The Greek genetic and cultural contribution in Central Asia

This post deals with the broad subject of Greek cultural and genetic contribution in Central Asia.

αρχείο λήψης

Amanullah Ghilzai, the author of the account that follows, is a Pashtun journalist, who has contributed to several BBC reports, news and papers. He lately made a 2000 km travel, from Quetta the capital of Balushistan to the edge of the NW Territories in the Kalash valley. Mr Ghilzai’s research is part of a genuine “academic point of view” in which he, as a Pahstun, tries to recover part of a cultural oral heritage, linking several Pashtun and Dardo-Kafir tribes to a Greek and Bactrian ancestry, following traditional genealogies.

Recent archaeological findings show that under the Great Kushana king, Bactrians who had adopted a Greek alphabet for their own language were still using the Greek language for trade and legislation. Numismatic evidence provides clear indications of the use of Greek in trade in Central Asia and Iran. All these findings raise the question of group ideology among the Afghan and Pashtun people that has engaged the attention of several persons in the last few years. How did the Pashtun identity originate? What were its transformations in the course of history since the Hellenistic times? What factors influenced it through time and change? As far as we know only a few original studies in western languages have been made in this field.

Mr. Amanullah Ghilzai argues that the Pashtun identity in the pre-islamic era resulted from blending Bactrian and Greek elements. The Punjab (the Πενταποταμία or Pancanada) and the adjacent regions of modern Afghanistan were known as the Yavana or Yonas (i.e. Ίωνες) realm, In this respect is interesting to quote the late professor Seranat Paranavitana who wrote that:

An important «source for the history of the Greeks in India is the Rajavamsa-pustaka (the book of the Sri Lankan Royal Dynasties) written by Maha-Buddharaksita […] (who) went to India and gradually drifted as far as the Pancanada country (Punjab), where, at that time (towards the end of the third century), there were still people of Greek speech and culture. In order to preach the Buddhist doctrine to them, Maha-Buddharaksita acquired a sound knowledge of the Greek language and literature».
(Seranat Paranavitana (1971), The Greeks and the Mauryas, Colombo, Lake House Investment Ltd, Sri Lanka.)

Like most revisionists of historical ideologies, Ghilzai has many original and interesting things to say based on what tribal societies believe. But, as with many new interpretations, the question that needs to be posed is whether the ideologies propounded could be sustained on the basis of the evidence available. Mr. A. Ghilzai’s documentary provides some dramatic clues of past Greek influence in archaeological findings that have not been studied or are still insufficiently published, in surviving customs, dresses and objects of everyday use. But he further pushes his enquiry into popular etymologies linking Pashtun expressions to Greek linguistic influences. He also points to some common traits that exist between the tribal law Pashtunwali and similar medieval tribal laws in Balkan areas where the Macedonian had ruled and with which the Royal Macedonian clans had established kinship ties. – Prof. Nicolas Vernicos



by Amanullah Ghilzai

Many Afghans and ethnic Pashtuns of Pakistan owe a lot to Alexander the Great who gave them a civilization, which lasted for about one thousand years in different phases. Its been more than 23 centuries, now, since the Greek conquest of (Bactria) the ancient Afghanistan but the foot prints of the ancient Greeks can still be seen among the ethnic Afghans or Pashtuns. One such example is the oral traditions of may Pashtun tribes that claim Yonas or Yavana ancestry, the strong presence of the Greek mythology and hundreds of Greek words still existing in modern Pashto, which is one of the main languages of Afghanistan and in the west and north-west Pakistan.

The creation of the ethnic Afghan people or Pashtuns seems to be the result of Alexander’s conquest. The several centuries Greek rule of Bactria (ancient Afghanistan) which followed his death, changed this Iranian territory so much that it hardly retained its initial pure Iranian identity any more. Many of the modern ethnic Afghans (Pashtuns), are no doubt, descendants of the ancient Greeks colonists. This can be proved to a large extent by the presence of archaeological remains, by remnants of the Greek mythology and by a large number of Greek words and sentences still present in the modern Pashto, which scientifically certifies the fact that their ancestors could be the main or the only inhabitants of Bactria, where the ancient Greeks mixed with the local population.

This new research of mine, may help in solving the mystery, surrounding the identity of Bactrians as historians, to this date, could not give a definite answer as which of the ethnic groups in the modern times could truly be called descendants of the Bactrians.


The Greeks had introduced their civilisation in Bactria and it was very natural that what they had brought with them in terms of culture, social organization, language and faith had to leave its traces among the local inhabitants of Bactria. Furthermore, it is known that Greeks, starting from Alexander the Great himself, married with local women and that several colonies were settled in the cities they have founded in Afghanistan. I have spent some time to discover the cultural and linguistic remains of the ancient Greeks among the local people of the region. Through my research work, I have been able so far to find several traces of the ancient Greeks among the ethnic Pashtuns, only. I know several languages of this region, including, Pashto, which is my first tongue. I can hardly find any strong clues among any other ethnic groups of this region to suggest that that particular group or groups can be descendants of the Bactrians or Bactrian-Greeks. With this research, I have reached to a conclusion that no other ethnic groups but the ancestors of the modern Pashtuns were the Bactrians, the inhabitants of the ancient Afghanistan.

Actually several Pashtuns claim a Greek-Yona ancestry, it is therefore said that «the Afghan tribes Thynoi and Bithynoi are the Tanis and the Bitanis, Taoni of Jats; the Karoi are Karo, Ionoi are Yunus (Yavana meaning Ίωνες ) they became a tribal union which formed the basis of the Pashtun ethnogenesis» (quoted from the Punjabi Talk Main Menu)

Here in this article, I would mostly deal with the remaining footprints of the ancient Greeks among the ethnic Afghans, or Pashtuns. I have good knowledge of the Persian language (Farsi) as well but I could not find any traces of the Greek mythology and or strong presence of the ancient Greek words in it. My research work on the topic is at its very initial stages and I want to share with others what I have found out so far.

With the finding of many new documents, written in the ancient Bactrian language and their translation by Professor Sims-Williams of the School of Oriental and African Studies of London, the world has learned for the first time the extant of sophistication of the Bactrian civilisation. My research work may put some new light on the past of the Pashto language and the identity of Bactrians.

This research is not limited to the Greek mythology and existence of the large numbers of Greek words in Pashto language but I am revealing several other customs of the ancient Greeks, though dead, now, in the mainland Greece, still exist among many or some Pashtuns.


One such example is of the survival of one of the important war dances of the ancient Greeks, Athena, which with the name ォAthenサ, is still performed throughout the Pashtun regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The dance appears to be a variety of the ancient «Πυρρίχιος» with movement that could induce ecstatic states that have been banned in Byzantium.

Many Pashtuns still have a place similar to the brotherhood barracks of the Spartan Greeks which they call «HOJRAH». As the Spartan boy after reaching the age of adolescence would spent more of his time in his brotherhood barracks, the Pashtun boys in many rural parts of the main-land Pashtun province of Pakistan, the Frontier, after reaching to a similar age, would have to spend much of his time in the «Hojrah» to be disciplined and learn the Pashtun customs, values and manly habits.

The ancient Pashtuns, whom, I will also call Greco-Afghans, seem to have taken customs from the ancient Greeks of several parts of the mainland ancient Greece. One such example is the trial by jury of the Athenians. The system of Trial by jury has changed much in many parts of the world, but in some Pashtun tribal belts they are held in a much similar way as were arranged during the Hellenistic times more than two thousands years ago.


My research work may also lead to a conclusion that Pashto is the only Iranian language which from now own could rightly be called a language with a Greco-Iranian background.

Going back to the Greek mythology in Pashto, I have traced so far seven ancient Greek gods and goddesses. Some of the names of these gods and goddesses have slightly changed for the obvious reasons of the passage of a very long time and the phonetic differences that separate Eastern Iranian from Greek language. Even the name for the All Mighty God, in Pashto seems to have originated from the Greek universal God Zeus which in Pashto is Seshtan. With a very slight difference in sound it can be spelled as Zeustan (Ζευσ-τάν).

The Greek Goddess Athena, perhaps was the most revered goddess of the ancient Pashtuns or Greco-Afghans. This is clearly depicted on the Greek Bactrian coins where the Macedonian Athena was also linked to the local goddess of war and water. Because of the reverence, most Pashtuns still attach to the war dance Athen. The dance «Athen» (Άθεν), is linked to patriotism exactly as was considered by the ancient Greeks. Pashtuns, who are Muslims, generally, don’t look at dances in a very positive light, but «Athen» is the only exception which they revere and it is generally not called a dance perhaps because of the relevance of «Athen» to their lives much before Islam. The origin of «Athen» was not known until the new research of mine.


The Taliban in Afghanistan banned ォAthenサ as un-Islamic, which turned out to be one of the main factors of their un-popularity among their own ethnic group, the Pashtun. This was for the first time in the history of Afghanistan that ォAthenサ had been banned, which was the national dance of that country for centuries. After the overthrow of the Taliban, ォAthenサ, once again is the national dance of Afghanistan, where it is performed during most celebrations.

ォAthenサ is also the national dance of the ethnic Pashtuns in Pakistan, where it is a symbol of an important para-military force, made up of mostly Pashtun soldiers.

For me it is difficult at this stage to find out as to which other of the ancient gods or goddesses was the second most important among the ancient Pashtuns or Greco-Afghans but it looks like that the goddess of marriage Hera (H-ήρα) had a special place. The word for wedding procession in most Pashtun parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, is Hora (H-όρα), with only a slight difference of the sound Hera.

It is for sure that wedding ceremonies of the ancient Pashtuns could have been much different from the ones performed now after the Islamic period. In the southern Pashtun regions of Pakistan, notably, in Quetta, and on other side of the border in Afghanistan, the marriage ceremony would not be considered complete without a sheep slaughtered (a ritual σφάγειο) at the door step of the bridegroom’s house, the moment, the new bride steps in. This ceremony might have some links with the Hera, who was the goddess of sacrifice as well. Similar slaughtering ceremony exists among some other ethnic groups of the region as well, the custom, is perhaps taken from the Pashtuns.

God, Hades (H-άδης), could be next in line as for as the importance is concerned. The word for graveyard in Pashto is Hadirah (H αδίρ-αχ). The term Hadirah, very obviously derives from the ancient Greek God of the dead and the underworld, Hades. Interestingly, Hadirah, is linked to numerous myths about an immortal monster called Mordozmai in Pashto. I have traced this monster to Minotaur in the Greek mythology and to other half human-half animal figures one can see in Greco-Bactrian sculpture in the Peshawar museum.

The stories attached to this monster in Pashto might have changed with time but similarities can still be found. One such similarity is a story of this monster showing itself half beast half man, at wild places or in a Hadirah (graveyard) in the night.

Few other monsters of the Greek mythology like Hydra, a dragon, also exist in Pashto. The word for dragon in Pashto is Hazhdahar, which seems to have originated from Hydra.

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One of the immortal characters from the Greek mythology Euryale seems to have changed to the word Raevi in Pashto. Stories attached to Euryale or Raevi in Pashto have not changed much in more than two thousands years. One should not be surprised to hear a story about Raevi (Euryale) by a Pashtun from Afghanistan or by some body from a remote Pashtun village in Pakistan.

Euryale, in the ancient Greek mythology, was an immortal creature, a woman, who had hands of brass and snakes at the head. She was far-wanderer and interestingly, some Pashtuns still believe that this character exists.

Apart from Mardozmai (Minotaur) and Hazhdahar (Hydra,) several other phrases from the Greek mythology are still expressed in Pashto the way, perhaps were uttered during the time of the ancient Greece. In the ancient Greek mythology, the god Hades, was linked to a pit in hell called Tartaros. Tartaros (Τάρταρος), with a slight corruption, Tartarin (Ταρταρ-ιν), is still existing in Pashto, meaning one of the worst sections of hell.

Like the ancient Greeks, Pashtuns, still use the expression of sending some body to Tartarin or Tartaras as a one of the favourite phrases to curse some body.

Going back to ancient Greek gods and goddesses, I have spotted a few more gods and goddesses in the Pashto language. One such god, next in line, is Pan (Παν), who was the protector of shepherds and their flocks. The word for a shepherd in Pashto is ShPane, which seems to derive from Pan. As in the ancient Greece, Shpane, a shepherd, was linked to playing pipe. The word for pipe in Pashto is shpalkai, which takes its roots from the word Shpane.

The goddess of the clouds and rainbow, Iris, could be next in line. The word for cloud in Pashto is Oris or which some times can be pronounced as Iris. The Goddess Iris, also represented rainbow. Some ancient Pashtun myths describe rainbow as a barrier, if crossed would change the gender of a male into female and of a female into male.

Clouds were the sign of winters to be followed by spring. The Greek Goddess for spring was Persephone (Περσεφόνη). The Pashto word for spring is Peserley (~Πεσερλέυ), an oblivious corruption of the Goddess Persephone.

Persephone, was closely associated with the Goddess of Crops, Demeter. It seems that to please Goddess Demeter, the ancient Pashtuns or Bactrians named the ground for separation of corn from stalk, as Demeter, which in the modern Pashto seems to have changed to Dermend, a term still used for the ground where wheat is separated from stalk.

It is important to note that Greek mythology, like in the modern mainland Greece, has no religious relevance at all among the Pashtuns but without the Greek mythology and Greek words and phrases, communication in Pashto would become extremely difficult or even impossible at times.


At this stage of my research about the language link between the modern Pashto and ancient Greek languages, I have found a profound influence of the former on the latter. Pashto language seems to have taken a lot from the ancient Greek in terms of vocabulary, sentence structure and the soundings. I have found the following links between the two languages:

Firstly, there is a category of words in Pashto coming from the ancient Greek, where the new Greek words have completely replaced the earlier words. In this case, there normally is no substitute for the ancient Greek words or words taking their roots from that language.

I have found the link between the two languages quite interesting. Following is an example for this:

English/Greek/Pashto Little/[ο]λίγο/Lega, Woman/Γυναίκα/Jenekai, Uncle/Θείος/Thro, Aunt/Θεία/Thror, Grand mother/Yayah/Anyah, Rice/[ο]ριζα/Rizi, Sweet/γλυκό/khog, Egg/αυγό (ωό)/Agai, Head/Κάρα/Kakarra, Sobbing/Λόξιγκας/Solgai

The second category is of the words that have come from the ancient Greek but there are substitute words, still existing in Pashto while generally the Greek words are used more frequently by most Pashto-speakers:

ENGLISH/GREEK/PASHTO/PASHTO SUBSTITUTE Down/κάτω/Katha/Laandi, To go/δρόμος/Droma/Tlal, Apple/μήλο/Mena/Seb, Slow/σιγά/Soka/Row

The third category is of the words where complete sentences of the ancient Greek have replaced the sentences of the ancient Pashto or co-existing with the substitute sentences. One such example is as follows:

ENGLISH: -What are you doing?
GREEK: -τι κάνεις
PASHTO: -Sta Kandi (old way of saying)
ENGLISH: -In the right order
GREEK: -εν τάξει
PASHTO: -Am Dagasi

The fourth category is of the transfer of some unique sounds from the ancient Greek to Pashto and Giving this Iranian language a completely new look:

Before this new research work, many linguists were wondering about the three sounds in Pashto language, which could not be found in any other languages of the region. Now, I have reached to a conclusion that these sounds may have entered into Pashto with the arrival of the ancient Greeks to this region.

One of these phonetic is the sound ォχι» (xi) of Greek that exists in some middle regions of the Pashtun country, particularly, among members of the Ghilzai tribe. XI is a mixed sound of SH (like in she) and KH (as in khaki). This sound was specially chosen and put in the national Pashto accent of broadcasting in Kabul, Afghanistan. This phonetic sound is non-existent in other languages in the close proximity of the Pashtuns.

The second alphabet is the sound (τζι) JZ in Greek which is a mix of the sound J (like jangle in English) and z (like zoo in English). The third Greek alphabet which seems to have entered into Pashto language from the ancient Greek is the sound (στ) ST which is a mix of S (like school in English) and T. The word for drop in Pashto is STASTKAI (σταστκαϊ). This Pashto word bears this Greek phoneme two times.



Any definition of the ethnic Pashtuns without mentioning their Honor code, the Pakhtunwali or Pashtunwali, will be incomplete. The code of Pakhtunwali dates back to the pre-Islamic times, including the Greek period, which in my opinion is one of the most important parts of the Pashtun history. I didn’t have to work too hard to find striking similarities between the code of Pakhtunwali and the code of Honor of the ancient Greeks, particularly that of the Spartans. All Pashtuns are required to follow these pre-Islamic principles, a sizable section of which seems to have come from the beliefs and customs of the ancient Greeks. The link between the code of Pakhtunwali also Pashtunwali and the customs of the ancient Greeks is of course not surprising after the discovery of the Greek mythology and hundreds of Greeks words in Pashto.

Pakhtunwali centres round four main tenets, namely, Nang (Honor), Nomos, (law and traditions), Melmastia (hospitality) and Badal (revenge). The code requires from all Pashtuns to honor their word or promise, never to harm the week ones, be hospitable and to protect the asylum-seekers, no matter on what price. The code gives almost no role to women outside their house.



Every Pashtun is required by Pakhtunwali to protect his honor and the collective honor of the Pashtun people by all means. Pashtuns, in the Past many centuries have fought many wars to protect their independence which for them was the only way to safeguard their collective Nang (Honor) and Nomos (traditions). It seems that the code of Pakhtunwali has given a warlike society to Pashtuns or ethnic Afghans. The code also forbids Pashtun soldiers to runaway in the battle field. Here the general principle was to die in the battle field rather than to runaway. In the old times, for a Pashtun soldier to show that he has never turned his back in the battle field, some times, must show that he has taken wounds on the chest only.

Comparing these principles with the ones of the ancient Greeks, we find striking similarities between the two. The war-like society of the Pashtuns, which centres round the code of Pakhtunwali, has much in common with the ancient Greeks. There are similar mythical stories running among both the Pashtuns and the ancient Greeks about their past wars. One such common story is that of a mother who in the ancient times before sending her sons for a battle, would ask them, she would only like to see them coming victorious with their shields or on their shields. During the last many centuries no body, even the Taliban in Afghanistan, dared to reject the code of Pakhtunwali, as un-Islamic.



To protect ‘ Nomos ‘ is one of the main tenets of Pakhtunwali. Nomos is an ancient Greek word, meaning, law and which in further details could mean law and cultural traditions. Like Pashtuns, the ancient Greeks, always attached a lot of importance to Nomos. Nomos, which is now pronounced more as Namos in Pashto, is an important phrase in the language. Like the ancient Greeks who paid more importance to their Nomos rather than their leaders, Pashtuns traditionally have obeyed the code of Pakhunwali, their law, more than their leaders.



The third similarity between the rules of Pakhtunwali and those of the ancient Greeks is the concept of hospitality. One distinct feature of the Pashtun society is, its culture of hospitality, which is one of the main tenets of the code of Pakhtunwali. A proverb in India, says, a Pashtun can never be a Pashtun if he doesn’t have a generous kitchen. There is a tradition among Pashtuns never to send a beggar empty handed from the door. In ancient Greece, one never knew when the beggar knocking at the door might be a god, disguised or else watching from above, passing judgement. Because of this belief hospitality toward strangers and travellers was a popular element in the ancient Greek society.

The forth striking similarity is not to harm the week ones or if any one who would do it, would lose his face. One of the civic rules in the ancient Greek society was not to harm the week ones or if some one would do it, would have to face the same sequences as in the traditional Pashtun society.

Another similarity, the code of Pakhtunwali has with the customs of the ancient Greeks, is the role of a woman in society. Like the women of ancient Greece, except for Sparta, Pashtun women in past centuries had very limited role outside their house. When we look at the history of Afghanistan and ethnic Pashtuns, we can hardly find any examples until the first quarter of the 20Th century when a woman played any significant role outside her home. Queen Suraya, wife of the ex-king Amanullah Khan, was the first Afghan woman who played a sort of role, similar to other queens of the time in the 1920s. This bold step by the queen supported by her husband, was resented by many Pashtun tribesmen and finally the king had to abdicate for being too liberal. later on, the kings of Afghanistan, particularly, Zahir Shah, succeeded to a large extent to change the centuries old Pashtun traditions by inducting women ministers in his cabinet and giving jobs to women in several other government departments.

Going back to the main topic, the role of women in the traditional Pashtun society, is distinct when compared with other ethnic groups of the region. This role is almost exactly the same as was in most of the ancient Greece. In the tribal Pashtun society, women are considered as important mothers of citizens and for the passing on of legitimacy. In the traditional Pashtun society, women are protected and sheltered, kept away from the peeping eyes of other men. This was exactly the case in the ancient Athens, and several other parts of ancient Greece where most women had almost no role outside the house. It is important to note that these days, many Pashtun women enjoy more independent life in the urban centres. The role of some modern Pashtun women these days is not much different from the one in any other modern societies.

Another important custom of the ancient Greeks which is still existing in the Pashtun tribal society is the restriction on widows to remarry outside the family of her deceased husband. Under this custom, when husband dies his widow is not allowed to remarry any one else except for some body within the family members of her deceased spouse. This new husband can even be uncle or nephew of her deceased spouse. The custom was called EPICLEROS in the ancient Greece. This custom is still practised by some Pashtuns, particularly in the tribal belts.

Adultery has always been considered as one of the worst crimes a Pashtun woman can commit. A woman who would commit this crime is called Matisa, in Pashto. Word Matisa, very obviously seems to have originated from the ancient Greek Moicheia, meaning adultery.



Greek genes and the numismatic expert from Peshawar

Dr Gul Rahim tells me that for 500 years after Alexander all coins had Greek markings, and that those in Lahore are well established, with proof available in the Lahore Museum. He reels off Greek names of the rulers of Lahore and the Punjab, those influence had had a profound effect on who we are today.

Lahore had Greek rulers, or in the later years Punjabi rulers with considerable Greek DNA. Even today Punjabis have some DNA, and that is to be understood. Then this meant that there was considerable trade between Lahore and Multan and Greece, which documents tell us a lot about. So in this piece let me touch upon ancient coins that were used in the bazaars of Lahore, on the Greek DNA that a lot of Lahoris carry, and on some aspects of trade between Lahore and Greece.


One set of coins that can be seen in the Lahore Museum are of the western Kshatrapa ruler Bhratadarman (278-455 AD), which are basically post-Mauryan which were minted in Gandhara. They have Greek markings on one side. Next comes the Gupta period Kumara Gupta the First (414-295 AD) and these coins, found near Lahore, have Greek on one side and Brahmi on the other. Right up to the Buddhist period, when Lahore was a pure Buddhist city, the silver drachms was used with Greek markings.

Experts tell us that for 500 years till the end of the 300 AD all coins used had Greek markings.

We know that during the Kushan period of Kanishka, they adopted the Bactrian language written in the Greek script. Amazingly this prevailed with the 6th century AD. We have already in a past column referred to Greek markings on the Turk Shahi rulers of Kabul who ruled over Lahore till 850 AD. So Greek coins and script were with us for a fairly long period.


Now let us turn to our DNA. Just what has been the Greek contribution to our genetic construct? The United Nations has carried out two very interesting DNA studies of the people of Pakistan over the last 20 years. The first one was by a Rome-based agency that was tracing the roots of Punjab’s ‘gypsies’. The second survey was a very big exercise that took samples from 100 persons from a segment and Pakistan was divided into 300 segments. So statistically, given a 2.5% variation, it was a reasonably sound methodology.

This was part of a huge study to understand on genetic markers like Y-DNA of the entire subcontinent so as to estimate Greek contribution to the genetic pool. The results were amazing, for on the average it was estimated that Greek markers existed in approximately 15 per cent of the population. The subcontinent as a whole had three per cent contribution, with the KP areas with Afghanistan having as high as 22 per cent. Lahore had an average of just seven per cent, Taxila had 11 per cent and Peshawar a whopping 18 per cent. North Waziristan, where a major battle was fought by Alexander, had a massive 23 per cent. So as the Greeks moved to the east, the genetic contribution decreased, and that makes sense.


Now let us end this piece by mentioning the trade links between Greece and the Punjab, more so Lahore. Naturally, as the military power of the Greeks diminished in the north, it was the discovery of huge markets that saw Greek ships sail up the Indus towards Multan and Lahore.

Manuscripts of the historian Strabo tell us that Greek trade up the Ravi started in the reign of Eudoxus of Cyzicus in 130 BC. These tell us that by the reign of Augustus nearly 120 ships left for India from Myos Hormos, which today could be the Roman port at Al-Qusayr on the Red Sea in Egypt. He says that most of them went up the Indus and its feeding rivers as they were secure for Greek trade. They used gold and incense to purchase spices and cotton fabrics which, according to the chronicler Pliny managed to increase the wealth of traders five-fold.


It seems Greek gold coins influenced those made in the Punjab, especially by the Kushans. Amazingly, there are references that Greek middlemen lived in a lot of Punjab cities. As the Hindu population of the Punjab avoided sailing for religious reasons, it seems almost all the captains of ships were Greek just as all the middlemen were.

Interestingly, a lot of Greek artwork also came to the lands over which Greek influence was dominant. Examples of these can be seen in archaeological excavations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. If you visit the Lahore Museum you will be amazed at the influence of Greek sculptures on that of the subcontinent.



Abstract Three Pakistani populations residing in northern Pakistan, the Burusho, Kalash and Pathan claim descent from Greek soldiers associated with Alexander’s invasion of southwest Asia. Earlier studies have excluded a substantial Greek genetic input into these populations, but left open the question of a smaller contribution. We have now typed 89 binary polymorphisms and 16 multiallelic, short-tandem-repeat (STR) loci mapping to the male-specific portion of the human Y chromosome in 952 males, including 77 Greeks in order to re-investigate this question. In pairwise comparisons between the Greeks and the three Pakistani populations using genetic distance measures sensitive to recent events, the lowest distances were observed between the Greeks and the Pathans. Clade E3b1 lineages, which were frequent in the Greeks but not in Pakistan, were nevertheless observed in two Pathan individuals, one of whom shared a 16 Y-STR haplotype with the Greeks. The worldwide distribution of a shortened (9 Y-STR) version of this haplotype, determined from database information, was concentrated in Macedonia and Greece, suggesting an origin there. Although based on only a few unrelated descendants this provides strong evidence for a European origin for a small proportion of the Pathan Y chromosomes.

(Source: “Y-chromosomal evidence for a limited Greek contribution to the Pathan population of Pakistan”, by Sadaf Firasat, Shagufta Khaliq, Aisha Mohyuddin, Myrto Papaioannou, Chris Tyler-Smith, Peter A. Underhill, and Qasim Ayub)


Abstract Three populations from northern Pakistan, the Burusho, Kalash, and Pathan, claim descent from soldiers left behind by Alexander the Great after his invasion of the Indo-Pak subcontinent. In order to investigate their genetic relationships, we analyzed nine Alu insertion polymorphisms and 113 autosomal microsatellites in the extant Pakistani and Greek populations. Principal component, phylogenetic, and structure analyses show that the Kalash are genetically distinct, and that the Burusho and Pathan populations are genetically close to each other and the Greek population. Admixture estimates suggest a small Greek contribution to the genetic pool of the Burusho and Pathan and demonstrate that these two northern Pakistani populations share a common Indo-European gene pool that probably predates Alexander’s invasion. The genetically isolated Kalash population may represent the genetic pool of ancestral Eurasian populations of Central Asia or early Indo-European nomadic pastoral tribes that became sequestered in the valleys of the Hindu Kush Mountains.

(Source: “Investigation of the Greek ancestry of populations from northern Pakistan”, by Mansoor A, Mazhar K, Khaliq S, Hameed A, Rehman S, Siddiqi S, Papaioannou M, Cavalli-Sforza LL, Mehdi SQ, Ayub Q.)


Research-Selection for NovoScriptorium: Philaretus Homerides


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