Lost World of the Golden King: In Search of Ancient Afghanistan

Lost World of the Golden King: In Search of Ancient Afghanistan

Lost World of the Golden King: In Search of Ancient Afghanistan

Lost World of the Golden King: In Search of Ancient Afghanistan

Synopsis

Drawing on ancient historical writings, the vast array of information gleaned in recent years from the study of Hellenistic coins, and startling archaeological evidence newly unearthed in Afghanistan, Frank L. Holt sets out to rediscover the ancient civilization of Bactria. In a gripping narrative informed by the author's deep knowledge of his subject, this book covers two centuries of Bactria's history, from its colonization by remnants of Alexander the Great's army to the kingdom's collapse at the time of a devastating series of nomadic invasions. Beginning with the few tantalizing traces left behind when the 'empire of a thousand cities' vanished, Holt takes up that trail and follows the remarkable and sometimes perilous journey of rediscovery.

Lost World of the Ancient King describes how a single bit of evidence--a Greek coin--launched a search that drew explorers to the region occupied by the tumultuous warring tribes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Afghanistan. Coin by coin, king by king, the history of Bactria was reconstructed using the emerging methodologies of numismatics. In the twentieth century, extraordinary ancient texts added to the evidence. Finally, one of the 'thousand cities' was discovered and excavated, revealing an opulent palace, treasury, temple, and other buildings. Though these great discoveries soon fell victim to the Afghan political crisis that continues today, this book provides a thrilling chronicle of the search for one of the world's most enigmatic empires.

Excerpt

This book originated in Paris under the most pleasant of circumstances. During a lively dinner conversation involving Professor Andrew Stewart, my wife, Linda, and our host, Professor Osmund Bopearachchi, our talk naturally turned to the archaeology and history of the Hellenistic East. Professor Stewart suggested the need for a solid introduction to this complex phase of ancient history, and it was soon proposed that I should pen such a work on the Bactrian period down to about 150 B.C.E. and that Professor Bopearachchi should produce a similar volume on the Indo-Greek period that followed. Since this project would afford me the chance to circle back to my earliest researches on Bactria, specifically my original M.A. thesis on the reign of “the Golden King,” Eucratides, I readily agreed. My goal was not to write a biography of this king but to reveal how valiantly modern scholars have labored to explore and to explain his lost world. I hope that my efforts have done credit to the high aspirations of that evening in Paris. All translations in this book are my own unless indicated otherwise. For the . . .

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