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0047 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 47 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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often and so closely 4 that no detailed exposition of the events and of the varying views set forth regarding them by different commentators seems called for here. It will suffice to mention the few points which appear to me to be fairly established, and which possess interest for the archaeological student of this territory. To any one conversant with the modern geography of the mountainous regions flanking the valley of the Kabul River on the north, it must be evident a priori that the operations carried on by Alexander against populous tribes and towns on his way from the upper Kabul Valley to the Indus, must have had for their main fields those tracts which by their configuration and fertility are capable of maintaining a relatively large population. These alone would be of real importance for a conqueror anxious to secure the left flank of the great route from Kabul to India. Now of such tracts there are four which deserve special attention : the lower valley of the Kûnar or Chitral River extending from near Jalalabad to Asmar ; the complex of fertile valleys known as Bajaur ; the open middle part of the main Swat Valley, between Manglaur and Tbtakan ; and finally the central valleys of Buner.

It is in the westernmost of these tracts, the lower Kûnar Valley, that we may safely locate the operations which Alexander at the commencement of his mountain campaign. carried on against various towns by ` the river called Khöes', and against the hill tribe of the Aspasians.6 The territory which he next invaded after crossing the mountains was in all probability Bajaur. The mention of the river Guraios or Panjkora which Alexander crossed on leaving it, and before attacking the country of the Assakénoi, points to this identification. As regards the Assakénoi, it is clear that the seats of this formidable nation comprised the present Swat territory and probably also the adjoining BunEr ; for the operations needed for their subjugation extended from the Guraios

in Bâjaur
and Swat.

4 Among the more noteworthy interpretations, cf. Ritter, Ober Alexander's Feldzug im Indischen Kaukasus, pp. 141 sqq. ; Lassen, Ind. Alterthiumskunde, ii.2 pp. 124 sqq.; V. de Saint-Martin, Etude sur la géographie grecque et latine de l'Inde, in Memoirespresentes par divers savants à l'Acadénie des Inscriptions el Belles-Lettres de l'Institut Impérial de France, Serie i, vol. 5, ptie 2, 1858, pp. zo sqq. ; Cunningham, Ancient Geography of India, pp. 62, 63 ; V. Smith, Early History 2, pp. 47 sqq.

5 Arrian, Anabasis, iv. 23, 24. Cf. V. Smith, Early History of India2, p. 48, where the main topographical indications are quite correctly brought out.

The operations on the upper Kt-mar must have brought the Macedonians very close to the southernmost of the valleys which have been occupied since early Muhammadan times by the hill tribes known under the common designation of Käfirs. There are reasons for believing that these tribes whose resistance to their more civilized neighbours south has been finally overcome only within the present generation, have had their seats there from far more ancient times. Their wine-drinking habits, noted at length by Bäbur (Memoirs, translated by Leyden and Erskine, pp. 144, 248 sq.), have survived to this day.

The suggestion was long ago thrown out that it was contact with early representatives of this autochthon hill population which originally gave rise to those fanciful stories about the city of Nysa, founded by Dionysos, which figure so prominently in all accounts of this initial portion of Alexander's Indian campaign. Arrian, who reproduces these stories with manifest critical misgivings (Anab. v. 1. 2)

purposely keeps them distinct from the account of the military operations preceding Alexander's crossing of the Indus and thus furnishes no topographical indication. But Curtius, viii. 1o, and Justin's extracts from Pompeius Trogus, xii. 7, distinctly place the visit to Nysa and its sacred Mount Meros between the operations against the Aspasians and those which brought Alexander into the region identified here with Bâjaur.

From an historical point of view the stories about this Indian Nysa are of interest only as affording a particularly clear instance of the process by which the early growth of ` the Alexander legend ' was fostered in all probability during the campaign itself and under official auspices. Eratosthenes, the clear-sighted scholar, was fully aware of this when he stated (as quoted by Arrian with special reference to Nysa)

that all these references to the deity were circulated by the Macedonians in connexion with the deeds of Alexander, to gratify his pride by grossly exaggerating their importance' (Anab. v. iii; McCrindle, Invasion of India, p. 82).

It seemed, however, worth while to call attention here to the plain evidence supplied by the records as to where this fanciful story was localized ; for a conjectural identification which would bring Nysa to the south of Bäjaur and close to the lower course of the Swat River, has found more ready acceptance than is justified by the evidence adduced in its support. This rests mainly on the deceptive similarity between the name of the peak Koh-i-Mbr (or Mohr) and the Greek designation ' Mount Meros' (cf. V. Smith, Early History 2, p. 49).

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