Alexander and Greek Rule, 330-Ca. 150 B.C.

Alexander and Greek Rule, 330-Ca. 150 B.C.

It took Alexander only three years (from about 330-327 B.C.) to subdue thearea that is now Afghanistan and the adjacent regions of the former SovietUnion. Moving eastward from the area of Herat, the Macedonian leader encounteredfierce resistance from local rulers of what had been Iranian satraps. Althoughhis expedition through Afghanistan was brief, he left behind a Hellenic culturalinfluence that lasted several centuries.

Upon Alexander's death in 323 B.C., his empire, which had never beenpolitically consolidated, broke apart. His cavalry commander, Seleucus, tooknominal control of the eastern lands and founded the Seleucid dynasty. Under theSeleucids, as under Alexander, Greek colonists and soldiers entered the regionof the Hindu Kush, and many are believed to have remained. At the same time, theMauryan Empire was developing in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent.It took control, thirty years after Alexander's death, of the southeasternmostareas of the Seleucid domains, including parts of present-day Afghanistan. TheMauryans introduced Indian culture, including Buddhism, to the area. With theSeleucids on one side and the Mauryans on the other, the people of the HinduKush were in what would become a familiar quandary in ancient as well as modernhistory--that is, caught between two empires.

In the middle of the third century B.C., an independent, Greek-ruled statewas declared in Bactria. Graeco-Bactrian rule spread until it included most ofthe territory from the Iranian deserts to the Ganges River and from Central Asiato the Arabian Sea by about 170 B.C. Graeco-Bactrian rule was eventuallydefeated by a combination of the internecine disputes that plagued Greek rulersto the west, the ambitious attempts to extend control into northern India, andthe pressure of two groups of nomadic invaders from Central Asia--the Parthiansand Sakas (perhaps the Scythians).

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