In the first half of the 19th century, interesting coins with images of the formidable kings Kudzula Kadfiz, Vima Kadfiz and Kanishka began to come up in the hands of numismatists and scientists. In some cases, along with the title "king of kings" mentioned the name of the people or the country - Kushan. There were also coins with deities, one list of which put scientists at a dead end: the Iranian god of the sun Mitra, the Central Asian Wado - the god of the wind, Ardosho - the fertility goddess, Mah - the deity of the moon, the Indian Shiva, the Greek Helios and Selena, the Egyptian god Serapis and, Buddha... Where, when and in what state could such a quaint pantheon exist?

And what kind of country is this - Kushan?

Of the three names of kings, only Kanishka, the great patron of Buddhism, was mentioned in the Buddhist texts of India, Tibet and China. But no one ever mentioned that this ancient king was a Kushan sovereign! And what kind of country is this - Kushan?

Surprisingly, until the second half of the 19th century, the learned world did not know about the existence of the Kushan empire. And meanwhile, in the ancient texts there are quite a few scattered messages about it. The mighty Kushan kingdom was written by Chinese chroniclers, travelers, wandering Buddhist monks. Roman geographers and historians knew about it.

Gradually, the great empire of antiquity - Kushan, began to rise from non-existence. And its story was extremely bright and interesting.

Central Asian nomadic tribes that crushed the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, settling on the lands of Bactria, formed five separate possessions. Nomads quickly accepted the traditions of sedentary culture. In the first century BC they are already beginning to build new irrigation canals, rebuild cities. One of the five rulers, named Geray, starts chasing his own coins, in the inscriptions on which he first calls himself kushanets. Kushans inherited many traditions of Bactrian culture.

A hundred years later, probably in the first century AD, the successor to Gerai Kudzul, Kadfiz subordinated four other principalities to his power, created a new state-the Kushan kingdom and adopted the magnificent title of "king of kings". His son and successor Wim Kadfiz won a significant part of northwestern India.

The most famous ruler of the Kushan Empire was the third king - Kanishka, whose name is associated with the heyday of the empire, the rise of the economy and culture, the establishment and spread of Buddhism. In the middle of the 2nd century, Kanishka chose Buddhism as the state religion of the country. In the main centers of the empire - Balkh, Bamiyan, Ghazni, Bagram - huge Buddhist complexes were created, where majestic statues of the mysteriously smiling Buddha were surrounded by numerous stupas.

Under Kanishka, the territory of the Kushan state expanded considerably, including even some areas of Central India. Along with the Roman Empire, the Parthian kingdom and China, the Kushan state was one of the four "great powers" of antiquity.

These four empires were closely linked together by complex political, trade and cultural threads. Rivaling each other, they nevertheless maintained regular trade. It was during this period that the largest caravan road - the Great Silk Road - stretched from China through the lands of the Kushans and Parthians to the Roman Syria.

Among the successors of Kanishka, the most famous were the kings of Huwishka and Vasudeva. Under Vasudeva, the Kushan kingdom began to decline. His heirs had to wage a long struggle both with Sassanid Iran and with local dynasties. The remnants of the once mighty empire were soon conquered by the Indian state.

About how the Kushan culture learned and creatively processed various traditions, allow to judge the results of excavations on the hill of Karatepe near Termez. During one and a half seasons of work, the remains of a huge Buddhist cult complex of the Kushan era were discovered here. Findings in Karatepe made it possible to establish that even at that time Buddhism was held not only by the tsar and the court nobility, but also by the widest sections of the population of the empire.

In Karatepe, numerous shells were found with a letter from the Kushan Empire. Different in time, writing, language, content, executed both in the Indian alphabet and the Kushan script, these inscriptions opened a new page in the history of the Kushan kingdom.

Magnificent samples of Buddhist art, related to the Kushan era, were found by archaeologists in all areas of Afghanistan.

A significant monument of the Kushan period is the sanctuary Mathura (Northern India) - a major art center Kushan, where archaeologists have found a number of royal statues. Among them - the famous statue of Kanishka, which today became a kind of symbol of the disappeared Kushan Empire. From the sculpture only the lower part survived, approximately to the level of the chest. There is no head, and the image of the legendary king remained a mystery to us, as many other pages of Kushan's history remain undisclosed...