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0039 Archaeological Reconnaissances in North-Western India and South-Eastern Īrān : vol.1
Archaeological Reconnaissances in North-Western India and South-Eastern Īrān : vol.1 / Page 39 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000189
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execution among those who had escaped from the slaughter. Finally Poros, who had fought with great valour throughout the battle, was forced to surrender. After recording Alexander's generous treatment of the vanquished king, Arrian tells us: `Alexander founded two towns, one on the field of battle and the other whence he had started to cross the Hydaspes. The former he called Nikaia, in honour of his victory over the Indians, the other Boukephala in honour of his horse Boukephalos which had died there', as Arrian states, from toil and old age.2o

From this account of the hard-contested battle, the first recorded in history among the many by which invaders from the north-west fought their way into the plains of India, I now turn to the question with which we are concerned here, that of the ground which was the scene of this the greatest, perhaps, of Alexander's military achievements. Before I proceed to set forth the results of local examination, partly topographical, partly archaeological, which I believe may settle the question, it will be useful briefly to review the two contending opinions which have so far prominently figured in the discussions devoted to it.

Both opinions have been championed by distinguished scholars. One, first proposed by Sir Alexander Burnes and Monsieur Court, one of Ranjit Singh's French generals, would make Alexander reach the Jhelum at the town from which the Hydaspes or Vitastâ takes its modern name.21 He was supposed to have marched there from Taxila by the route which the present Grand Trunk Road follows past Rawalpindi and across the Salt Range. This view was advocated at some length by General J. Abbott, who, after a two days' visit paid to the ground in 1848, sought the field of the battle with Poros on the Karri plain to the north-north-east of Jhelum town.22 It had been overshadowed for many years by the rival theory of General Alexander Cunningham, to be mentioned below, until revived with many a learned argument by the late Mr. Vincent Smith, and widely propagated through his scholarly work, The Early History of India, and other publications based on it.

In a lengthy appendix dealing with the question Mr. Vincent Smith placed Alexander's crossing at Bhûna, some 10 miles above Jhelum town.23 There the river, after leaving the foot-hills, makes a bend, though not a marked one. But, as any large-scale map would show, there is no `headland ascending from the river' (Arrian's âxpa) to be found anywhere near there on the right bank, nor

2Ô Cf. ibid. v. xix. 4.

21 For the views of those early visitors of the Panjâb see Vincent Smith, Early History of India, Appendix E, p. 77; and M. Court in Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1836, pp. 387 ff.; 1839, pp. 304 ff.

22 See his paper in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1848 (part II), pp. 619-33.

23 See Early History of India2, Appendix E, pp. 76 sqq. The very sketchy plan facing p. 60 shows the distance erroneously as 21 miles.