By Shaista Wahab, Barry Youngerman
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Additional resources for A Brief History of Afghanistan, 2nd Edition
E. It contained fine local and imported Iranian pottery, bronze and copper weapons, and the remains of a monumental palace. In the absence of any written remains, scholars cannot make any confident assertions about the language or ethnicity of the early urban residents. Perhaps they were related to the peoples living in the advanced civilizations of that era—in the Indus Valley to the east or Mesopotamia to the west. , the linguistic picture, at least, becomes a bit clearer. Earlier, the ancient town located at Mundigak had survived two short-lived episodes of destruction, apparently caused by marauders from the Iranian plateau to the West and Ferghana in Central Asia.
The king erected pillars with Buddhist inscriptions throughout his empire, usually written in the local languages; these are collectively known as the Edicts of Ashoka. One such pillar was uncovered near Kandahar in 1958, inscribed in Greek (apparently still a major local language) and Aramaic (the official language of the Persian Empire and widely used in diplomacy and government throughout western Asia until Roman days). Other similar Ashokan inscriptions were later unearthed near Jalalabad. Like the others, the Kandahar texts extol dharma, or “righteousness,” and reveal a pious humanitarianism.
Their cavalry under the satrap Bessus fought valiantly (according to Greek sources) at the crucial battle of Gaugamela in northern Iraq, but they were unable to prevent the rout that doomed the empire. Alexander soon added fabled Babylon to his dominions, burned the sacred capital city Persepolis, and pursued Darius toward the Caspian Sea, where the latter was murdered by Bessus and two other treacherous satraps. 41 A Brief History of Afghanistan The peoples of Afghanistan were to get better acquainted with Alexander than any of his other subjects, as he spent four of his remaining seven years living and fighting in their neighborhood, founding several cities there, and marrying the Bactrian princess Roxana.