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From Academic Kids

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Aromatic vials in the shape of Greek gods, Begram, 2nd century.

Bagrām (Also Begram, anciently Kapici or Kapisa) is an antique city 60 kilometers northwest of Kabul in Afghanistan, near today's city of Charikar. It was built at the junction of the Ghorband and the Panjshir valley, acting as a passage point to India on the Silk Road, towards Kabul and Bamiyan.

Contents

Origins

The city was destroyed by Cyrus, restored by Darius, and then fortified and rebuilt by Alexander the Great as Alexandria of the Caucasus. Begram then became one of the capital cities of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. Begram has a Greek hippodamian plan. The city was walled in bricks, and reinforced with towers at the angles. The central street was bordered with shops and workshops.

The Begram treasure

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An Indian ivory from Begram, 2nd century.
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A Greco-Roman gladiator on a glass vessel, Begram, 2nd century.

Begram (Kapisa) became the summer capital of the Kushan Empire from the 1st century, their other capital being in Mathura in central India.

The emperor Kanishka started many new buildings there. The central palace building yielded a very rich treasure, dated from the time of emperor Kanishka in the 2nd century: ivory-plated stools of Indian origin, lacquered boxes from Han China, Greco-Roman glasses from Egypt and Syria, Hellenistic statues in the Pompean style, stuc moldings, and silverware of Mediterranean origin (probably Alexandria).

The "Begram treasure" as it has been called, is indicative of intense commercial exchanges between all the cultural centers of the Classical time, with the Kushan empire at the junction of the land and sea trade between the east and west. However, the works of art found in Begram are either quite purely Hellenistic, Roman, Chinese or Indian, with only little indications of the cultural syncretism found in Greco-Buddhist art.

The city was apparently abandoned after the campaigns of the Sassanian emperor Shapur I, in 241.

Today

As many other historical sites in Afghanistan, Bagram has been looted for old artifacts during the years following the overthrow of the Communist regime. Today, Bagram hosts the strategic Bagram Air Base from which most US air activity in Afghanistan takes place.

See also

External links and references

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