History of Ghazni, the ancient capital of the Ghaznavid Empire

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The story of Ghazni, one of the Afghan cities capable of dominating a large part of the known world

The words of Ibn Battuta

“The next stop was Ghazna, the city of the famous sultan engaged in jihad in the service of the cause of God, Mahmud ibn Sebuktigin, known as Yamin al Dawla, a great ruler who made many expeditions to India conquering cities and fortresses: now he is buried in the city in a tomb with a zawiya attached. “


Although the origins of Ghazni are shrouded in mystery, it seems that it was founded in ancient times as a small trading settlement, developing more and more over the centuries. Like much of Central Asia, it will be conquered first by Cyrus the Great and then by Alexander the Great, under whom it will be called Alexandria in Opiana. With the death of the latter it will be incorporated into the Maurya Empire, of Indian origin, then passing to the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the Indo-Scythians and then to the Sasanian Empire; during this period of time Buddhism took root more and more, to the point of attracting faithful even from as far China as Xuanzang. Between the end of the 7th and the beginning of the 8th century the Arabs arrived here, who in a short time conquered the region, leaving however the lineage of the Lawiks, which had recently imposed itself on Ghazni, in power. The internal crisis of the subsequent Abbasid Caliphate will lead to the birth of many great dynasties in the entire “Islamic world” and near Ghazni the Saffarids became stronger and stronger, transforming the Lawiks into their tributaries; those who will finally annihilate the lineage will be the Samanids, thanks to the efforts of their general Alp Tegin and his son.

The mausoleum of Mahmud of Ghazna

From 977 to 1163 it will become the capital of the Ghaznavid Empire, one of the richest and most important in all of Asian history, able to expand both into modern Pakistan and into modern Iran and become one of the largest centers of culture in Central Asia; the famous Mahmoud of Ghazna was the greatest ruler of that dynasty, able to bring extraordinary figures such as Al Biruni to court. After the Ghaznavids came the Ghurids, then the Empire of Khwarazm and finally the Mongols of Genghis Khan, who destroyed it under the command of his son, Ögödei Khan. Subsequently these territories passed to the Timurid dynasty, with the fall of the latter, to Babur, last of the Timurids and first emperor of the Mughals. They maintained their control until 1738, when Nader Shah completely revolutionized the map of Asia and the Persian world, bringing Ghazni to his domains; however, these will prove to be short-lived and at their end the city became prey to the Durrani first and then to the Emirate of Afghanistan. With the appearance of the Taliban, it was transformed, due to its strategic position, into an extremely coveted place and for this reason the seat of various skirmishes, battles and tensions with the local authorities.

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