GANDHARA, the great crossroads

The region of "Gandhara" (*wiki*) (*livius*), consisted of the eastern Kabul River valley and the western Punjab
In the heart of Gandhara-- and a great key to its identity and importance-- was that famous historical corridor, the *Khyber Pass*
"Gandara" (the Persian form) was a satrapy or province of the Persian empire (*a recent study of early Persian influence there*) inherited by Darius (r.c.522-486 BCE)
Gandhara was also one of the sixteen early *mahajanapadas*, and the source of probably the first Indian coins ever struck-- coins calibrated to Persian "siglos" coins
One of Gandhara's chief towns was Pushkalavati (*wiki*), probably the same place as *Charsadda*, near Peshawar, at the eastern end of the Khyber Pass
Gandhara's other chief town was Takshashila, or Taxila (*livius*), east of the Indus, where the earliest "Bhir Mound" layer dates back to the 500's-400's BCE
Taxila's second layer, the Greek-style town of Sirkap (*livius*) was founded by *Demetrios I* (c.180's BCE); it was later modified by *Menander* and other kings
Meanwhile, what elegant Gandharan lady could do without a dainty Nereid-depicting palette-tray to hold her cosmstics?

Buddhism remained a strong presence: during the Kushan period, the Jaulian monastery (*livius*) was built on a hilltop near Taxila

By the early centuries CE, Gandhara had influenced a famous style of Greco-Perso-Indic artistic fusion: the *"Gandharan" sculpture* of the Kushan period

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