other places monasteries, Caityas and similar edificies. During the glorious period of their regime the kingdom of Kashmir was for the most part an appanage of the Buddhists who had acquired lustre by renunciation. At this time since the Nirvana of the blessed Sakya Simha in this terrestrial world one hundred fifty years, it is said, had elapsed. And a Bodhisattva was in this country the sole supreme ruler of the land he was the illustrious Nagarjuna who dwelt in Sadarhadvana.

The art and culture of Gandhara, at the crossroads of the Kushan hegemony, developed the traditions of Greco-Buddhist art and are the best known expressions of Kushan influences to Westerners. Several direct depictions of Kushans are known from Gandhara, where they are represented with a tunic, belt and trousers and play the role of devotees to the Buddha, as well as the Bodhisattva and future Buddha Maitreya. [ citation needed ]

According to Benjamin Rowland, the first expression of Kushan art appears at Khalchayan at the end of the 2nd century BC. [110] It is derived from Hellenistic art, and possibly from the art of the cities of Ai-Khanoum and Nysa, and clearly has similarities with the later Art of Gandhara, and may even have been at the origin of its development. [110] Rowland particularly draws attention to the similarity of the ethnic types represented at Khalchayan and in the art of Gandhara, and also in the style of portraiture itself. [110] For example, Rowland find a great proximity between the famous head of a Yuezhi prince from Khalchayan, and the head of Gandharan Bodhisattvas, giving the example of the Gandharan head of a Bodhisattva in the Philadelphia Museum. [110] The similarity of the Gandhara Bodhisattva with the portrait of the Kushan ruler Heraios is also striking. [110] According to Rowland the Bactrian art of Khalchayan thus survived for several centuries through its influence in the art of Gandhara, thanks to the patronage of the Kushans. [110]

During the Kushan Empire, many images of Gandhara share a strong resemblance to the features of Greek, Syrian, Persian and Indian figures. These Western-looking stylistic signatures often include heavy drapery and curly hair, [111] representing a composite (the Greeks, for example, often possessed curly hair). [ citation needed ]

As the Kushans took control of the area of Mathura as well, the Art of Mathura developed considerably, and free-standing statues of the Buddha came to be mass-produced around this time, possibly encouraged by doctrinal changes in Buddhism allowing to depart from the aniconism that had prevailed in the Buddhist sculptures at Mathura, Bharhut or Sanchi from the end of the 2nd century BC. [112] The artistic cultural influence of kushans declined slowly due to Hellenistic Greek and Indian influences. [113]

Kushan coinage Edit

The coinage of the Kushans was abundant and an important tool of propaganda in promoting each Kushan ruler. [120] One of the names for Kushan coins was Dinara, which ultimately came from the Roman name Denarius aureus. [120] [121] [122] The coinage of the Kushans was copied as far as the Kushano-Sasanians in the west, and the kingdom of Samatata in Bengal to the east. The coinage of the Gupta Empire was also initially derived from the coinage of the Kushan Empire, adopting its weight standard, techniques and designs, following the conquests of Samudragupta in the northwest. [123] [124] [125] The imagery on Gupta coins then became more Indian in both style and subject matter compared to earlier dynasties, where Greco-Roman and Persian styles were mostly followed. [126] [124] [127]

Several Roman sources describe the visit of ambassadors from the Kings of Bactria and India during the 2nd century, probably referring to the Kushans. [128]

Reges Bactrianorum legatos ad eum, amicitiae petendae causa, supplices miserunt "The kings of the Bactrians sent supplicant ambassadors to him, to seek his friendship." [128]

Also in 138, according to Aurelius Victor (Epitome‚ XV, 4), and Appian (Praef., 7), Antoninus Pius, successor to Hadrian, received some Indian, Bactrian, and Hyrcanian ambassadors. [128]

Some Kushan coins have an effigy of "Roma", suggesting a strong level of awareness and some level of diplomatic relations. [128]

The summer capital of the Kushan Empire in Begram has yielded a considerable amount of goods imported from the Roman Empire—in particular, various types of glassware. The Chinese described the presence of Roman goods in the Kushan realm:

"Precious things from Da Qin [the Roman Empire] can be found there [in Tianzhu or Northwestern India], as well as fine cotton cloths, fine wool carpets, perfumes of all sorts, sugar candy, pepper, ginger, and black salt."

Parthamaspates of Parthia, a client of Rome and ruler of the kingdom of Osroene, is known to have traded with the Kushan Empire, goods being sent by sea and through the Indus River. [130]

During the 1st and 2nd century AD, the Kushan Empire expanded militarily to the north, putting them at the center of the profitable Central Asian commerce. They are related to have collaborated militarily with the Chinese against nomadic incursion, particularly when they allied with the Han dynasty general Ban Chao against the Sogdians in 84, when the latter were trying to support a revolt by the king of Kashgar. [131] Around 85, they also assisted the Chinese general in an attack on Turpan, east of the Tarim Basin.

In recognition for their support to the Chinese, the Kushans requested a Han princess, but were denied, [131] [133] even after they had sent presents to the Chinese court. In retaliation, they marched on Ban Chao in 86 with a force of 70,000, but were defeated by a smaller Chinese force. [131] [133] The Yuezhi retreated and paid tribute to the Chinese Empire during the reign of emperor He of Han (89–106).

The Kushans are again recorded to have sent presents to the Chinese court in 158–159 during the reign of Emperor Huan of Han.

Following these interactions, cultural exchanges further increased, and Kushan Buddhist missionaries, such as Lokaksema, became active in the Chinese capital cities of Luoyang and sometimes Nanjing, where they particularly distinguished themselves by their translation work. They were the first recorded promoters of Hinayana and Mahayana scriptures in China, greatly contributing to the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism.

Kushano-Sassanians Edit

After the death of Vasudeva I in 225, the Kushan empire split into western and eastern halves. The Western Kushans (in Afghanistan) were soon subjugated by the Persian Sasanian Empire and lost Sogdiana, Bactria, and Gandhara to them. The Sassanian king Shapur I (240–270) claims in his Naqsh-e Rostam inscription possession of the territory of the Kushans (Kūšān šahr) as far as "Purushapura" (Peshawar), suggesting he controlled Bactria and areas as far as the Hindu-Kush or even south of it: [134]

I, the Mazda-worshipping lord, Shapur, king of kings of Iran and An-Iran. (I) am the Master of the Domain of Iran (Ērānšahr) and possess the territory of Persis, Parthian. Hindestan, the Domain of the Kushan up to the limits of Paškabur and up to Kash, Sughd, and Chachestan.

This is also confirmed by the Rag-i-Bibi inscription in modern Afghanistan. [134]

The Sasanians deposed the Western dynasty and replaced them with Persian vassals known as the Kushanshas (in Bactrian on their coinage: KΟÞANΟ ÞAΟ Koshano Shao) [135] also called Indo-Sasanians or Kushano-Sasanians. The Kushano-Sasanians ultimately became very powerful under Hormizd I Kushanshah (277–286) and rebelled against the Sasanian Empire, while continuing many aspects of the Kushan culture, visible in particular in their titulature and their coinage. [136]

"Little Kushans" and Gupta suzerainty Edit

The Eastern Kushan kingdom, also known as the "Little Kushans", was based in the Punjab. Around 270 their territories on the Gangetic plain became independent under local dynasties such as the Yaudheyas. Then in the mid-4th century they were subjugated by the Gupta Empire under Samudragupta. [140] In his inscription on the Allahabad pillar Samudragupta proclaims that the Dēvaputra-Shāhi-Shāhānushāhi (referring to the last Kushan rulers, being a deformation of the Kushan regnal titles Devaputra, Shao and Shaonanoshao: "Son of God, King, King of Kings") are now under his dominion, and that they were forced to "self-surrender, offering (their own) daughters in marriage and a request for the administration of their own districts and provinces". [141] [142] [143] This suggests that by the time of the Allahabad inscription the Kushans still ruled in Punjab, but under the suzerainty of the Gupta Emperor. [144]

Numimastics indicate that the coinage of the Eastern Kushans was much weakened: silver coinage was abandoned altogether, and gold coinage was debased. This suggests that the Eastern Kushans had lost their central trading role on the trade routes that supplied luxury goods and gold. [144] Still, the Buddhist art of Gandhara continued to flourish, and cities such as Sirsukh near Taxila were established. [144]

Sasanian, Kidarite and Alchon invasions Edit

In the east around 350, Shapur II regained the upper hand against the Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom and took control of large territories in areas now known as Afghanistan and Pakistan, possibly as a consequence of the destruction of the Kushano-Sasanians by the Chionites. [145] The Kushano-Sasanian still ruled in the north. Important finds of Sasanian coinage beyond the Indus river in the city of Taxila only start with the reigns of Shapur II (r.309-379) and Shapur III (r.383-388), suggesting that the expansion of Sasanian control beyond the Indus was the result of the wars of Shapur II "with the Chionites and Kushans" in 350-358 as described by Ammianus Marcellinus. [146] They probably maintained control until the rise of the Kidarites under their ruler Kidara. [146]

In 360 a Kidarite Hun named Kidara overthrew the Kushano-Sasanians and remnants of the old Kushan dynasty, and established the Kidarite Kingdom. The Kushan style of Kidarite coins indicates they claimed Kushan heritage. The Kidarite seem to have been rather prosperous, although on a smaller scale than their Kushan predecessors. East of the Punjab, the former eastern territories of the Kushans were controlled by the mighty Gupta Empire. [ citation needed ]

The remnants of Kushan culture under the Kidarites in the northwest were ultimately wiped out in the end of the 5th century by the invasions of the Alchon Huns (sometimes considered as a branch of the Hephthalites), and later the Nezak Huns. [ citation needed ]

Cush (Kush)

(1) Cush was the name of an ancient kingdom in N.E. Africa. The portion of the Nile Valley between the First and Sixth Cataracts was called Cush by the pharaonic Egyptians, though western nations preferred the Greek appellation Nubia. One of the earliest mentions of the name Cush is found on an inscription of the early Middle Kingdom (c. 1970 B.C.E.). During the second millennium B.C.E. Cush was absorbed into the Egyptian empire, first as far as the Second Cataract under the Middle Kingdom rulers and then as far as the Sixth by the New Kingdom pharaohs. When the New Kingdom disintegrated (c. 1050 B.C.E.), Cush, which had been thoroughly Egyptianized, gained its independence under a line of native kings. It was probably the Cushite king Shabako (c. 707�) who encouraged *Hezekiah of Judah to resist the Assyrians under Sennacherib and sent the relief army that the Assyrians crushed at the battle of Eletekh in 701 B.C.E., since Taharka ( *Tirhakah ), mentioned in II Kings 19:9 and Isaiah 37:9, had not yet come to the throne. In fact, the biblical account is believed by some scholars to be a conflation of two campaigns. After the Assyrian conquest of Egypt in 666 B.C.E., Taharka's successor Tanwentamani at first succeeded in freeing Upper Egypt as far as Memphis from the Assyrians in about 663� B.C.E., but he was driven out by the avenging armies of Ashurbanipal. The ancient capital of Thebes was so savagely plundered that 50 years later it served the prophet Nahum as an example for the forthcoming destruction of Nineveh (Nah. 3:8, 10). From this time on, Cush ceased to intervene in the affairs of Egypt.

(2) According to the Bible, Cush was the son of Ham (Gen. 2:13 10:6𠄸 Ezek. 38:5 I Chron. 1:8�) and the eponym of the N.E. African people. In several verses the name refers to other peoples the distinction is not clear in every single case (Num. 12:1 II Chron. 14:8 21:16). In the Septuagint the name appears in two forms: in those verses in which it designates the son of Ham it appears in the form Χονς while in other cases it is Αιθιοπια, i.e., Ethiopia. Most modern translations follow the Septuagint. The whole of East Africa was called Cush by the Greeks, and in modern times "Cushi" is a Hebrew term for a black person.

Sources:A.J. Arkell, History of the Sudan (1961 2 ), 55� Lambdin, in: IDB, 2 (1962), 176𠄷 (incl. bibl.) Wilson, ibid., 4 (1962), 652 (incl. bibl.).

[Alan Richard Schulman]

Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

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An artist’s illustration of Pharaoh Piye. Photo: Pinterest

Piye ruled between 744–714 BC from his seat in Namata located in modern-day Sudan. He took over Egypt following the rulers’ squabbles and division. His conquest came complete when the leader of Herakleopolis, a region in upper Egypt, sought his help when he was invaded by Hermopolis and Sais regions. Piye assembled an army and invaded middle and lower Egypt, in one of the campaigns for which he has been lauded over time.

Piye, who worshipped the god Amun, considered his battles a holy war and had specific rituals in preparation for the war that included his soldiers cleansing themselves before battle.

When he died, he was buried at el-Kurru near Jebel Barkal

King Piya’s tomb. Photo: Wiki CC

Pharaoh Shebitku, the son of Piye took over the kingdom upon Piye’s death and went on to rule until 704BC. He expanded his reign throughout the entire Nile valley. He also transferred his headquarters from Napata to Memphis.

King Shebitku represented in a slate. Photo: Wiki CC

After Shebiktu’s death and burial in a grave similar to his father’s, pharaoh Shabaka took over. Over the years, there have been claims that Shebiktu and Shabaka ruled together in a co-regency but recent evidence indicated otherwise.

Shabaka ruled until 69oBC when the reign was taken over by Taharqa. It is alleged that Taharqa ousted Shabaka, and tried to erase all memories of him in history.

When Taharqa took over, he said “I received the Crown in Memphis after the Falcon flew to heaven”, allegedly alluding to receiving powers from Shebiktu and not Shabaka. The absence of a named predecessor was taken to mean that Taharqa had ascended to power in an irregular way.

Taharqa, who went on to rule to 664BC, had a tumultuous reign. Even though it was prosperous, there were conflicts with the Assyrians. It was during his reign that he lost out on Egypt when the Assyrians invaded in 671BC. Tahraqa fled to Thebes, where he lived until his death.

His successor was Tantamani, the son of Shabaka. He waited for the Assyrians to leave Egypt before he invaded and re-occupied some of the Kingdom’s old lands. However, he could not rule over Egypt after the Assyrians sent in reinforcement from the North forcing him to flee to Nubia. The Assyrian soldiers ensured that the Nubians could not rule over Egypt again by sacking Thebes.

Thus, Tantamani became the last king in the 25th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The 26th Dynasty started with the installation of Psamtik I by the Assyrians. Tantamani’s son Atlanersa became the King of Kush.


Since the Hindu Kush separates one major climate zone of Asia from another, the range’s climate shows great variations. The mountains of Swat Kohistan are within the area of the rain-bearing summer monsoon winds, and most of the eastern Hindu Kush, as well as the Hindu Raj, rises up at the extreme western limit of monsoonal Asia. This region experiences rainy or snowy summers (from July to September) and dry winters. The central and western Hindu Kush, however, border the Mediterranean climatic zone, characterized by hot, dry summers and cold, wet or snowy winters (from December to early March). Climatic variations between these opposites also occur, producing often striking local contrasts.

A graphic image of climatic conditions is presented by the glaciers. The mantle of snow and ice is heaviest at the extreme eastern end of the Hindu Kush in Pakistan, where the Chiantar Glacier is situated, and is also heavy in the higher section around Mounts Tirich Mir and Saraghrara and in parts of the Hindu Raj. Toward the west, however, glaciation is more sporadic. In the central Hindu Kush, mountains 12,000 feet (3,600 metres) high are often bare almost to the summit. Some glaciers of the Hindu Kush appear to be retreating, while others are advancing. Some glacial regions have a striking feature known as ablated snow hummocks—called nieves penitentes or Büsserschnee (literally, “penitent snow”)—that give the illusion of kneeling human figures, sometimes two or three feet high especially noticeable in the early morning, they are formed by the alternation of strong sunlight and rapid evaporation during the day and severe cold at night.

The Kush - History

The term "Ethiopia" was first used by Ancient Greek writers in reference to the east-central African kingdom that they believed to be not only culturally and ethnically linked to ancient "Egypt" (Kemet), but the source of such civilization as well. Contrary to popular belief, the term was not exclusive to the landlocked modern country of Ethiopia. According to early Greek writers, Ethiopia was an empire originally situated between Ta-Seti in Lower Kemet and the confluence of the White and Blue Niles. Centuries later, however, the name became synonymous with a much larger region that included the present-day countries of South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Central African Republic, Chad, etc.

Ethiopia is the English transliteration of the Greek word "&Alpha&iota&theta&iota&omicron&pi&alpha" (or Aithiopia) which originates from the Greek word "&Alpha&iota&theta&iota&omicron&psi" or "aithiops" which literally means "charred or burnt." "Aithiops" is in fact composed of "&alpha&iota&theta&iota&omega" (meaning "I burn") and "&omega&psi" (meaning face or complexion).

Prior to Greek history, Ethiopia was known as "Kush" by the ancient "Egyptians." The Buhen stela (housed in the Florence Museum), which dates from the reign of Sety I (1294-1279 BC), refers to this region as "Kas" and "Kash." Kush is also mentioned as "KSH" in other texts dated between 1550 - 1069 BC.

History of Early Ethiopia or Kush (13,000-7500 BC)

The region known as Kush has been inhabited for several millennia. Royal Ontario Museum and University of Khartoum researchers found a "tool workshop" south of Dongola, Sudan with thousands of paleolithic axes on rows of stones, dating back 70,000 years. As early as 13,000 BC, ceremonial burial practices were taking place at Jebel Sahaba and Wadi Halfa in the northern part of modern-day Sudan (known to archaeologists as the "Qadan" period, 13,000-8,000 BC). At the Toshka site in modern-day "Lower Nubia," archaeologists have uncovered tombs where domesticated wild cattle were placed above human remains, indicative of the use of cattle in a ceremonial fashion. Circular tomb walls with above-ground mounds are further evidence of the beginnings of ceremonial burials.

At other sites nearby, we can see the development of Ethiopian (better known as "Egyptian") civilization. At the Kadruka cemetery, spouted vessels were found, and the tombs at El Gaba were filled with jewelry, pottery, ostrich feathers, headrests, facial painting, etc.--all of which were present in "dynastic Egypt," and are still used today amongst different peoples of modern-day Ethiopia. The neolithic Sabu rock paintings even depict dynastic Egyptian-style boats.

Just west of the city of Kerma lies the site of Busharia, where shards of pottery dating from 8000 to 9000 BC have been found. A nearby discovery at El-Barga shed light on foundations of round buildings, graves and pottery shards from 7,500 BC.

Therefore Kushitic civilization began on the banks of the Nile over 15,000 years ago and was settled at least 55,000 years prior.

Furthermore, based on the traditions of the first settlers and the artifacts found in this region, Kushitic civilization gave birth to that of so-called "Egypt" (see also: Nile Valley Civilization).

Ethiopia in Hebrew History (1200 - 500 BC)

The Torah (Old Testament of the Bible) mentions Ethiopia in its first and oldest book, Genesis (chapter 2, c. 1400 BC), and puts Ethiopia in a geographical context:

"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia."

In the Hebrew book of Numbers (chapter 12, verse 1, c. 1200 BC), Moses, who was born and educated in Egypt, married an Ethiopian woman:

"And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman."

By the 740s BC, the Hebrew prophet Nahum said, "Cush and Ethiopia were her [Nineveh's] boundless strength, and it was infinite Put and Lubim were thy helpers" (chapter 3, verse 9).

Emperor Taharqa, one of the most famous Kushite leaders who ruled Egypt and beyond (photo courtesy of David Liam Moran)

Ethiopia's King Taharqa, who also ruled Egypt (690-664 BC, 25th dynasty), is mentioned in Hebrew texts as having saved Jerusalem from Assyrian destruction (Isaiah, chapter 37, verse 10-11, c. 687 BC):

And when he heard say of Tirha'kah [Taharqa] king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezeki'ah, saying, Thus shall ye speak to Hezeki'ah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria."

Ethiopia in Greek History (800 BC-200 AD).

Few other nations are mentioned in ancient European literature as much as Ethiopia, and even fewer as highly esteemed. Ethiopians are first mentioned in the oldest of Greek texts, Homer's Iliad (circa 800 BC), as a place frequented by the Greek gods. Homer states, ". twelve for Jupiter's stay with the Ethiopians, at whose return Thetis prefers her petition" and "Zeus is at Ocean's river with Ethiopians, feasting, he and all the heaven-dwellers."

In Homer's Odyssey (c. 800 BC), Poseiden also spends time in Ethiopia: "But Poseidon, the earthquake lord, making his return from Ethiopia where he had visited for a celebration in his honor. "

Homer also tells us that an Ethiopian ruled Troy and Arabia:

"Tithonus was the son of Laomedon, king of Troy and the Nymph Strymo. He was an extremely handsome youth, and when Eos (Dawn) first saw him, she fell in love with him and brought him to her palace by the stream of Ocean in Ethiopia. They had two children, Memnon and Emathion. Emathion became a king of Arabia. Memnon took a force of Ethiopians to Troy and died while fighting the Greeks"

Herodotus (Histories, Book II, c. 440 BC) informs us that Ethiopians also jointly ruled over the Siwa Oasis:

"Ammonians [Siwa Owasis], who are a joint colony of Egyptians and Ethiopians, speaking a language between the two. "

Pyramids in Meroe, the capital of Ethiopia in Herodotus' time (photo courtesy of Petr Adam Dohnalek)

The so-called "father of (European) history," Herodotus (490-425 BC), spoke often on the subject of Ethiopia, and places it in geographical context:

"Beyond the island [Elephantine] is a great lake, and round its shores live nomadic tribes of Ethiopians. After crossing the lake one comes again to the stream of the Nile, which flows into it. After forty days journey on land along the river, one takes another boat and in twelve days reaches a big city named Meroe, said to be the capital city of the Ethiopians." and

". Where the south declines towards the setting sun lies the country called Ethiopia, the last inhabited land in that direction. There gold is obtained in great plenty, huge elephants abound, with wild trees of all sorts, and ebony. "

Herodotus describes their physical characteristics and provides great detail about the traditions of Ethiopians in his era, stating,

". and the men are taller, handsomer, and longer lived than anywhere else. The Ethiopians were clothed in the skins of leopards and lions, and had long bows made of the stem of the palm-leaf, not less than four cubits in length. On these they laid short arrows made of reed, and armed at the tip, not with iron, but with a piece of stone, sharpened to a point, of the kind used in engraving seals. They carried likewise spears, the head of which was the sharpened horn of an antelope and in addition they had knotted clubs. When they went into battle they painted their bodies, half with chalk, and half with vermilion. and

"The inhabitants worship Zeus and Dionysus alone of the Gods, holding them in great honor. Among these Ethiopians copper is of all metals the most scarce and valuable. Also, last of all, they were allowed to behold the coffins of the Ethiopians, which are made (according to report) of crystal, after the following fashion: When the dead body has been dried, either in the Egyptian, or in some other manner, they cover the whole with gypsum, and adorn it with painting until it is as like the living man as possible. Then they place the body in a crystal pillar which has been hollowed out to receive it, crystal being dug up in great abundance in their country, and of a kind very easy to work. You may see the corpse through the pillar within which it lies and it neither gives out any unpleasant odor, nor is it in any respect unseemly yet there is no part that is not as plainly visible as if the body were bare. The next of kin keep the crystal pillar in their houses for a full year from the time of the death, and give it the first fruits continually, and honor it with sacrifice. After the year is out they bear the pillar forth, and set it up near the town. "

Herodotus informs us that he is aware of the cultural similarities between the ancient Ethiopians and the ancient Egyptians:

"For the people of Colchis are evidently Egyptian, and this I perceived for myself before I heard it from others. So when I had come to consider the matter I asked them both and the Colchians had remembrance of the Egyptians more than the Egyptians of the Colchians but the Egyptians said they believed that the Colchians were a portion of the army of Sesostris. That this was so I conjectured myself not only because they have black skins and curly hair (this of itself amounts to nothing, for there are other races which are so), but also still more because the Colchians, Egyptians, and Ethiopians alone of all the races of men have practised circumcision from the first. The Phenicians and the Syrians who dwell in Palestine confess themselves that they have learnt it from the Egyptians, and the Syrians about the river Thermodon and the river Parthenios, and the Macronians, who are their neighbours, say that they have learnt it lately from the Colchians. These are the only races of men who practise circumcision, and these evidently practise it in the same manner as the Egyptians.

Diodorus Siculus (60 BC), however, tells us that Ethiopia is the origin of Egyptian traditions and civilization (consistent with modern archaeological discoveries) and that Ethiopians colonized as far as India:

"Now the Ethiopians, as historians relate, were the first of all men and the proofs of this statement, they say, are manifest. For they did not come into their land as immigrants from abroad but were natives of it"

"We must now speak about the Ethiopian writing which is called hieroglyphic among the Egyptians, in order that we may omit nothing in our discussion of their antiquities. "

"They [the Ethiopians] say also that the Egyptians are colonists sent out by the Ethiopians, Osiris ["King of Kings and God of Gods"] having been the leader of the colony . . . they add that the Egyptians have received from them, as from authors and their ancestors, the greater part of their laws."

"Osiris being come to the borders of Ethiopia, raised high banks on either side of the river, lest, in the time of its inundation it should overflow the country more than was convenient make it marish and boggy and made flood-gates to let in the water by degrees, as far as was necessary. Thence he passed through Arabia, bordering upon the Red sea as far as to India, and the utmost coasts that were inhabited he built likewise many cities in India, one of which he called Nysa, willing to have a remembrance of that in Egypt where he was brought up. he planted ivy, which grows and remains here only of all other places in India. "

Like Herodotus, Siculus described Ethiopians as Black and their empire as vast, from central and East Africa to the Arabian penninsula. However, by Siculus' time, the capital had moved away from Meroe to the East where Ethiopians mined gold. This was the same time period in which the ancient Aksum leaders thrived:

"But there are also a great many other tribes of the Ethiopians, some of them dwelling in the land lying on both banks of the Nile and on the islands in the river, others inhabiting the neighbouring country of Arabia, and still others residing in the interior of Libya [the Greek term for interior Africa west of the Nile]. The majority of them, and especially those who dwell along the river, are black in colour and have flat noses and woolly hair. we feel that it is appropriate first to tell of the working of the gold as it is carried on in these regions. At the extremity of Egypt and in the contiguous territory of both Arabia and Ethiopia there lies a region which contains many large gold mines, where the gold is secured in great quantities."

Strabo (63 - 24 AD) provides even further detail on the extent of the Ethiopian empire, which included not just Arabia, but Europe as well:

"However, Sesostris, the Egyptian, he adds, and Tearco [Taharqa] the Aethiopian advanced as far as Europe and Nabocodrosor, who enjoyed greater repute among the Chaldaeans [in modern day Iraq] than Heracles, led an army even as far as the Pillars [Gibraltar]. Thus far, he says, also Tearco went. "

Ethiopia in Roman History (1 - 200 AD)

Later the term "Ethiopia" would become synonymous not just with the Kushites, but all Africans. Unlike the earlier Greek writers who distinguished Ethiopians from other Africans, Claudius Ptolemy (90 - 168 AD), a Roman citizen who lived in Alexandria, used "Ethiopia" as a racial term. In his Tetrabiblos: Or Quadripartite, he tried to explain the physical characteristics of people around the world saying, "They are consequently black in complexion, and have thick and curled hair. and they are called by the common name of Aethiopians."

Ethiopia in Byzantine History (c 700 AD)

Stephanus of Byzantium (circa 700 AD) wrote, "Ethiopia was the first established country on earth and the Ethiopians were the first to set up the worship of the gods and to establish laws."


The earliest known usage of the name Hindu Kush occurs on a map published about 1000 CE. [28] The Hindu Kush was known in Vedic Sanskrit as upariśyena, and in Avestan as upāirisaēna (from Proto-Iranian *upārisaina- 'covered with juniper'). [29] [30] In the time of Alexander the Great, the mountain range was referred to as the Caucasus Indicus (as opposed to the Greater Caucasus range between the Caspian and Black Seas), and as Paropamisadae by Hellenic Greeks in the late first millennium BC. [31] In Persian it is known as Hindu Kush.

Some 19th century encyclopaedias and gazetteers state that the term Hindu Kush originally applied only to the peak in the area of the Kushan Pass, which had become a centre of the Kushan Empire by the first century. [32] Some modern scholars remove the space, and refer to the mountain range as Hindukush. [33] [34]

Etymology Edit

Hindu-Killer Edit

Hindu Kush is generally translated as 'Killer of Hindu' or 'Hindu-Killer'. [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] Boyle's Persian-English dictionary indicates that the suffix -koš [koʃ] is the present stem of the verb 'to kill' (koštan کشتن ). [40] According to linguist Francis Joseph Steingass, the suffix -kush means 'a male (imp. of kushtan in comp.) a killer, who kills, slays, murders, oppresses as azhdaha-kush.' [41]

The name may be a reminder of the days when slaves from the Indian subcontinent died in the harsh weather typical of the Afghan mountains while being taken from India to Turkestan. [42] [43] [44] [45] In his travel memoirs about Khorasan, the 14th-century Moroccan traveller Ibn Baṭṭuṭa mentioned crossing into India via the mountain passes of the Hindu Kush. In his Rihla, he states that the name of the mountain range translates to 'Hindu-slayer' due to slaves from India dying there: [46] [23]

After this I proceeded to the city of Barwan, in the road to which is a high mountain, covered with snow and exceedingly cold they call it the Hindu Kush, that is Hindu-slayer, because most of the slaves brought thither from India die on account of the intenseness of the cold.

Alternate theories Edit

Several other theories have been propounded as to the origins of the name Hindu Kush. [47] According to Nigel Allan, two alternate meanings, 'sparkling snows of India' and 'mountains of India', are also possible, with Kush being interpreted as a soft variant of the Persian Kuh ('mountain'). Allan states that, to Arab geographers, Hindu Kush was the frontier boundary where Hindustan started. [48] [28] Other theories suggest that the word 'Hindu' in Hindu Kush is derived from sindhuh, meaning 'river' in Sanskrit, while kush is a Sanskrit root related to Persian kūh, meaning 'mountain', [49] or that the name may be from the ancient Avestan language, with the meaning 'water mountain'. [43]

According to Hobson-Jobson, a 19th-century British dictionary, Hindukush might be a corruption of the ancient Latin Indicus (Caucasus) the entry mentions the interpretation first given by Ibn Batuta as a popular theory already at that time, despite doubts casted upon it. [50]

The range forms the western section of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region (HKH) [11] [12] [13] and is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram and the Himalayas. It divides the valley of the Amu Darya (the ancient Oxus) to the north from the Indus River valley to the south. The range has numerous high snow-capped peaks, with the highest point being Tirich Mir or Terichmir at 7,708 metres (25,289 ft) in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. To the north, near its northeastern end, the Hindu Kush buttresses the Pamir Mountains near the point where the borders of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan meet, after which it runs southwest through Pakistan and into Afghanistan near their border. [9] The eastern end of the Hindu Kush in the north merges with the Karakoram Range. [14] [15] Towards its southern end, it connects with the Spin Ghar Range near the Kabul River. [16] [17]

Peaks Edit

Many peaks of the range are between 4,400 and 5,200 m (14,500 and 17,000 ft), and some much higher, with an average peak height of 4,500 metres (14,800 feet). [51] The mountains of the Hindu Kush range diminish in height as they stretch westward. Near Kabul, in the west, they attain heights of 3,500 to 4,000 metres (11,500 to 13,100 ft) in the east they extend from 4,500 to 6,000 metres (14,800 to 19,700 ft). [ citation needed ]

Name Height Country
Tirich Mir 7,708 metres (25,289 ft) Pakistan
Noshak 7,492 metres (24,580 ft) Afghanistan, Pakistan
Istor-o-Nal 7,403 metres (24,288 ft) Pakistan
Saraghrar 7,338 metres (24,075 ft) Pakistan
Udren Zom 7,140 metres (23,430 ft) Pakistan
Lunkho e Dosare 6,901 metres (22,641 ft) Afghanistan, Pakistan
Kuh-e Bandaka 6,843 metres (22,451 ft) Afghanistan
Koh-e Keshni Khan 6,743 metres (22,123 ft) Afghanistan
Sakar Sar 6,272 metres (20,577 ft) Afghanistan, Pakistan
Kohe Mondi 6,234 metres (20,453 ft) Afghanistan

Passes Edit

Numerous high passes ("kotal") transect the mountains, forming a strategically important network for the transit of caravans. The most important mountain pass in Afghanistan is the Salang Pass (Kotal-e Salang) (3,878 m or 12,723 ft) north of Kabul, which links southern Afghanistan to northern Afghanistan. The Salang Tunnel at 3,363 m (11,033 ft) and the extensive network of galleries on the approach roads were constructed with Soviet financial and technological assistance and involved drilling 2.7 km (1.7 mi) through the heart of the Hindu Kush, and has been an active area of armed conflict with various parties trying to control it. [52] The range has several other passes in Afghanistan, the lowest of which is the southern Shibar pass (2,700 m or 9,000 ft) where the Hindu Kush range terminates. [26]

Other mountain passes are at altitudes of about 3,700 m (12,000 ft) or higher, [26] including the Broghil Pass at 12460 feet in Pakistan, [53] and the Dorah Pass between Pakistan and Afghanistan at 14,000 feet. Other high passes in Pakistan include the Lowari Pass at 10,200 feet, [54] the Gomal Pass.

Watershed Edit

The Hindu Kush form the boundary between the Indus watershed in South Asia, and Amu Darya watershed in Central Asia. [55] Melt water from snow and ice feeds major river systems in Central Asia: the Amu Darya, Helmand River (which is a major source of water for the Sistan Basin in southern Afghanistan and Iran), and the Kabul River [55] - the last of which is a major tributary of the Indus River. Smaller rivers with headwaters in the range include the Khash, the Farah and the Arashkan (Harut) rivers. The basins of these rivers serves the ecology and economy of the region, but the water flow in these rivers greatly fluctuate, and reliance on these has been a historical problem with extended droughts being commonplace. [56] The eastern end of the range, with the highest peaks, high snow accumulation allows to long-term water storage. [57]

Climate Edit

These mountainous areas are mostly barren, or at the most sparsely sprinkled with trees and stunted bushes. From about 1,300 to 2,300 m (4,300 to 7,500 ft), states Yarshater, "sklerophyllous forests are predominant with Quercus and Olea (wild olive) above that up to a height of about 3,300 m (10,800 ft) one finds coniferous forests with cedars, Picea, Abies, Pinus, and junipers". The inner valleys of the Hindu Kush see little rain and have desert vegetation. [58]

Geologically, the range is rooted in the formation of a subcontinent from a region of Gondwana that drifted away from East Africa about 160 million years ago, around the Middle Jurassic period. [60] [61] The Indian subcontinent, Australia and islands of the Indian Ocean rifted further, drifting northeastwards, with the Indian subcontinent colliding with the Eurasian Plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Palaeocene. [60] This collision created the Himalayas, including the Hindu Kush. [62]

The Hindu Kush are a part of the "young Eurasian mountain range consisting of metamorphic rocks such as schist, gneiss and marble, as well as of intrusives such as granite, diorite of different age and size". The northern regions of the Hindu Kush witness Himalayan winter and have glaciers, while its southeastern end witness the fringe of Indian subcontinent summer monsoons. [58]

The Hindu Kush range remains geologically active and is still rising [63] - it is prone to earthquakes. [64] [65] The Hindu Kush system stretches about 966 kilometres (600 mi) laterally, [51] and its median north–south measurement is about 240 kilometres (150 mi).The mountains are orographically described in several parts. [58] Peaks in the western Hindu Kush rise to over 5,100 m (16,700 ft) and stretches between Darra-ye Sekari and the Shibar Pass in the west and the Khawak Pass in the east. [58] The central Hindu Kush peaks rise to over 6,800 m (22,300 ft), and this section has numerous spurs between the Khawak Pass in the east and the Durāh Pass in the west.

The eastern Hindu Kush, also known as the "High Hindu Kush", is mostly located in northern Pakistan and the Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces of Afghanistanas with peaks over 7,000 m (23,000 ft). This section extends from the Durāh Pass to the Baroghil Pass at the border between northeastern Afghanistan and north Pakistan. The Chitral District of Pakistan is home to Tirich Mir, Noshaq, and Istoro Nal - the highest peaks in the Hindu Kush. The ridges between Khawak Pass and Badakshan is over 5,800 m (19,000 ft) and is called the Kaja Mohammed range. [58]

The high altitudes of the mountains have historical significance in South and Central Asia. The Hindu Kush range was a major centre of Buddhism with sites such as the Bamiyan Buddhas. [66] It has also been the passageway during the invasions of the Indian subcontinent, [24] [25] a region where the Taliban and Al Qaeda grew, [27] [67] and to modern era warfare in Afghanistan. [26] In ancient mines producing lapis lazuli are found in Kowkcheh Valley, while gem-grade emeralds are found north of Kabul in the valley of the Panjsher River and some of its tributaries. According to Walter Schumann, the West Hindu Kush mountains have been the source of finest Lapis lazuli for thousands of years. [68]

Buddhism was widespread in the ancient Hindu Kush region. Ancient artwork of Buddhism include the giant rock carved statues called the Bamiyan Buddha, in the southern and western end of the Hindu Kush. [19] These statues were destroyed by Taliban Islamists in 2001. [69] The southeastern valleys of Hindu Kush connecting towards the Indus Valley region were a major centre that hosted monasteries, religious scholars from distant lands, trade networks and merchants of ancient Indian subcontinent. [22]

One of the early Buddhist schools, the Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravāda, was prominent in the area of Bamiyan. The Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang visited a Lokottaravāda monastery in the 7th century CE, at Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Birchbark and palm leaf manuscripts of texts in this monastery's collection, including Mahāyāna sūtras, have been discovered in the caves of Hindu Kush, [70] and these are now a part of the Schøyen Collection. Some manuscripts are in the Gāndhārī language and Kharoṣṭhī script, while others are in Sanskrit and written in forms of the Gupta script. [71] [72]

According to Alfred Foucher, the Hindu Kush and nearby regions gradually converted to Buddhism by the 1st century CE, and this region was the base from where Buddhism crossed the Hindu Kush expanding into the Oxus valley region of Central Asia. [73] Buddhism later disappeared and locals were forced to convert to Islam. Richard Bulliet also proposes that the area north of Hindu Kush was centre of a new sect which had spread as far as Kurdistan, remaining in existence until the Abbasid times. [74] [75] The area eventually came under control of the Hindu Shahi dynasty of Kabul. [76] The Islamic conquest of the area happened under Sabuktigin who conquered Jayapala's dominion west of Peshawar in 10th century. [77]

Ancient Edit

The significance of the Hindu Kush mountains ranges has been recorded since the time of Darius I of Persia. Alexander the Great entered the Indian subcontinent through the Hindu Kush as his army moved past the Afghan Valleys in the spring of 329 BCE. [78] He moved towards the Indus Valley river region in Indian subcontinent in 327 BCE, his armies building several towns in this region over the intervening two years. [79]

After Alexander the Great's death in 323 BCE, the region became part of the Seleucid Empire, according to the ancient history of Strabo written in 1st century BCE, before it became a part of the Indian Maurya Empire around 305 BCE. [80] The region became a part of the Kushan Empire around the start of the common era. [81]

Medieval era Edit

The lands north of the Hindu Kush, in the Hephthalite dominion, Buddhism was the predominant religion by mid 1st millennium CE. [82] These Buddhists were religiously tolerant and they co-existed with followers of Zoroastrianism, Manichaseism, and Nestorian Christianity. [82] [83] This Central Asia region along the Hindu Kush was taken over by Western Turks and Arabs by the eighth century, facing wars with mostly Iranians. [82] One major exception was the period in the mid to late seventh century, when the Tang dynasty from China destroyed the Northern Turks and extended its rule all the way to the Oxus River valley and regions of Central Asia bordering all along the Hindu Kush. [84]

The subcontinent and valleys of the Hindu Kush remained unconquered by the Islamic armies until the 9th century, even though they had conquered the southern regions of Indus River valley such as Sind. [85] Kabul fell to the army of Al-Ma'mun, the seventh Abbasid caliph, in 808 and the local king agreed to accept Islam and pay annual tributes to the caliph. [85] However, states André Wink, inscriptional evidence suggests that the Kabul area near Hindu Kush had an early presence of Islam. [86] When the extraction of silver from the mines in the Hindu Kush was at its greatest (c.850), the value of silver in relation to gold dropped, and the content of silver in the Carolingian denarius was increased so that it should maintain its intrinsic value. [87]

The range came under control of the Hindu Shahi dynasty of Kabul [76] but was conquered by Sabuktigin who took all of Jayapala's dominion west of Peshawar. [77]

Mahmud of Ghazni came to power in 998 CE, in Ghazna, Afghanistan, south of Kabul and the Hindu Kush range. [88] He began a military campaign that rapidly brought both sides of the Hindu Kush range under his rule. From his mountainous Afghani base, he systematically raided and plundered kingdoms in north India from east of the Indus river to west of Yamuna river seventeen times between 997 and 1030. [89] Mahmud of Ghazni raided the treasuries of kingdoms, sacked cities, and destroyed Hindu temples, with each campaign starting every spring, but he and his army returned to Ghazni and the Hindu Kush base before monsoons arrived in the northwestern part of the subcontinent. [88] [89] He retracted each time, only extending Islamic rule into western Punjab. [90] [91]

In 1017, the Iranian Islamic historian Al-Biruni was deported after a war that Mahmud of Ghazni won, [92] to the northwest Indian subcontinent under Mahmud's rule. Al Biruni stayed in the region for about fifteen years, learnt Sanskrit, and translated many Indian texts, and wrote about Indian society, culture, sciences, and religion in Persian and Arabic. He stayed for some time in the Hindu Kush region, particularly near Kabul. In 1019, he recorded and described a solar eclipse in what is the modern era Laghman Province of Afghanistan through which Hindu Kush pass. [92] Al Biruni also wrote about early history of the Hindu Kush region and Kabul kings, who ruled the region long before he arrived, but this history is inconsistent with other records available from that era. [86] Al Biruni was supported by Sultan Mahmud. [92] Al Biruni found it difficult to get access to Indian literature locally in the Hindu Kush area, and to explain this he wrote, "Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed wonderful exploits by which the Hindus became the atoms scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people. (. ) This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares and other places". [93]

In late 12th century, the historically influential Ghurid empire led by Mu'izz al-Din ruled the Hindu Kush region. [94] He was influential in seeding the Delhi Sultanate, shifting the base of his Sultanate from south of the Hindu Kush range and Ghazni towards the Yamuna River and Delhi. He thus helped bring the Islamic rule to the northern plains of Indian subcontinent. [95]

The Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta arrived in the Delhi Sultanate by passing through the Hindu Kush. [23] The mountain passes of the Hindu Kush range were used by Timur and his army and they crossed to launch the 1398 invasion of northern Indian subcontinent. [96] Timur, also known as Temur or Tamerlane in Western scholarly literature, marched with his army to Delhi, plundering and killing all the way. [97] [98] [99] He arrived in the capital Delhi where his army looted and killed its residents. [100] Then he carried the wealth and the captured slaves, returning to his capital through the Hindu Kush. [97] [99] [101]

Babur, the founder of Mughal Empire, was a patrilineal descendant of Timur with roots in Central Asia. [102] He first established himself and his army in Kabul and the Hindu Kush region. In 1526, he made his move into north India, won the Battle of Panipat, ending the last Delhi Sultanate dynasty, and starting the era of the Mughals. [103]

Slavery Edit

Slavery, as with all major ancient and medieval societies, has been a part of Central Asia and South Asia history. The Hindu Kush mountain passes connected the slave markets of Central Asia with slaves seized in South Asia. [104] [105] [106] The seizure and transportation of slaves from the Indian subcontinent became intense in and after the 8th century CE, with evidence suggesting that the slave transport involved "hundreds of thousands" of slaves from India in different periods of Islamic rule era. [105] According to John Coatsworth and others, the slave trading operations during the pre-Akbar Mughal and Delhi Sultanate era "sent thousands of Hindus every year north to Central Asia to pay for horses and other goods". [107] [108] However, the interaction between Central Asia and South Asia through the Hindu Kush was not limited to slavery, it included trading in food, goods, horses and weapons. [109]

The practice of raiding tribes, hunting, and kidnapping people for slave trading continued through the 19th century, at an extensive scale, around the Hindu Kush. According to a British Anti-Slavery Society report of 1874, the governor of Faizabad, Mir Ghulam Bey, kept 8,000 horses and cavalry men who routinely captured non-Muslim as well as Shia Muslims as slaves. Others alleged to be involved in slave trade were feudal lords such as Ameer Sheer Ali. The isolated communities in the Hindu Kush were one of the targets of these slave hunting expeditions. [110]

Modern era Edit

In early 19th century, the Sikh Empire expanded under Ranjit Singh in the northwest as far as the Hindu Kush range. [111] The last polytheistic stronghold remained in the region until 1896, called "Kafiristan" whose people practised a form of polytheism (or were possibly nondenominational Muslims) until invasion and conversion at the hands of Afghans under Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. [21]

The Hindu Kush served as a geographical barrier to the British empire, leading to paucity of information and scarce direct interaction between the British colonial officials and Central Asian peoples. The British had to rely on tribal chiefs, Sadozai and Barakzai noblemen for information, and they generally downplayed the reports of slavery and other violence for geo-political strategic considerations. [112]

In the colonial era, the Hindu Kush were considered, informally, the dividing line between Russian and British areas of influence in Afghanistan. During the Cold War the Hindu Kush range became a strategic theatre, especially during the 1980s when Soviet forces and their Afghani allies fought the Mujahideen with support from the United States channelled through Pakistan. [113] [114] [115] After the Soviet withdrawal and the end of the Cold War, many Mujahideen morphed into Taliban and Al Qaeda forces imposing a strict interpretation of Islamic law (Sharia), with Kabul, these mountains, and other parts of Afghanistan as their base. [116] [117] Other Mujahideen joined the Northern Alliance to oppose the Taliban rule. [117]

After the 11 September 2001 terror attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., the American and ISAF campaign against Al Qaeda and their Taliban allies made the Hindu Kush once again a militarised conflict zone. [117] [118] [119]

The mountains remained a stronghold of polytheistic faiths until the 19th century. [21] Pre-Islamic populations of the Hindu Kush included Shins, Yeshkuns, [120] [121] Chiliss, Neemchas [122] Koli, [123] Palus, [123] Gaware, [124] and Krammins. [120]

Watch the video: Geography Now! Afghanistan (October 2022).

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