Tag Archives: Afghanistan

The Archaeology of Afghanistan

Allchin, Raymond, Warwick Ball & Norman Hammond (eds.). 2019. The archaeology of Afghanistan from earliest times to the Timurid period. Edinburgh University Press.

Afghanistan is at the cultural crossroads of Asia, where the great civilisations of Mesopotamia and Iran, South Asia and Central Asia overlapped and sometimes conflicted. Its landscape embraces environments from the high mountains of the Hindu Kush to the Oxus basin and the great deserts of Sistan; trade routes from China to the Mediterranean, and from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea cross the country. It has seen the development of early agriculture, the spread of Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, the conquests of the Persians and of Alexander of Macedon, the spread of Buddhism and then Islam, and the empires of the Kushans, Ghaznavids, Ghurids and Timurids centred there, with ramifications across southern Asia. All of which has resulted in some of the most important, diverse and spectacular historical remains in Asia.

First published in 1978, this was the first book in English to provide a complete survey of the immensely rich archaeological remains of Afghanistan. The contributors, all acknowledged scholars in their field, have worked in the country, on projects ranging from prehistoric surveys to the study of Islamic architecture. It has now been thoroughly revised and brought up to date to incorporate the latest discoveries and research.

Table of contents

  • Notes on Contributors
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, Kabul Museum
  • Preface, Norman Hammond
  • Introduction to the first edition, Norman Hammond and Raymond Allchin
  • Introduction to the new edition, Warwick Ball
  • The Geographical Background, Sophia R. Bowlby and Kevin H. White
  • The Palaeolithic, Richard S. Davies
  • The development of the Oxus Civilisation north of the Hindu Kush, Henri-Paul Francfort, Bertille Lyonnet, Cameron Petrie and Jim G. Shaffer
  • The development of a ‘Helmand Civilisation’ south of the Hindu Kush, Jim G. Shaffer and Cameron Petrie
  • The Iron Age, Achaemenid and Hellenistic periods, Warwick Ball, Simon Glenn, Bertille Lyonnet, David W. Mac Dowall and Maurizio Taddei
  • From the Kushans to the Shahis, Warwick Ball, Olivier Bordeaux, David W. Mac Dowall, Nicholas Sims-Williams and Maurizio Taddei
  • From the Rise of Islam to the Mongol Invasion, Warwick Ball and Klaus Fischer
  • From the Mongols to the Mughals, Warwick Ball and Klaus Fischer
  • Conclusion, Raymond Allchin and Norman Hammond
  • Bibliography

Afghanistan: A new journal

Afghanistan is a refereed journal published twice a year in April and October. It covers all subjects in the humanities including history, art, archaeology, architecture, geography, numismatics, literature, religion, social sciences and contemporary issues from the pre-Islamic and Islamic periods. Articles are not restricted to the present borders of Afghanistan and can include the surrounding regions, but must relate to Afghanistan.

It’s first issue (Volume 1, Issue 1) is now out.

Table of contents:

  • Thomas Barfield: Introduction: The American Institute of Afghanistan Studies
  • Francesca Fuoli: Incorporating north-western Afghanistan into the British empire: experiments in indirect rule through the making of an imperial frontier, 1884–87
  •  Nile Green: From Persianate pasts to Aryan antiquity. Transnationalism and transformation in Afghan intellectual history, c.1880–1940
  • Elisabeth Leake: Afghan internationalism and the question of Afghanistan’s political legitimacy
  •  Zafar Paiman: Le monastère de Qol-e-Tut à la lumière des fouilles archéologiques
  • Jürgen Paul: Alptegin in the Siyāsat-nāma
  • Claude Rapin and Frantz Grenet: How Alexander entered India. With a note on Ortospana (the ancient name of Ghazni?)
  • Paul Wordsworth: The hydrological networks of the Balkh Oasis after the arrival of Islam: a landscape archaeological perspective
  • Recent books relating to Afghanistan

The website of journal is available here.

Symposium: The Limits of Empire in Afghanistan

The Oriental Institute and the Franke Institute for the Humanities, University of Chicago, announce a conference to be held October 5-7, 2016.

The Limits of Empire in Afghanistan: Rule and Resistance in the Hindu Kush, circa 600 BCE-650 CE

In the first millennia BCE and CE, successive empires sought to incorporate the archipelago of territories in and around the Hindu Kush and to install their structures of rule. The Achaemenians, Seleucids, and Sasanians endeavored — and sometimes pretended — to rule regions of Afghanistan from their courts located in the Near Eastern core, upward of 2500 km distant. The Kushans, for their part, made Bactra and Begram the bases of an empire that extended far beyond into India and Central Asia. Apart from distance, these empires confronted a political geography in the Hindu Kush that was — like the Caucasus — uniquely unfavorable to imperial governance, as well as populations with disparate cultures, social structures, and political traditions. Afghanistan thus provides a test of the capacities of ancient imperial regimes to overcome distance, verticality, and difference to integrate territories into their trans-regional and trans-cultural orders. As even a passing familiarity with the history of the region suggests, efforts at empire failed at least as often as they succeeded in a geographical and cultural landscape highly conducive what James Scott calls the “art[s] of not being governed.” The conference aims to focus on the limits of empire in Afghanistan, as a means of better comprehending the workings of the regimes that laid claim to its territories and the responses of its populations.

The conference convenes archaeologists, art historians, historians, philologists, and numismatists to debate current research in the context of ongoing theoretical debates concerning the formation, endurance, and limits of imperial systems within a highland political ecology.

For a detailed programme and abstracts, see Symposium: The Limits of Empire in Afghanistan | The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Reconstructing the lost history of Ancient Afghanistan

The Bactrian archives: Reconstructing the lost history of Ancient Afghanistan

A lecture by Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams (SOAS)

Date: May 12
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Venue: Royal Asiatic Society
14 Stephenson Way
London, NW1 2HD

For more information, see the event’s page on the RAS’s website.