Indo-Greek Kingdom

Indo-Greek Kingdom

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The Indo-Greek Kingdom or Graeco-Indian Kingdom covered various parts of the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 during the last two centuries BC, and was ruled by more than 30 Hellenistic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 kings, often in conflict with each other. The kingdom was founded when the Graeco-Bactrian king Demetrius
Demetrius I of Bactria
Demetrius I was a Buddhist Greco-Bactrian king . He was the son of Euthydemus and succeeded him around 200 BC, after which he conquered extensive areas in what now is eastern Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan thus creating an Indo-Greek kingdom far from Hellenistic Greece...

 invaded India early in the 2nd century BC; in this context the boundary of "India" is the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

. The Greeks in India were eventually divided from the Graeco-Bactrian Kingdom
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC...

 centered in Bactria (now the border between Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

).

The expression "Indo-Greek Kingdom" loosely describes a number of various dynastic polities, traditionally associated with a number of regional capitals like Taxila
Taxila
Taxila is a Tehsil in the Rawalpindi District of Punjab province of Pakistan. It is an important archaeological site.Taxila is situated about northwest of Islamabad Capital Territory and Rawalpindi in Panjab; just off the Grand Trunk Road...

, (now in Punjab (Pakistan)
Punjab (Pakistan)
Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, with approximately 45% of the country's total population. Forming most of the Punjab region, the province is bordered by Kashmir to the north-east, the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east, the Pakistani province of Sindh to the...

), Pushkalavati
Pushkalavati
Pushkalavati is an ancient site situated in Peshawar valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is located on the banks of Swat River, near its junction with Kabul River, now it is known as Charsadda...

 and Sagala
Sagala
Sagala or Sangala, the ancient Greek name for the modern city of Sialkot in present day Pakistan, was a city of located in northern Punjab, Pakistan...

. Other potential centers are only hinted at; for instance, Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

's Geographia
Geographia (Ptolemy)
The Geography is Ptolemy's main work besides the Almagest...

and the nomenclature of later kings suggest that a certain Theophila
Theophilos (king)
Theophilos was a minor Indo-Greek king who ruled for a short time in the Paropamisadae. He was possibly a relative of Zoilos I and is only known from coins. It is possible that some of Theophilos' coins in fact belong to another ruler, in Greek Bactria, during approximately the same period.-Time of...

 in the south of the Indo-Greek sphere of influence may also have been a satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

al or royal seat at one time.

During the two centuries of their rule, the Indo-Greek kings combined the Greek and Indian languages and symbols, as seen on their coins, and blended ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 and Buddhist religious practices, as seen in the archaeological remains of their cities and in the indications of their support of Buddhism, pointing to a rich fusion of Indian and Hellenistic influences. The diffusion of Indo-Greek culture had consequences which are still felt today, particularly through the influence of Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1000 years in Central Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and the Islamic...

.

The Indo-Greeks ultimately disappeared as a political entity around 10 AD following the invasions of the Indo-Scythians, although pockets of Greek populations probably remained for several centuries longer under the subsequent rule of the Indo-Parthians and Kushans.

Preliminary Greek presence in South Asia



In 326 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent as far as the Hyphasis River
Beas River
The Beas River is a river in the northern part of India. The river rises in the Himalayas in central Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows for some 470 km to the Sutlej River in the Indian state of Punjab....

, and established satrapies and founded several settlements, including Bucephala
Bucephala
Bucephala may refer to:* Bucephala , the goldeneye, a duck genus* Bucephala is the name of at least two Greek cities:** Bucephala, or Alexandria Bucephalus, a city founded by Alexander the Great and named in honor of his horse, Bucephalus...

; he turned south when his troops refused to go further east. The Indian satrapies of the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 were left to the rule of Porus and Taxiles
Taxiles
Taksxila was the Greek chroniclers' name for a prince or king who reigned over the tract between the Indus and the Hydaspes Rivers in the Punjab at the period of the expedition of Alexander the Great, 327 BC...

, who were confirmed again at the Treaty of Triparadisus in 321 BC, and remaining Greek troops in these satrapies were left under the command of general Eudemus
Eudemus (general)
Eudemus was one of Alexander the Great's generals, who was appointed by him to the command of the troops left in India, after the murder of the Alexander-appointed satrap Philip by his own mercenary troops in 326 BCE:After Alexander's death he made himself master of the territories of the Indian...

. After 321 Eudemus toppled Taxiles, until he left India in 316 BC. Another general also ruled over the Greek colonies of the Indus: Peithon, son of Agenor
Peithon, son of Agenor
Peithon, son of Agenor was an officer in the expedition of Alexander the Great to India, who became satrap of the Indus from 325 to 316 BCE, and then satrap of Babylon, from 316 to 312 BCE, until he died at the Battle of Gaza in 312 BCE....

, until his departure for Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 in 316 BC.

In 305 BC, Seleucus I led an army to the Indus, where he encountered Chandragupta
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

. The confrontation ended with a peace treaty, and "an intermarriage agreement" (Epigamia
Epigamia
In ancient Greece Epigamia , designated the legal right to contract a marriage. In particular it strongly regulated the right of intermarrying between different states...

, Greek: Επιγαμια), meaning either a dynastic marriage or an agreement for intermarriage between Indians and Greeks. Accordingly, Seleucus ceded to Chandragupta his northwestern territories, possibly as far as Arachosia
Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

 and received 500 war elephants (which played a key role in the victory of Seleucus at the Battle of Ipsus
Battle of Ipsus
The Battle of Ipsus was fought between some of the Diadochi in 301 BC near the village of that name in Phrygia...

):
Also several Greeks, such as the historian Megasthenes
Megasthenes
Megasthenes was a Greek ethnographer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indica.He was born in Asia Minor and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria possibly to Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra, India. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain...

, followed by Deimachus and Dionysius
Dionysius (ambassador)
Dionysius was a Greek of the 3rd century BCE, who was sent as ambassador to the court of the Indian emperor Ashoka, by Ptolemy Philadelphus.He was preceded in this role by Megasthenes, ambassador to Chandragupta Maurya, and Deimachus, ambassador to his son, and father of Ashoka, Bindusara.Dionysius...

, were sent to reside at the Mauryan
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

 court. Presents continued to be exchanged between the two rulers. The intensity of these contacts is testified by the existence of a dedicated Mauryan state department for Greek (Yavana) and Persian foreigners, or the remains of Hellenistic pottery that can be found throughout northern India.


On these occasions, Greek populations apparently remained in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent under Mauryan rule. Chandragupta's grandson Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

, who had converted to the Buddhist faith declared in the Edicts of Ashoka
Edicts of Ashoka
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India,...

, set in stone, some of them written in Greek, that Greek populations within his realm also had converted to Buddhism:
In his edicts, Ashoka mentions that he had sent Buddhist emissaries to Greek rulers as far as the Mediterranean (Edict No. 13
Edicts of Ashoka
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India,...

), and that he developed herbal medicine in their territories, for the welfare of humans and animals (Edict No. 2
Edicts of Ashoka
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India,...

).

The Greeks in India even seem to have played an active role in the propagation of Buddhism, as some of the emissaries of Ashoka such as Dharmaraksita
Dharmaraksita
For the teacher of Atisha, see Dharmarakshita .Dharmarakṣita , or Dhammarakkhita , was one of the missionaries sent by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka to proselytize the Buddhist faith. He is described as being a Greek For the teacher of Atisha, see Dharmarakshita (Sumatran).Dharmarakṣita (Sanskrit),...

, or the teacher Mahadharmaraksita
Mahadharmaraksita
Mahadhammarakkhita was a Greek Buddhist master, who lived during the 2nd century BCE during the reign of the Indo-Greek king Menander....

, are described in Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 sources as leading Greek ("Yona
Yona
"Yona" is a Pali word used in ancient India to designate Greek speakers. Its equivalent in Sanskrit, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil is the word "Yavana" and "Jobonan/Jubonan" in Bengali...

") Buddhist monks, active in Buddhist proselytism (the Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
The Mahavamsa is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka...

, XII). It is also thought that Greeks contributed to the sculptural work of the Pillars of Ashoka
Pillars of Ashoka
The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BCE. Originally, there must have been many pillars but only nineteen survive with inscriptions. Many are...

, and more generally to the blossoming of Mauryan art.

Again in 206 BC, the Seleucid
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 emperor Antiochus
Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great Seleucid Greek king who became the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire as a youth of about eighteen in 223 BC. Antiochus was an ambitious ruler who ruled over Greater Syria and western Asia towards the end of the 3rd century BC...

 led an army to the Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 valley, where he received war elephants and presents from the local king Sophagasenus
Sophagasenus
Sophagasenos also spelt Sophagasenus or Sophagasenas was a local Indian king ruling in Kabul and Kapisa valley during the last decade of 3rd century BC. Sophagasnus finds reference only in "The Histories" of Polybius. The identity of Sophagasenus is not clear...

:

Greek rule in Bactria




Alexander had also established several colonies in neighbouring Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

, such as Alexandria on the Oxus (modern Ai-Khanoum
Ai-Khanoum
Ai-Khanoum or Ay Khanum , was founded in the 4th century BC, following the conquests of Alexander the Great and was one of the primary cities of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom...

) and Alexandria of the Caucasus
Alexandria of the Caucasus
Alexandria on the Caucasus was a colony of Alexander the Great...

 (medieval Kapisa, modern Bagram
Bagram
Bagram , founded as Alexandria on the Caucasus and known in medieval times as Kapisa, is a small town and seat in Bagram District in Parwan Province of Afghanistan, about 60 kilometers north of the capital Kabul. It is the site of an ancient city located at the junction of the Ghorband and Panjshir...

). After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Bactria came under the control of Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi. In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire...

, who founded the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

. The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was founded when Diodotus I, the satrap of Bactria (and probably the surrounding provinces) seceded from the Seleucid Empire around 250 BC. The preserved ancient sources (see below) are somewhat contradictory and the exact date of Bactrian independence has not been settled. Somewhat simplified, there is a high chronology (c. 255 BC) and a low chronology (c. 246 BC) for Diodotos’ secession.[1] The high chronology has the advantage of explaining why the Seleucid king Antiochus II issued very few coins in Bactria, as Diodotos would have become independent there early in Antiochus' reign.[2] On the other hand, the low chronology, from the mid-240s BC, has the advantage of connecting the secession of Diodotus I with the Third Syrian War, a catastrophic conflict for the Seleucid Empire.

Diodotus, the governor of the thousand cities of Bactria (Latin: Theodotus, mille urbium Bactrianarum praefectus), defected and proclaimed himself king; all the other people of the Orient followed his example and seceded from the Macedonians. (Justin, XLI,4 [3])
The new kingdom, highly urbanized and considered as one of the richest of the Orient (opulentissimum illud mille urbium Bactrianum imperium "The extremely prosperous Bactrian empire of the thousand cities" Justin, XLI,1 [4]), was to further grow in power and engage into territorial expansion to the east and the west:
"The Greeks who caused Bactria to revolt grew so powerful on account of the fertility of the country that they became masters, not only of Ariana, but also of India, as Apollodorus of Artemita says: and more tribes were subdued by them than by Alexander... Their cities were Bactra (also called Zariaspa, through which flows a river bearing the same name and emptying into the Oxus), and Darapsa, and several others. Among these was Eucratidia
Eucratideia
Eucratideia was an ancient town in Bactria mentioned by a few ancient writers.It was most likely a foundation of Eucratides I who is the more important ruler of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom with the name Eucratides. Not much is known about this city and it might be just a renaming of an already...

, which was named after its ruler." (Strabo, XI.XI.I [5])
When the ruler of neighbouring Parthia, the former satrap and self-proclaimed king Andragoras, was eliminated by Arsaces, the rise of the Parthian Empire cut off the Greco-Bactrians from direct contact with the Greek world. Overland trade continued at a reduced rate, while sea trade between Greek Egypt and Bactria developed.

Diodotus was succeeded by his son Diodotus II, who allied himself with the Parthian Arsaces in his fight against Seleucus II:

"Soon after, relieved by the death of Diodotus, Arsaces made peace and concluded an alliance with his son, also by the name of Diodotus; some time later he fought against Seleucos who came to punish the rebels, and he prevailed: the Parthians celebrated this day as the one that marked the beginning of their freedom" (Justin, XLI,4)[6]

Euthydemus, a Magnesian Greek according to Polybius[7] and possibly satrap of Sogdiana, overthrew Diodotus II around 230 BC and started his own dynasty. Euthydemus's control extended to Sogdiana, going beyond the city of Alexandria Eschate founded by Alexander the Great in Ferghana:

"And they also held Sogdiana, situated above Bactriana towards the east between the Oxus River, which forms the boundary between the Bactrians and the Sogdians, and the Iaxartes River. And the Iaxartes forms also the boundary between the Sogdians and the nomads." Strabo XI.11.2[8]

Euthydemus was attacked by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III around 210 BC. Although he commanded 10,000 horsemen, Euthydemus initially lost a battle on the Arius [9] and had to retreat. He then successfully resisted a three-year siege in the fortified city of Bactra (modern Balkh), before Antiochus finally decided to recognize the new ruler, and to offer one of his daughters to Euthydemus's son Demetrius around 206 BC.[10] Classical accounts also relate that Euthydemus negotiated peace with Antiochus III by suggesting that he deserved credit for overthrowing the original rebel Diodotus, and that he was protecting Central Asia from nomadic invasions thanks to his defensive efforts:

"...for if he did not yield to this demand, neither of them would be safe: seeing that great hordes of Nomads were close at hand, who were a danger to both; and that if they admitted them into the country, it would certainly be utterly barbarised." (Polybius, 11.34 [7])

Following the departure of the Seleucid army, the Bactrian kingdom seems to have expanded. In the west, areas in north-eastern Iran may have been absorbed, possibly as far as into Parthia, whose ruler had been defeated by Antiochus the Great. These territories possibly are identical with the Bactrian satrapies of Tapuria and Traxiane.

To the north, Euthydemus also ruled Sogdiana and Ferghana, and there are indications that from Alexandria Eschate the Greco-Bactrians may have led expeditions as far as Kashgar and Ürümqi in Chinese Turkestan, leading to the first known contacts between China and the West around 220 BC. The Greek historian Strabo too writes that:

"they extended their empire even as far as the Seres (Chinese) and the Phryni" (Strabo, XI.XI.I [5]).
Several statuettes and representations of Greek soldiers have been found north of the Tien Shan, on the doorstep to China, and are today on display in the Xinjiang museum at Urumqi (Boardman [11]).

Greek influences on Chinese art have also been suggested (Hirth, Rostovtzeff). Designs with rosette flowers, geometric lines, and glass inlays, suggestive of Hellenistic influences,[12] can be found on some early Han bronze mirrors, dated between 300–200 BC.[13]

Numismatics also suggest that some technology exchanges may have occurred on these occasions: the Greco-Bactrians were the first in the world to issue cupro-nickel (75/25 ratio) coins,[14] an alloy technology only known by the Chinese at the time under the name "White copper" (some weapons from the Warring States Period were in copper-nickel alloy [15]). The practice of exporting Chinese metals, in particular iron, for trade is attested around that period. Kings Agathocles and Pantaleon made these coin issues around 170 BC. Copper-nickel would not be used again in coinage until the 19th century.

The presence of Chinese people in India from ancient times is also suggested by the accounts of the "Ciñas" in the Mahabharata and the Manu Smriti.

The Han Dynasty explorer and ambassador Zhang Qian visited Bactria in 126 BC, and reported the presence of Chinese products in the Bactrian markets:

""When I was in Bactria (Daxia)", Zhang Qian reported, "I saw bamboo canes from Qiong and cloth made in the province of Shu (territories of southwestern China). When I asked the people how they had gotten such articles, they replied, "Our merchants go buy them in the markets of Shendu (India)."" (Shiji 123, Sima Qian, trans. Burton Watson).
Upon his return, Zhang Qian informed the Chinese emperor Han Wudi of the level of sophistication of the urban civilizations of Ferghana, Bactria and Parthia, who became interested in developing commercial relationship them:

"The Son of Heaven on hearing all this reasoned thus: Ferghana (Dayuan) and the possessions of Bactria (Daxia) and Parthia (Anxi) are large countries, full of rare things, with a population living in fixed abodes and given to occupations somewhat identical with those of the Chinese people, and placing great value on the rich produce of China" (Han Shu, Former Han History).
A number of Chinese envoys were then sent to Central Asia, triggering the development of the Silk Road from the end of the 2nd century BC.[16]

The Indian emperor Chandragupta, founder of the Mauryan dynasty, had re-conquered northwestern India upon the death of Alexander the Great around 322 BC. However, contacts were kept with his Greek neighbours in the Seleucid Empire, a dynastic alliance or the recognition of intermarriage between Greeks and Indians were established (described as an agreement on Epigamia in Ancient sources), and several Greeks, such as the historian Megasthenes, resided at the Mauryan court. Subsequently, each Mauryan emperor had a Greek ambassador at his court.

Chandragupta's grandson Asoka converted to the Buddhist faith and became a great proselytizer in the line of the traditional Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism, directing his efforts towards the Indian and the Hellenistic worlds from around 250 BC. According to the Edicts of Ashoka, set in stone, some of them written in Greek, he sent Buddhist emissaries to the Greek lands in Asia and as far as the Mediterranean. The edicts name each of the rulers of the Hellenistic world at the time.

"The conquest by Dharma has been won here, on the borders, and even six hundred yojanas (4,000 miles) away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni." (Edicts of Ashoka, 13th Rock Edict, S. Dhammika).
Some of the Greek populations that had remained in northwestern India apparently converted to Buddhism:

"Here in the king's domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods' instructions in Dharma. (Edicts of Ashoka, 13th Rock Edict, S. Dhammika).
Furthermore, according to Pali sources, some of Ashoka's emissaries were Greek Buddhist monks, indicating close religious exchanges between the two cultures:

"When the thera (elder) Moggaliputta, the illuminator of the religion of the Conqueror (Ashoka), had brought the (third) council to an end… he sent forth theras, one here and one there: …and to Aparantaka (the "Western countries" corresponding to Gujarat and Sindh) he sent the Greek (Yona) named Dhammarakkhita... and the thera Maharakkhita he sent into the country of the Yona". (Mahavamsa XII).
Greco-Bactrians probably received these Buddhist emissaries (At least Maharakkhita, lit. "The Great Saved One", who was "sent to the country of the Yona") and somehow tolerated the Buddhist faith, although little proof remains. In the 2nd century AD, the Christian dogmatist Clement of Alexandria recognized the existence of Buddhist Sramanas among the Bactrians ("Bactrians" meaning "Oriental Greeks" in that period), and even their influence on Greek thought:

"Thus philosophy, a thing of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among the barbarians, shedding its light over the nations. And afterwards it came to Greece. First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians; and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians; and the Druids among the Gauls; and the Sramanas among the Bactrians ("Σαρμαναίοι Βάκτρων"); and the philosophers of the Celts; and the Magi of the Persians, who foretold the Saviour's birth, and came into the land of Judea guided by a star. The Indian gymnosophists are also in the number, and the other barbarian philosophers. And of these there are two classes, some of them called Sramanas ("Σαρμάναι"), and others Brahmins ("Βραφμαναι")." Clement of Alexandria "The Stromata, or Miscellanies" Book I, Chapter XV.[17

Rise of the Sungas (185 BC)



In India, the Maurya Dynasty was overthrown around 185 BC when Pusyamitra Sunga
Pusyamitra Sunga
Pusyamitra Sunga was the founder and first King of the Sunga Dynasty in Northern India.Pusyamitra Sunga was originally a Senapati of the Mauryan empire. In 185 BCE he assassinated the last Mauryan Emperor during an army review, and proclaimed himself King...

, the commander-in-chief of Mauryan Imperial forces and a Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

, assassinated the last of the Mauryan emperors Brhadrata
Brhadrata
Brihadratha Maurya was the last ruler of the Mauryan dynasty. He ruled from c. 187–180 BCE. He was killed by his senapati , Pusyamitra Sunga-Reign:According to the Puranas, Brihadratha succeeded and he ruled for seven years...

. Pusyamitra Sunga then ascended the throne and established the Sunga Empire
Sunga Empire
The Sunga Empire or Shunga Empire was a royal Indian dynasty from Magadha that controlled vast areas of the Indian Subcontinent from around 185 to 73 BCE. The dynasty was established by Pusyamitra Sunga, after the fall of the Maurya Empire...

, which extended its control as far west as the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

.

Buddhist sources, such as the Asokavadana, mention that Pusyamitra was hostile towards Buddhists and allegedly persecuted the Buddhist faith
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. A large number of Buddhist monasteries (vihara
Vihara
Vihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery. It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks during the rainy season....

s) were allegedly converted to Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 temples, in such places as Nalanda
Nalanda
Nālandā is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India.The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from the fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE. It has been called "one of the...

, Bodhgaya, Sarnath
Sarnath
Sarnath or Sārnātha is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India...

 or Mathura. While it is established by secular sources that Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 were in competition during this time, with the Sungas preferring the former to the latter, historians such as Etienne Lamotte
Étienne Lamotte
Étienne Paul Marie Lamotte was a Belgian priest and Professor of Greek at the Catholic University of Louvain, but was better known as an Indologist and the greatest authority on Buddhism in the West in his time...

 and Romila Thapar
Romila Thapar
Romila Thapar is an Indian historian whose principal area of study is ancient India.-Work:After graduating from Panjab University, Thapar earned her doctorate under A. L. Basham at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London in 1958...

 argue that Buddhist accounts of persecution of Buddhists by Sungas are largely exaggerated.

Nature and quality of the sources



Some narrative history has survived for most of the Hellenistic world, at least of the kings and the wars; this is lacking for India. The main Greco-Roman source on the Indo-Greeks is Justin, who wrote an anthology drawn from the Roman historian Pompeius Trogus, who in turn wrote, from Greek sources, at the time of Augustus Caesar. Justin tells the parts of Trogus' history he finds particularly interesting at some length; he connects them by short and simplified summaries of the rest of the material. In the process he has left 85% to 90% of Trogus out; and his summaries are held together by phrases like "meanwhile" (eodem tempore) and "thereafter" (deinde), which he uses very loosely. Where Justin covers periods for which there are other and better sources, he has occasionally made provable mistakes. As Develin, the recent annotator of Justin, and Tarn both point out, Justin is not trying to write history in our sense of the word; he is collecting instructive moral anecdotes. Justin does find the customs and growth of the Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

ns, which were covered in Trogus' 41st book, quite interesting, and discusses them at length; in the process, he mentions four of the kings of Bactria and one Greek king of India.


In addition to these dozen sentences, the geographer Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 mentions India a few times in the course of his long dispute with Eratosthenes
Eratosthenes
Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a Greek mathematician, poet, athlete, geographer, astronomer, and music theorist.He was the first person to use the word "geography" and invented the discipline of geography as we understand it...

 about the shape of Eurasia. Most of these are purely geographical claims, but he does mention that Eratosthenes' sources say that some of the Greek kings conquered further than Alexander; Strabo does not believe them on this, but modern historians do; nor does he believe that Menander
Menander I
Menander I Soter "The Saviour" was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom from either 165 or 155 BC to 130 BC ....

 and Demetrius son of Euthydemus conquered more tribes than Alexander There is half a story about Menander in one of the books of Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 which has not come down to us intact.

There are Indian literary sources, ranging from the Milinda Panha
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

, a dialogue between a Buddhist sage Nagasena
Nagasena
Nāgasena was a Brahmin who became a Buddhist sage lived about 150 BCE. His answers to questions about Buddhism posed by Menander I , the Indo-Greek king of northwestern India , are recorded in the Milinda Pañha....

 and King Menander I
Menander I
Menander I Soter "The Saviour" was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom from either 165 or 155 BC to 130 BC ....

, which includes some incidental information on Menander's biography and the geography and institutions of his kingdom, down to a sentence about Menander (presumably the same Menander) and his attack on Pataliputra which happens to have survived as a standard example in grammar texts; none is a narrative history. Names in these sources are consistently Indianized, and there is some dispute whether, for example, Dharmamitra represents "Demetrius" or is an Indian prince with that name. There was also a Chinese expedition to Bactria by Chang-k'ien under the Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

, recorded in the Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

 and Book of the Former Han, with additional evidence in the Book of the Later Han; the identification of places and peoples behind transcriptions into Chinese is difficult, and several alternate interpretations have been proposed.

There is also significant archaeological evidence, including some epigraphic evidence, for the Indo-Greek kings, such as the mention of the "Yavana" embassy of king Antialcidas
Antialcidas
Antialcidas Nikephoros "the Victorious" was a Western Indo-Greek king of the Eucratid Dynasty, who reigned from his capital at Taxila. Bopearachchi has suggested that he ruled from ca 115 to 95 BCE in the western parts of the Indo-Greek realms, whereas RC Senior places him around 130 to 120 BCE and...

 on the Heliodorus pillar
Heliodorus pillar
The Heliodorus pillar is a stone column that was erected around 110 BCE in central India in Vidisha near modern Besnagar, by Heliodorus, a Greek ambassador of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas to the court of the Sunga king Bhagabhadra...

 in Vidisha, primarily in Indic languages, which has the same problems with names as the Indic literary evidence. But the chief archaeological evidence is the coins.

There are coin finds of several dozen Indo-Greek rulers in India; exactly how many is complicated to determine, because the Greeks did not number their kings, and the eastern Greeks did not date their coins. For example, there are a substantial number of coin finds for a King Demetrius, but authors have postulated one, two, or three Demetriuses, and the same coins have been identified by different enquirers as describing Demetrius I, Demetrius II, or Demetrius III. The following deductions have been made from coins, in addition to mere existence:
  • Kings who left many coins reigned long and prosperously.
  • Hoards which contain many coins of the same king come from his realm.
  • Kings who use the same iconography are friendly, and may well be from the same family,
  • If a king overstrikes another king's coins, this is an important evidence to show that the overstriker reigned after the overstruck. Overstrikes may indicate that the two kings were enemies.
  • Indo-Greek coins, like other Hellenistic coins, have monograms in addition to their inscriptions. These are generally held to indicate a mint official; therefore, if two kings issue coins with the same monogram, they reigned in the same area, and if not immediately following one another, have no long interval between them.

All of these arguments are arguments of probability, and have exceptions; one of Menander's coins was found in Wales.

The exact time and progression of the Bactrian expansion into India is difficult to ascertain, but ancient authors name Demetrius, Apollodotus, and Menander as conquerors.

Demetrius



Demetrius I was the son of Euthydemus I of Bactria; there is an inscription from his father's reign already officially hailing him as victorious. He also has one of the few absolute dates in Indo-Greek history: after his father held off Antiochus III for two years, 208–6 BC, the peace treaty included the offer of a marriage between Demetrius and Antiochus' daughter. Coins of Demetrius I have been found in Arachosia
Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

 and in the Kabul Valley; the latter would be the first entry of the Greeks into India, as they defined it. There is also literary evidence for a campaign eastward against the Seres
Seres
Seres was the ancient Greek and Roman name for the inhabitants of eastern Central Asia. It meant "of silk," or people of the "land where silk comes from." The country of the Seres was Serica....

 and the Phryni
Phryni
The Phryni were an ancient people of eastern Central Asia, probably located in the eastern part of the Tarim Basin, in an area connected to that of the Seres and the Tocharians.They are mentioned several times in Classical sources....

; but the order and dating of these conquests is uncertain.
Demetrius I seems to have conquered the Kabul valley, Arachosia
Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

 and perhaps Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

; he struck no Indian coins, so either his conquests did not penetrate that far into India or he died before he could consolidate them. On his coins, Demetrius I always carries the elephant-helmet worn by Alexander, which seems to be a token of his Indian conquests. Bopearachchi believes that Demetrius received the title of "King of India" following his victories south of the Hindu Kush. He was also given, though perhaps only posthumously, the title ανικητος ("Anicetos", lit. Invincible) a cult title of Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

, which Alexander had assumed; the later Indo-Greek kings Lysias, Philoxenus, and Artemidorus also took it. Finally, Demetrius may have been the founder of a newly discovered Greek Era, starting in 186/5 BC.

After Demetrius I



After the death of Demetrius, the Bactrian kings Pantaleon
Pantaleon
Pantaleon was a Greek king who reigned some time between 190–180 BCE in Bactria and India. He was a younger contemporary or successor of the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius, and is sometimes believed to have been his brother and/or subking...

 and Agathocles
Agathocles of Bactria
Agathocles Dikaios was a Buddhist Indo-Greek king, who reigned between around 190 and 180 BCE. He might have been a son of Demetrius and one of his sub-kings in charge of the Paropamisade between Bactria and India...

 struck the first bilingual coins with Indian inscriptions found as far east as Taxila so in their time (c. 185–170 BC) the Bactrian kingdom seems to have included Gandhara. Several Bactrian kings followed after Demetrius' death, and it seems likely that the civil wars between them made it possible for Apollodotus I
Apollodotus I
Apollodotus I Soter was an Indo-Greek king between 180 and 160 BCE or between 174 and 165 BCE who ruled the western and southern parts of the Indo-Greek kingdom, from Taxila in Punjab to the areas of Sindh and possibly Gujarat.-Ruler of the Indo-Greek...

 (from c. 180/175 BC) to make himself independent as the first proper Indo-Greek king (who did not rule from Bactria). Large numbers of his coins have been found in India, and he seems to have reigned in Gandhara as well as western Punjab. Apollodotus I was succeeded by or ruled alongside Antimachus II
Antimachus II
Antimachus II Nikephoros "The Victorious" was an Indo-Greek king. He ruled on a vast territory from the Hindu-Kush to the Punjab around 170 BCE. He was almost certainly identical with the eponymous son of Antimachus I, who is known from a unique preserved tax-receipt...

, likely the son of the Bactrian king Antimachus I
Antimachus I
Anthimachus I Theos was one of the Greco-Bactrian kings, generally dated from around 185 to 170 BC.-Rule:...

.

The next important Indo-Greek king was Menander
Menander I
Menander I Soter "The Saviour" was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom from either 165 or 155 BC to 130 BC ....

 (from c. 165/155 BC) whose coins are frequently found even in eastern Punjab. Menander seems to have begun a second wave of conquests, and since he already ruled in India, it seems likely that the easternmost conquests were made by him.

According to Apollodorus of Artemita
Apollodorus of Artemita
Apollodorus of Artemita was a Greek writer of the 1st century BCE.Apollodorus wrote a history of the Parthian Empire, the Parthika , in at least four books. He is quoted by Strabo and Athenaeus. Strabo stated that he was very reliable. Apollodorus seems to have used the archives of Artemita and...

, quoted by Strabo, the Indo-Greek territory for a while included the Indian coastal provinces of Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

 and possibly Gujarat. With archaeological methods, the Indo-Greek territory can however only be confirmed from the Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 Valley to the eastern Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

, so Greek presence outside was probably short-lived or less significant.

Some sources also claim that the Indo-Greeks may have reached the Sunga capital Pataliputra in northeastern India. However, the nature of this expedition is a matter of controversy. One theory is that Indo-Greeks were invited to join a raid led by local Indian kings down the Ganges river. The other is that it was a campaign likely made by Menander. Irrespective it appears that Pataliputra, if at all captured, was not held for long as the expedition was forced to retreat, probably due to wars in their own territories. Menander's reign saw the end of the Indo-Greek expansion.


The first conquests


Greek presence in Arachosia
Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

, where Greek populations had been living since before the acquisition of the territory by Chandragupta
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

 from Seleucus is mentioned by Isidore of Charax
Isidore of Charax
Isidorus Characenus , commonly translated Isidore of Charax, was a geographer of the 1st century BC/1st century AD about whom nothing is known but his name and that he wrote at least one work....

. He describes Greek cities there, one of them called Demetrias, probably in honour of the conqueror Demetrius
Demetrius I of Bactria
Demetrius I was a Buddhist Greco-Bactrian king . He was the son of Euthydemus and succeeded him around 200 BC, after which he conquered extensive areas in what now is eastern Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan thus creating an Indo-Greek kingdom far from Hellenistic Greece...

.

Apollodotus I (and Menander I) were mentioned by Pompejus Trogus as important Indo-Greek kings.
It is theorized that Greek advances temporarily went as far as the Sunga capital Pataliputra (today Patna) in eastern India. Senior considers that these conquests can only refer to Menander: Against this, John Mitchener considers that the Greeks probably raided the Indian capital of Pataliputra during the time of Demetrius, though Mitchener's analysis is not based on numismatic evidence.
The seriousness of the attack is in some doubt: Menander may merely have joined a raid led by Indian Kings down the Ganges
Ganges River
The Ganges or Ganga, , is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh. The river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. By discharge it...

, as Indo-Greek presence has not been confirmed this far east.

To the south, the Greeks may have occupied the areas of the Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

 and Gujarat, including the strategic harbour of Barygaza (Bharuch
Bharuch
Bharuch , also known as Broach, is the oldest city in Gujarat, situated at the mouth of the holy river Narmada. Bharuch is the administrative headquarters of Bharuch District and a municipality of more than 1,50,000 inhabitants. As Bharuch is a major seaport city, a number of trade activities have...

), conquests also attested by coins dating from the Indo-Greek ruler Apollodotus I and by several ancient writers (Strabo 11; Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea is a Greco-Roman periplus, written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and India...

, Chap. 41/47):

Narain however dismisses the account of the Periplus as "just a sailor's story", and holds that coin finds are not necessarily indicators of occupation. Coin hoards suggest that in Central India, the area of Malwa may also have been conquered.

Various Indian records describe Yavana attacks on Mathura, Panchala
Panchala
Panchala is an ancient region of northern India, which corresponds to the geographical area around the Ganges River and Yamuna River, the upper Gangetic plain in particular. This would encompass the modern-day states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. During the ancient times, it was home to a...

, Saketa, and Pataliputra. The term Yavana is thought to be a transliteration of "Ionians" and is known to have designated Hellenistic Greeks (starting with the Edicts of Ashoka
Edicts of Ashoka
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India,...

, where Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

 writes about "the Yavana king Antiochus
Antiochus II Theos
Antiochus II Theos was a king of the Hellenistic Seleucid Kingdom who reigned 261 BC – 246 BC). He succeeded his father Antiochus I Soter in the winter of 262–61 BC...

"), but may have sometimes referred to other foreigners as well after the 1st century AD.

Patanjali
Patañjali
Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...

, a grammarian and commentator on Pāṇini around 150 BC, describes in the Mahābhāsya, the invasion in two examples using the imperfect tense of Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, denoting a recent event:
  • "Arunad Yavanah Sāketam" ("The Yavanas (Greeks) were besieging Saketa")
  • "Arunad Yavano Madhyamikām" ("The Yavanas were besieging Madhyamika" (the "Middle country")).


Also the Brahmanical text of the Yuga Purana
Yuga Purana
The Yuga Purana is an ancient Indian text, part of the larger Puranic literature. It is considered as one of the oldest Purana, written around 250 CE. The Yuga Purana consists two chapters, within the larger text of the Gargi Samhita, also called Vriddha Gargiya Jyotisha...

, which describes Indian historical events in the form of a prophecy, but is thought to be likely historical, relates the attack of the Indo-Greeks on the capital Pataliputra, a magnificent fortified city with 570 towers and 64 gates according to Megasthenes
Megasthenes
Megasthenes was a Greek ethnographer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indica.He was born in Asia Minor and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria possibly to Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra, India. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain...

, and describes the ultimate destruction of the city's walls:
Earlier authors such as Tarn have suggested that the raid on Pataliputra was made by Demetrius. According to Mitchener, the Hathigumpha inscription
Hathigumpha inscription
The Hathigumpha inscription , from Udayagiri, near Bhubaneshwar in Orissa, was written by Kharavela, the king of Kalinga in India, during the 2nd century BCE...

 indicates the presence of the Greeks led by a "Demetrius" in eastern India (Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

) during the 1st century BC, although this interpretation was previously disputed by Narain. But while this inscription may be interpreted as an indication that Demetrius I was the king who made conquests in Punjab, it is still true that he never issued any Indian coins, and the restoration of his name in Kharosthi on the Hathigumpha inscription: Di-Mi-Ta, has been doubted. The "Di" is a reconstruction, and it may be noted that the name of another Indo-Greek king, Amyntas, is spelt A-Mi-Ta in Kharosthi and may fit in.

Therefore, Menander remains the likeliest candidate for any advance east of Punjab.

Consolidation



The important Bactrian king Eucratides seems to have attacked the Indo-Greek kingdom during the mid 2nd century BC. A Demetrius, called "King of the Indians", seems to have confronted Eucratides in a four month siege, reported by Justin, but he ultimately lost.

In any case, Eucratides seems to have occupied territory as far as the Indus
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

, between ca. 170 BC and 150 BC. His advances were ultimately checked by the Indo-Greek king Menander I
Menander I
Menander I Soter "The Saviour" was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom from either 165 or 155 BC to 130 BC ....

,

Menander is considered to have been probably the most successful Indo-Greek king, and the conqueror of the largest territory. The finds of his coins are the most numerous and the most widespread of all the Indo-Greek kings. Menander is also remembered in Buddhist literature, where he called Milinda, and is described in the Milinda Panha
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

 as a convert to Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

: he became an arhat whose relics were enshrined in a manner reminiscent of the Buddha. He also introduced a new coin type, with Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

 Alkidemos ("Protector of the people") on the reverse, which was adopted by most of his successors in the East.

Fall of Bactria and death of Menander


From the mid-2nd century BC, the Scythians
Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians is a term used to refer to Sakas , who migrated into Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, Gandhara, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE....

 and then the Yuezhi
Yuezhi
The Yuezhi, or Rouzhi , also known as the Da Yuezhi or Da Rouzhi , were an ancient Central Asian people....

, following a long migration from the border of China, started to invade Bactria from the north. Around 130 BC the last Greco-Bactrian king Heliocles was probably killed during the invasion and the Greco-Bactrian kingdom proper ceased to exist. The Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

ns also probably played a role in the downfall of the Bactrian kingdom.


The Indo-Greek states, shielded by the Hindu Kush range, were saved from the invasions, but the civil wars which had weakened the Greeks continued. Menander I died around the same time, and even though the king himself seems to have been popular among his subjects, his dynasty was at least partially dethroned (see discussion under Menander I
Menander I
Menander I Soter "The Saviour" was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom from either 165 or 155 BC to 130 BC ....

). Probable members of the dynasty of Menander include the ruling queen Agathokleia
Agathokleia
Agathokleia Theotropa was an Indo-Greek queen who ruled in parts of northern India as regent for her son Strato I.-Date and Genealogy:...

, her son Strato I
Strato I
Strato I , was an Indo-Greek king who was the son of the Indo-Greek queen Agathokleia, who presumably acted as his regent during his early years after Strato's father, another Indo-Greek king, was killed.-Date and genealogy:...

, and Nicias
King Nicias
Nicias was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in the Paropamisade. Most of his relatively few coins have been found in northern Pakistan, indicating that he ruled a smaller principate around the lower Kabul valley.He was possibly a relative of Menander I....

, though it is uncertain whether they ruled directly after Menander. Other kings emerged, usually in the western part of the Indo-Greek realm, such as Zoilos I
Zoilos I
Zoilus I Dikaios was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in Northern India and occupied the areas of the Paropamisade and Arachosia previously held by Menander I. He may have belonged to the dynasty of Euthydemus I.-Time of reign:...

, Lysias
King Lysias
-Time of reign:According to numismatist Bopearachchi, Lysias was a close successor to Menander I and Zoilos I, and therefore may have ruled around 130-120 BCE. R.C...

, Antialcidas
Antialcidas
Antialcidas Nikephoros "the Victorious" was a Western Indo-Greek king of the Eucratid Dynasty, who reigned from his capital at Taxila. Bopearachchi has suggested that he ruled from ca 115 to 95 BCE in the western parts of the Indo-Greek realms, whereas RC Senior places him around 130 to 120 BCE and...

 and Philoxenos. These rulers may have been relatives of either the Eucratid or the Euthydemid dynasties. The names of later kings were often new (members of Hellenistic dynasties usually inherited family names) but old reverses and titles were frequently repeated by the later rulers.

While all Indo-Greek kings after Apollodotus I
Apollodotus I
Apollodotus I Soter was an Indo-Greek king between 180 and 160 BCE or between 174 and 165 BCE who ruled the western and southern parts of the Indo-Greek kingdom, from Taxila in Punjab to the areas of Sindh and possibly Gujarat.-Ruler of the Indo-Greek...

 mainly issued bilingual (Greek and Kharoshti) coins for circulation in their own territories, several of them also struck rare Greek coins which have been found in Bactria. The later kings probably struck these coins as some kind of payment to the Scythian or Yuezhi tribes who now ruled there, though if as tribute or payment for mercenaries remains unknown. For some decades after the Bactrian invasion, relationships seem to have been peaceful between the Indo-Greeks and these relatively hellenised nomad tribes.

There are however no historical recordings of events in the Indo-Greek kingdom after Menander's death around 130 BC, since the Indo-Greeks had now become very isolated from the rest of the Graeco-Roman world. The later history of the Indo-Greek states, which lasted to around the shift BC/AD, is reconstructed almost entirely from archaeological and numismatical analyses.

Later History


Throughout the 1st century BC, the Indo-Greeks progressively lost ground to the Indians in the east, and the Scythians, the Yuezhi
Yuezhi
The Yuezhi, or Rouzhi , also known as the Da Yuezhi or Da Rouzhi , were an ancient Central Asian people....

, and the Parthians in the West. About 20 Indo-Greek king are known during this period, down to the last known Indo-Greek ruler, a king named Strato II, who ruled in the Punjab region
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 until around 55 BC. Other sources, however, place the end of Strato II's reign as late as 10 AD – see below in the list of coins.

Loss of Eastern territories (circa 100 BC)



The Indo-Greeks may have ruled as far as the area of Mathura until the 1st century BC: the Maghera inscription, from a village near Mathura, records the dedication of a well "in the one hundred and sixteenth year of the reign of the Yavanas", which could be as late as 70 BC. Soon however Indian kings recovered the area of Mathura and south-eastern Punjab, west of the Yamuna River, and started to mint their own coins. The Arjunayanas (area of Mathura) and Yaudheya
Yaudheya
Yaudheya or Yaudheya Gana was an ancient confederation who lived in the area between the Indus river and the Ganges river. They find mention in Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi and Ganapatha. There are other references to them namely in Mahabharata, Mahamayuri, Brihatsamhita, Puranas, Chandravyakarana and...

s mention military victories on their coins ("Victory of the Arjunayanas", "Victory of the Yaudheyas"). During the 1st century BC, the Trigartas, Audumbaras
Audumbaras
The Audumbras, or Audumbaras were a north Indian tribal nation east of the Punjab, in the Western Himalaya region. They were the most important tribe of the Himachal, and lived in the lower hills between Sirmaur and Yamuna....

 and finally the Kunindas also started to mint their own coins, usually in a style highly reminiscent of Indo-Greek coinage.

The Western king Philoxenus briefly occupied the whole remaining Greek territory from the Paropamisadae to Western Punjab between 100 to 95 BC, after what the territories fragmented again. The western kings regained their territory as far west as Arachosia
Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

, and eastern kings continued to rule on and off until the beginning of our era.

Scythian invasions (80 BC-20 AD)





Around 80 BC, an Indo-Scythian king named Maues
Maues
Maues was an Indo-Scythian king who invaded the Indo-Greek territories.-Conqueror of Gandhara:...

, possibly a general in the service of the Indo-Greeks, ruled for a few years in northwestern India before the Indo-Greeks again took control. He seems to have been married to an Indo-Greek princess. King Hippostratos
Hippostratos
Hippostratos was an Indo-Greek king who ruled central and north-western Punjab and Pushkalavati. Bopearachchi dates Hippostratos to 65 to 55 BCE whereas R.C...

 (65–55 BC) seems to have been one of the most successful subsequent Indo-Greek kings until he lost to the Indo-Scythian Azes I
Azes I
Azes I was an Indo-Scythian ruler who completed the domination of the Scythians in northern India.-History:Although Maues and his successors had conquered the areas of Gandhara, as well as the area of Mathura from 85 BCE, they were unsuccessful against the Indo-Greek kings remaining behind the...

, who established an Indo-Scythian dynasty. Various coins seem to suggest that some sort of alliance may have taken place between the Indo-Greeks and the Scythians.

Although the Indo-Scythians clearly ruled militarily and politically, they remained surprisingly respectful of Greek and Indian cultures. Their coins were minted in Greek mints, continued using proper Greek and Kharoshthi legends, and incorporated depictions of Greek deities, particularly Zeus. The Mathura lion capital
Mathura lion capital
The Mathura lion capital is an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital from Mathura in Central India, dated to the 1st century CE.The capital is covered with Prakrit inscriptions in the kharoshthi script of northwestern India...

 inscription attests that they adopted the Buddhist faith, as do the depictions of deities forming the vitarka mudra on their coins. Greek communities, far from being exterminated, probably persisted under Indo-Scythian rule. There is a possibility that a fusion, rather than a confrontation, occurred between the Greeks and the Indo-Scythians: in a recently published coin, Artemidoros
Artemidoros
Artemidoros Aniketos was a king who ruled in the area of Gandhara and Pushkalavati in modern northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.-A son of Maues:Artemidoros has a Greek name and has traditionally been seen as an Indo-Greek king...

 presents himself as "son of Maues", and the Buner reliefs
Buner reliefs
The Buner reliefs are a series of frieze reliefs that lie in Buner District, from the area of the Peshawar valley in Pakistan. They are also near the Swat Valley.-Hellenistic scenes:...

 show Indo-Greeks and Indo-Scythians reveling in a Buddhist context.

The Indo-Greeks continued to rule a territory in the eastern Punjab, until the kingdom of the last Indo-Greek king Strato
Strato II
Strato II "Soter" was an Indo-Greek king. He ruled circa 25 BCE to 10CE according to Bopearachchi. RC Senior suggests that his reign ended perhaps a decade earlier.-Rule:...

 was taken over by the Indo-Scythian ruler Rajuvula
Rajuvula
Rajuvula was an Indo-Scythian Great Satrap who ruled in the area of Mathura in northern India in the years around 10 CE. In central India, the Indo-Scythians conquered the area of Mathura over Indian kings around 60 BCE...

 around 10 AD.

Western Yuezhi or Saka expansion (70 BC-)




Around eight "western" Indo-Greek kings are known; most of them are distinguished by their issues of Attic coins for circulation in the neighbouring.

One of the last important kings in the Paropamisadae was Hermaeus, who ruled until around 80 BC; soon after his death the Yuezhi
Yuezhi
The Yuezhi, or Rouzhi , also known as the Da Yuezhi or Da Rouzhi , were an ancient Central Asian people....

 or Sakas took over his areas from neighbouring Bactria. When Hermaeus is depicted on his coins riding a horse, he is equipped with the recurve bow
Recurve bow
In archery, the shape of the bow is usually taken to be the view from the side. It is the product of the complex relationship of material stresses, designed by a bowyer...

 and bow-case of the steppes and RC Senior believes him to be of partly nomad origin. The later king Hippostratus may however also have held territories in the Paropamisadae.

After the death of Hermaeus, the Yuezhi or Saka nomads became the new rulers of the Paropamisadae, and minted vast quantities of posthumous issues of Hermaeus up to around 40 AD, when they blend with the coinage of the Kushan king Kujula Kadphises
Kujula Kadphises
Kujula Kadphises, reigned was a Kushan prince who united the Yuezhi confederation during the 1st century CE, and became the first Kushan emperor...

. The first documented Yuezhi prince, Sapadbizes
Sapadbizes
Sapadbizes , also Sapalbizes, was a ruler of western Bactria, sometimes linked to the Yuezhi. He is known only from his coins . Two clues provide an approximate date for this ruler. He is believed to have overstruck the coins of Phraates IV of Parthia, secondly his coins are of good silver...

, ruled around 20 BC, and minted in Greek and in the same style as the western Indo-Greek kings, probably depending on Greek mints and celators.

The last known mention of an Indo-Greek ruler is suggested by an inscription on a signet ring of the 1st century AD in the name of a king Theodamas
Theodamas
Theodamas seems to have been an Indo-Greek ruler in the Bajaur area of Gandhara, in modern Pakistan.No coins of him are known, but he has left a signet bearing his name in kharoshthi script, which was found in the region of Bajaur....

, from the Bajaur
Bajaur
Bajaur or Bajur or Bajour is an Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Smallest of the agencies in FATA, it has a hilly terrain. According to the 1998 census, the population was 595,227 but other more recent estimates it has grown to 757,000...

 area of Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

, in modern Pakistan. No coins of him are known, but the signet bears in kharoshthi script the inscription "Su Theodamasa", "Su" being explained as the Greek transliteration of the ubiquitous Kushan royal title "Shau" ("Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

", "King").

Ideology


Buddhism flourished under the Indo-Greek kings, and their rule, especially that of Menander, has been remembered as benevolent. It has been suggested, although direct evidence is lacking, that their invasion of India was intended to show their support for the Mauryan empire which may have had a long history of marital alliances, exchange of presents, demonstrations of friendship, exchange of ambassadors and religious missions with the Greeks. The historian Diodorus even wrote that the king of Pataliputra had "great love for the Greeks".

The Greek expansion into Indian territory may have been intended to protect Greek populations in India, and to protect the Buddhist faith from the religious persecutions of the Sungas. The city of Sirkap
Sirkap
Sirkap is the name of an archaeological site on the bank opposite to the city of Taxila, Punjab, Pakistan.The city of Sirkap was built by the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius after he invaded ancient India around 180 BC. Demetrius founded in the northern and northwestern Indian subcontinent an...

 founded by Demetrius combines Greek and Indian influences without signs of segregation between the two cultures.

The first Greek coins to be minted in India, those of Menander I
Menander I
Menander I Soter "The Saviour" was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom from either 165 or 155 BC to 130 BC ....

 and Appolodotus I bear the mention "Saviour king" (ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ), a title with high value in the Greek world which indicated an important deflective victory. For instance, Ptolemy I had been Soter (saviour) because he had helped save Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

 from Demetrius the Besieger
Demetrius I of Macedon
Demetrius I , called Poliorcetes , son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Stratonice, was a king of Macedon...

, and Antiochus I because he had saved Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 from the Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

. The title was also inscribed in Pali as ("Tratarasa") on the reverse of their coins. Menander and Apollodotus may indeed have been saviours to the Greek populations residing in India, and to some of the Indians as well.

Also, most of the coins of the Greek kings in India were bilingual, written in Greek on the front and in Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 on the back (in the Kharosthi script, derived from Aramaic, rather than the more eastern Brahmi
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

, which was used only once on coins of Agathocles of Bactria
Agathocles of Bactria
Agathocles Dikaios was a Buddhist Indo-Greek king, who reigned between around 190 and 180 BCE. He might have been a son of Demetrius and one of his sub-kings in charge of the Paropamisade between Bactria and India...

), a tremendous concession to another culture never before made in the Hellenic world. From the reign of Apollodotus II
Apollodotus II
Apollodotus II , was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in the western and eastern parts of Punjab. Bopearachchi dates him to circa 80-65 BCE, and RC Senior to circa 85-65 BCE. Apollodotos II was an important ruler who seems to have re-established the Indo-Greek kingdom to some extent of its former glory...

, around 80 BC, Kharosthi letters started to be used as mintmarks on coins in combination with Greek monograms and mintmarks, suggesting the participation of local technicians to the minting process. Incidentally, these bilingual coins of the Indo-Greeks were the key in the decipherment
Decipherment
Decipherment is the analysis of documents written in ancient languages, where the language is unknown, or knowledge of the language has been lost....

 of the Kharoshthi script by James Prinsep
James Prinsep
James Prinsep was an Anglo-Indian scholar and antiquary. He was the seventh son of John Prinsep, a wealthy East India merchant and Member of Parliament....

 (1799–1840). Kharoshthi became extinct around the 3rd century AD.

In Indian literature, the Indo-Greeks are described as Yavanas (in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

), or Yona
Yona
"Yona" is a Pali word used in ancient India to designate Greek speakers. Its equivalent in Sanskrit, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil is the word "Yavana" and "Jobonan/Jubonan" in Bengali...

s (in Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

) both thought to be transliterations of "Ionians
Ionians
The Ionians were one of the four major tribes into which the Classical Greeks considered the population of Hellenes to have been divided...

". In the Harivamsa the "Yavana" Indo-Greeks are qualified, together with the Sakas, Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

, Pahlavas and Paradas as Kshatriya-pungava i.e. foremost among the Warrior caste, or Kshatriyas. The Majjhima Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
The Majjhima Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism...

 explains that in the lands of the Yavanas and Kambojas, in contrast with the numerous Indian castes, there were only two classes of people, Aryas and Dasa
Dasa
Dasa is a term used with the primary meaning 'enemy', especially relating to tribes identified as the enemies of the Indo-Aryan tribes in the Rigveda....

s (masters and slaves).

Religion




In addition to the worship of the Classical pantheon
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

 of the Greek deities found on their coins (Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, Herakles, Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

...), the Indo-Greeks were involved with local faiths, particularly with Buddhism, but also with Hinduism and Zoroastrianism.

After the Greco-Bactrians militarily occupied parts of northern India from around 180 BC, numerous instances of interaction between Greeks and Buddhism are recorded. Menander I, the "Saviour king", seems to have converted to Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, and is described as a great benefactor of the religion, on a par with Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

 or the future Kushan emperor Kanishka
Kanishka
Kanishka ) was an emperor of the Kushan Empire, ruling an empire extending from Bactria to large parts of northern India in the 2nd century of the common era, and famous for his military, political, and spiritual achievements...

. The wheel he represented on some of his coins was probably Buddhist, and he is famous for his dialogues with the Buddhist monk Nagasena
Nagasena
Nāgasena was a Brahmin who became a Buddhist sage lived about 150 BCE. His answers to questions about Buddhism posed by Menander I , the Indo-Greek king of northwestern India , are recorded in the Milinda Pañha....

, transmitted to us in the Milinda Panha
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

, which explain that he became a Buddhist arhat:
Another Indian text, the Stupavadana of Ksemendra, mentions in the form of a prophecy that Menander will build a stupa in Pataliputra.

Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 also presents Menander as an example of benevolent rule, and explains that upon his death, the honour of sharing his remains was claimed by the various cities under his rule, and they were enshrined in "monuments" (μνημεία, probably stupa
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

s), in a parallel with the historic Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

:
The Butkara stupa
Butkara Stupa
The Butkara Stupa is an important Buddhist stupa in the area of Swat, Pakistan. It may have been originally built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, but it is generally dated slightly later to the 2nd century BCE....

 was "monumentalized" by the addition of Hellenistic architectural decorations during Indo-Greek rule in 2nd century BCE.

Art




In general, the art of the Indo-Greeks is poorly documented, and few works of art (apart from their coins and a few stone palette
Stone palette
Stone palettes, also called toilet trays, are round trays commonly found in the areas of Bactria and Gandhara, which usually represent Greek mythological scenes...

s) are directly attributed to them. The coinage of the Indo-Greeks however is generally considered as some of the most artistically brilliant of Antiquity. The Hellenistic heritage (Ai-Khanoum
Ai-Khanoum
Ai-Khanoum or Ay Khanum , was founded in the 4th century BC, following the conquests of Alexander the Great and was one of the primary cities of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom...

) and artistic proficiency of the Indo-Greek world would suggest a rich sculptural tradition as well, but traditionally very few sculptural remains have been attributed to them. On the contrary, most Gandharan Hellenistic works of art are usually attributed to the direct successors of the Indo-Greeks in India in 1st century AD, such as the nomadic Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians is a term used to refer to Sakas , who migrated into Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, Gandhara, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE....

, the Indo-Parthians and, in an already decadent state, the Kushans In general, Gandharan sculpture cannot be dated exactly, leaving the exact chronology open to interpretation.


The possibility of a direct connection between the Indo-Greeks and Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1000 years in Central Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and the Islamic...

 has been reaffirmed recently as the dating of the rule of Indo-Greek kings has been extended to the first decades of the 1st century AD, with the reign of Strato II
Strato II
Strato II "Soter" was an Indo-Greek king. He ruled circa 25 BCE to 10CE according to Bopearachchi. RC Senior suggests that his reign ended perhaps a decade earlier.-Rule:...

 in the Punjab. Also, Foucher, Tarn, and more recently, Boardman, Bussagli and McEvilley have taken the view that some of the most purely Hellenistic works of northwestern India and Afghanistan, may actually be wrongly attributed to later centuries, and instead belong to a period one or two centuries earlier, to the time of the Indo-Greeks in the 2nd–1st century BC:

. This is particularly the case of some purely Hellenistic works in Hadda
Hadda
Hadda is a Greco-Buddhist archeological site located in the ancient area of Gandhara, near the Khyber Pass, ten kilometers south of the city of Jalalabad in today's eastern Afghanistan.-Background:...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, an area which "might indeed be the cradle of incipient Buddhist sculpture in Indo-Greek style". Referring to one of the Buddha triads in Hadda, in which the Buddha is sided by very Classical depictions of Herakles/Vajrapani
Vajrapani
' is one of the earliest bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism. He is the protector and guide of the Buddha, and rose to symbolize the Buddha's power. Vajrapani was used extensively in Buddhist iconography as one of the three protective deities surrounding the Buddha...

 and Tyche
Tyche
In ancient Greek city cults, Tyche was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny....

/Hariti
Hariti
Hārītī , is a Gandharan ogeress and Bactrian mythological figure who was later transformed in to a symbol for the protection of children, easy delivery, happy child rearing and parenting, harmony between husband and wife, love, and the well-being and safety of the family...

, Boardman explains that both figures "might at first (and even second) glance, pass as, say, from Asia Minor or Syria of the first or second century BC (...) these are essentially Greek figures, executed by artists fully conversant with far more than the externals of the Classical style".

Alternatively, it has been suggested that these works of art may have been executed by itinerant Greek artists during the time of maritime contacts with the West from the 1st to the 3rd century AD.

The Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1000 years in Central Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and the Islamic...

 of Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

, beyond the omnipresence of Greek style and stylistic elements which might be simply considered as an enduring artistic tradition, offers numerous depictions of people in Greek Classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 realistic style, attitudes and fashion (clothes such as the chiton
Chiton (costume)
A chiton was a form of clothing worn by men and women in Ancient Greece, from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic period ....

 and the himation
Himation
A himation was a type of clothing in ancient Greece. It was usually worn over a chiton, but was made of heavier drape and played the role of a cloak.The himation was markedly less voluminous than the Roman toga....

, similar in form and style to the 2nd century BC Greco-Bactrian statues of Ai-Khanoum
Ai-Khanoum
Ai-Khanoum or Ay Khanum , was founded in the 4th century BC, following the conquests of Alexander the Great and was one of the primary cities of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom...

, hairstyle), holding contraptions which are characteristic of Greek culture (amphora
Amphora
An amphora is a type of vase-shaped, usually ceramic container with two handles and a long neck narrower than the body...

s, "kantaros" Greek drinking cups), in situations which can range from festive (such as Bacchanalian scenes) to Buddhist-devotional.

Uncertainties in dating make it unclear whether these works of art actually depict Greeks of the period of Indo-Greek rule up to the 1st century BC, or remaining Greek communities under the rule of the Indo-Parthians or Kushans in the 1st and 2nd century AD. Benjamin Rowland thinks that the Indo-Greeks, rather than the Indo-Scythians or the Kushans, may have been the models for the Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 statues of Gandhara

Economy


Very little is known about the economy of the Indo-Greeks, although it seems to have been rather vibrant. The abundance of their coins would tend to suggest large mining operations, particularly in the mountainous area of the Hindu-Kush, and an important monetary economy. The Indo-Greek did strike bilingual coins both in the Greek "round" standard and in the Indian "square" standard, suggesting that monetary circulation extended to all parts of society. The adoption of Indo-Greek monetary conventions by neighbouring kingdoms, such as the Kunindas
Kuninda Kingdom
The Kingdom of Kuninda was an ancient central Himalayan kingdom from around the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century, located in the modern state of Uttarakhand and southern areas of Himachal in northern India.-Kingdom:...

 to the east and the Satavahanas to the south, would also suggest that Indo-Greek coins were used extensively for cross-border trade.

Tribute payments



It would also seem that some of the coins emitted by the Indo-Greek kings, particularly those in the monolingual Attic
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

 standard, may have been used to pay some form of tribute to the Yuezhi tribes north of the Hindu-Kush. This is indicated by the coins finds of the Qunduz hoard in northern Afghanistan, which have yielded quantities of Indo-Greek coins in the Hellenistic standard (Greek weights, Greek language), although none of the kings represented in the hoard are known to have ruled so far north. Conversely, none of these coins have ever been found south of the Hindu-Kush.

Trade with China



The Greek kings in Southern Asia issued the first known cupro-nickel coins, with Euthydemus II
Euthydemus II
Euthydemus II was a son of Demetrius I of Bactria, and became king of Bactria in the 180s BCE, either after his father's death or as a sub-king to him. The style and rare nickel alloys of his coins associates him closely in time with the king Agathocles but their precise relation remains uncertain...

, dating from 180 to 170 BCE, and his younger brothers Pantaleon
Pantaleon
Pantaleon was a Greek king who reigned some time between 190–180 BCE in Bactria and India. He was a younger contemporary or successor of the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius, and is sometimes believed to have been his brother and/or subking...

 and Agathocles
Agathocles of Bactria
Agathocles Dikaios was a Buddhist Indo-Greek king, who reigned between around 190 and 180 BCE. He might have been a son of Demetrius and one of his sub-kings in charge of the Paropamisade between Bactria and India...

 around 170 BCE. As only China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 was able to produce cupro-nickel at that time, and as the alloy ratios are exclusively similar, it has been suggested that the metal was the result of exchanges between China and Bactria.

An indirect testimony by the Chinese explorer Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian was an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the 2nd century BCE, during the time of the Han Dynasty...

, who visited Bactria around 128 BC, suggests that intense trade with Southern China was going through northern India. Zhang Qian explains that he found Chinese products in the Bactrian markets, and that they were transiting through northwestern India, which he incidentally describes as a civilization similar to that of Bactria:

Indian Ocean trade


Maritime relations across the Indian ocean started in the 3rd century BC, and further developed during the time of the Indo-Greeks together with their territorial expansion along the western coast of India. The first contacts started when the Ptolemies constructed the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 ports of Myos Hormos
Myos Hormos
Myos Hormos was a Red Sea port constructed by the Ptolemies around the 3rd century BC. Following excavations carried out recently by David Peacock and Lucy Blue of the University of Southampton, it is thought to have been located on the present-day site of Quseir al-Quadim , eight kilometres north...

 and Berenike
Berenice (port)
Berenice or Berenice Troglodytica , also known as Baranis and now known as Medinet-el Haras, is an ancient seaport of Egypt on the west coast of the Red Sea...

, with destination the Indus
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

 delta, the Kathiawar
Kathiawar
Kathiawar or Kathiawad is a peninsula in western India, which is part of the Saurashtra region on the Arabian Sea coast of Gujarat state. It is bounded on the north by the great wetland of the Rann of Kutch, on the northwest by the Gulf of Kutch, on the west and south by the Arabian Sea, and on...

 peninsula or Muziris
Muziris
Muziris is an ancient sea-port in Southwestern India on the Periyar River 3.2 km from its mouth. The derivation of the name Muziris is said to be from "Mucciripattanam," "mucciri" means "cleft palate" and "pattanam" means "city". Near Muziris, Periyar River was branched into two like a...

. Around 130 BC, Eudoxus of Cyzicus
Eudoxus of Cyzicus
Eudoxus of Cyzicus was a Greek navigator who explored the Arabian Sea for Ptolemy VIII, king of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt.-Voyages to India:...

 is reported (Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, Geog.  II.3.4) to have made a successful voyage to India and returned with a cargo of perfume
Perfume
Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils and/or aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents used to give the human body, animals, objects, and living spaces "a pleasant scent"...

s and gemstone
Gemstone
A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments...

s. By the time Indo-Greek rule was ending, up to 120 ships were setting sail every year from Myos Hormos to India (Strabo Geog. II.5.12).

Armed forces



The coins of the Indo-Greeks provide rich clues on their uniforms and weapons. Typical Hellenistic uniforms are depicted, with helmets being either round in the Greco-Bactrian style, or the flat kausia
Kausia
A kausia was an ancient Macedonian flat hat which was worn during the Hellenistic period but perhaps even before the time of Alexander the Great and was also used in lion hunting and as a protection against the sun by the poorer classes in Rome....

 of the Macedonians (coins of Apollodotus I
Apollodotus I
Apollodotus I Soter was an Indo-Greek king between 180 and 160 BCE or between 174 and 165 BCE who ruled the western and southern parts of the Indo-Greek kingdom, from Taxila in Punjab to the areas of Sindh and possibly Gujarat.-Ruler of the Indo-Greek...

).

Military technology


Their weapons were spears, swords, longbow (on the coins of Agathokleia
Agathokleia
Agathokleia Theotropa was an Indo-Greek queen who ruled in parts of northern India as regent for her son Strato I.-Date and Genealogy:...

) and arrows. Interestingly, around 130 BC the Central Asian recurve bow
Recurve bow
In archery, the shape of the bow is usually taken to be the view from the side. It is the product of the complex relationship of material stresses, designed by a bowyer...

 of the steppes with its gorytos
Gorytos
A gorytos designated in Antiquity a bow-case for a short recurve, or Scythian, bow. Usually, the gorytos would allow to store the full quiver, with bow and arrows. Many gorytos were highly decorated. Some have been found in Macedonian tombs, such as the so-called "Tomb of Philip" in Vergina of the...

 box starts to appear for the first time on the coins of Zoilos I
Zoilos I
Zoilus I Dikaios was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in Northern India and occupied the areas of the Paropamisade and Arachosia previously held by Menander I. He may have belonged to the dynasty of Euthydemus I.-Time of reign:...

, suggesting strong interactions (and apparently an alliance) with nomadic peoples, either Yuezhi or Scythian. The recurve bow becomes a standard feature of Indo-Greek horsemen by 90 BC, as seen on some of the coins of Hermaeus
King Hermaeus
Hermaeus Soter "the Saviour" was a Western Indo-Greek king of the Eucratid Dynasty, who ruled the territory of Paropamisade in the Hindu-Kush region, with his capital in Alexandria of the Caucasus...

.

Generally, Indo-Greek kings are often represented riding horses, as early as the reign of Antimachus II
Antimachus II
Antimachus II Nikephoros "The Victorious" was an Indo-Greek king. He ruled on a vast territory from the Hindu-Kush to the Punjab around 170 BCE. He was almost certainly identical with the eponymous son of Antimachus I, who is known from a unique preserved tax-receipt...

 around 160 BC. The equestrian tradition probably goes back to the Greco-Bactrians, who are said by Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 to have faced a Seleucid invasion in 210 BC with 10,000 horsemen. Although war elephants are never represented on coins, a harness plate (phalera
Phalera
Phalera may refer to:* Phalera , a genus of moths* Phalera , a piece of horse harness, frequently decorated in antiquity* Phalera , a sculpted disk of precious metal worn on the breastplate as a form of medal by soldiers of the Roman Empire...

) dated to the 3–2nd century BC, today in the Hermitage Museum
Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display,...

, depicts a helmetted Greek combatant on an Indian war elephant.

The Milinda Panha, in the questions of Nagasena
Nagasena
Nāgasena was a Brahmin who became a Buddhist sage lived about 150 BCE. His answers to questions about Buddhism posed by Menander I , the Indo-Greek king of northwestern India , are recorded in the Milinda Pañha....

 to king Menander, provides a rare glimpse of the military methods of the period:
"(Nagasena) Has it ever happened to you, O king, that rival kings rose up against you as enemies and opponents?
-(Menander) Yes, certainly.
-Then you set to work, I suppose, to have moats dug, and ramparts thrown up, and watch towers erected, and strongholds built, and stores of food collected?
-Not at all. All that had been prepared beforehand.
-Or you had yourself trained in the management of war elephants, and in horsemanship, and in the use of the war chariot, and in archery and fencing?
-Not at all. I had learnt all that before.
-But why?
-With the object of warding off future danger."


The Milinda Panha also describes the structure of Menander's army:
"Now one day Milinda the king proceeded forth out of the city to pass in review the innumerable host of his mighty army in its fourfold array (of elephants, cavalry, bowmen, and soldiers on foot)." (Milinda Panha, Book I)

Size of Indo-Greek armies



The armed forces of the Indo-Greeks engaged in important battles with local Indian forces. The ruler of Kalinga
Kalinga
Kalinga is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Tabuk and borders Mountain Province to the south, Abra to the west, Isabela to the east, Cagayan to the northeast, and Apayao to the north...

, Kharavela
Kharavela
Khārabēḷa was the third and greatest emperor of the Mahāmēghabāhana Dynasty of Kaḷinga . The main source of information about Khārabeḷa is his famous seventeen line rock-cut Hātigumphā inscription in a cave in the Udayagiri hills near Bhubaneswar, Orissa.During the reign of Khārabēḷa, the Chedi...

, claims in the Hathigumpha inscription
Hathigumpha inscription
The Hathigumpha inscription , from Udayagiri, near Bhubaneshwar in Orissa, was written by Kharavela, the king of Kalinga in India, during the 2nd century BCE...

 that he led a "large army" in the direction of Demetrius' own "army" and "transports", and that he induced him to retreat from Pataliputra to Mathura. The Greek ambassador Megasthenes
Megasthenes
Megasthenes was a Greek ethnographer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indica.He was born in Asia Minor and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria possibly to Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra, India. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain...

 took special note of the military strength of Kalinga
Kalinga
Kalinga is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Tabuk and borders Mountain Province to the south, Abra to the west, Isabela to the east, Cagayan to the northeast, and Apayao to the north...

 in his Indica
Megasthenes
Megasthenes was a Greek ethnographer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indica.He was born in Asia Minor and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria possibly to Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra, India. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain...

in the middle of the 3rd century BC:
An account by the Roman writer Justin
Junianus Justinus
Justin was a Latin historian who lived under the Roman Empire. His name is mentioned only in the title of his own history, and there it is in the genitive, which would be M. Juniani Justini no matter which nomen he bore.Of his personal history nothing is known...

 gives another hint of the size of Indo-Greek armies, which, in the case of the conflict between the Greco-Bactrian Eucratides and the Indo-Greek Demetrius II
Demetrius II of India
Demetrius II was a Greco-Bactrian/Indo-Greek king who ruled brieftly during the 2nd century BCE. Little is known about him and there are different views about how to date him. Earlier authors such as Tarn and Narain saw him as a son and sub-king of Demetrius I, but this view is now abandoned.Osmund...

, he numbers at 60,000 (although they allegedly lost to 300 Greco-Bactrians):
These are considerable numbers, as large armies during the Hellenistic period typically numbered between 20,000 to 30,000.

The Indo-Greeks were later confronted by the nomadic tribes from Central Asia (Yuezhi
Yuezhi
The Yuezhi, or Rouzhi , also known as the Da Yuezhi or Da Rouzhi , were an ancient Central Asian people....

 and Scythians
Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians is a term used to refer to Sakas , who migrated into Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, Gandhara, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE....

). According to Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian was an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the 2nd century BCE, during the time of the Han Dynasty...

, the Yuezhi represented a considerable force of between 100,000 and 200,000 mounted archer warriors, with customs identical to those of the Xiongnu
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

.

Legacy of the Indo-Greeks




From the 1st century AD, the Greek communities of central Asia and northwestern India lived under the control of the Kushan branch of the Yuezhi, apart from a short-lived invasion of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom
Indo-Parthian Kingdom
The Gondopharid dynasty, and other so-called Indo-Parthian rulers, were a group of ancient kings from present day eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan who ruled India, during or slightly before the 1st century AD...

. The Kushans founded the Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

, which was to prosper for several centuries. In the south, the Greeks were under the rule of the Western Kshatrapas
Western Kshatrapas
The Western Satraps, Western Kshatrapas, or Kshaharatas were Saka rulers of the western and central part of India...

. The Kalash tribe of the Chitral Valley claim to be descendants of the Indo-Greeks.
It is unclear how much longer the Greeks managed to maintain a distinct presence in the Indian sub-continent. The legacy of the Indo-Greeks was felt however for several centuries, from the usage of the Greek language and calendrical methods, to the influences on the numismatics of the Indian subcontinent, tracable down to the period of the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the...

 in the 4th century.

The Indo-Greeks may also have had some influence on the religious plane as well, especially in relation to the developing Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism has been described as "the form of Buddhism which (regardless of how Hinduized its later forms became) seems to have originated in the Greco-Buddhist communities of India, through a conflation of the Greek Democritean
Democritus
Democritus was an Ancient Greek philosopher born in Abdera, Thrace, Greece. He was an influential pre-Socratic philosopher and pupil of Leucippus, who formulated an atomic theory for the cosmos....

Sophistic
Sophism
Sophism in the modern definition is a specious argument used for deceiving someone. In ancient Greece, sophists were a category of teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching aretê — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and...

Skeptical
Philosophical skepticism
Philosophical skepticism is both a philosophical school of thought and a method that crosses disciplines and cultures. Many skeptics critically examine the meaning systems of their times, and this examination often results in a position of ambiguity or doubt...

 tradition with the rudimentary and unformalized empirical and skeptical elements already present in early Buddhism".

List of the Indo-Greek kings and their territories


Today 36 Indo-Greek kings are known. Several of them are also recorded in Western and Indian historical sources, but the majority are known through numismatic evidence only. The exact chronology
Chronology
Chronology is the science of arranging events in their order of occurrence in time, such as the use of a timeline or sequence of events. It is also "the determination of the actual temporal sequence of past events".Chronology is part of periodization...

 and sequencing of their rule is still a matter of scholarly inquiry, with adjustments regular being made with new analysis and coin finds (overstrikes of one king over another's coins being the most critical element in establishing chronological sequences). The system used here is adapted from Osmund Bopearachchi, supplemented by the views of R C Senior and occasionally other authorities.

See also


  • Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
    Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
    The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC...

  • Seleucid Empire
    Seleucid Empire
    The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

  • Greco-Buddhism
    Greco-Buddhism
    Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Graeco-Buddhism, refers to the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BCE and the 5th century CE in the area covered by the Indian sub-continent, and modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-western...

  • Indo-Scythians
    Indo-Scythians
    Indo-Scythians is a term used to refer to Sakas , who migrated into Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, Gandhara, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE....

  • Indo-Parthian Kingdom
    Indo-Parthian Kingdom
    The Gondopharid dynasty, and other so-called Indo-Parthian rulers, were a group of ancient kings from present day eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan who ruled India, during or slightly before the 1st century AD...

  • Kushan Empire
    Kushan Empire
    The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

  • Roman commerce
    Roman commerce
    Roman trade was the engine that drove the Roman economy of the late Republic and the early Empire. Fashions and trends in historiography and in popular culture have tended to neglect the economic basis of the empire in favor of the lingua franca of Latin and the exploits of the Roman legions...

  • Timeline of Indo-Greek Kingdoms
    Timeline of Indo-Greek Kingdoms
    -Main Indo-Greek kings, timeline and territories:There were over 30 Indo-Greek kings, often in competition on different territories. Many of them are only known through their coins...


External links