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The Bactrian Kingdom, known to historians as the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, was a Hellenistic-era
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
state, and along with the
Indo-Greek Kingdom The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya), was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Ancient Greece, Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regio ...
, the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
and the Indian Subcontinent from its founding in 256 BC by Diodotus I Soter to its fall c.120-100 BC under the reign of Heliocles II. It covered much of present-day
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
,
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
,
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
and
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
, and at its zenith, parts of
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
. Bactria was ruled by the Diodotid dynasty and rival
Euthydemid dynasty Image:Bust of Euthydemus.jpg, 250px, Euthydemus I The Euthydemid dynasty was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic dynasty founded by Euthydemus I, Euthydemus in 224 BCE which ruled the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Kingdom, I ...
. The capitals of
Ai-Khanum Ai-Khanoum (Aï Khānum, also Ay Khanum, lit. “Lady Moon” in Uzbek language, Uzbek), possibly the historical Alexandria on the Oxus ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια ἡ ἐπὶ τοῦ Ώξου), possibly later named Eucratideia, Eucratidia, Ε ...
and
Bactra ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome A dome (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

Bactra
were among the largest and richest of antiquity - Bactria itself was known as the ‘''land of a thousand golden cities’''. The Indo-Greek Kingdoms, as Bactrian successor states, would last until 10 AD.


History


Independence and Diodotid dynasty

Diodotus, the
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
of Bactria (and probably the surrounding provinces) founded the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom when he seceded from the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
around 250 BC and became King
Diodotus I Diodotus I Soter (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
of Bactria. 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. 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. 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 The Syrian Wars were a series of six wars between the Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period ...
, a catastrophic conflict for the Seleucid Empire. ), defected and proclaimed himself king; all the other people of the Orient followed his example and seceded from the Macedonians. ,
Justin Justin may refer to: People * Justin (name), including a list of persons with the given name Justin * Justin (historian), a Latin historian who lived under the Roman Empire * Justin I (c. 450–527), or ''Flavius Iustinius Augustus'', Eastern Roma ...
, XLI, 4 The new kingdom, highly urbanized and considered 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), was to further grow in power and engage in territorial expansion to the east and the west: In 247 BC, the Ptolemaic empire (the Greek rulers of Egypt following the death of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
) captured the Seleucid capital,
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ ...
. In the resulting power vacuum, Andragoras, the Seleucid
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
of Parthia, proclaimed independence from the Seleucids, declaring himself king. A decade later, he was defeated and killed by
ArsacesArsaces or Arsakes (Grecized form of Iranian ''Arsh(a)k'') is the eponymous Greek form of the dynastic name of the Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Iranian political and cultural power in an ...
of Parthia, leading to the rise of a
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, , who led the tribe in conquering the region of in 's northeast, ...

Parthian Empire
. This cut Bactria off from 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 Diodotus II Theos ( Greek: ; died c. 225 BC) was the son of Diodotus I, who led Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in th ...
, who allied himself with the Parthian
ArsacesArsaces or Arsakes (Grecized form of Iranian ''Arsh(a)k'') is the eponymous Greek form of the dynastic name of the Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Iranian political and cultural power in an ...
in his fight against
Seleucus II Seleucus II Callinicus Pogon ( el, ; ''Kallinikos'' means "beautifully triumphant"; ''Pogon'' means "the Beard"; July/August 265 BC – December 225 BC),, . was a ruler of the Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterran ...

Seleucus II
:


Euthydemid dynasty and Seleucid invasion

Euthydemus, a Greek from Magnesia according to
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the ...

Polybius
,Polybius 11.34
/ref> and possibly satrap of
Sogdiana Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
, overthrew the dynasty of Diodotus II around 230-220 BC and started his own dynasty. Euthydemus's control extended to Sogdiana, going beyond the city of
Alexandria Eschate Alexandria Eschate or Alexandria Eskhata ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια Ἐσχάτη), literally "Alexandria the Furthest", was a city founded by Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 ...
founded by Alexander the Great in
Ferghana Fergana ( uz, Fargʻona/Фарғона, russian: Фергана́), or Ferghana, is the capital of Fergana Region in eastern Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), ...
:
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)Strabo 11.11.2
/ref>
Euthydemus was attacked by the Seleucid ruler
Antiochus III Antiochus III the Great (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is a ...
around 210 BC. Although he commanded 10,000 horsemen, Euthydemus initially lost a
battle A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare between opposing military units of any number or size. A war usually consists of multiple battles. In general, a battle is a military engagement that is well defined in duration, area, and force ...
on the
Arius Arius (; grc-koi, Ἄρειος, ; 250 or 256–336) was a Cyrenaic The Cyrenaics or Kyrenaics ( grc, Κυρηναϊκοί; ''Kyrēnaïkoí'') were a sensual hedonist Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common th ...
Polybius 10.49, Battle of the Arius
/ref> and had to retreat. He then successfully resisted a three-year siege in the fortified city of
Bactra ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome A dome (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...
(modern
Balkh ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome), in July 2001 , image_flag = , flag_size = , image_seal = , seal_size = , image_shield ...

Balkh
), before Antiochus finally decided to recognize the new ruler, and to offer one of his daughters to Euthydemus's son
Demetrius Demetrius is the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...

Demetrius
around 206 BC. 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: In an inscription found in the
Kuliab russian: Куляб , image_skyline = Kulob 2700 th Anniversary monument - panoramio.jpg , imagesize = , image_caption = The 2700th Anniversary monument, Kulob , image_flag = , image_seal = , image_map = , map_caption = , pushpin_map ...
area of
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
, in eastern Greco-Bactria, and dated to 200–195 BC,Shane Wallac
Greek Culture in Afghanistan and India: Old Evidence and New Discoveries
p.206
a Greek by the name of Heliodotos, dedicating a fire altar to
Hestia In the Ancient Greek religion Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompa ...

Hestia
, mentions Euthydemus as the greatest of all kings, and his son as "Demetrios Kalinikos" "Demetrius the Glorious Conqueror": Following the departure of the Seleucid army, the Bactrian kingdom seems to have expanded. In the west, areas in north-eastern
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
may have been absorbed, possibly as far as into
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
, whose ruler had been defeated by
Antiochus the Great Antiochus III the Great (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10 ...
. These territories possibly are identical with the Bactrian satrapies of
Tapuria . The borders represent the traditional geographical boundaries of each region Tabaristan or Tabarestan ( fa, طبرستان, Ṭabarestān, or mzn, تبرستون, Tabarestun, ultimately from Middle Persian: , ''Tapur(i)stān''), was the name ap ...
and Traxiane.


Expansion into the Indian subcontinent (after 180 BC)

Demetrius Demetrius is the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...

Demetrius
, the son of Euthydemus, started an invasion of the subcontinent from 180 BC, a few years after the
Mauryan empire The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleoli ...
had been overthrown by the
Shunga dynasty The Shunga Empire (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scien ...
. Historians differ on the motivations behind the invasion. Some historians suggest that the invasion of the subcontinent was intended to show their support for the
Mauryan empire The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleoli ...
, and to protect the Buddhist faith from the religious persecutions of the Shungas as alleged by Buddhist scriptures (Tarn). Other historians have argued however that the accounts of these persecutions have been exaggerated (, Lamotte). Demetrius may have been as far as the imperial capital
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
in today's eastern India (today
Patna Patna ( ), historically known as ''Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliput ...
). However, these campaigns are typically attributed to Menander. The invasion was completed by 175 BC. This established in the northwestern Indian Subcontinent what is called the
Indo-Greek Kingdom The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya), was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Ancient Greece, Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regio ...
, which lasted for almost two centuries until around AD 10. The Buddhist faith flourished under the Indo-Greek kings, foremost among them
Menander I Menander I Soter ( grc, Μένανδρος Σωτήρ, ''Ménandros Sōtḗr'', ''Menandrauou Sotiros'', ‘Menander the Saviour’) (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate ...
. It was also a period of great cultural syncretism, exemplified by the development of
Greco-Buddhism Greco-Buddhism, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a ...
.


Eucratides

Back in Bactria, Eucratides, either a general of Demetrius or an ally of the
Seleucids The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
, managed to overthrow the Euthydemid dynasty and establish his own rule around 170 BC, probably dethroning
Antimachus I Anthimachus I Theos (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mi ...
and
Antimachus II Antimachus II Nikephoros ( Greek: ; the epithet An epithet (from el, ἐπίθετον, , neuter of , , "attributed, added") is a word or phrase, accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades ...

Antimachus II
. The Indian branch of the Euthydemids tried to strike back. An Indian king called Demetrius (very likely Demetrius II) is said to have returned to Bactria with 60,000 men to oust the usurper, but he apparently was defeated and killed in the encounter:
Eucratides led many wars with great courage, and, while weakened by them, was put under siege by Demetrius, king of the Indians. He made numerous sorties, and managed to vanquish 60,000 enemies with 300 soldiers, and thus liberated after four months, he put India under his rule. (Justin, XLI,6)Justin XLI,6
/ref>
Eucratides campaigned extensively in present-day northwestern India, and ruled a vast territory, as indicated by his minting of coins in many Indian mints, possibly as far as the
Jhelum River The Jhelum River ( ur, ) is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its ...

Jhelum River
in
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...

Punjab
. In the end, however, he was repulsed by the Indo-Greek king
Menander I Menander I Soter ( grc, Μένανδρος Σωτήρ, ''Ménandros Sōtḗr'', ''Menandrauou Sotiros'', ‘Menander the Saviour’) (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate ...
, who managed to create a huge unified territory. In a rather confused account, Justin explains that Eucratides was killed on the field by "his son and joint king", who would be his own son, either Eucratides II or
Heliocles I Image: Heliocles I helmetted.jpg, 300px, Silver tetradrachm of Heliocles (145–130 BCE) Obv: Bust of Heliocles helmetted and in uniform. Rev: Zeus standing, with thunderbolt and sceptre. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ ΗΛΙΟΚΛΕ ...

Heliocles I
(although there are speculations that it could have been his enemy's son Demetrius II). The son drove over Eucratides' bloodied body with his chariot and left him dismembered without a sepulchre:
As Eucratides returned from India, he was killed on the way back by his son, whom he had associated to his rule, and who, without hiding his parricide, as if he didn't kill a father but an enemy, ran with his chariot over the blood of his father, and ordered the corpse to be left without a sepulture. (Justin XLI,6)


Defeats by Parthia

During or after his Indian campaigns, Eucratides was attacked and defeated by the
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
n king Mithridates I, possibly in alliance with partisans of the Euthydemids:
The Bactrians, involved in various wars, lost not only their rule but also their freedom, as, exhausted by their wars against the Sogdians, the Arachotes, the Dranges, the Arians and the Indians, they were finally crushed, as if drawn of all their blood, by an enemy weaker than them, the Parthians. (Justin, XLI,6)
Following his victory, Mithridates I gained Bactria's territory west of the
Arius Arius (; grc-koi, Ἄρειος, ; 250 or 256–336) was a Cyrenaic The Cyrenaics or Kyrenaics ( grc, Κυρηναϊκοί; ''Kyrēnaïkoí'') were a sensual hedonist Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common th ...
, the regions of
Tapuria . The borders represent the traditional geographical boundaries of each region Tabaristan or Tabarestan ( fa, طبرستان, Ṭabarestān, or mzn, تبرستون, Tabarestun, ultimately from Middle Persian: , ''Tapur(i)stān''), was the name ap ...
and Traxiane: "The satrapy Turiva and that of Aspionus were taken away from Eucratides by the Parthians." (Strabo XI.11.20) In the year 141 BC, the Greco-Bactrians seem to have entered in an alliance with the Seleucid king Demetrius II to fight again against Parthia:
The people of the Orient welcomed his (Demetrius II's) arrival, partly because of the cruelty of the Arsacid king of the Parthians, partly because, used to the rule of the Macedonians, they disliked the arrogance of this new people. Thus, Demetrius, supported by the Persians, Elymes and Bactrians, routed the Parthians in numerous battles. At the end, deceived by a false peace treaty, he was taken prisoner. (Justin XXXVI, 1,1)
The 5th-century historian
Orosius Paulus Orosius (; born 375/385 – 420 AD), less often Paul Orosius in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England ...
reports that Mithridates I managed to occupy territory between the
Indus#REDIRECT Indus River
{{Redirect category shell, {{R from move {{R from miscapitalisation {{R unprintworthy ...

Indus
and the Hydaspes towards the end of his reign (c. 138 BC, before his kingdom was weakened by his death in 136 BC).
Heliocles I Image: Heliocles I helmetted.jpg, 300px, Silver tetradrachm of Heliocles (145–130 BCE) Obv: Bust of Heliocles helmetted and in uniform. Rev: Zeus standing, with thunderbolt and sceptre. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ ΗΛΙΟΚΛΕ ...

Heliocles I
ended up ruling what territory remained. The defeat, both in the west and the east, may have left Bactria very weakened and open to nomadic invasions.


Nomadic invasions

A nomadic steppe people called the
Yuezhi The Yuezhi (, ) were an ancient people first described in Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and depe ...
inhabited a region thousands of miles to the east of Bactria on the edges of the
Han Empire The Han dynasty () was the second imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 – 1 June 195 BC), born Liu Bang () with courtesy name Ji (季), was the founder and f ...

Han Empire
called the Hexi Corridor. Shortly before 176 BC, the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
invaded the Hexi Corridor, forcing the Yuezhi to flee the region. In 162 BC the Yuezhi were driven west to the
Ili River 300px, Map of the Lake Balkhash drainage basin showing the Ili River and its tributaries The Ili ( ug, ئىلى دەرياسى, Ili deryasi, Ili dəryasi, 6=Или Дәряси; kk, Ile, ; russian: Или; zh, c=伊犁河, p=Yīlí Hé, dng, ...
valley by the Xiongnu. In 132 they were driven out of the Ili valley by the
Wusun The Wusun (; Eastern Han Chinese *''ʔɑ-suən'' < Old Chinese (140 BCE < 436 BCE): *''Ɂâ-sûn'') were an ancient semi-Eurasian nomads, nomadic Eurasian Steppe, steppe people mentioned in China, Chinese records from the 2nd century B ...
. The surviving Yuezhi migrated again south towards the territory just north of the Oxus River where they encountered and expelled a nomadic steppe nation called
Sakastan Sistān ( fa, سیستان), known in ancient times as Sakastān ( fa, سَكاستان, "the land of the Saka"), is a historical and Sistan Basin, geographical region in present-day Eastern Iran (Sistan and Baluchestan Province) and Southern ...
. Around 140 BC, eastern
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
(the
Saka The Saka, Śaka, Shaka, Śāka or Sacae ( ; Kharosthi: ; Brahmi script, Brahmi: , ; sa, wiktionary:शक#Sanskrit, शक , ; grc, Σάκαι ; la, Sacae; , Old Chinese, old , Pinyin, mod. , ; egy, wiktionary:sk#Etymology 2, 𓋴𓎝 ...

Saka
, or Sacaraucae of Greek sources), apparently being pushed forward by the southward migration of the
Yuezhi The Yuezhi (, ) were an ancient people first described in Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and depe ...
started to invade various parts of Parthia and Bactria. Their invasion of Parthia is well documented: they attacked in the direction of the cities of
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ''Мерв'', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( el, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...

Merv
, Hecatompolis and
Ecbatana Ecbatana (; peo, 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴 ''Hagmatāna'' or ''Haŋmatāna'', literally "the place of gathering"; Elamite language, Elamite: 𒀝𒈠𒁕𒈾 ''Ag-ma-da-na''; Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭧𐭬𐭲𐭠𐭭; Parthian language, Parthian: ...

Ecbatana
. They managed to defeat and kill the Parthian king
Phraates II Phraates II (also spelled Frahad I; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭇𐭕 ''Frahāt'') was king of the Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran The history o ...
, son of Mithridates I, routing the Greek mercenary troops under his command (troops he had acquired during his victory over
Antiochus VII Antiochus VII Euergetes ( el, Ἀντίοχος Ζ΄ Ευεργέτης; c. 164/160 BC129 BC), nicknamed Sidetes ( el, Σιδήτης) (from Side, Turkey, Side, a city in Asia Minor), also known as Antiochus the Pious, was ruler of the Hellenistic ...
). Again in 123 BC, Phraates's successor, his uncle Artabanus I, was killed by the Scythians. When the
Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
diplomat
Zhang Qian Zhang Qian (; died c. 114) was a Chinese official and diplomat who served as an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the late 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty. He was one of the first official diplomats to bring back valuable inf ...

Zhang Qian
visited the Yuezhi in 126 BC, trying to obtain their alliance to fight the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
, he explained that the Yuezhi were settled north of the
Oxus The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River, or Jay-hoon, and historically known by its Latin language, Latin name or Greek ) i ...
but also held under their sway the territory south of Oxus, which makes up the remainder of Bactria. According to Zhang Qian, the Yuezhi represented a considerable force of between 100,000 and 200,000 mounted archer warriors, with customs identical to those of the Xiongnu, which would probably have easily defeated Greco-Bactrian forces (in 208 BC when the Greco-Bactrian king
Euthydemus I Euthydemus I (Greek language, Greek: ; c. 260 BC – 200/195 BC) was a Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Greco-Bactrian king in about 230 or 223 BC according to Polybius; he is thought to have originally been a satrap of Sogdiana who overturned the dyna ...
confronted the invasion of the Seleucid king
Antiochus III the Great Antiochus III the Great ( Greek: ; c. 2413 July 187 BC, ruled April/June 222 – 3 July 187 BC) was a Greek Hellenistic king and the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled over the Syria (region), region of Syria and large parts of the rest o ...
, he commanded 10,000 horsemen). Zhang Qian actually visited Bactria (named
Daxia Daxia, Ta-Hsia, or Ta-Hia (; literally: 'Great Xia') was apparently the name given in antiquity by the Han Chinese to Tukhara or Tokhara: the main part of Bactria, in what is now northern Afghanistan, and parts of southern Tajikistan and Uzbeki ...

Daxia
in
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
) in 126 BC, and portrays a country which was totally demoralized and whose political system had vanished, although its urban infrastructure remained:
Daxia (Bactria) is located over 2,000 li southwest of Dayuan, south of the Gui (Oxus) river. Its people cultivate the land and have cities and houses. Their customs are like those of Dayuan. It has no great ruler but only a number of petty chiefs ruling the various cities. The people are poor in the use of arms and afraid of battle, but they are clever at commerce. After the Great Yuezhi moved west and attacked Daxia, the entire country came under their sway. The population of the country is large, numbering some 1,000,000 or more persons. The capital is called the city of Lanshi (
Bactra ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome A dome (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...
) and has a market where all sorts of goods are bought and sold. (''
Records of the Great Historian The ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Western Han Dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his fathe ...
'' by
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu B ...

Sima Qian
, quoting Zhang Qian, trans. Burton Watson)
The Yuezhi further expanded southward into Bactria around 120 BC, apparently further pushed out by invasions from the northern
Wusun The Wusun (; Eastern Han Chinese *''ʔɑ-suən'' < Old Chinese (140 BCE < 436 BCE): *''Ɂâ-sûn'') were an ancient semi-Eurasian nomads, nomadic Eurasian Steppe, steppe people mentioned in China, Chinese records from the 2nd century B ...
. It seems they also pushed Scythian tribes before them, which continued to India, where they came to be identified as
Indo-Scythians Indo-Scythians (also called Indo-Sakas) were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European languages, Indo-European ethnolinguistic group who are identified by their use of the Iranian ...
. The invasion is also described in western Classical sources from the 1st century BC:
The best known tribes are those who deprived the Greeks of Bactriana, the Asii, Pasiani, Tochari, and Sacarauli, who came from the country on the other side of the
Jaxartes uz, Sirdaryo, Сирдарё tg, Сирдарё , name_native_lang = , name_other = Jaxartes, Seyhun , name_etymology = unknown , image = Syr Darya.jpg , image_size = 290px , image_caption = Syr Darya ...
, opposite the
Sacae The Saka, Śaka, Shaka, Śāka or Sacae ( ''Sakā''; Kharosthi: 𐨯𐨐 ''Saka''; Brahmi: , ''Śaka''; sa, शक, शाक, ''Śaka'', ''Śāka''; grc, Σάκαι, ''Sákai''; la, Sacae; , old ''*Sək'', mod. ''Sāi''; egy ...
and Sogdiani.
(
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
, XI.8.1)
Around that time the king
Heliocles Image: Heliocles I helmetted.jpg, 300px, Silver tetradrachm of Heliocles (145–130 BCE) Obv: Bust of Heliocles helmetted and in uniform. Rev: Zeus standing, with thunderbolt and sceptre. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ ΗΛΙΟΚΛΕ ...

Heliocles
abandoned Bactria and moved his capital to the
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capital ...

Kabul
valley, from where he ruled his Indian holdings. Having left the Bactrian territory, he is technically the last Greco-Bactrian king, although several of his descendants, moving beyond the Hindu Kush, would form the western part of the
Indo-Greek kingdom The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya), was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Ancient Greece, Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regio ...
. The last of these "western" Indo-Greek kings,
Hermaeus Hermaeus Soter or Hermaios Soter ( grc, Ἑρμαῖος ὁ Σωτήρ; epithet means "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 Alex ...
, would rule until around 70 BC, when the Yuezhi again invaded his territory in the Paropamisadae (while the "eastern" Indo-Greek kings would continue to rule until around AD 10 in the area of the Punjab region). Overall, the
Yuezhi The Yuezhi (, ) were an ancient people first described in Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and depe ...
remained in Bactria for more than a century. They became Hellenized to some degree, as suggested by their adoption of the Greek alphabet to write their Iranian language, and by numerous remaining coins, minted in the style of the Greco-Bactrian kings, with the text in Greek. Around 12 BC the Yuezhi then moved further to northern India where they established the Kushan Empire.


Military forces

Before Greek conquest, the armies of Bactria were overwhelmingly composed of cavalry and were well known as effective soldiers, making up large portions of the Achaemenid cavalry contingents. 2,000 Bactrian horsemen fought at the Battle of the Granicus, Granicus against Alexander and 9,000 at the Battle of Gaugamela on the left flank of Darius' army. Herodotus also mentions the widespread use of chariots among the Bactrians. After Alexander's conquest of Bactria, Bactrian cavalry units served in his army during the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great, invasion of India and after the Indian campaign, Alexander enlarged his elite companion cavalry by adding Bactrians, Sogdians and other east Iranian cavalrymen.Nikonorov, Valerii; The Armies of Bactria 700 B.C. - 450 A.D Both Aeschylus (The Persians, v. 318) and Quintus Curtius Rufus, Curtius mention that Bactria was able to field a force of 30,000 horse. Most of these horsemen were lightly armed, using bows and javelins before closing with sword and spear. Herodotus describes the Persian cavalry of Mardonius at the Battle of Plataea (which included Bactrians) as horse archers (''hippotoxotai''). Bactrian infantry is described by Herodotus as wearing caps in the Median style, short spears and reed Scythian style bows. Alexander and Seleucus I both settled other Greeks in Bactria, while preferring to keep their Macedonian settlers farther west. Greek garrisons in the satrapy of Bactria were housed in fortresses called ''phrouria'' and at major cities. Military colonists were settled in the countryside and were each given an allotment of land called a ''kleros''. These colonists numbered in the tens of thousands, and were trained in the fashion of the Ancient Macedonian army, Macedonian army. A Greek army in Bactria during the anti-Macedonian revolt of 323 numbered 23,000. The army of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom was then a multi-ethnic force with Greek colonists making up large portions of the infantry as pike phalanxes, supported by light infantry units of local Bactrians and mercenary javelin-wielding Thureophoroi. The cavalry arm was very large for a Hellenistic army and composed mostly of native Bactrian, Sogdian and other Indo-Iranians, Indo-Iranian light horsemen. Polybius mentions 10,000 horse at the Battle of the Arius river in 208 BC. Greco-Bactrian armies also included units of heavily armored cataphracts and small elite units of companion cavalry. The third arm of the Greco-Bactrian army was the Indian war elephants, which are depicted in some coins with a tower (''thorakion'') or howdah housing men armed with bows and javelins. This force grew as the Greco-Bactrian kingdom expanded into India and was widely depicted in Greco-Bactrian coinage. Other units in the Bactrian military included mercenaries or levies from various surrounding peoples such as the
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
, Dahae, Indians and
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
ns.


Culture and contacts


Greek culture in Bactria

Greeks first began settling the region long before Alexander conquered it. The Persian Empire had a policy of exiling rebelling Greek communities to that region long before it fell to Greek conquest. Therefore, it had a considerable Greek community that was expanded upon after Macedonian conquest. The Greco-Bactrians were known for their high level of Hellenistic sophistication, and kept regular contact with both the Mediterranean and neighbouring India. They were on friendly terms with India and exchanged ambassadors. Their cities, such as Ai-Khanoum in northeastern
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
(probably Alexandria on the Oxus), and Bactra (modern
Balkh ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome), in July 2001 , image_flag = , flag_size = , image_seal = , seal_size = , image_shield ...

Balkh
) where Hellenistic remains have been found, demonstrate a sophisticated Hellenistic urban culture. This site gives a snapshot of Greco-Bactrian culture around 145 BC, as the city was burnt to the ground around that date during nomadic invasions and never re-settled. Ai-Khanoum "has all the hallmarks of a Hellenistic city, with a Greek theater, gymnasium (ancient Greece), gymnasium and some Greek houses with colonnaded courtyards" (Boardman). Remains of Classical Corinthian order, Corinthian columns were found in excavations of the site, as well as various sculptural fragments. In particular a huge foot fragment in excellent Hellenistic style was recovered, which is estimated to have belonged to a 5–6 meters tall statue. One of the inscriptions in Greek found at Ai-Khanoum, the Herôon of Kineas, has been dated to 300–250 BC, and describes Delphic precepts:
As children, learn good manners. As young men, learn to control the passions. In middle age, be just. In old age, give good advice. Then die, without regret.
Some of the Greco-Bactrian coins, and those of their successors the Indo-Greeks, are considered the finest examples of Greek coins, Greek numismatic art with "a nice blend of realism and idealization", including the largest coins to be minted in the Hellenistic world: the largest gold coin was minted by Eucratides (reigned 171–145 BC), the largest silver coin by the Indo-Greek king Amyntas Nikator (reigned c. 95–90 BC). The portraits "show a degree of individuality never matched by the often bland depictions of their royal contemporaries further West" (Roger Ling, "Greece and the Hellenistic World"). Several other Greco-Bactrian cities have been further identified, as in Saksanokhur in southern
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
(archaeological searches by a Soviet team under B.A. Litvinski), or in Dal'verzin Tepe. File:HeraklesStatuette.jpg, Bronze Herakles statuette. Ai Khanoum. 2nd century BC. File:Philosopher2.JPG, Sculpture of an old man, possibly a philosopher. Ai Khanoum, 2nd century BC. File:PhilosopherBust.jpg, Close-up of the same statue. File:ManWithChlamys5.jpg, Frieze of a naked man wearing a chlamys. Ai Khanoum, 2nd century BC. File:GorgoyleSharp.jpg, Gargoyle in the form of a Greek comic mask. Ai Khanoum, 2nd century BC. File:AiKhanoumPlateSharp.jpg, Plate depicting Cybele pulled by lions. Ai Khanoum.


Takht-i Sangin

Takht-i Sangin (Tajik language, Tajik: "Throne of Stone") is an archaeological site located near the confluence of the Vakhsh River, Vakhsh and Panj rivers, the source of the Amu Darya, in southern
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
. During the Hellenistic period it was a city of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom with a large temple dedicated to the
Oxus The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River, or Jay-hoon, and historically known by its Latin language, Latin name or Greek ) i ...
(Vakhsh river), which remained in use in the following Kushan period, until the third century AD. The site may have been the source of the Oxus Treasure. File:Ionic pillar, cella of the Temple of the Oxus, Takht-i Sangin, late 4th - early 3rd century BCE.jpg, Ionic pillar, cella of the Temple of the Oxus, Takht-i Sangin, late 4th - early 3rd century BCE. File:Head of a Greco-Bactrian ruler, Temple of the Oxus, Takht-i-Sangin, 3rd-2nd century BCE.jpg, Head of a Greco-Bactrian ruler with diadem, Temple of the Oxus, Takht-i Sangin, 3rd-2nd century BCE. This could also be a portrait of Seleucus I Nicator, Seleucus I. File:Altar to God Oxus, with Marsias playing the aolos, Temple of the Oxus, Takht-i Sangin, dated 2nd century BCE.jpg, Hellenistic silenus Marsyas from Takhti Sangin, with dedication in Greek to the god of the Oxus, by "Atrosokes", a Bactrian name. Temple of the Oxus, Takht-i Sangin, 200-150 BCE. Tajikistan National Museum. File:Alexander-Herakles head, Takht-i Sangin, Temple of the Oxus, 3rd century BCE.jpg, Alexander-Herakles head, Takht-i Sangin, Temple of the Oxus, 3rd century BCE.


Contacts with the Han Empire

To the north, Euthydemus also ruled
Sogdiana Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
and Fergana Valley, Ferghana, and there are indications that from
Alexandria Eschate Alexandria Eschate or Alexandria Eskhata ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια Ἐσχάτη), literally "Alexandria the Furthest", was a city founded by Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 ...
the Greco-Bactrians may have led expeditions as far as Kashgar and Ürümqi in Xinjiang, leading to the first known contacts between China and the West around 220 BC. The Greek historian
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
too writes that: "they extended their empire even as far as the Seres (Chinese) and the Phryni". (
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
, XI.XI.I). Several statuettes and representations of Greek soldiers have been found north of the Tian Shan, on the doorstep to China, and are today on display in the Xinjiang museum at Ürümqi (Boardman). Middle Eastern or Greek influences on Chinese art have also been suggested (Friedrich Hirth, Hirth, Rostovtzeff). Designs with rosette (design), rosette flowers, geometric lines, Meander (art), meanders and glass inlays, suggestive of Egyptian, Persian, and/or Hellenistic influences, can be found on some early Han dynasty bronze mirrors. Some speculate that Greek influence is found in the artworks of the burial site of China's first Emperor Qin Shi Huang, dating back to the 3rd century BC, including in the manufacture of the famous Terracotta army. This idea suggested that Greek artists may have come to China at that time to train local artisans in making sculptures However, this idea is disputed. 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, 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). The practice of exporting Chinese metals, in particular iron, for trade is attested around that period. Kings Euthydemus, Euthydemus II, Agathocles of Bactria, Agathocles and Pantaleon made these coin issues around 170 BC. An alternative suggestion is that the metal in the coinage derived from a mine where a cupro-nickel alloy occurred naturally, perhaps Anarak in eastern
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
. 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 "Chinas, Ciñas" in the ''Mahabharata'' and the ''Manu Smriti''. The Han dynasty explorer and ambassador
Zhang Qian Zhang Qian (; died c. 114) was a Chinese official and diplomat who served as an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the late 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty. He was one of the first official diplomats to bring back valuable inf ...

Zhang Qian
visited Bactria in 126 BC, and reported the presence of Chinese products in the Bactrian markets:
"When I was in Bactria (
Daxia Daxia, Ta-Hsia, or Ta-Hia (; literally: 'Great Xia') was apparently the name given in antiquity by the Han Chinese to Tukhara or Tokhara: the main part of Bactria, in what is now northern Afghanistan, and parts of southern Tajikistan and Uzbeki ...

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 Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu B ...

Sima Qian
, trans. Burton Watson).
The purpose of Zhang Qian's journey was to look for civilizations on the steppe that the Han could ally with against the Xiongnu. Upon his return, Zhang Qian informed the Chinese emperor Han Emperor Wu of Han China, Wudi of the level of sophistication of the urban civilizations of Ferghana, Bactria and Parthia, who became interested in developing commercial relationships with them:
The Son of Heaven on hearing all this reasoned thus:
Ferghana Fergana ( uz, Fargʻona/Фарғона, russian: Фергана́), or Ferghana, is the capital of Fergana Region in eastern Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), ...
(Dayuan) and the possessions of Bactria (
Daxia Daxia, Ta-Hsia, or Ta-Hia (; literally: 'Great Xia') was apparently the name given in antiquity by the Han Chinese to Tukhara or Tokhara: the main part of Bactria, in what is now northern Afghanistan, and parts of southern Tajikistan and Uzbeki ...

Daxia
) and
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

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. (''Hanshu'', 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.


Contacts with the Indian Subcontinent (250–180)

The Indian emperor Chandragupta Maurya, Chandragupta, founder of the Mauryan dynasty, conquered the northwestern subcontinent upon the death of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
around 323 BC. However, contacts were kept with his Greek neighbours in the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
, 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 Ashoka 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 Indo-Iranic 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 civilization, 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 Antiochus II Theos, Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Ptolemy, Antigonus II Gonatas, Antigonos, Magas of Cyrene, Magas and Alexander II of Epirus, 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 Satavahanas, 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 (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 Dharmaraksita, Dhammarakkhita... and the 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 Ancient Egypt, Egyptians; and the Magic (supernatural)#Mesopotamia, Chaldeans among the Assyrian people, Assyrians; and the Druids among the Gauls; and the Sramanas among the Bactrians (""); and the philosophers of the Celts; and the Magi of the Persian people, 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 (""), and others Brahmins (""). (Clement of Alexandria "The Stromata, or Miscellanies" Book I, Chapter XV)


Influence on Indian art during the 3rd century BC

The Greco-Bactrian city of Ai-Khanoum, being located at the doorstep of India, interacting with the Indian subcontinent, and having a rich Hellenistic culture, was in a unique position to influence Indian culture as well. It is considered that Ai-Khanoum may have been one of the primary actors in transmitting Western artistic influence to India, for example in the creation of the Pillars of Ashoka or the manufacture of the quasi-Ionic Pataliputra capital, all of which were posterior to the establishment of Ai-Khanoum. The scope of adoption goes from designs such as the bead and reel pattern, the central flame palmette design and a variety of other molding (decorative), moldings, to the lifelike rendering of animal sculpture and the design and function of the Ionic anta capital in the palace of
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
.


First visual representations of Indian deities

One of the last Greco-Bactrian kings, Agathocles of Bactria (ruled 190–180 BC), issued remarkable Indian-standard square coins bearing the first known representations of Indian deities, which have been variously interpreted as Vishnu, Shiva, Vasudeva, Buddha or Balarama. Altogether, six such Indian-standard silver Greek drachma, drachmas in the name of Agathocles were discovered at Ai-Khanoum in 1970.Alexander the Great and Bactria: The Formation of a Greek Frontier in Central Asia, Frank Lee Holt, Brill Archive, 1988, p.

/ref>Iconography of Balarāma, Nilakanth Purushottam Joshi, Abhinav Publications, 1979, p.2

/ref>The Hellenistic World: Using Coins as Sources, Peter Thonemann, Cambridge University Press, 2016, p.10

/ref> These coins seem to be the first known representations of Rigvedic deities, Vedic deities on coins, and they display early Avatars of Vishnu: Balarama-Shesha, Sankarshana with attributes consisting of the Gada (mace), Gada mace and the plow, and Vasudeva-Krishna with the Vishnu attributes of the Shankha (a pear-shaped case or conch) and the Sudarshana Chakra wheel. Some other coins by Agathocles are also thought to represent the Buddhist lion and the Indian goddess Lakshmi, consort of Vishnu. The Indian coinage of Agathocles is few but spectacular. These coins at least demonstrate the readiness of Greek kings to represent deities of foreign origin. The dedication of a Greek envoy to the cult of Garuda at the Heliodorus pillar in Besnagar could also be indicative of some level of religious syncretism.


Main Greco-Bactrian kings


Diodotus I, Diodotid dynasty: the House of Diodotus-Eucratides

*
Diodotus I Diodotus I Soter (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
(255-235) First Greek king of Bactria, revolted against
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
. *
Diodotus II Diodotus II Theos ( Greek: ; died c. 225 BC) was the son of Diodotus I, who led Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in th ...
(235-225) *Antiochus Nicator, Antiochus I (disputed; c.230) *Laodice of Bactria, Laodice (c.225) mother of Eucratides Euthydemid dynasty, ''Euthydemid takeover'' (225-171) *Eucratides I, Eucratides I the Great (170-c. 145 BC
Coins
most important Greco-Bactrian king, likely grandson of Diodotus I. *Plato of Bactria, Diodotus III (c.140-130 BC) co-ruler of Eucratides (also known by his birth name, Plato) * Eucratides II (145–140 BC
Coins
*Heliocles I, Heliocles I (r. c. 140–120 BC) *Heliokles II, Heliocles II (r. c. 120-100 BC) last ruler of Bactria *Diodotus IV (c. 100 BC) Indo-Greek Kingdom, Indo-Greek ruler and possible claimant/re-conqueror of the lands of Bactria due to the extent of his coinage.


Euthydemus I, The Euthydemid dynasty

*
Euthydemus I Euthydemus I (Greek language, Greek: ; c. 260 BC – 200/195 BC) was a Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Greco-Bactrian king in about 230 or 223 BC according to Polybius; he is thought to have originally been a satrap of Sogdiana who overturned the dyna ...
(reigned c.225-200) * (reigned c. 200–180), invaded and conquered India, establishing the Indo-Greek Kingdom, Indo Greek Kingdom. *Euthydemus II (reigned 180-171) last Euthydemid ruler of Bactria, killed alongside Demetrius by Eucratides I, Eucratides. Both Euthydemid and Diodotid rulers became kings of Arachosia and India, with the conquests of
Demetrius Demetrius is the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...

Demetrius
and Eucratides I, Eucratides, the
Indo-Greek Kingdom The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya), was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Ancient Greece, Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regio ...
was formed. Many of the dates, territories, and relationships between Greco-Bactrian kings are tentative and essentially based on numismatic analysis and a few Classical sources. The following list of kings, dates and territories after the reign of Demetrius is derived from the latest and most extensive analysis on the subject, by Osmund Bopearachchi (''Monnaies Gréco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques, Catalogue Raisonné'', 1991):


See also

*
Greco-Buddhism Greco-Buddhism, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a ...
*
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
*
Indo-Greek Kingdom The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya), was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Ancient Greece, Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regio ...
*
Yuezhi The Yuezhi (, ) were an ancient people first described in Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and depe ...
*
Indo-Scythians Indo-Scythians (also called Indo-Sakas) were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European languages, Indo-European ethnolinguistic group who are identified by their use of the Iranian ...
*Indo-Parthian Kingdom


Notes


References

* Boardman, John (1994). ''The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity.'' Princeton University Press. . * Boardman, John, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray (2001). ''The Oxford Illustrated History of Greece and the Hellenistic World''. Oxford University Press. . * Bopearachchi, Osmund (1991). ''Monnaies Gréco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques, Catalogue Raisonné.'' Bibliothèque Nationale de France, . * Bopearachchi, Osmund and Christine Sachs (2003). ''De l'Indus à l'Oxus, Archéologie de l'Asie Centrale: catalogue de l'exposition.'' . * * McEvilley, Thomas (2002).''The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies.'' Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts. * Puri, B. N. (2000). ''Buddhism in Central Asia.'' Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. . * Tarn, W. W. (1966) ''The Greeks in Bactria and India.'' 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press. * Watson, Burton, trans. (1993). ''Records of the Great Historian. Han dynasty II,'' by
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu B ...

Sima Qian
. Columbia University Press. .


External links


Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Kingdoms in Ancient TextsSome new hypotheses on the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms
by Antoine Simonin

{{Hellenistic rulers Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Former monarchies of South Asia Former monarchies of Central Asia Lists of monarchs Former countries in Central Asia Former countries in South Asia States and territories established in the 3rd century BC 256 BC 250s BC establishments 3rd-century BC establishments States and territories disestablished in the 2nd century BC 125 BC 2nd-century BC disestablishments