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Curtius Rufus on the Hindu Kush

Quintus Curtius Rufus (†53 CE): Roman senator, author of an important History of Alexander the Great.

In the Spring of 329, Alexander crossed the Hindu Kush from Gandara to Bactria in order to pursue the Persian leader Bessus. The best description is that of the Roman author Quintus Curtius Rufus, who based his account on earlier, Greek sources.

Section 7.4.20-25 of his History of Alexander the Great of Macedonia was translated by John Yardley.

Alexander in the Hindu Kush

[7.4.20] Bessus had an army of 8,000 Bactrians who faithfully carried out his orders as long as they thought their intemperate climate would make the Macedonians head for India but, when it was discovered that Alexander was approaching, they all slipped off to their villages and abandoned him.

[7.4.21] With a group of dependants who had not changed their allegiance, he crossed the river Oxus, burned the boats used for crossing to stop the enemy using them, and started levying fresh troops among the Sogdians.

[7.4.22] Alexander had already crossed the Caucasus, note [“Caucasus” is the Greek name for the Hindu Kush and Himalayas.] but grain shortages had brought the troops to the verge of starvation.

[7.4.23] The men rubbed their bodies with juice from pressed sesame in lieu of oil, though the cost of this juice was 240 drachmas per jar, and honey and wine respectively cost 390 and 300 drachmas. note [A drachm was a soldier’s daily wage.] As for wheat, there was none, or very little, to be found.

[7.4.24] (Their crops were hidden by the barbarians in what they called siri, so cunningly concealed that only the men who dug them could find them.) Lacking such provisions, the men survived on fresh-water fish and herbs

[7.4.25] and, when even those means of sustenance had run out, they were given orders to slaughter the pack-animals. They managed to stay alive on the meat from these until they reached the Bactrians.

This page was created in 2001; last modified on 15 July 2020.

Curtius Rufus on the Hindu Kush Quintus Curtius Rufus (†53 CE): Roman senator, author of an important History of Alexander the Great . In the Spring of 329, Alexander crossed the Hindu Kush

THE CULTURE OF THE KALASH

Around 4,000 Kalash people still live in the secluded valleys of the Himalayas in Northern Pakistan. A journey into a world seemingly almost untouched by modernity.

At the foot of the Himalayas on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan live the last representatives of the millennium-old culture of the Kalash people. Only about 4,000 of them still live in the valleys of the Himalaya Mountains. Legend has it that the Kalash are descendants of Greek troops who settled in the Hindu Kush during the campaigns of Alexander the Great, but this theory remains controversial. DNA researchers assume an Afghan origin, but, their western appearance points to a European lineage for the Kalash. Throughout history, most of these people have undergone forced conversion or been killed. Only in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a fraction of the ethnic group survived, maintaining a polytheistic faith and a highly traditional way of life, far away from the modernity of the big cities. And the young generation are often faced with having to choose one of these two very paths: tradition or modernity. Many have to juggle between the will to preserve their culture and religion and the opportunity to strike out in new directions away from the limited perspectives of their home villages. How do the Kalash view the future of their traditions? Will they be able to sustain them?

THE CULTURE OF THE KALASH Around 4,000 Kalash people still live in the secluded valleys of the Himalayas in Northern Pakistan. A journey into a world seemingly almost untouched by modernity. ]]>