Alexander the Great in the Hephthalite Empire: “Bactrian” Vases, the Jewish Alexander Romance, and the Invention of Paradise - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Bulletin of the Asia institute / Asia institute (Detroit, Mich.) Year : 2021

Alexander the Great in the Hephthalite Empire: “Bactrian” Vases, the Jewish Alexander Romance, and the Invention of Paradise

Abstract

The revival of Alexander the Great’s prestige in the Roman Empire of the 3rd–5th centuries has an Eastern counterpart: the post-Sassanian, Kidarite, and especially Hephtalite elites of Central Asia used the so-called “Bactrian” silverware decorated with Greco-Roman motives, through which they praised their glory as much as sometimes that of Alexander, heir of the Achaemenids and conqueror of India. At the same time, Sogdians of Samarkand honored Alexander as founder (of their city and of Nana’s temple). The Jews, who saw Alexander as their forerunner on these eastern edges of the world, reinforced his fame, presenting him as the first guide towards the nearby Earthly Paradise. According to our interpretation, the “Greek bowl” from Lhasa is a “Bactrian” silver bowl from the late 5th-6th century, which provides the earliest image of a Jewish version of the Alexander Romance: Alexander plucking the incense tree and drinking the water of life in a paradeisos on the extremities of India. The bowl confirms the importance of Jewish communities in Central Asia before the Islamic conquest and shows the contribution of Judaism to the transcultural invention of the Earthly Paradise, between the Greco-Roman and the Indo-Iranian worlds.
Fichier principal
Vignette du fichier
18-Dan-BAI_30.pdf (45.3 Mo) Télécharger le fichier
Origin : Publication funded by an institution

Dates and versions

hal-03334673 , version 1 (28-12-2021)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-03334673 , version 1

Cite

Anca Dan, Frantz Grenet. Alexander the Great in the Hephthalite Empire: “Bactrian” Vases, the Jewish Alexander Romance, and the Invention of Paradise. Bulletin of the Asia institute / Asia institute (Detroit, Mich.), 2021, 2020-2021 (30), pp.143-194. ⟨hal-03334673⟩
697 View
0 Download

Share

Gmail Facebook X LinkedIn More