Alexandria on the Caucasus

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Alexandria on the Caucasus
Αλεξάνδρεια στον Καύκασο
Menander coin collected by Charles Masson.jpg
Alexandria on the Caucasus is located in Afghanistan
Alexandria on the Caucasus
Shown within Afghanistan
Location Afghanistan
Region Parwan Province
Coordinates 34°59′33″N 69°18′38″E / 34.99250°N 69.31056°E / 34.99250; 69.31056Coordinates: 34°59′33″N 69°18′38″E / 34.99250°N 69.31056°E / 34.99250; 69.31056
Type Settlement
Builder Alexander the Great

Alexandria in the Caucasus (Greek: Αλεξάνδρεια στον Καύκασο) (medieval Kapisa, modern Bagram) was a colony of Alexander the Great (one of many colonies designated with the name Alexandria). He founded the colony at an important junction of communications in the southern foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains, in the country of the Paropamisade.

In Classical times, the Hindu Kush were also designated as the "Caucasus" in parallel to their Western equivalent, the Caucasus Mountains between Europe and Asia.

Alexander the Great[edit]

Ancient cities founded by Alexander the Great in Central and South Asia

Alexander populated the city with 7,000 Macedonians, 3,000 mercenaries and thousands of natives (according to Curtius VII.3.23), or some 7,000 natives and 3,000 non-military camp followers and a number of Greek mercenaries (Diodorus, XVII.83.2), in March 329 BC. He had also built forts in what is now Bagram, Afghanistan, at the foot of the Hindu Kush, replacing forts erected in much the same place by Persia's king Cyrus the Great c. 500 BC.

The divinity of the city seems to have been Zeus, as suggested by coins of the Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides.

Indo-Greek capital[edit]

Alexandria in the Caucasus is located to the south of Bactria, in the mountains of the Hindu Kush.

Alexandria of the Caucasus was one of the capitals of the Indo-Greek kings (180 BC-AD 10). During the reign of Menander I the city was recorded as having a thriving Buddhist community, headed by Greek monks. In Buddhist literature, the Greek (Pali: Yona, lit: "Ionian") Buddhist monk Mahadhammarakkhita (Sanskrit: Mahadharmaraksita) is said to have come from “Alasandra” (thought to be Alexandria of the Caucasus), with 30,000 monks for the foundation ceremony of the Maha Thupa ("Great stupa") at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka:

"From Alasanda the city of the Yonas came the thera (elder) Yona Mahadhammarakkhita with thirty thousand bhikkhus." (Mahavamsa, XXIX)


Some archaeological evidence concerning Alexandria of the Caucasus was gathered by Charles Masson (1800–1853), providing insight into the history of that lost city. His findings include coins, rings, seals and other small objects. In the 1930s Roman Ghirshman, while conducting excavations near Bagram, found Egyptian and Syrian glassware, bronze statuettes, bowls, the Begram ivories and other objects including statues. This is an indication that Alexander's conquests have opened India to imports from the west.

Today the cities' remains feature a rectangular tell 500 by 200 metres in area and a nearby circular citadel about 3km northeast of Bagram Airforce base.


See also[edit]


External links[edit]