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Article

Upinder Singh

Delhi’s past begins in the stone age; this is evident from the stone tools found as surface finds at many places and the excavated site of Anangpur. Remains of the protohistoric period have been unearthed at Bhorgarh and Mandoli. Ashoka’s Minor Rock Edict I indicates that Maurya influence extended into this area. Sites such as the Purana Qila reveal a cultural sequence extending from the early historic to the medieval period. The medieval remains of the Qutb complex include a Gupta-period pillar, many aspects of which remain enigmatic. Remains of the Rajput and early Sultanate phase have been found at Lal Kot. Although the details provided by the textual, archaeological, epigraphic and numismatic evidence are sparse, they help outline the history of rural and urban settlements in the Delhi area long before it became an important political center.

Article

Shafqat Hussain

The Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region in northern Pakistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas of Pakistan, has a long history. The people of the region, described as Dards, are mentioned by classical Greek and Roman historians and in sacred Hindu texts. This early history (3rd century ce–10th century ce) of the region shows it as ruled by the Kushan, Chinese, and Tibetan empires. In the 7th-century accounts of Chinese travelers and 8th- and 9th-century Arabic and Persian chronicles, the region is named as Palolo or Bolor in Arabic. It is also mentioned in the 10th-century Persian chronicle Hodud al-ʿĀlam, the 11th-century Kashmiri classic Rajatarangini, and the 16th-century Tarikh-e-Rushdi of Mirza Haider Dughlat, a chronicler of the Mughal emperor Akbar’s court. The colonial history of the region began with the forays of the Dogra generals of Gulab Singh, the Raja of Jammu in the first half of the 19th century. It is this history of foreign invasions and local rebellions that lies at the heart of the confusion that surrounds the legal, political, and constitutional status of the region to this day. The successive invasions of local Rajas from Jammu and later on from Kashmir, then of the British, as well as the region’s attachment to Pakistan have resulted in multiple claims and counterclaims of sovereignty. Today, the region is mired in the intractable dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. At one point in the late 19th century, the Kashmir state, the British, and the Chinese all simultaneously laid claim on the small kingdom of Hunza. Between 1947 and 1974, the Pakistani government administered GB in much the same way as the British had done, that is, without political representation of the region in the national Parliament. The history of GB since Partition has been essentially a history of its struggle to become a full member of the Pakistani state. This history is fascinating as a case of graded sovereignty. Some piecemeal reforms and agonizingly slow implementation of those reforms since the 1950s has occurred. The hope of the local people in 1947 that they would join the Pakistani federation as a province, as other regions of the country, has essentially remained unrealized.

Article

The study of commercial and cultural connections between the Greater Indus Valley and other regions of Central and Western Asia occupies a central role in the scholarly research about the Indus Tradition. Interregional trade was already established in the Indus River basin during the Neolithic period in the 6th millennium bce. However, from the early 3rd millennium bce, the Indus (Harappan) merchants and craftspeople contributed to defining, promoting, and regulating long-distance, cross-cultural trade exchanges throughout this entire region. Indus-type and Indus-related artifacts were found over a large and differentiated ecumene, encompassing Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau, Mesopotamia and the northern Levant, the Persian Gulf, and the Oman Peninsula. The discovery of Indus trade tools (seals, weights, and containers) across the entire Middle Asia, complemented by information from Mesopotamian cuneiform texts, shows that entrepreneurs from the Indus Valley regularly ventured into these regions to transact with the local socioeconomic and political entities. However, Indus artifacts were also exchanged beyond this core region, eventually reaching as far the Nile River valley, Anatolia, and the Caucasus. On the contrary, only a handful of exotic trade tools and commodities have been found at sites in the Greater Indus Valley. The success of Indus trade in Central and Western Asia did not only rely on the dynamic entrepreneurialism of Indus merchants and the exotic commodities they offered. Specific products were proactively designed and manufactured in the Indus Valley to fulfill the particular needs of foreign markets, and Indus craftspeople moved beyond their native cultural sphere adapting their distinctive productions to the taste of foreign elites or reworking indigenous models. The adoption of specific seals and iconographies to regulate external trade activities suggests a conscious attempt at implementing a coordinated supraregional marketing strategy adopting shared rules and procedures, with observable globalizing impacts in various contexts of Central and Western Asia.

Article

During the first 1.5 millennia of the Common Era (c. 100–1500 ce), the multiple cultural geographies constituting the contemporary nation-state of Afghanistan were collectively a place of significant and enduring encounters among traditions and lifeways from across Eurasia. Just as migrating and settling populations contributed new ways of believing and making to Afghanistan’s already rich socio-religious tapestry, objects that arrived through trade and pilgrimage also acted as conveyors of ideas originating elsewhere, often combining with existing traditions and resulting in innovative iconographies (visual content) and styles (methods of depiction, visual languages). An examination of Afghanistan through its objects and their material cultures during these centuries is especially rewarding, as this approach illustrates the multidirectional connections between Afghanistan and its Eurasian neighbors near and far. In turn, these transregional connections came to shape religions, languages, political systems, and other cultural aspects not only of Afghanistan but also of other contiguous areas throughout the first 2 millennia ce.

Article

Xinru Liu

The Kushan Empire was a political power that started as a nomadic tribe from the Central Asian steppe and became established as sedentary state across South Asia and Central Asia. Migrating from the border of agricultural China in late 2nd century bce to north Afghanistan, by the 1st century ce, the Yuezhi nomads transformed themselves into a ruling elite in a large area from Afghanistan to the Indus Valley and North Indian Plain, embracing many linguistic and ethnic groups. Adapting the Persian satrapy administrative system into Indian kshatrapa administration, the Kushan regime gave much autonomy to local institutions such as castes, guilds, and Buddhist monasteries and meanwhile won support from those local communities. Legacies from Achaemenid Persia and Hellenistic cities, the cultures of various nomadic groups from Central Asia, and Buddhist and Brahmanical traditions merged to create a cosmopolitan Kushan material culture and art. Mahāyāna Buddhist theology and institutions matured in the Kushan economic and cultural environment and were propagated to Central Asia and China from there. Having under their control several important commodities, such as silk, lapis lazuli, and horses, demanded by elites from the Roman Empire, the Han Empire, and the Parthian Empire, the Kushan court sat on a key location of the Eurasian trade networks, or the Silk Road. The Kushan Empire benefited from the Silk Road trade economically and meanwhile received knowledge of faraway countries and facilitated transferring the information to the visions of the Romans, Parthians, and Chinese.

Article

The history of contact and exchange across the mountain ranges radiating out from the Pamir knot, separating the three regions of Central Asia, Inner Asia, and Northwestern India, can be traced far back into prehistory, seen in the movements of languages, crops, and animals. From around the 2nd century bce onward, however, these connections steadily grew in intensity. New political connections were drawn across the mountains by the rise of the Kushan Empire in Central Asia, as they came to control much of Northwestern India and exert a significant influence in Inner Asia. Around the same time, Buddhism was spreading northward from Northwestern India into both Central and Inner Asia, bringing with it several innovations and practices that would come to shape these two regions for almost a millennium. Finally, paralleling these political and cultural developments, economic interaction between the three regions steadily grew, with both merchants and large quantities of goods moving between them. These developments feed into one another as local communities grew more and more enmeshed into the growing networks, serving to lay the foundation upon which the fabled Silk Roads could operate.