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Resources on the Hellenistic Kingdoms in Asia?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Yora, May 7, 2018.

  1. Yora

    Yora Sage

    Of all the crazy periods in history, none seems as fantastical to me as the time when Greek armies cut off from Europe carved out small kingdoms in Afganistan and Pakistan, than actually survived for several generations. Which led to strange things like Greko-Buddhism.

    The thought that Greek soldiers were fighting on the western bank of the Indus is already incredible, but the idea that they stayed always felt like fantasy to me. There probably is a lot to ripp off from this and so I would like to know more detailed stuff about all of it.

    Sadly, all I can really find right now is the page at wikipedia and that's basically it. Does anyone know about any decent resources on this topic? Any obscure history books I might attempt to hunt down?
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Here's the way I do my initial searches

    alexander the great in india site:edu bibliography

    Notice that I ask not for books but for a bibliography, and that I scope the results to .edu sites only. I sometimes have to expand from there, but at least this lets me start with what is scholarly.

    I found I had to add "the great" because I was getting a bunch of things about india and anyone named alexander. I think quotation marks still work to define a string. Anyway, you could substitute Afghanistan or Iran in place of India. You might also add "successor kingdoms" to the string, as that is the common term for what comes after Alexander.

    Good hunting!

    Oh. Editing to add this huge resource from Paul Halsall's marvelous site
    Internet History Sourcebooks
    CupofJoe likes this.
  3. Corwynn

    Corwynn Troubadour

    I face a similar struggle when it comes to my research on the Bronze Age Aegean. Much less has been written on this era of Greek history compared to the Classical era. Partly this is because, until about a century and a half ago, anything before about 800 B.C. was completely unknown to history, apart from details that had been passed down through Greek myth and legend. So, not much is actually known about that period compared to later ones. On the other hand, you have similar issues with the Hellenistic era, which is much better documented, and most of the books I have been able to find on the Bronze Age Aegean are over 30 years out of date and therefore do not reflect the latest archaeological findings. I suspect this is because Western historians of the ancient world are still very much biased towards Classical Greece and Rome, and Pharaonic Egypt, and so put less effort into other times and places.

    I find the Bronze Age fascinating because of how mysterious it is. Also, many of the Greek myths and legends supposedly took place during this period. Many details in those stories have been proven accurate (or at least provide clear sources of inspiration) by archaeological findings.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Lesson 11: Bibliography | Aegean Prehistoric Archaeology
    That find was returned from this search string
    aegean bronze age site:edu bibliography

    Honest, folks. The best way to find reliable information on history is to start by scoping your search to site:edu

    That's not the best way to begin if you're new to it. Start with Wikipedia, especially for older stuff or any topic that's not part of current controversies. Wikipedia is a great place to start. It's also a terrible place to stop. Any decent article will have references, but you may well have to go back to your search engine.

    At the other end, scholarly works are rough places to start. They're great if you have some basic knowledge of an era, but you can quickly get lost, spending endless hours reading stuff you'll never use. Also, most good scholarly works are only available through libraries, so there's that.

    A new student can readily conclude that there's only old stuff in part because of copyright law. The old stuff makes its way in toto (Latin for carried by a dog <g>) onto the Internet and comes up high in search results. So do web sites that tend to regurgitate out-dated information, as currently working scholars tend not to put up elaborate web sites (a few of us did, back in the 90s; alas, those days are gone forever, over a long time ago). Anyways, digging deeper tends to require deeper digging.
    Devor likes this.
  5. Alexius

    Alexius Acolyte

    If you want to get really intrigued, check out the Kalash - the blue-eyed, European looking lost tribe of Alexander:
    - Sorry can't give you any links, as I don't have enough posts.- Google will supply.

    In literature, The Man Who Would Be King by Kipling is interesting. Not our genre but what an idea.

    I use a similar theme in one region of my world - a lost legion vanishes into the desert, never to be heard of again but centuries later small countries are discovered with linguistic influences and customs which can be traced back to the soldiers of the legion.

    There's certainly plenty of inspiration to be had.
  6. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

    Here's some books that I found when looking around.

    The Greek kingdom of Bactria : from Alexander to Eurcratides the Great - H. Sidky

    Handbook of coins of Baktria and Ancient India : Including Sogdiana, Margiana, Areia, and the Indo-Greek, Indo-Skythian, and Native Indian States South of the Hindu Kush, Fifth Century BC to First Century AD / Oliver Hoover ; with a foreword by Osmund Bopearachchi.

    Thundering Zeus: The Making of Hellenistic Bactria (Hellenistic Culture and Society) - Frank L. Holt

    Lost World of the Golden King: In Search of Ancient Afghanistan - Frank L. Holt

    The Hellenistic Far East: Archaeology, Language, and Identity in Greek Central Asia - Michel Mairs

    Into the Land of Bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan - Frank L. Holt

    Indo Greek Rulers And Their Coins - Palvasha Deme Deme Raja Reddy
  7. Simulacrum

    Simulacrum Dreamer

    You have to go back to the classics. Read Herodotus, Plutarch and Xenophon. Penguin publishes paperback versions of their works. Then there are the modern heavy-hitters like Wil Durant, whose “Life Of Greece” is one of the definitive works.

    Wikipedia is good for getting your bearings and figuring out where you should look by reading the source lists for the articles, but you’re not going to get the depth you’ll get from the OGs.

    I would also highly recommend taking a specific look at the Spartan King Agesilaus and his campaigns into Anatolia, which were ostensibly to “free” Hellenic city-states under Persian control but were also about expanding Sparta’s power.

    And of course there’s an entire book specifically about the scenario you mentioned: Xenophon’s Anabasis, about Cyrus the Younger’s campaign to take the Persian throne. Cyrus died during a decisive battle, leaving his army leaderless and deep in enemy territory,

    Finally, I would recommend Steven Pressfield’s The Afghan Campaign, which is specifically about Alexander the Great’s push into what is modern-day Afghanistan. That’s an incredibly interesting book with many parallels to modern times, and it details the friction between the Greeks and their Hellenic ways, and the increasingly eastern customs Alexander was adopting.

    Good luck.

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