Paropamisadae (//; Greek: Παροπαμισάδαι) is the Bactrian pronunciation of the Old Persian word Para-upari-sena (i.e. "beyond the raised land"), which was then hellenized by the Greeks to Paropamisus (//; Greek: Παροπαμισσός) and is the old Iranian word for the district of Gandhara in western Pakistan, centered upon the cities of Peshawar and Charsadda. Upari-Sena (I.e "raised lands"), in Old Persian, refers to the Hindu-Kush mountains. Para-upari-sena (I.e "beyond the raised lands"), refers to the Peshawar Valley which is situated immediately beyond these mountains and is the location of Gandhara.
In the ancient Buddhist texts, the Mahajanapada kingdom of Kamboja compassed the territories of Paropamisus and extended to the southwest of Kashmir as far as Rajauri. The region came under Achaemenid Persian control in the late 6th century BC, either during the reign of Cyrus the Great or Darius I.
In the 320s BC, Alexander the Great conquered the entire Persian Empire, beginning the Hellenistic period. The Greek name Παροπαμισάδαι or Παροπαμισσός was used extensively in Greek literature to describe the conquests of Alexander and those of the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kings, from the 3rd to the 1st centuries BCE. (The name possibly comes from an Avestan expression for "higher than an eagle can fly").
After Alexander's death in 323 BC, the area came under control of the Seleucid Empire, which gave the region to the Mauryan Dynasty of India in 305 BC. After the fall of the Mauryans in 185 BC, the Greco-Bactrians under King Demetrius I annexed the northwestern regions of the former Mauryan Empire, including Paropamisadae, and it became part of his Euthydemid Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Eucratidians seized the area soon after the death of Menander I, but lost it to the Yuezhi around 125 BC.
Geography and peoples
The Paropamisadae was located north of Arachosia and Drangiana, east of Aria, south of Bactria, and west of Kashmir. There were two main rivers flowing through the land, the Coas or Cophen (Κωφήν) and the Dorgamanes (Δοργαμάνης) or Orgomanes (Ὀργομάνης) farther north.
The name Paropamisadae was originally used to refer to the collection of peoples inhabiting the region, and was later used as a toponym for the area itself. These nations were: the Cabolitae (Καβολῖται) in the north near modern Kabul; the Parsii (Πάρσιοι) in the northwest, the Ambautae (Ἀμβαῦται) in the east and the Par(g)yetae (Παρ(γ)υῆται) in the south, who were also found in Arachosia. The major cities of the land were the city of Ortospana (Ὀρτοσπάνα) or Carura (Κάρουρα), probably identifiable with Kabul, Gauzaca (Γαύζακα), probably modern Ghazni, Capissa (Καπίσσα) in the northeast, and Parsia (Παρσία), the capital of the Parsii.
The name Paropamisus Mountains was formerly used by Western geographers and geologists during the 19th and 20th centuries (and perhaps earlier) to describe the Hindu Kush mountains. According to some maps the Paropamisus Mountains are between the cities Herat in the west and Chaghcharan in the east.
- The Greeks in Bactria and India by W.W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press