DAŠT-E QALʿA (lit., “plain of the fortress”), small bāzār village on an irrigation canal near the junction of the Kōkča and Āmū Darya (Panj) rivers in the province of Badaḵšān, northeastern Afghanistan, the site of several earlier settlements. It is the major village on the plain of Torḡay Tīppa (Moḥammad-Nāder Khan, pp. 402-03; tr., 236-37; ed. Sotūda, pp. 251-52), which extends over approximately 220 km2 and forms part of Ḵᵛāja-ye Ḡār woloswalī in Taḵār welāyat. It was founded in about 1335/1916-1917, and in 1344-54 Š./1965-75 its population was estimated at 400-750, the population of the plain at 1,760-6,472 (Gentelle, p. 53).

The plain around Dašt-e Qalʿa, which has been irrigated and inhabited since the remote past, was thoroughly explored by a French archeological team between 1343 Š./1964 and 1358 Š./1979 (MDAFA XXI, XXVI-XXXI).

The first known settlement was a Bronze Age colony from the Mature Indus and post-Harappan periods (Francfort). Although the site was almost abandoned in the early Iron Age (early 1st millennium B.C.E.), it was reoccupied during the Achaemenid period (6th-4th centuries B.C.E.), when a circular fortress and several villages were constructed (Gardin and Lyonnet, pp. 132-36). In the Hellenistic period (3rd-1st century B.C.E.) the large city of Āy Ḵānom was founded, possibly as Alexandria Oxeiana, known in the 2nd century C.E. as Eukratideia. There was no break in occupation during the Kushan period (1st-3rd centuries C.E.). A small Islamic city of the pre-Mongol period, Zūlm, has been discovered (Bernard and Francfort, pp. 27-38), as well as a Timurid fortification on the old Bālā Ḥesār of Āy Ḵānom.



P. Bernard and H.-P. Francfort, Études de géographie historique sur la plaine d’Aï Khanoum (Afghanistan), Paris, 1978.

H.-P. Francfort et al., Fouilles de Shortughaï. Recherches sur l’Asie centrale protohistorique, Mission Archéologique Français en Asie Centrale, Mémoires 2, Paris, 1989.

J.-C. Gardin and B. Lyonnet, “La prospection archéologique de la Bactriane orientale (1974-1978).

Premiers résultats,” Mesopotamia 13-14, 1978-79, p. 99-154.

Gazetteer of Afghanistan I, s.v. P. Gentelle, Étude géographique de la plaine d’Aï Khanoum et de son irrigation depuis les temps antiques, Paris, 1978.

Idem et al., Prospections archéologiques en Bactriane orientale (1971-1978) I. Données paléogéographiques et fondements de l’irrigation, Mission Archéologique Français en Asie Centrale, Mémoires 3, Paris, 1989.

Moḥammad-Nāder Khan, Rahnemā-ye Qaṭaḡan wa Badaḵšān, ed. B. Koškakī, Kabul, 1302 Š./1923; repr. and tr. M. Reut as Qataghan et Badakhshân, 3 vols., Paris, 1979; ed. M. Sotūda, Tehran, 1367 Š./1988.

J. Wood, A Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Source of the River Oxus . . ., London, 1841; repr. London, 1976.

(Henri-Paul Francfort)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 18, 2011

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Vol. VII, Fasc. 1, pp. 96-97