Hindu-Kush Mountains

Hindu-Kush Mountains Geography Social Studies Visual Arts World History Ethics

As Alexander and his Macedonians moved east, they encountered the formidable Hindu Kush mountains.  Today those mountains are located (among other places) in Afghanistan.

It was in the spring of 329 B.C. when Alexander made his Hindu-Kush crossing.  Historical records tells us that he was pursuing Bessus, the Persian leader, when Alexander left Gandara (in the vicinity of today's Kabul, Afghanistan) on his way to Bactria.  To get from one place to the other, he had to deal with the mountains.

An ancient Roman writer, Quintus Curtius Rufus, tells us more.  Using earlier Greek sources, he paints a picture in his History of Alexander the Great of Macedonia (at Section 7.4.20-25).  Using John Yardley’s translation, we pick-up the story of Alexander’s travels:

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.

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

Alexander had already crossed the Caucasus [the Greek name for Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountains], but grain shortages had brought the troops to the verge of starvation. 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 [a soldier was usually paid about a drachma per day].

As for wheat, there was none, or very little, to be found. (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 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.

Click on the image for a better view of a section of the Hindu Kush mountains.

Media Credits

Image of the Hindu Kush, online via Wikimedia Commons.



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"Hindu-Kush Mountains" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Oct 21, 2019.
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