Āï Khānum

The ancient Hellenistic city of Ai Khanoum was built at the banks of the Kokcha and Oxus rivers located in Takhar Province, northern Afghanistan. The location of the city along one of the Silk Roads connected the Chinese empire with the Indian subcontinent allowing interaction and trade. Probably founded in the 4th or 3rd century BC it may have been occupied until 146-145 BC by Greek inhabitants as well as local people. The site of Ai Khanum was discovered in 1926 by Jules Barthoux from DAFA. In 1963 the half-buried capital of a column from the old city was discovered. Excavations of the site began under Paul Bernard in 1965 and lasted until 1978, when the wars brought ended the official archaeological excavations. Later the site was destroyed by systematic lootings and battleground. (Tissot 2006, p. 23)
Numerous artefacts and structures were found, pointing to a high Hellenistic culture, combined with Eastern influences. Columnated porticoes of the Corinthian and Doric orders show the Hellenistic tradition (Bernard 1968b, pp. 114, 129-130; Martinez-Sève 2014, p. 278) as do typical buildings as a gymnasium, a theater, a fountain, and funerary monuments. (Veuve 1987, pp. 49) It was originally intended that the objects and architectural fragments should remain in situ. The DAFA mission unearthed various structures, some of them perfectly Hellenistic, some other integrating elements of Persian architecture, but in 1982–83, however, DAFA brought as many items as could be saved to the museum in Kabul for safekeeping and exhibition purposes. (Tissot 2006, p. 23)


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Paul Bernard, Troisième campagne de fouilles à Aï Khanoum en Bactriane, in: CRAI, vol. 112, no 2,‎ 1968, p. 263-279.
Paul Bernard, Chapiteaux corinthiens hellénistiques d'Asie centrale découverts à Aï Khanoum, in: Syria 45, 1968, pp. 111-151.
Paul Bernard, Quatrième campagne de fouilles à Aï Khanoum (Bactriane), in: CRAI, vol. 113, no 3,‎ 1969, p. 313-355.
Paul Bernard, Campagne de fouilles 1969 à Aï Khanoum (Afghanistan), in: CRAI, vol. 114, no 2,‎ 1970, p. 300-349.
Paul Bernard, Campagne de fouilles 1970 à Aï Khanoum (Afghanistan), in: CRAI, vol. 115, no 2,‎ 1971, p. 385-453.
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Gérard Fussman, Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam. A Review of Archaeological Reports, in: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 116, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun., 1996), pp. 243-259.
Fredrik Hiebert/Pierre Cambon (Ed.), Afghanistan. Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul. National Geographic, Washington D.C. 2008.
Guy Lecuyot/Osamu Ishizawa, Aï Khanoum, ville grecque d’Afghanistan en 3D, in: Archéologia, no 420,‎ mars 2005, pp. 60-71.
Guy Lecuyot, Aï Khanum reconstructed, in: Joe Cribb/Georgina Herrmann, After Alexander. Central Asia Before Islam, Proceedings of the British Academy 133, Oxford 2007, p. 155-162.
Guy Lecuyot, Aï Khanoum, les grandes résidences aristocratiques, in: Archéologia, no 519,‎ mars 2014, p. 68-73.
Jeffrey D. Lerner, Correcting the Early History of Ây Kânom, in: Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan. Band 35/36, 2003/2004, S. 373–410.
Jeffrey D. Lerner, Revising the Chronologies of the Hellenistic Colonies of Samarkand-Marakanda (Afrasiab II-III) and Aï Khanoum (Northeastern Afghanistan), in: Anabasis. Band 1, 2010, S. 58–79.
Laurianne Martinez-Sève, The Spatial Organization of Ai Khanoum, a Greek City in Afghanistan, in: American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 118, No. 2 (April 2014), pp. 267-283.
Claude Rapin/Guy Lecuyot, La Trésorerie du palais hellénistique d'Aï Khanoum. L'Apogée et la chute du royaume grec de Bactriane, in: Fouilles d'Aï Khanoum VIII, MDAFA 33, De Boccard, Paris 1992.
Francine Tissot, Catalogue of the National Museum of Afghanistan 1931-1985, (UNESCO) Paris 2006.
Serge Veuve, Le gymnase. Architecture, céramique, sculpture, in: Fouilles d'Aï Khanoum VI, MDAFA 30, Paris 1987.

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