Aryana or Ancient Afghanistan


This concise, 14-chapter history of ancient Afghanistan begins about the year 3000 BC, when the first Aryan, or Indo-European, settlement was established at Bakhdi (Bactria, present-day Balkh), and ends with the ascendance of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni to the throne in circa 997 AD. In the introductory chapter, the book discusses the several names of ancient Afghanistan, before settling on Aryana, the term used by most classical writers. It also notes that the term Afghanistan (Land of the Afghans) first came into use in the 18th century, during the reign of Ahmad Shah Durrani (1747–72), founder of the Durrani Empire. Subsequent chapters discuss the events that shaped the country’s ancient history, beginning with the migration of the Aryans from northern Afghanistan to India, Media, Fars, and other parts of the world. Much of the book is devoted to the rise and fall of the many kingdoms that over the centuries dominated what is now Afghanistan. These included the Assyrians, the Achaemenids, the Greco-Bactrians, the Kushans, the Ephthalites or Hephthalites, and the Arabs. The book depicts ancient Afghanistan as a religious, cultural, and commercial link between the East and the West. Published in 1957, the book was part of efforts by the Anjuman-i Tarikh-i Afghanistan (Historical Society of Afghanistan) to highlight the country’s past as an integral part of its modern identity. The society was founded in Kabul in 1942. Its mission was to promote the history of Afghanistan through research, scholarship, and publication. The author, Mohammad Ali, was one of several Afghan literary and nationalist writers who played critical roles in the historicization and characterization of Afghan identity in the 20th century.

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Government Printing House


Title in Original Language

Aryana or ancient Afghanistan

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117 pages, 16 pages of plates : illustrations ; 27 centimeters


  • Historical Society of Afghanistan, Number 47

Last updated: August 31, 2017