Ai Khanum / Ai Khanoum (Alexandria on Oxus)
Ruins at Ai Khanum / Ai Khanoum (Alexandria on Oxus)
|Excavated foundation walls and the Amu Darya river flowing to the left of the image|
The ruins of an ancient fortified city close to the village of Ai Khanum / Ai Khanoum in northern Afghanistan (and east of the city of Balkh) are thought to be the ruins of the city of Alexandria on Oxus.
Alexandria on Oxus was founded during Alexander campaigns in Balkh & Sugd (Bactria and Sogdia) sometime between 329-327 BCE. Excavation of the ruins show that the city was built over an older, Persian city.
|Ai Khanum with the Amu Darya River in the background. Photo credit: maxwell.syr.edu|
Ai Khanum / Ai Khanoum and the adjacent ruins are situated on the confluence of the Amu Darya (Oxus) and Kokcha rivers.
East of Ai Khanum / Ai Khanoum, the Amu Darya (Oxus) begins its rise into the mountains of Badakhshan that stem from the Pamirs.
One branch of the ancient Aryan trade roads, the Silk Roads, passed beside the city and this allowed the city to control the lapis lazuli and other precious stones trade.
It would have therefore been a strategic city for any ruler, including Aryan rulers, in asserting their control of the surrounding land.
Excavation of the ruins have unearthed several artefacts, and one of particular note is a plate that appears to depict Zoroastrian and Mithraic imagery in a Greek manner.
Plate from Ai Khanum / Ai Khanoum / Alexandria on Oxus
The image below is of a 2nd century BCE plate found at the site of the ruins (thought to have once been the city of Alexandria on Oxus) close to the village of called Ai Khanum / Ai Khanoum. The plate shows what appear to be a combination of Greek and Zoroastrian elements: at the top of the plate is the image of an upper torso radiating the same kind of rays in the styized image of the sun to its right. Authors have speculated that this image represents the Greek sun god Helios. It could even be a Greek depiction of Mithra (we can postulate that the Greeks would have anthroporphized any Aryan god or Zoroastrian angel). To the right of the plate is what appears to be a Zoroastrian fire altar. Some authors have speculated that the image to the plate's left is that of the goddess Cybele on a chariot pulled by lions. However, the images do not have to be those of a Greek goddess.
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