Bagram, Bagrām or Begram
of the Caucasus, medieval Kapisa) was an ancient city located at the
junction of the Ghorband and
near today's city of Charikar, Afghanistan. Bagram is located about 60 kilometers north
of Kabul, in the
Bagram district in Parwan Province.
Today Bagram is a
location made it a key passage from India along the Silk Road leading westwards through the mountains
Alexandria was laid out in the Greek "hippodamian plan
" and had brick walls
reinforced with towers at the angles. The central street was
bordered with shops and workshops.
It is unknown when the site was originally settled. In the mid 500s
BC, Cyrus the Great
of the Persian Achaemenid Dynasty
city, which was soon rebuilt by his successor Darius
In the 320s BC, Alexander the
captured the city and established a fortified colony
named Alexandria of the
. After his death in 323 BC, the city passed to his
, who traded it to the
of India in 305 BC.
After the Mauryans were overthrown by the Sunga Dynasty
in 185 BC, the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
conquered Northwestern India with an army led by Demetrius I of Bactria
became a capital of the Eucratidian Indo-Greek Kingdom
after they were driven
out of Bactria
by the Yuezhi
in 140 BC.
(Kapisa) became the summer capital of the Kushan Empire in 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 Pompeian 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
found in Greco-Buddhist art
The city was apparently abandoned after the campaigns of the
emperor Shapur I
, in 241.
Image:BegramIvories.JPG|An Indian ivory from Begram, 2nd
century.Image:BegramHarpocrates.jpg|Statue of Harpocrates
, Begram, 2nd
century.Image:BegramSerapis.jpg|Statuette of Serapis
Begram.Image:YoungAlexander.jpg|Statuette of the young Alexander the
.Image:BegramGladiator.JPG|A Greco-Roman gladiator on a
glass vessel, Bagram, 2nd
century.Image:BegramZeus&Ganymede.JPG|Begram vase depicting the
rape of Ganymede
.Image:BegramHorses.JPG|Begram vase fragments
depicting a fighting scene.Image:BegramMold1.JPG|Plaster mold from
Begram.Image:BegramMold2.JPG|Plaster mold from Begram depicting a
.Image:BegramMold3.JPG|Plaster mold from
Begram.Image:BegramMold4.JPG|Plaster mold from
Begram.Image:BegramMold5.JPG|Plaster mold from Begram depicting a
As many other historical sites in Afghanistan, Bagram has been
looted for old artifacts during the years following the overthrow
of the Taliban
. Today, Bagram hosts
the strategic Bagram
Airfield from which
most US air activity in Afghanistan takes place.
also a Provincial
which is led by the US.
Bagram is a district of Parwan
References and footnotes
- Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum,
Kabul (2008). Eds., Friedrik Hiebert and Pierre Cambon.
National Geographic, Washington, D.C. ISBN 978-1-4262-0374-9.