The Power of Poetry

description: 
<p>You may think of poetry as the domain of dreamers, but in Central Asia poetry has power.</p>
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Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-samanid.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/850.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-samanid.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Geography &amp; Destiny
Tradition &amp; Modernization
Year: 
850
BCE/CE: 
CE
Date Period: 
CE
More Information: 
<p>Arnesen, Marius. &quot;Herat Citadel.&quot; Digital image. Marius Arnesen's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/anarkistix/4111450313/in/set-72157622697812403/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>AudreyH. &quot;Amu Darya River (Oxus).&quot; Digital image. AudreyH's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2006442924/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>AudreyH. &quot;Mausoleum of Ismael Samani.&quot; Digital image. AudreyH's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2005710973/.<br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>&quot;Babur Crossing The River in Hindustan.&quot; Digital image. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/medmss/3827108424/.</p> <p>&quot;Bowl, Samanid Empire.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=236968&amp;partId=1. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>Cmbleuer. &quot;Ismoil Somoni.&quot; Digital image. Cmbleuer's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tenny77/4016749492/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>&quot;Coin, Samanid Empire.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=899078&amp;partId=1. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>&quot;Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) by Amir Khusraw Dihlavi; Verso: Amir Khusraw Presents a Book of Poetry to Ala'uddin Khalji.&quot; Digital image. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/zoomObject.cfm?ObjectId=22186.</p> <p>&quot;Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); Recto: Nushirwan's Dream; Verso: Text.&quot; Digital image. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=S1986.148.</p> <p>ISAF. &quot;100508-F07713A-041.&quot; Digital image. Isafmedia's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/4601048027/in/set-72157623922691289/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en ; ISAF photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright</p> <p>ISAF. &quot;100508-F07713A-064.&quot; Digital image. Isafmedia's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/4601053339/in/set-72157623922691289/.</p> <p>ISAF photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright</p> <p>Joepyrek. &quot;Amu-Darya 01.&quot; Digital image. Joepyrek's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/joepyrek/3879372758/sizes/o/in/set-72157622084600263/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/</p> <p>Mirak, Aqa. &quot;Prince Reclining, Safavid Period.&quot; Digital image. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=S1986.300.</p> <p>&quot;Music: Jam (India), Baburnama.&quot; Digital image. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/medmss/3980244205/</p> <p>Rahimov, Foteh. &quot;Haikali Rudaki.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Haikali_Rudaki.JPG. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Alexis Menten</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>One way to understand literature is to look at the courts that produced it.</p> <p>One of the first courts that spawned a golden age in Persian literature occurred during the reign of the Samanids, in their twin capitals of Samarkand and Bukhara. And many of the court poets came from Balkh, in today&rsquo;s Afghanistan.</p> <p>Their pinnacle poets were Rudaki and Dakaki. But before them and around them, we know there were many others. We don&rsquo;t just have the stars but, of course, you have many other poets. And, to show this fluidity of borders and fluidity of culture, we see that many of the poets up in Bukhara come from Balkh, actually. So we have Abu Shakur of Balkh, Shahid of Balkh, and a woman named Rabia of Balkh.</p> <p>The role of the poet in the Persian Court was to praise the king, but also to guide him because remember a king had tyrannical powers. He could kill anyone he wanted. His command was the law. [...] So the role of the court here and the role of the poet also is to guide the king and keep him just.</p> <p>And so in the poems where they&rsquo;re praising him, what are they praising? They are praising, &ldquo;Oh, you are so kind. Oh, you are so just. Oh, you are so generous. No one has ever seen such a just and generous and kind and merciful king as you.&rdquo; So it was not just flattery. This is trying to guide them to proper behavior.</p> <p>One of the most brilliant examples of the important role of the poet in guiding the king happens in the Samanid court of Bukhara. This is one of the most glorious courts of Persian culture and literature.</p> <p>The king took his whole army throughout his lands down to Herat, and was having fun for a year. The whole army was there for a year. Another year goes by and they&rsquo;re still away from home and down in Herat, and they go hunting and they go fighting and they keep the peace of their land. And then a third year goes by and they start to grumble and springtime is coming and the heat of summer, and then another winter is coming. And four years have gone by, and they really want to go home.&nbsp;And so they go to Rudaki, the poet and then the chief poet of the Samanid Court and said, &ldquo;Please do something. Please get to him and we&rsquo;ll pay you lots of money to get us home.&rdquo;</p> <p>After breakfast one time Rudaki comes into the presence of the king and the musicians are playing and entertaining the king. It&rsquo;s a very soft, quiet morning and the poet walks in and the king nods to him, and he begins his song as a love song and he talks about the river that&rsquo;s back at home.</p> <p>Rudaki begins his poem talking about the fragrance of the river, and what&rsquo;s beautiful about the opening of the poem is that the three syllables of the three most important words rhyme. So you have &ldquo;bou&rdquo;, which is fragrance and &ldquo;drou&rdquo; which is river, and muliyan is the river. So he says, &ldquo;bou and drou and muliyan, [PH] ayad hami,&rdquo; and this ending of &ldquo;ayad hami&rdquo; means it comes on forever. It&rsquo;s always coming toward you.</p> <p>Then he goes on, &ldquo;Our friends are there and the memory of our friends is always with us and coming toward us.&rdquo; And then he says, &ldquo;Oh, Bukhara.&rdquo; The name of the home where they want to go, right. &ldquo;Oh, Bukhara, be happy. Your king is coming home. Oh, Bukhara, be happy. The moon is coming back to the heavens. Oh, Bukhara, you are such a beautiful garden. The beautiful cypress is coming back to its garden.&rdquo;</p> <p>With these images of beauty and the river and the silken sands of the Oxus calling him, it is so effective that by the end of the poem, the king jumps up without his riding boots on and jumps on his horse and starts running before the people can take down the tents and close up camp. By the time they get back to Bukhara, Rudaki is a very rich man.</p> <p>Samanid court poetry was so popular&mdash;and continues to be so&mdash;because it speaks to all the emotions that everyone feels. But the poets used this opportunity to impart philosophical lessons as well.</p> <p>There are emotional moments followed by moral and didactic sayings by the poet that see you shouldn&rsquo;t do this. See what happens when injustice rules the world. See what happens when love is not brought together.</p> <p>Some may think of poetry as the domain of dreamers, but in Central Asia, poetry has power.</p>

Tillye Tepe: A Golden Horde

description: 
<p>Here is the story of a spectacular treasure found in Afghanistan&mdash;but which was later lost to war. Then when the world least expected, it was found once again.</p>
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Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-tillyetepe.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/1_CE.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-tillyetepe.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Traces &amp; Narratives
Year: 
1
BCE/CE: 
BCE
Date Period: 
BCE
More Information: 
<p><em>Afghan Nomads outside Tent</em>. 1919. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.</p> <p><em>Appliqu&eacute;s in the Shape of Lotuses</em>. 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p><em>Bracelets in the Shape of Antelopes</em>. 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p><em>Clasps with &quot;Erotes on Dolphins.&quot;</em> 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p><em>Cover for a Dagger Sheath</em>. 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p><em>Folding Crown</em>. 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p>Google Maps. &quot;Aerial Shot of Kabul Museum.&quot; Digital image. Accessed July 07, 2010. http://maps.google.com/.</p> <p>Google Maps. &quot;Kabul Museum.&quot; Digital image. Accessed July 07, 2010. http://maps.google.com/.</p> <p>&quot;Hidden Treasures From the National Museum, Afghanistan, Exhibition, Schedule, Photos, Information -- National Geographic.&quot; National Geographic - Inspiring People to Care About the Planet Since 1888. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/mission/afghanistan-treasures/.</p> <p>Hiebert, Fredrik T., and Susan M. Arensberg. <em>Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul : National Gallery of Art; National Geographic Society, May 25 - September 7, 2008</em>. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2008.</p> <p>Mahwash. &quot;Taghafol Tchi Khejlat (The Ashamed Conscience).&quot; In <em>Radio Kaboul</em>. Accords Crois&eacute;s, 2009, CD.</p> <p>&quot;The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Special Exhibitions: Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul.&quot; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Metmuseum.org. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.metmuseum.org/special/afghanistan_treasures/more.asp.</p> <p><em>One of a Pair of Clasps with Dionysos and Ariadne</em>. 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p><em>One of a Pair of Pendants Depicting a &quot;Dragon Master.&quot;</em> 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p>Rex. &quot;Steppe of Western Kazakhstan in the Early Spring.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steppe_of_western_Kazakhstan_in_the_early_spring.jpg. <br /> GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License</p> <p><em>Ribbed Bowl</em>. 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p>Rowland, Benjamin. <em>Ancient Art from Afghanistan: Treasures of the Kabul Museum</em>. New York: Asia Society, 1966.</p> <p><em>Shoe Buckles Depicting a Chariot Drawn by Dragons</em>. 1st C. CE. National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.</p> <p>UNESCO/Manoocher/Webistan. Kabul Museum. UNESCO, Kabul.</p> <p><em>Unwrapping Treasures at Kabul Museum</em>. Produced by Gregory Whitmore. Kabul, Previously Unpublished. MP4.</p> <p>Yin, Jennifer. &quot;Photo MATCHA, Nov '08, Afghanistan.&quot; Digital image. Bittermelon's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bittermelon/3025571242/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/deed.en</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Kate Harding</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>This is the story of a treasure that was lost and found and lost again. And then, when nobody expected it, it was found.</p> <p>When you think of nomads, you probably think of people who live in harsh conditions, people whose lives are riddled with struggle and poverty. Most likely, you don&rsquo;t think of gold.</p> <p>But in the first century BCE, it was nomads from the northern steppe who invaded the Greco-Bactrian empire in what is today Afghanistan. These nomads were not the poor wanderers that we may think of.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not exactly clear who they were. Some have suggested they were related to the Scythians or perhaps to the future Kushans. But what is clear is that they buried several of their dead with a stunning hoard of gold.</p> <p>In 1978, a team of Soviet-Afghan archaeologists began excavating the site known as Tillya Tepe, or Hill of Gold, in northern Afghanistan. They unearthed more than 20,000 gold objects which were sewn into the burial shrouds of the dead.</p> <p>The objects visually depicted the nomadic lifestlye. These bracelets, for example, are shaped like antelopes, with the ears of the animals flattened as if they are running against the wind.</p> <p>The objects also showed an exceptional syncretism, which suggested that the nomads were in contact with civilizations across the continent. These shoe buckles, for example, depict chariots like the ones seen in eastern motifs.</p> <p>Meanwhile this sheath appears to have a dragon on it like the kinds found in Chinese artifacts, and yet this style of sheath is similar to those found in Iran and Mongolia.</p> <p>This golden bowl is of special significance. It has Greek lettering which tells the weight of the object. When the bowl was discovered, it was found underneath the skull of one of the deceased, much like the wooden cushions found in other nomadic graves in the region.</p> <p>This clasp shows the Greek god Dionysus along with his lover Ariadne. The winged goddess Nike can also be seen at the right. But the couple may not just be Greek. They also suggest a connection to the male and female pairings found so commonly in Indian art. And lastly, the winged griffin upon which they are riding seems to suggest classic Central Asian motifs.</p> <p>And then there is this exquisite folding crown. Covered in delicate, lightweight flowers, the crown could be folded and easily moved when the nomads needed to travel. This object shares a remarkable similarity to the crowns found in 5th century Korea, which provides a fascinating clue into the expansiveness of silk road trade and cultural exchange.</p> <p>In 1978, the hoard at Tillya Tepe was placed in the Kabul Museum. But during the civil war of the 1990s, the Taliban looted the museum. It was believed that all of the gold was plundered.</p> <p>But in 2004, after the Taliban regime had toppled, the world learned that the staff at the museum had courageously hidden the most valuable treasures in crates beneath the museum floors.</p> <p>The golden treasures were surrounded with several other important ivory, stone, and stucco pieces from other sites that were believed lost or destroyed.</p> <p>&quot;This is a beautiful day for the museum. This is a beautiful day for me.&quot;</p> <p>After their re-discovery, the objects went on tour to museums around the world. At a time when the west only heard negative news reports coming out of Afghanistan, the exhibit offered a breathtaking rediscovery of the region.</p>

The Greco-Bactrian Empire

description: 
<p>Afghanistan was a meeting place of Greek philosophy, Buddhist beliefs, and Hindu traditions. The results were magnificent.</p>
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Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-grecobactrian.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/180.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-grecobactrian.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Identity &amp; Perception
Traces &amp; Narratives
Year: 
180
BCE/CE: 
BCE
Date Period: 
BCE
More Information: 
<p>&quot;Arhat (Buddhist Elder) - 16 Elders: Nagasena.&quot; Digital image. Himalayan Art. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.himalayanart.org/image.cfm/71987.html.</p> <p>Bibi Saint-Pol. &quot;Head Platon Glyptothek Munich 548.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Head_Platon_Glyptothek_Munich_548.jpg.</p> <p>Boyd, Florian. &quot;Bust of King Menander.&quot; Digital image. Florian's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/fboyd/2625588318/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Classical Numismatic Group. &quot;Coin of the Bactrian King Antimachus II.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Animachusii%282%29.jpg.</p> <p>Classical Numismatic Group. &quot;Coin of the Greco-Bactrian King Plato.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plato1.jpg.</p> <p>Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. &quot;Coin of the Baktrian King Diodotos II: Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Coin of Menander.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MenandrosCoin.jpg.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>65-M-78</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Qamargul. <em>Pa Ru Wru Rokda Qadamona</em>. Sakata Music Collection.</p> <p><em>Tetradrachm: Bust Wearing Crested Helmet, with Bull's Horn and Ear, Afghanistan, Bactrian Period</em>. 170-145 BCE. Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH.</p> <p><em>Tetradrachm: Bust Wearing Elephant-Scalp Headdress, Afghanistan, Bactrian Period</em>. Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH.</p> <p><em>Tetradrachm: Head of Philetauros with Laureate Diadem. 262-241 BCE</em>. Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH.</p> <p><em>Tetradrachm: Head of Philetauros with Laureate Diadem. 262-241 BCE</em>. Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH.</p> <p>World Imaging. &quot;Gold 20-stater of Eucratides.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EucratidesStatere.jpg.</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Kate Harding</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Bactria was the ancient name of a region in Central Asia that stretched between the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya river.</p> <div> <p>In 250 BCE, this region was ruled by the Seleucid empire. But Diodotus, the Greek governor of this area, rebelled against his superiors. His new kingdom would become one of the richest and most urban empires of Asia.</p> <p>The new Greco-Bactrian empire prospered by encouraging trade across the region.</p> <p>&hellip; the Bactrian Greeks &hellip; brought to Afghanistan products from Greece such as wine, olives and so on. They took from Afghanistan lapis lazuli and various other minerals and gems.</p> <p>Trade enriched all the settlements known today as Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Kabul. And as the empire grew wealthier it began to expand. They successfully pushed east into parts of India.</p> <p>As trade flourished, it also became more and more systematized. The Greco-Bactrians produced an outstanding system of coinage. And these coins became the face of the society.</p> <p>Some of the most famous coins from Afghanistan are the so-called Greco-Roman coins, because they have portraits on them, and those tell us about history. These are very well struck. They were clearly important for the society. They weren&rsquo;t just crude things made in the back room. They give you the official view of society.</p> <p>There are spectacular decorative motifs on these coins made of gold&hellip;They have survived into the modern world. Spectacular and simple in many ways but glorious representations in others.</p> <p>Sometimes these coins also displayed motifs of the local environment.</p> <p>There are figures and animals depicted on it, which tell us a great deal about the culture and the economy of the Bactrian peoples.</p> <p>As the Greek leaders interacted with local traditions, they were forced to re-evaluate their own culture. They had come to Asia steeped in the philosophical traditions of Plato and Aristotle. But in the new empire, Greek philosophy mixed with local Buddhist and Hindu traditions. A famous exchange between the Bactrian King Milinda and the Buddhist monk Nagasena demonstrates how two highly sophisticated cultures were meeting each other and negotiating their differences:</p> <p>One of the most famous of these dialogues is with King Milinda&hellip;the story is that he debated with a famous Buddhist monk Nagasena&nbsp;on the question of existence.</p> <p>And he comes up with a chariot and they get into a debate and Nagasena the monk says well how did you come to see me? He says well I rode on my chariot as you can see&hellip;</p> <p>[Nagasena] says, &quot;I see no chariot.&quot; Nagasena&rsquo;s looking around like, &quot;No, no chariot here.&quot;</p> <p>And Milinda says, &quot;I just rode up on it. You can see it.&quot;</p> <p>[Nagasena] says &quot;I don&rsquo;t see it.&quot; And Milinda says, &quot;well here it is.&quot;</p> <p>Nagasena points to wheel and says &quot;is that the chariot?&quot; Milinda says, &quot;no that&rsquo;s the wheel of the chariot.&quot;</p> <p>[Nagasena] points to the goad that the driver is holding. &quot;Is that the chariot?&quot;</p> <p>&quot;No that&rsquo;s not the chariot either.&quot;</p> <p>To the reins. To the harness. [Nagasena] points to everything. &quot;Is that the chariot?&quot;&nbsp;And Milinda says, no it&rsquo;s this part of the chariot, that part of the chariot. By the time they pointed to all the parts Nagasena says, &quot;well, you must agree with me there is no chariot.&quot;</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s when Milinda explodes and says, &quot;but it&rsquo;s NOT the wheels, the cart, the reins, the goad. It&rsquo;s all of them together is what we call a chariot.&quot;</p> <p>Nagasena&rsquo;s argument is essentially that to one extent the chariot is something you name. It doesn&rsquo;t really exist. On the other hand Milinda rode up and he rode down in this chariot. But he had a sudden realization, and again this is a philosophical concept, of what is naming. What is real? How much do we assume?</p> <p>This is not the type of conversation that we see in the Platonic dialogues. This is different. And it&rsquo;s because we&rsquo;ve got two cultures coming together that are looking at the world in slightly different ways but both are highly sophisticated. This is not you know ignorant barbarians learning at the feet of wise men. We&rsquo;ve got two very sophisticated cultures that have approached the world in a different way. And the area of Afghanistan is at this period the place where they&rsquo;re coming together.</p> <p>This exciting cultural exchange would soon lead to an explosion of Greco-Buddhist art that would continue well into the reign of the Kushan Empire.</p> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Ashoka's Piety

description: 
<p>Here is the story of a benevolent king who spread ideas of piety, respect, and nonviolence. Read his message to the citizens of Kandahar.</p>
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Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-ashoka.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/273_2.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-ashoka.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Identity &amp; Perception
Traces &amp; Narratives
Year: 
273
BCE/CE: 
BCE
Date Period: 
BCE
More Information: 
<p>AleReportage. &quot;Sanchi_16.&quot; Digital image. AleReportage's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/alereportage/2554581752/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>AleReportage. &quot;Sanchi_2.&quot; Digital image. AleReportage's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/alereportage/2554584758/in/set-72157605456146615/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>AleReportage. &quot;Sanchi_30.&quot; Digital image. AleReportage's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/alereportage/2554601936/in/set-72157605456146615/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Asoka Kandahar.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AsokaKandahar.jpg.</p> <p>Cunningham, Alexander. &quot;Inscriptions of Ashoka, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Vol. 1.&quot; Digital image. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.archive.org/stream/inscriptionsaso00hultgoog#page/n8/mode/1up.</p> <p><em>Gandhara Buddha</em>. Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan.</p> <p>Geiger, Johann Nepomuk. <em>Die Hunnen Im Kampf Mit Den Alanen</em>. 1873.</p> <p>Mahwash. &quot;Gar Konad Saheb-E-Man (If My Eyes Meet The Ones Of The Lord).&quot; By Saheb &amp; Ustad M Sarahang. In <em>Radio Kaboul</em>. Accords Crois&eacute;s, 2003, CD.</p> <p>&quot;Mōko Shūrai Ekotoba 2.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:M%C5%8Dko_Sh%C5%ABrai_Ekotoba_2.jpg.</p> <p>Repin, Ilja Jefimowitsch. <em>Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16th, 1581</em>. 1885. State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.</p> <p>Royer, Lionel-No&euml;l. <em>Vercingetorix Throws Down His Arms at the Feet of Julius Caesar</em>. 1899. Crozatier Museum, Puy-en-Velay.</p> <p>Unknown.<em> The Battle of Panipat and the Death of Sultan Ibrāhīm, the Last of the Lōdī Sultans of Delhi</em>, from Illuminated Manuscript Baburnama (Memoirs of Babur). Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD.</p> <p>World Imaging. &quot;Chakravatin.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chakravatin.JPG. GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Grace Norman</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Make no mistake. Imperial history was bloody. Brutal assassinations, unthinkable acts of torture, and brash displays of treachery were commonplace.</p> <p>But ironically, it was bloodshed that, for a time, put an end to bloodshed. When 100,000 people were killed by King Ashoka&rsquo;s Mauryan army, something changed.</p> <p>Ashoka was so devastated by the carnage that he had caused that he surrendered himself to a Buddhist life of nonviolence and righteous duty.<br /> <br /> Ashoka was the ruler of the Mauryan Empire that was based in northern India and in Afghanistan as well. He was the kind of great ruler that the Buddhists idolized. A shakravartan, a great leader who exemplified the Buddhist values and supported and patronized Buddhism. In terms of political support and patronage, he was probably the most important figure in the development of early Buddhism both in India and in Afghanistan.</p> <p>Ashoka traveled throughout his Empire, spreading Buddhist ideals.</p> <p>He left 33 edicts carved in stone. The edicts told the story of a benevolent King who spread ideas of piety, respect, and nonviolence.</p> <p>The one in Kandahar was was written in Greek and Aramaic. It pleaded:</p> <p class="rteindent1">&ldquo;[I] abstain from killing living beings, and other men who work for me have desisted from hunting. And if people have a bad temper, they will cease from intemperance. &hellip; They will be obedient to their fathers and mothers and to the elders. By so acting on every occasion, they will live better and more happily.&rdquo;</p> <p>Ashoka&rsquo;s reign helped strengthen Buddhism in Afghanistan. It provided a foundation for the religion to flourish for hundreds of years.</p> <p>Ashokha's stone edict in Kandahar was ironically lost to war in the 20th century.</p>

Afghanistan in the World

description: 
<p>The clans of Afghanistan began uniting and forming their own, independent nation. With this solidarity, they entered a long period of balancing their own interests with those of modern global empires.</p> <p><br /> <br /> <a href="http://afghanistan.asiasociety.org/timeline/59/CE/1838">Investigate Afghanistan's place in the emerging modern world.</a></p>
Video Info
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era3/era3-teaser.mp4
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-era3-2.png
More Information: 
<p>Burke, John. &quot;Group. The Amir Yakub Khan, General Daod Shah, Habeebula Moustafi, with Major Cavagnari C.S.I. &amp; Mr Jenkyns [Gandamak].&quot; Digital image. British Library. Accessed August 29, 2010. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/photocoll/g/019pho000000487u00100000.html.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <i>Daoud Leaving after Being Elected President</i>. 1977. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><i>Inauguration of the Band-I-Ghazi Dam</i>. 1925. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><i>K-00301-08</i>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><i>KES-1789-A-1158</i>. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><i>KES-906-A-275</i>. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><i>KES-934-A-303_1</i>. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><i>KES-938A-A-307</i>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA. <br /> This is the video still image.</p> <p><i>KES-939-A-308</i>. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><i>KES-956-A-325</i>. Khalilullah Enayat Seraj Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Omar, Mohammad, performer. &quot;Rubab Solo.&quot; In <i>Music of Afghanistan</i>. Smithsonian Folkways, 1961, CD.</p> <p>&quot;Phonograph Record Store.&quot; Digital image. Foreign Policy. Accessed August 29, 2010. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/05/27/once_upon_a_time_in_afghanistan?page=0,19.</p> <p>Rattray, Lieutenant James. <i>Interior of the Palace of Shauh Shujah Ool Moolk, Late King of Cabul</i>. 1848. Courtesy of the British Library Board, London.</p> <p>Rattray, Lieutenant James. <i>Kelaut-I-Ghiljie</i>. 1848. Courtesy of the British Library Board, London.</p> <p><i>&quot;Save Me From My Friends!&quot;</i> 19th C. In <i>Afghanistan Old Photos</i>. http://www.afghanistan-photos.com/crbst_26.html.</p> <p>Simpson, Sir Benjamin. <i>Ruins of Old Kandahar Citadel</i>. 1881. Courtesy of the British Library Board, London.</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Kate Harding</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Throughout history, the land that is now Afghanistan was continually used as a buffer for larger, outside empires. But in the 18th century, this started to change. The clans of Afghanistan began uniting and forming their own, independent nation.</p> <p>With this solidarity, they entered a long period of balancing their own interests with those of modern global empires.</p> <p>Britain and Russia both tried to control Afghanistan as a buffer state with puppet leaders &ndash; in order to protect their interests in India, Persia, and Central Asia.</p> <p>But neither the Russians nor the British could succeed in controlling Afghanistan.</p> <p>By the 1920s, the Afghans were celebrating their independence.</p> <p>The world was changing quickly by then and Afghan rulers understood they needed to bring reforms to their country in order to succeed in the new world order.</p> <p>Over the coming decades, Afghanistan entered an era of peace as its people set to work transforming the society.</p> <p>But by the second half of the 20th century, tension would mount as Afghans debated which aspects of their society should change and which should remain the same.</p> <p>By the 1970s, that question would dissolve the royal family, as well as the decades of peace that had finally blessed Afghanistan. Thirty years of modern war would follow.</p>

Afghanistan Today

description: 
<p>Even in modern times, Afghanistan has continued to find itself at the mercy of the world&rsquo;s great powers. But there is more to Afghanistan&rsquo;s modern history than violence.</p> <br /> <br /> <a href="http://afghanistan.asiasociety.org/timeline/8/CE/1980">Get to know Afghanistan today.</a><br /> <br />
Video Info
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era4/era4-teaser.mp4
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-era4.png
More Information: 
<p><em>0126</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Bluuurgh. &quot;Taliban in Herat.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Taliban-herat-2001_retouched.jpg.</p> <p><em>G-00199-12</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>ISAF, and U.S. Marine Corps Corporal John Scott Rafoss. &quot;090103-M-6058R-033.&quot; Digital image. Isafmedia's Flickr Photostream. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/3166572484/.</p> <p>Jalali, Jawad, and UNAMA. &quot;Photo of the Day: 15 March 2009.&quot; Digital image. UNAMA's Flickr Photostream. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/unama/3366538261/.</p> <p>Jalali, Jawad. &quot;Photo of the Day: 8 March 2010.&quot; Digital image. UNAMA's Flickr Photostream. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/unama/4416718052/.</p> <p><em>Q-00498-32</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><em>Q2-01283-33</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Rieger, Michael. &quot;Photograph by Michael Rieger Taken on 09/25/2001 in New York.&quot; Digital image. FEMA Photo Library. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://www.photolibrary.fema.gov/photolibrary/photo_details.do?id=4184.</p> <p>UNESCO, Manoocher, and Webistan. Kabul Museum - Statue Restoration. UNESCO, Kabul, Afghanistan. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://photobank.unesco.org/exec/fiche.htm.</p> <p>UNESCO, Roya Aziz, and Star Group. Burka. UNESCO, Kabul, Afghanistan. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://photobank.unesco.org/exec/fiche.htm.</p> <p>U.S. Army, and Spc. Christopher Nicholas. &quot;Onlookers to War.&quot; Digital image. The U.S. Army's Flickr Photostream. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/4112090147/.</p> <p>U.S. State Department. &quot;Loya Jirga 2002.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed September 4, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loya_Jirga_2002.jpg.</p> <p><em>V2-01425-04</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><em>V2-01425-35</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Waezi, Fardin, and UNAMA. &quot;Daily Bazaar.&quot; Digital image. UNAMA's Flickr Photostream. Accessed January/February, 2010. www.flickr.com/photos/unama/4229588145/in/photostream/.</p> <p>Waezi, Fardin, and UNAMA. &quot;Ferris Wheel.&quot; Digital image. UNAMA's Flickr Photostream. Accessed January/February, 2010. www.flickr.com/photos/unama/4151958857/in/photostream/.</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Kate Harding</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Even in modern times, Afghanistan has continued to find itself at the mercy of the world&rsquo;s great powers.</p> <p>In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded the country to expand its influence in the region. The US viewed this move as an extension of the Cold War and began funneling aid to the Afghan resistance. The Soviets continued to fight but could not control the countryside. By 1992, Russians abandoned the war effort and returned home. American support in the region disappeared soon thereafter.</p> <p>In the void left behind, Afghanistan descended into chaos.</p> <p>The Taliban emerged as a stabilizing force, though at great cost. By 1996, they seized the capital and began enforcing a strict code of conduct.</p> <p>After the September 11th attacks of 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan in an effort to root out extremism and quell the Taliban. But it is unclear whether the American presence is simplifying Afghanistan&rsquo;s situation or making it more complicated.</p> <p>Perspectives differ, and every Afghan&rsquo;s experience is unique. But there is more to Afghanistan&rsquo;s modern history than violence. The country has also experienced great moments of consensus and rebuilding.</p> <p>Life goes on, and despite the ravages of the past, Afghans continue to believe in the brightness of the future.</p>

Age of Empire

description: 
<p>Central Asia witnessed repeated and often devastating cycles of conquest. But with destruction came creation. Afghan cities were situated on trade routes that connected Eurasian empires. The region flourished with art, knowledge, and cultural fusion. Over time, Afghanistan's tribal clans joined forces and an Afghan homeland started to emerge.</p> <p><br /> <br /> <a href="http://afghanistan.asiasociety.org/timeline/6/BCE/330">Meet the first great conqueror</a> of the age of empires.</p>
Video Info
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/era2-teaser.mp4
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-era2.png
More Information: 
<p>Al-Biruni. <em>Illustration by Al-Biruni (973-1048) of Different Phases of the Moon, from Kitab Al-tafhim (in Persian)</em>. 973-1048. Seyyed Hossein Nasr (1976). Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study, World of Islam Festival Publishing Company.</p> <p>Al-Din, Rashid. J<em>ami Al Tavarikh (Compendium of Chronicles) by Rashid Al-Din. Mongols Attacking Baghdad</em>. 14th C. Staatsbibliothek Zu Berlin--Preussischer Kulturbesitz Orientabteilung/ Art Resource, NY Diez A Fol. 70, No.7.</p> <p><em>Alexander Mosaic</em>. 100 BCE. Naples National Archaeological Museum.</p> <p>Arnesen, Marius. &quot;Musalla Complex and Minarets - Herat, Afghanistan.&quot; Digital image. Marius Arnesen's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/anarkistix/4112214896/in/set-72157622697812403.<br /> Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>61-114-C</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Firdawsi. <em>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi; Battle between Zanga and Awkhast</em>. 1493-1494. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</p> <p>Firdawsi. <em>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); Rustam Encamped</em>. 1425-1450. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</p> <p>Lensfodder. &quot;Timur on Horseback.&quot; Digital image. Lensfodder's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/runnerone/2637824277/. Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>PHG. &quot;SeatedBuddha.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SeatedBuddha.jpg. GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License</p> <p>PHGCOM. &quot;SeleucosCoin.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 19, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SeleucosCoin.jpg.</p> <p>Rattray, Lieutenant James. <em>City of Kandahar, Its Principal Bazaar and Citadel, Taken from the Nakkara Khauna</em>. 1848. British Library. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/other/019xzz000000562u00028000.html. Lithograph, courtesy of the British Library</p> <p>Rattray, Lieutenant James. &quot;Interior of the City of Kandahar, from the House of Sirdar Meer Dil Khaun.&quot; Digital image. British Library. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/other/019xzz000000562u00023000.html.</p> <p><em>Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne Which Was Carried off by Nadir Shah in 1738-9</em>. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.</p> <p>Shams, A. &quot;Ahmad-Shah-Durani.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 20, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ahmad-Shah-Durani.jpeg.</p> <p>Unknown. <em>Babur Entering Kabul, from Illuminated Manuscript Baburnama (Memoirs of Babur)</em>. 16th C. The Baburnama, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Unknown. F<em>olio from a Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones) by Jami (d. 1492); Verso: Bandits Attack the Caravan of Aynie and Ria; Recto: Text</em>. 1556-1565. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</p> <p>Unknown.<em> Paying Homage</em><em>, from Illuminated Manuscript Baburnama (Memoirs of Babur). </em>16th C. The Baburnama, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Kate Harding</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.</p>

Age of Settlement

description: 
<p>The Hindu Kush region&mdash;what is today Afghanistan&mdash;had a terrain that seemed to determine the destiny of many who lived there. But with time, humans began changing that destiny. With agriculture came settlements and eventually a vast trade network, which led to the mightiest empire of the ancient world. The world was growing more complex&mdash;and there was no turning back. </p> <p><br /> <a href="http://afghanistan.asiasociety.org/timeline/16/BCE/100000">Explore the ancient world</a>.<br /> </p>
Video Info
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/teaser-era1.mp4
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-era1.png
More Information: 
<p>Bolwidt, Erwin. <em>King vs. Lion</em>. October 9, 2009. Persepolis, Iran. Accessed October 25, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/erwinb/4084052020/. <br /> Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic</p> <p><em>Costume Fitting</em>. 4th c. BCE. The British Museum, London, UK. Accessed October 25, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=434391&amp;partId=1.<br /> Gold sew-on clothing applique; in the form of two Scythian archers back to back, probably blood-brothers. Found in Kuloba.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>61-114-C</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>76-1430</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Elishk. <em>Persepolis</em>. August 24, 2006. Persepolis, Iran. Accessed April 22, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/elishka/236874317/.<br /> Creative Commons license: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic</p> <p><em>Lapis Figure or Amulet</em>. The British Museum, London, UK. Accessed April 27, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=130033&amp;partId=1. <br /> This object was found in Egypt, but the lapis stone likely came from Afghanistan.</p> <p><em>Lapis Fragments</em>. The British Museum, London, UK. Accessed October 25, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=1422274&amp;partId=1.</p> <p>Malang. &quot;Zerbaphali Solo.&quot; In <em>Music of Afghanistan</em>. Radio Kabul , 1961. <br /> Distributed and managed by Smithsonian Folkways.</p> <p>Mallard, Jonathan. <em>Logar Sunset 2</em>. January 21, 2009. Logar Province, Afghanistan. Accessed October 25, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mallard10/3352402714/.<br /> Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic</p> <p>Powell, Josephine. <em>Photograph: Great Mother Goddess</em>. Special Collections Library, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.</p> <p><em>Q-00500-26</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><em>Seated Male Figure from Mundigak</em>. 3rd millennia, BCE. Kabul Museum, Kabul, Afghanistan. In <em>Ancient Art from Afghanistan</em>. New York: Asia House, NY. <br /> Probably a toy rather than a cult image. This object resembles others of the type unearthed at Chanhu Daro in the Indus Valley.</p> <p><em>Step Cups 1 and 2</em>. 3rd millennia, BCE. Kabul Museum, Kabul, Afghanistan. In <em>Ancient Art from Afghanistan</em>. New York: Asia House, NY. <br /> The &quot;brandy balloon&quot; goblets or stem cups from Mundigak have counterparts in vessels found at sites of roughly the same period in the Indus Valley. The antelope design on the present example resembles similar long-horned beasts on the pottery of Susa II.</p>

Shahnameh: The Book of Kings

description: 
<p>The history of Persia, told through epic poetry.</p>
Asset Media
Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-shahnameh_0.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/1000.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-shahnameh.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Traces &amp; Narratives
Year: 
1000
BCE/CE: 
CE
Date Period: 
CE
Asset Type: 
Trend
Caption: 
A leaf from the Shahnameh.
More Information: 
<p><i>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi; Battle between Zanga and Awkhast</i>. 1493-4. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</p> <div class="hang"><i>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d. 1020); Giv Brings Gurgin before Kay Khusraw</i>. 1493-4. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d. 1020); Recto: Rustam before Kay Khusraw under the Jeweled Tree; Verso: Text</i>. 1493-4. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d. 1020); Rustam and Isfandiyar in Combat</i>. 1440. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); Recto: Text; Verso: Kay Khusraw Installs Luhrasp as King</i>. 1493-4. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); Recto: Zahhak and Farshidward before Afrasiyab; Verso: Text</i>. 1341. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); Rustam Encamped</i>. 1425-1450. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>The Makhzan Al-asrar (Treasury of Secrets) by Mawlana Haydar</i>. 1577. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang">Qeran, Baba. <i>Naghne Danbora</i>. Radio-Television Afghanistan Archive.&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>Rashid Al-Din&rsquo;s 14th-century Jami&lsquo; Al-Tawarikh (Universal History)</i>. Edinburgh University Library, Edinburgh.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi</i>. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC.<br /> &nbsp;</div> <hr /> <p><br /> Producer: Alexis Menten</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Poets were some of the most important people in the courts of the Timurid kings. They were not only artists; they had enormous power to influence the king and to ultimately write the history of centuries.</p> <p>So they want to entertain the king and tell him happy stories about how beautiful the spring is and how wonderful his lands are and how wonderful he is. And then he gives them money. This is a job. To be a poet at this time was a major career.</p> <p>We know, for instance, that the Shahnameh, the book of Kings, the Persian national epic, was presented to Machmud, and there was a contest with different poets. And we have depictions, much later, of course, showing the competing poets. So it was sort of like winning the Nobel Prize for poetry.</p> <p>The Shahnameh, which was written by the poet Faradose, around the year 1,000, finished about 1010, was, is a 50-thousand couplet poem, recounting the history of Iran and the Iranian world from its mythical foundation up to the Arab conquest in the 7th century. [...] It is the classic work of Persian poetry, somewhat comparable to the Iliad or the Odyssey in the Western tradition.</p> <p>And as Persian language spread through the region, so did its poetry &ndash; and through its poetry, its culture and its values.</p> <p>All of Iran is spreading eastward up to the Oxus of what is today Afghanistan, and across the Indus Valley through what is Pakistan and into India. So all this area is speaking the Persian language. And, the stories show how the kings related to each other and paid tribute, and the heroes would defend the borders. So you have the great stories of Rostam and how he defends the king. And the questions of loyalty to the king and loyalty to the crown, and how is a hero supposed to treat a tyrant king who is sometimes wise and sometimes not.</p> <p>What we find here is that the poetry is a treasury of all that matters in a culture both for an individual personally and spiritually, and socially how should you act in your career, in your life. How should you act politically? What are the values of standing up to a king or being quiet? And how should a people get along together, and how should a people get along with others? So the reason this literature and these poems have lasted for a thousand years is not because there&rsquo;s some kind of declaration. They are fundamental values and they are a mirror of society.</p> <p>The stories of the Shahnameh are ancient, but they live on today.</p> <p>So these stories of love and fighting and standing up for what is true are repeated over and over again, and the reading of the Shahnameh is a very heroic rhythm. It&rsquo;s tah-dum-dum, tah-dum-dum, tah-dum-dum, tah-dum. Tah-dum-dum, tah-dum-dum, tah-dum-dum, tah-dum. So this recitation is a live tradition also today. So for over a thousand years these stories of Ferdowsi&rsquo;s Shahnameh have been memorized, performed and loved. Children are named for the characters, boys and girls, in the Shahnameh because it touches ancient, ancient roots and values. And that&rsquo;s what poetry and literature gives us is that it touches what matters most to us in life.</p>

Golden Age of Science

description: 
<p>The Muslim world was alive with scientific inquiry.</p>
Asset Media
Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-science.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/980.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-science.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Tradition &amp; Modernization
Year: 
979
BCE/CE: 
CE
Date Period: 
CE
Asset Type: 
Trend
Caption: 
A planetary model.
More Information: 
<p>&quot;Al Biruni Afghan Stamp.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Al-Biruni_Afghan_stamp.jpg.</p> <p>Al-Biruni. &quot;Lunar Eclipse Al-Biruni.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lunar_eclipse_al-Biruni.jpg.</p> <p><em>Al-Biruni Postage Stamp of Iran</em>. Iran.</p> <p>&quot;Anatomy of a Skeleton.&quot; Digital image. Medscape. 2004. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.medscape.com/content/2004/00/46/84/468452/468452_fig.html.</p> <p>Anonymous Ottoman Artist 1577. &quot;Istambul Observatory in 1577.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Istambul_observatory_in_1577.jpg.</p> <p>Anonymous. &quot;Print (Apothecary's Shop).&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/23pcnmf. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>&quot;Avicenna.&quot; Digital image. Images from the History of Medicine. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://ihm.nlm.nih.gov/luna/servlet/view/search?q=A016291.</p> <p>&quot;Avicenna Miniature.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Avicenna-miniatur.jpg.</p> <p><em>Avicenna</em>. The Countway Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.</p> <p>Beham, Sebald, and Christian Egenolph. &quot;Old Testament Illustrations.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/2dwxdy9. &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>Bloom, Jonathan, and Sheila Blair. <em>Sayyid Madrasa</em>.</p> <p>&quot;Canon of Medicine.&quot; Digital image. Yale University LIbrary. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.library.yale.edu/oacis/scopa/scopa_ibnsina_ms5.html.</p> <p>Chemical Heritage Foundation. &quot;Comoros Islands Stamp Honoring Avicenna.&quot; Digital image. Chemical Heritage Foundation's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/chemheritage/3720606832/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Cmbleuer. &quot;Ismoil Somoni.&quot; Digital image. Cmbleuer's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tenny77/4016749492/ <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>&quot;Dastgah-e Mahur: Tasnif &quot;Mahd-e Honor&quot;&quot; Recorded April 15, 1989. In <em>Music of Iran I</em>. King Record, 1989, CD.</p> <p>&quot;A Diagram for Diagnosis by Pulse in a Copy of Ibn Al-Nafīs's Epitome (Mūjiz) of the Canon on Medicine by Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna).&quot; Digital image. Islamic Medical Manuscripts. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/EP2_EP5.html#ep3.</p> <p>&quot;A Diagram of the Heavenly Spheres in an Anonymous and Untitled Persian Treatise on Astronomy.&quot; Digital image. Islamic Medical Manuscripts. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/astronomy2.html.</p> <p>&quot;Immanuel Kant.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kant_SIL14-k001-06a.jpg.</p> <p>ISAF. &quot;090929-F-1142C-289.&quot; Digital image. Isafmedia's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/3971395395/. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Crane.</p> <p>&quot;Leukocytes.&quot; Digital image. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/index.htm.</p> <p>&quot;Liquid Transfer Demonstration.&quot; Digital image. NASA Images. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/38achvl.</p> <p>Lyons, Jonathan. <em>The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization</em>. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009.</p> <p>Michelangelo. <em>Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: Genesis, Noah 7-9: The Flood. 1508-12</em>. Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.</p> <p>Nafi, Ibn Al. &quot;A Diagram of the Eye and Visual System.&quot; Digital image. Islamic Medical Manuscripts. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/EP2_EP5.html#ep3.</p> <p>&quot;Qotbeddin Shirazi's Treatise.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ghotb2.jpg. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/</p> <p>Shou, Hua. &quot;Expression of the Fourteen Meridians.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hua_t08.jpg.</p> <p>&quot;Woman Teaching Geometry.&quot; Wikimedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woman_teaching_geometry.jpg.</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Kate Harding</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Today many people commonly think of science as a European development that gradually spread to other parts of the world--and conflicted with systems of faith.</p> <p>But without a doubt, the history of science is more complicated than that. Science today owes as much to Central Asia and the Middle East as it does to Europe.</p> <p>Every culture in the world has developed a system of knowledge which it has refined and reshaped over time. Those systems are based on experience in the world: people see something happen, and they draw conclusions about why and how it happened.</p> <p>Theories are tested again and again and if they remain unchallenged, then they become fact within that culture.</p> <p>But modern science as we know it today differs from these other knowledge systems in an important way. Imagine that a town is flooded and half its people are killed. Anyone would want to know why this tragedy occurred. Scientists would look at the surrounding circumstances. Was there a levee that broke? Were there unusually high rains? Was the town built too close to the water&rsquo;s edge?</p> <p>There are other questions that science wouldn&rsquo;t ask. It wouldn&rsquo;t ask, for example, why those people in that town on that day happened to be the ones who were killed. Why was Jeff killed but Jim wasn&rsquo;t? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why us?</p> <p>Today, modern science distinguishes itself from other systems of knowledge in the world not by the questions it asks, but rather by the questions it doesn&rsquo;t ask.</p> <p>Looking back at history, we see that in fact, the body of knowledge we call science has not been solely a European concern. People all over the world have always been asking questions about the physical world and have contributed their answers to today&rsquo;s wide body of knowledge.</p> <p>Around the 8th century, the Muslim world was alive with scientific inquiry. Arabs based in Iraq were beginning to explore Greek and Indian texts, allowing them to make unprecedented discoveries which would spread to Europe and the Hindu Kush.</p> <p>The Arabs based in Baghdad made quantum leaps forward, which had reverberations in Afghanistan in terms of calendar making. Again reverberations in Afghanistan in medicines and mathematics and in all of those areas through the various Islamic dynasties that ruled in Afghanistan.</p> <p>In the next century, more innovation and intellectual exchange emerged under the ruling Samanid Empire.</p> <p>Particularly the Samanids, who came to power around the 9th and 10th centuries AD and were based in central Asia brought and transmitted Arabic and Iranian innovations in all of these areas of astronomy, medicine and mathematics.</p> <p>In particular, two great thinkers born in the 10th century forever changed the history of science.</p> <p>Avicenna was born in Bukhara, which today is in Uzbekistan. This was the capital of the Samanid empire. He was one of the most important interpreters of Aristotle, and he soon developed his own system of medicine.</p> <p>His most important discovery was learning that disease was contagious, and he introduced new methods like quarantine for controlling outbreaks.</p> <p>He was a prolific writer on all topics, and his book of medical discoveries, treatments, and cures known as the Canon of Medicine, was translated into Latin and remained a medical authority throughout the West into the 19th century.</p> <p>The book was a massive 14 volumes and combined medical knowledge from India, China, Greece, and Central Asia. Today Avicenna is considered to be the founder of modern medicine.</p> <p>Living at the same time as Avicenna, another great thinker made lasting contributions to science. His name was al-Biruni and he was born in Ghazni, in what is now Afghanistan.</p> <p>Among his many achievements, he accurately calculated latitudes and longitudes using complicated trigonometry.</p> <p>Throughout their lives, Avicenna and al-Biruni engaged in fierce debates with each other about the nature of the planets, their orbits, and the scientific method. The ideas that they developed were studied across the continent for centuries.</p> <p>During this time, science was not considered to be a separate pursuit from philosophy. Avicenna and al-Biruni explored questions about the physical world and the spiritual world at the same time and wrote extensively on issues of God, philosophy, anthropology, and history.</p> <p>In other words, they asked physical questions about why a town was flooded &ndash; but they also asked metaphysical questions about why a town was flooded.</p> <p>Scientific and philosophical inquiry continued to flourish across Asia and Europe, and new ideas were exchanged through the centuries with excitement and debate.</p> <p>It has only been in the last three hundred years that science and spiritual inquiry have separated from each other so drastically. Now, science defines itself as a purely non-spiritual pursuit.</p> <p>And that has meant that science and religion have become highly specialized, each with their own adherents and their own spheres of influence.</p>
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