The ancient discovery of the site of Ai Khanum had confirmed the settlement of Greeks in Bactria after the epic of Alexander the Great in this part of the world. The city located in the northeast part of present Afghanistan, at the confluence of the Darya i-Pandj (upper course of the Amu Darya) and the Kokcha river, was founded towards the end of the third century BC by one of the two first Seleucid kings: Seleucos I or Antiochos I.

The excavations on the site, directed by Paul Bernard, took place between 1964 and 1978, brought to light an original architecture characterized by large mud-brick constructions with Greek architectural decoration (columns, capitals, antefixes, etc.).

Inside the city, which is surrounded by an imposing fortification wall, there are a gymnasium, a theater, a huge palace and large aristocratic residences. The latter were built for colons or Hellenized Orientals. They show a very special plan which is not in line with the traditional Greek houses. Here, it consists of two parts: on the north side a large courtyard which communicates with the main building through a porch with two columns in antis. On the south, the main building is articulated around a central room opened on the courtyard through the porch and surrounded on three sides by a corridor that served the different parts of the house: private apartments, kitchen, bathroom. This architecture seems to reflect a very hierarchical kind of life, which can be seen in the private courtyard, central living room and circulations allowing independent progress for the masters of the house and the servants. The plan of these houses can also be found, but on a monumental scale, in the large palace located in the centre of the lower city. Our communication, beyond the evocation of life on the borders of the Greek world, focuses on the possible origin of these constructions as well as their posterity.