The History of the Armenian Community of Afghanistan

The History of the Armenian Community of Afghanistan 

with Jonathan L. Lee


Join the Invisible East team and scholar and author Jonathan L. Lee for an informal talk about the history of the Armenian community of Afghanistan.

Dr Lee will give an overview of the history of the Armenian community of Afghanistan. He will look at the Afghanistan's early Christian heritage and then discuss the origins of the Armenian community in Afghanistan under Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Durrani. The seminar will then discuss the various roles the Armenian community played, including facilitating exploration of the Indo-Iranian frontier, middle men for the overland trade, as members of the Saddozai royal guard (ghulam khana), and the role as dragomen for European explorers and adventurers. Dr Lee will then explore the Armenian's relations with British India and how this impacted on relations with the Muhammadzai dynasty as they became involved as minor actors in 'The Great Game'. The seminar concludes with an overview of the Kabul Armenian's emerging relations with the Church Missionary Society mission in Peshawar, their expulsion by Amir Abd al-Rahman Khan, and their subsequent role with the CMS mission in India's the NW Frontier.


The event is open to all and it will take place in person.



Jonathan L. Lee is a British-born independent researcher specialising in the history of Afghanistan and Central Asia. He has spent many years working in the region both as a researcher and as a consultant for Non-Government Organisations. His publications include: The ‘Ancient Supremacy: Bukhara, Afghanistan and the Battle for Balkh, 1732-1901 (Brill, Leiden, 1996) and Afghanistan, a History, 1260 to the Present Day (Reaktion Books, London, 2022). His current project is a history of the Armenian community of Afghanistan (Edinburgh University Press). He is now semi-retired and he and his wife live in New Zealand.