A Political Chronology of Central, South and East Asia

By Ian Preston | Go to book overview
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Afghanistan

6th century BC: Cyrus II (‘the Great’), founder of the Achaemenid Empire—the first Persian (Iranian) Empire, established authority over the region. Darius I (‘the Great’) consolidated Persian rule by acquiring, among others, the satrapies (provinces) of Aria (modern-day Herat), Bactria (Balkh), Sattagydia (Ghazni), Arachosia (Qandahar) and Drangiana (Sistan).

333 BC: Alexander II (‘the Great’) of Macedon defeated the Persians in Asia Minor at the Battle of Issus and began his advance through the territories of the Persian Empire, conquering most of the Afghan satrapies. Following Alexander’s death in 323 BC, one of his generals, Seleucus Nicator, commanded the Greek colonies in the East. The Seleucid dynasty gained control of the region.

c.303 BC: Seleucus ceded all lands east of Qandahar to the Maurya dynasty of northern India.

1st century AD: Under the Kushan dynasty, the Graeco-Buddhist art and culture of Gandhara (in modern-day Pakistan) reached its apogee.

241: Control of the Afghan satrapies passed to the Persian Sassanian dynasty.

565: A coalition of Sassanians and Western Turks defeated the Hephthalites (‘White Huns’), nomads from Central Asia.

642: Arab armies defeated the Sassanians at Nahavand (near modern-day Hamadan) in Persia and advanced into the Afghan region, converting the Afghan peoples to Islam.

8th century: Hindu kings (Shahi) established themselves in Kabul and Ghazni.

9th century: Local Islamic dynasties, the Tahirids of Khorasan and the Saffarids of Sistan, gained ascendancy.

c.988: The Turk Mahmud of Ghazni came to the throne and subsequently united the region’s differing ethnic and religious groups in attacks on India, conquering the Punjab and Multan (in modern-day Pakistan).

1219: Mongol forces under Temujin (Chinghiz or Genghis Khan) invaded Afghan territories under the control of the Khwarezm Shah, ‘Ala’ ad-Din Mohammad.

1370-1380: A Turkmen emir from Transoxania (modern-day Uzbekistan), Timur (‘the Lame’—Tamerlane), founded the second Mongol Empire, which included a large part of Afghanistan.

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