Glassware from Roman Egypt at Begram (Afghanistan) and the Red Sea trade

Rachel Mairs

In the 1930s, excavations by the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan (DAFA) at the site of Begram (near modern Kabul) uncovered two storerooms full of luxury goods from such far-flung regions of the ancient world as the Graeco-Roman Mediterranean, India and China. These finds date to the 1st century AD, a time when Begram was one of the political centres of the Kushan Empire and an important node along the ‘Silk Route.’ As well as overland routes, Begram was also tied into maritime trading networks, such as the Red Sea trade between Egypt and the Indian subcontinent. Items from Roman Egypt in the Begram caches include brightly coloured glass vessels (one of which depicts the pharos or lighthouse of Alexandria) and statuettes of the Graeco-Roman Egyptian deities Serapis and Harpocrates. This paper examines the various routes which linked Egypt and the Kushan Empire in the 1st century AD, along which commodities such as these were transported, and, more broadly, how maritime trade in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean linked into wider Eurasian networks of transcontinental travel and commerce.

Glassware from Roman Egypt at Begram (Afghanistan) and the Red Sea trade

To reference this article we suggest:

Mairs, Rachel. 2012. Glassware from Roman Egypt at Begram (Afghanistan) and the Red Sea trade. BMSAES 18: 61–74. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/publications/online_journals/bmsaes/issue_18/mairs.aspx

Contact the author
rachel.mairs@gmail.com