The Sogdian Rock or Rock of Ariamazes, a fortress located north of
Bactria in Sogdiana (near Samarkand), ruled by Arimazes, was captured by the
forces of Alexander the Great in the early spring of 327 as part of his
conquest of the Achaemenid Empire.
Oxyartes of Bactria had sent his wife and daughters, one of whom was Roxane, to
take refuge in the fortress, as it was thought to be impregnable, and was
provisioned for a long siege. When Alexander asked the defenders to surrender,
they refused, telling him that he would need "men with wings" to
capture it The siege Alexander asked for volunteers, whom he would reward if
they could climb the cliffs under the fortress. There were some 300 men who
from previous sieges had gained experience in rock-climbing. Using tent pegs
and strong flaxen lines, they climbed the cliff face at night, losing about 30
of their number during the ascent. In accordance with Alexander's orders, they
signalled their success to the troops below by waving bits of linen, and
Alexander sent a herald to tell the defenders that if they looked up, they
would see that he had found his winged men. The defenders were so surprised and
demoralised by this that they surrendered, even though they outnumbered the
mountaineers by a hundred to one and Alexander's main force still had no way to
reach the summit. The defenders had thought that the Rock was impregnable, and
with one bold stroke Alexander showed them how wrong they were. The enemy's
quick surrender validated Alexander's insightful use of psychological warfare.
Alexander fell in love with Roxane on sight. The Macedonians claimed that
Roxane was "the loveliest woman they had seen in Asia, with the one
exception of Darius' wife". From Sogdian Rock, Alexander advanced into
Parsetakene which contained another supposedly impregnable craggy fortress
known as the Rock of Chorienes, but it was no match for Alexander and it was
soon captured. From there Alexander went to Bactra while he sent Craterus with
a division of the Macedonian army to complete the pacification of Parsetakene.
Alexander remained at Bactra, preparing for his expedition across the
Hindu-Kush into India. It was while in Bactra that he married Roxana.