Alexandria Eschate or Alexandria Eskhata (Greek Ἀλεξάνδρεια Ἐσχάτη), literally "Alexandria the Farthest", was a city founded by Alexander the Great, at the south-western end of the Fergana Valley (modern Tajikistan) in August 329 BCE. It was the most northerly outpost of the Greek Empire in Central Asia. Alexandria Eschate was established on the south bank of the river Jaxartes (Syr Darya), at or close to the site of modern Khujand (Хуҷанд; خجند).
A country known as Dayuan or Ta-yuan, in ancient Chinese sources is generally believed to be Alexandria Eschate or a successor state.
As with most other cities founded by Alexander, a group of retired and/or wounded veterans from his army was settled there.
Because Alexandria Eschate was surrounded by Sogdian tribes, and was about 300 km (186 mi) north of the nearest Greek settlement, at Alexandria on the Oxus in Bactria, the Greeks built a 6.0 kilometres (3.7 mi) wall around the city which, according to the ancient authors, was completed in about 20 days. It experienced numerous conflicts with the local population.
Alexandria Eschate was also located around 400 km (249 mi) west of the Tarim Basin (now Xinjiang, China), where other Indo-European peoples, like the Khotanese, Tocharians, Wusun and/or Yuezhi were likely established. There are indications that Greek expeditions travelled as far as Kashgar. The historian Strabo claims that the Greeks "extended their empire even as far as the Seres [north-west China] and the Phryni [possibly the Xiongnu]". This suggests that the first direct contact between China and a European society occurred around 200 BCE.
The Dayuan mentioned by Chinese scholars from the Han dynasty (1st century BCE to 2nd century CE) was almost certainly Alexandria Eschate. The prefix da meant "Great", while the suffix Yuan was the Chinese rendition of Ionians. Chinese embassies were established in Dayuan, beginning with Zhang Qian opened around 130 BCE. If so, they were the actors of the first major interaction between an urbanized Indo-European culture and the Chinese civilization, which led to the opening up the Silk Road from the 1st century BCE.
The remains of Alexander's town lie in the tell of the old citadel in Khojand. Although the oldest surface remains of the walls date only to the tenth century, Soviet and Tajik excavations of the site have revealed that below the modern surface are mediaeval, Hellenistic and Achaemenid layers. These layers have revealed fortifications dating to around the fourth century BC.
Other remains include household utensils, armaments and building materials which are exhibited in the Museum of Regional Studies in Khojand. The site has also revealed numerous Hellenistic coins and pottery.
Alexandria Eschate is the final destination of Euxenus, son of Eutychides of the deme of Pallene, the protagonist of Alexander at the World's End by Tom Holt.
Horses of Heaven, by Gillian Bradshaw, is set in Alexandria Eschate, c.140 BCE.
- Prevas, John. (2004). Envy of the Gods: Alexander the Great's Ill-Fated Journey across Asia, p. 121. Da Capo Press, Cambridge, Mass. ISBN 0-306-81268-1.
- Khujand, also spelled Khüjand, Khodzhent, Khudchand, and Chodjend, has also been known as Ispisar and Leninabad; Leninobod, Ленинобод, لنینآباد.
- Leriche, Pierre. (1993). "L'extreme-orient hellenistique: Le monde de la brique crue." Les Dossiers d'Archeologie. No. 179, Fevrier 1993, p. 82.
- Strabo XI.II.I
- Negmatov and Belyaeva 1977, Raskopki na tsitadeli Leninabad i lokalizatsiy a Aleksandrii Eskhati. Harmatta 1994 p.100