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The GRECO-BACTRIAN KINGDOM was – along with the Indo-Greek Kingdom – the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia
Central Asia
from 250 to 125 BC. It was centered on the north of present-day Afghanistan. The expansion of the Greco- Bactrians into present-day eastern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and Pakistan from 180 BC established the Indo-Greek Kingdom, which was to last until around 10 AD.

CONTENTS

* 1 Independence (around 250 BC) * 2 Overthrow of Diodotus II (230 BC) * 3 Seleucid invasion

* 4 Geographic expansion

* 4.1 Contacts with the Han Empire
Han Empire

* 4.2 Contacts with the Indian Subcontinent (250–180)

* 4.2.1 Influence on Indian art during the 3rd century BC

* 4.3 First visual representations of Indian deities * 4.4 Expansion into the Indian subcontinent (after 180 BC)

* 5 Usurpation of Eucratides
Eucratides

* 5.1 Defeats by Parthia

* 6 Nomadic invasions

* 6.1 Yuezhi expansion (c. 162 BC-) * 6.2 Scythians (c. 140 BC-) * 6.3 Second Yuezhi expansion (120 BC-)

* 7 Military forces * 8 Greek culture in Bactria
Bactria

* 9 Main Greco-Bactrian kings

* 9.1 House of Diodotus * 9.2 House of Euthydemus * 9.3 House of Eucratides
Eucratides

* 10 See also * 11 Notes * 12 References * 13 External links

INDEPENDENCE (AROUND 250 BC)

Gold coin of Diodotus c. 245 BC. The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΙΟΔΟΤΟΥ – "(of) King Diodotus".

Diodotus, the satrap of Bactria
Bactria
(and probably the surrounding provinces) founded the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom when he seceded from the Seleucid Empire around 250 BC and became King Diodotus I 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 , a catastrophic conflict for the Seleucid Empire.

Diodotus, the governor of the thousand cities of Bactria
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)

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 ), was to further grow in power and engage in territorial expansion to the east and the west: Remains of a Hellenistic capital found in Balkh
Balkh
, ancient Bactra.

The Greeks who caused Bactria
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
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
Oxus
), and Darapsa, and several others. Among these was Eucratidia , which was named after its ruler. (Strabo, XI.XI.I)

In 247 BC, the Ptolemaic empire (the Greek rulers of Egypt following the death of Alexander the Great ) captured the Seleucid capital, Antioch
Antioch
. In the resulting power vacuum, the satrap of Parthia proclaimed independence from the Seleucids, declaring himself king. A decade later, he was defeated and killed by Arsaces of Parthia, leading to the rise of a Parthian Empire . This cut Bactria
Bactria
off from contact with the Greek world. Overland trade continued at a reduced rate, while sea trade between Greek Egypt and Bactria
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)

OVERTHROW OF DIODOTUS II (230 BC)

Asia in 200 BC, showing the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and its neighbors.

Euthydemus , a Magnesian Greek according to Polybius and possibly satrap of Sogdiana , overthrew the dynasty of Diodotus I around 230-220 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
Ferghana
:

And they also held Sogdiana, situated above Bactriana towards the east between the Oxus
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)

SELEUCID INVASION

Coin depicting the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus 230–200 BC. The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΕΥΘΥΔΗΜΟΥ – "(of) King Euthydemus".

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 and had to retreat. He then successfully resisted a three-year siege in the fortified city of Bactra (modern Balkh
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. 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
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)

GEOGRAPHIC EXPANSION

Following the departure of the Seleucid army, the Bactrian kingdom seems to have expanded. In the west, areas in north-eastern Iran
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 . Probable statuette of a Greek soldier, wearing a version of the Greek Phrygian helmet , from a 3rd-century BC burial site north of the Tian Shan , Xinjiang Region Museum , Urumqi
Urumqi
.

CONTACTS WITH THE HAN EMPIRE

Probable Greek soldier in the Sampul tapestry , woollen wall hanging, 3rd–2nd century BC, Sampul, Urumqi
Urumqi
Xinjiang Region Museum . Zhou /Han bronze mirror with glass inlays, perhaps incorporated Greco-Roman artistic patterns (rosette flowers, geometric lines, and glass inlays). Victoria and Albert Museum . Western-influenced Zhou vase with glass inlays, 4th–3rd century BC, British Museum
British Museum
.

To the north, Euthydemus also ruled Sogdiana and Ferghana
Ferghana
, and there are indications that from Alexandria Eschate the Greco- Bactrians may have led expeditions as far as Kashgar
Kashgar
and Ürümqi in Xinjiang
Xinjiang
, leading to the first known contacts between China
China
and the West around 220 BC. The Greek historian Strabo
Strabo
too writes that: "they extended their empire even as far as the Seres (Chinese) and the Phryni ". ( Strabo
Strabo
, XI.XI.I).

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
Xinjiang
museum at Urumqi
Urumqi
(Boardman). Greek influences on Chinese art have also been suggested (Hirth , Rostovtzeff ). Designs with rosette flowers, geometric lines, and glass inlays, suggestive of Hellenistic influences, can be found on some early Han dynasty
Han dynasty
bronze mirrors.

Excavations at the burial site of China
China
's first Emperor Qin Shi Huang , dating back to the 3rd century BC, also suggest Greek influence in the artworks found there, including in the manufacture of the famous Terracotta army
Terracotta army
. It is also suggested that Greek artists may have come to China
China
at that time to train local artisans in making sculptures

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 and Pantaleon
Pantaleon
made these coin issues around 170 BC and it has alternatively been suggested that a nickeliferous copper ore was the source from mines at Anarak . Copper-nickel would not be used again in coinage until the 19th century.

The presence of Chinese people in India
India
from ancient times is also suggested by the accounts of the "Ciñas " in the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
and the Manu Smriti . The Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
explorer and ambassador Zhang Qian visited Bactria
Bactria
in 126 BC, and reported the presence of Chinese products in the Bactrian markets:

"When I was in Bactria
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
Bactria
and Parthia, who became interested in developing commercial relationships with them:

The Son of Heaven on hearing all this reasoned thus: Ferghana
Ferghana
(Dayuan ) and the possessions of Bactria
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. ( Hanshu , Former Han History).

A number of Chinese envoys were then sent to Central Asia, triggering the development of the Silk Road
Silk Road
from the end of the 2nd century BC.

CONTACTS WITH THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT (250–180)

The Indian emperor Chandragupta , founder of the Mauryan dynasty , had re-conquered the northwestern subcontinent 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. Kandahar
Kandahar
Bilingual Rock Inscription of Ashoka
Ashoka
(in Greek and Aramaic
Aramaic
), found in Kandahar
Kandahar
. Circa 250 BC, Kabul
Kabul
Museum.

Chandragupta's grandson Ashoka
Ashoka
converted to the Buddhist
Buddhist
faith and became a great proselytizer in the line of the traditional Pali
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
Ashoka
, set in stone, some of them written in Greek, he sent Buddhist
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
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
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
Dharma
. (Edicts of Ashoka
Ashoka
, 13th Rock Edict, S. Dhammika).

Furthermore, according to Pali
Pali
sources, some of Ashoka's emissaries were Greek Buddhist
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
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
Buddhist
emissaries (at least Maharakkhita, lit. "The Great Saved One", who was "sent to the country of the Yona") and somehow tolerated the Buddhist
Buddhist
faith, although little proof remains. In the 2nd century AD, the Christian dogmatist Clement of Alexandria recognized the existence of Buddhist
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
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
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
Book
I, Chapter XV)

Influence On Indian Art During The 3rd Century BC

Main article: Hellenistic influence on Indian art One of the Hellenistic-inspired "flame palmettes " and lotus designs, which may have been transmitted through Ai-Khanoum. Rampurva bull capital , India
India
, circa 250 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
Ashoka
or the manufacture of the quasi-Ionic Pataliputra capital
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 moldings , to the lifelike rendering of animal sculpture and the design and function of the Ionic anta capital in the palace of Pataliputra
Pataliputra
.

FIRST VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS OF INDIAN DEITIES

Coin of Greco-Bactrian king Agathocles with Indian deities. Indian coinage of Agathocles , with Buddhist
Buddhist
lion and dancing woman holding lotus, possible Indian goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi
.

One of the last Greco-Bactrian kings, Agathocles of Bactria
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
Vishnu
, Shiva
Shiva
, Vasudeva
Vasudeva
, Buddha
Buddha
or Balarama . Altogether, six such Indian-standard silver drachmas in the name of Agathocles were discovered at Ai-Khanoum in 1970. These coins seem to be the first known representations of Vedic deities on coins, and they display early Avatars of Vishnu
Vishnu
: Balarama -Sankarshana with attributes consisting of the Gada mace and the plow , and Vasudeva
Vasudeva
- Krishna
Krishna
with the Vishnu
Vishnu
attributes of the Shankha
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
Lakshmi
, consort of Vishnu
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
Heliodorus pillar
in Besnagar could also be indicative of some level of religious syncretism .

EXPANSION INTO THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT (AFTER 180 BC)

Silver coin depicting Demetrius I of Bactria
Bactria
(reigned c. 200–180 BC), wearing an elephant scalp, symbol of his conquests in India
India
. Main article: Indo-Greek Kingdom
Indo-Greek Kingdom

Demetrius , the son of Euthydemus, started an invasion of the subcontinent from 180 BC, a few years after the Mauryan empire had been overthrown by the Shunga dynasty . 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 , and to protect the Buddhist
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 (Thapar , Lamotte ).

Demetrius may have been as far as the imperial capital Pataliputra
Pataliputra
in today's eastern India
India
(today Patna ). 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
Indo-Greek Kingdom
, which lasted for almost two centuries until around AD 10. The Buddhist
Buddhist
faith flourished under the Indo-Greek kings, foremost among them Menander I . It was also a period of great cultural syncretism, exemplified by the development of Greco-Buddhism .

USURPATION OF EUCRATIDES

Back in Bactria, Eucratides
Eucratides
, either a general of Demetrius or an ally of the Seleucids , managed to overthrow the Euthydemid dynasty and establish his own rule around 170 BC, probably dethroning Antimachus I and 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
Bactria
with 60,000 men to oust the usurper, but he apparently was defeated and killed in the encounter: Silver tetradrachm of King Eucratides
Eucratides
I 171–145 BC. The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ – "(of) King Great Eucratides". Bilingual coin of Eucratides
Eucratides
in the Indian standard, on the obverse Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ-"(of) King Great Eucratides", Pali
Pali
in the Kharoshthi script on the reverse.

Eucratides
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
India
under his rule. (Justin, XLI,6)

Eucratides
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 in Punjab . In the end, however, he was repulsed by the Indo-Greek king Menander I , who managed to create a huge unified territory.

In a rather confused account, Justin explains that Eucratides
Eucratides
was killed on the field by "his son and joint king", who would be his own son, either Eucratides
Eucratides
II or Heliocles I
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
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
Eucratides
was attacked and defeated by the Parthian king Mithridates I , possibly in alliance with partisans of the Euthydemids: Gold 20-stater of Eucratides
Eucratides
, the largest gold coin of Antiquity. The coin weighs 169.2 grams, and has a diameter of 58 millimeters.

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 , the regions of Tapuria and Traxiane : "The satrapy Turiva and that of Aspionus were taken away from Eucratides
Eucratides
by the Parthians." ( Strabo
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 reports that Mithridates I managed to occupy territory between the Indus
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
Heliocles I
ended up ruling what territory remained. The defeat, both in the west and the east, may have left Bactria
Bactria
very weakened and open to nomadic invasions.

NOMADIC INVASIONS

YUEZHI EXPANSION (C. 162 BC-)

The migrations of the YUEZHI through Central Asia, from around 176 BC to AD 30.

According to the Han chronicles , following a crushing defeat in 162 BC by the Xiongnu , the nomadic tribes of the Yuezhi fled from the Tarim Basin towards the west, crossed the neighbouring urban civilization of the " Dayuan " (probably the Greek possessions in Ferghana), and resettled north of the Oxus
Oxus
in modern-day Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
, in the northern part of the Greco-Bactrian territory. The Dayuan remained a healthy and powerful urban civilization which had numerous contacts and exchanges with China
China
from 130 BC.

SCYTHIANS (C. 140 BC-)

Gold artefacts of the Scythians in Bactria, at the site of Tillia tepe .

Around 140 BC, eastern Scythians (the Saka , or Sacaraucae of Greek sources), apparently being pushed forward by the southward migration of the Yuezhi 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
, Hecatompolis and Ecbatana . They managed to defeat and kill the Parthian king Phraates II , son of Mithridates I, routing the Greek mercenary troops under his command (troops he had acquired during his victory over Antiochus VII ). Again in 123 BC, Phraates's successor, his uncle Artabanus I , was killed by the Scythians.

SECOND YUEZHI EXPANSION (120 BC-)

When Zhang Qian visited the Yuezhi in 126 BC, trying to obtain their alliance to fight the Xiongnu , he explained that the Yuezhi were settled north of the Oxus
Oxus
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 confronted the invasion of the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great , he commanded 10,000 horsemen). Zhang Qian actually visited Bactria
Bactria
(named Daxia in Chinese) in 126 BC, and portrays a country which was totally demoralized and whose political system had vanished, although its urban infrastructure remained:

Daxia ( Bactria
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 ) and has a market where all sorts of goods are bought and sold. (Records of the Great Historian by Sima Qian , quoting Zhang Qian, trans. Burton Watson)

The Yuezhi further expanded southward into Bactria
Bactria
around 120 BC, apparently further pushed out by invasions from the northern Wusun . It seems they also pushed Scythian
Scythian
tribes before them, which continued to India, where they came to be identified as Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians
. Silver coin of Heliocles
Heliocles
(r. 150–125 BC), the last Greco-Bactrian king. The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ ΗΛΙΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ – "(of) King Heliocles
Heliocles
the Just".

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 , opposite the Sacae and Sogdiani . ( Strabo
Strabo
, XI.8.1 )

Around that time the king Heliocles
Heliocles
abandoned Bactria
Bactria
and moved his capital to the Kabul
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 last of these "western" Indo-Greek kings, Hermaeus , 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 remained in Bactria
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
India
where they established the Kushan Empire .

MILITARY FORCES

Indian War Elephant with wooden tower.

Before the arrival of the Greek settlers, the armies of Bactria
Bactria
were overwhelmingly composed of cavalry and were well known as effective soldiers, making up large portions of the Achaemenid
Achaemenid
cavalry contingents. 2,000 Bactrian horsemen fought at the Granicus against Alexander and 9,000 at the Battle of Gaugamela
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 invasion of India
India
and after the Indian campaign, Alexander enlarged his elite companion cavalry by adding Bactrians, Sogdians and other east Iranian cavalrymen. Both Aeschylus (The Persians, v. 318) and Curtius mention that Bactria
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
Scythian
style bows.

Alexander and Seleucus I both settled Greeks in Bactria, while preferring to keep their Macedonian settlers farther west. Greek garrisons in the satrapy of Bactria
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 Macedonian army . A Greek army in Bactria
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-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
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 , Dahae , Indians and Parthians .

GREEK CULTURE IN BACTRIA

Corinthian capital, found at Ai-Khanoum , 2nd century BC

The Greco- Bactrians were known for their high level of Hellenistic sophistication, and kept regular contact with both the Mediterranean and neighbouring India
India
. They were on friendly terms with India
India
and exchanged ambassadors.

Their cities, such as Ai-Khanoum in northeastern Afghanistan (probably Alexandria on the Oxus
Oxus
), and Bactra (modern Balkh
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 and some Greek houses with colonnaded courtyards" (Boardman). Remains of Classical 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. Stone block with the inscriptions of Kineas in Greek. Ai Khanoum .

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 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
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
Greece
and the Hellenistic World").

Several other Greco-Bactrian cities have been further identified, as in Saksanokhur in southern Tajikistan
Tajikistan
(archaeological searches by a Soviet team under B.A. Litvinski), or in Dal\'verzin Tepe .

*

Bronze Herakles
Herakles
statuette. Ai Khanoum. 2nd century BC. *

Sculpture of an old man, possibly a philosopher. Ai Khanoum, 2nd century BC. *

Close-up of the same statue. *

Frieze of a naked man wearing a chlamys . Ai Khanoum, 2nd century BC. *

Same frieze, seen from the side. *

Gargoyle in the form of a Greek comic mask. Ai Khanoum, 2nd century BC. *

Plate depicting Cybele pulled by lions. Ai Khanoum.

MAIN GRECO-BACTRIAN KINGS

Painted clay and alabaster head of a Zoroastrian priest wearing a distinctive Bactrian -style headdress, Takhti-Sangin , Tajikistan
Tajikistan
, Greco-Bactrian kingdom , 3rd-2nd century BC

HOUSE OF DIODOTUS

TERRITORIES OF BACTRIA , SOGDIANA , FERGHANA , ARACHOSIA :

* DIODOTUS I (reigned c. 250–240 BC) Coins * DIODOTUS II (reigned c. 240–230 BC) Son of Diodotus I Coins

The existence of a third Diodotid king, ANTIOCHUS NIKATOR , perhaps a younger son of Diodotus I, has recently been suggested.

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).

HOUSE OF EUTHYDEMUS

TERRITORIES OF BACTRIA , SOGDIANA , FERGHANA , ARACHOSIA :

* EUTHYDEMUS I (reigned c. 223-c. 200 BC) Overthrew Diodotus II. Coins

Demetrios I Baktria (c. 205–171 BC). founder of the Indo-Greek kingdom The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ – "(of) King Demetrius

The descendants of the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus invaded northern India
India
around 190 BC. Their dynasty was probably thrown out of Bactria
Bactria
after 170 BC by the new king Eucratides
Eucratides
, but remained in the Indian domains of the empire at least until the 150s BC.

* DEMETRIUS I (reigned c. 200–180 BC) Son of Euthydemus I . Greco-Bactrian king, and conqueror of India. Coins

The territory won by Demetrius was separated between western and eastern parts, ruled by several sub-kings and successor kings:

TERRITORY OF BACTRIA Silver coin of Antimachus I . The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΘΕΟΥ ΑΝΤΙΜΑΧΟΥ – "(of) King God Antimachus".

* EUTHYDEMUS II (c. 180 BC), probably a son of Demetrius . Coins * ANTIMACHUS I (possibly c. 185–170 BC), brother of Demetrius . Defeated by usurper Eucratides
Eucratides
. Coins

TERRITORIES OF PAROPAMISADAE , ARACHOSIA , GANDHARA , PUNJAB

* PANTALEON (190s or 180s BC) Possibly another brother and co-ruler of Demetrius I. * AGATHOCLES (c. 190–180 BC) Yet another brother? Coins * APOLLODOTUS I (reigned c. 180–160 BC) A fourth brother? * ANTIMACHUS II Nikephoros (160–155 BC) * DEMETRIUS II (155–150 BC) Coins * MENANDER (reigned c. 155–130 BC). Legendary for the size of his Kingdom, and his support of the Buddhist
Buddhist
faith. It is unclear whether he was related to the other kings, and thus if the dynasty survived further.Coins * Followed by Indo-Greek kings in northern India.

HOUSE OF EUCRATIDES

Silver tetradrachm of King Eucratides
Eucratides
171–145 BC. The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ – "(of) King Great Eucratides".

TERRITORY OF BACTRIA AND SOGDIANA

* EUCRATIDES I 170-c. 145 BC Coins * PLATO co-regent c. 166 BC * EUCRATIDES II 145–140 BC Coins * HELIOCLES (r. c. 145–130 BC).

Heliocles, the last Greek king of Bactria, was invaded by the nomadic tribes of the Yuezhi from the North. Descendants of Eucratides
Eucratides
may have ruled on in the Indo-Greek kingdom
Indo-Greek kingdom
. Silver drachm of Menander I, dated circa 160-145 BC. Obverse: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΜΕΝΑΝΔΡΟΥ ('of King Menander the Saviour'), heroic bust of Menander, viewed from behind, head turned to left; Reverse: Athena standing right, brandishing thunderbolt and holding aegis, Karosthi legend around, monogram in field to left. Reference: Sear 7604.

GRECO-BACTRIAN KINGS

Territories/ dates Dynastic lineage BACTRIAN DOMAIN EXPANSION INTO INDIA

280 BCE Foundation of the Hellenistic city of Ai-Khanoum in Bactria
Bactria
(280 BCE)

255 BCE Independence of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom from the Seleucid Empire (255 BCE)

255–239 BCE House of Diodotus . Diodotus I

239–223 BCE

Diodotus II

230–200 BCE House of Euthydemus . Euthydemus I

200–180 BCE

Demetrius I Pantaleon
Pantaleon

180 BCE

Euthydemus II
Euthydemus II
Agathokles

180–170 BCE

Antimachus I Apollodotus I

170–145 BCE House of Eucratides
Eucratides
Eucratides
Eucratides
Demetrius II

145 BCE

(Destruction of Ai-Khanoum by the Yuezhi in 145 BCE) (Succession of

145–140 BCE

Plato Eucratides
Eucratides
II Indo-Greek kings

140–130 BCE

Heliocles I
Heliocles I
to the

130 BCE- Complete occupation of Bactria
Bactria
by the Yuezhi . 1st century CE)

SEE ALSO

* Greco- Buddhism
Buddhism
* Seleucid Empire * Indo-Greek Kingdom
Indo-Greek Kingdom
* Yuezhi * Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians
* Indo-Parthian Kingdom

NOTES

* ^ Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 132. doi :10.2307/1170959 . Retrieved 16 September 2016. * ^ Doumanis, Nicholas. A History of Greece
Greece
Palgrave Macmillan, 16 dec. 2009 ISBN 978-1137013675 p 64 * ^ Baumer, Christoph . The History of Central Asia: The Age of the Steppe Warriors Vol. 1 I.B.Tauris, 11 dec. 2012 ISBN 978-1780760605 p 289 * ^ Kaushik Roy. Military Manpower, Armies and Warfare in South Asia Routledge, 28 jul. 2015 ISBN 978-1317321279 * ^ J. D. Lerner, The Impact of Seleucid Decline on the Eastern Iranian Plateau: the Foundations of Arsacid Parthia and Graeco-Bactria, (Stuttgart 1999) * ^ F. L. Holt, Thundering Zeus (Berkeley 1999) * ^ Justin XLI, paragraph 4 * ^ Justin XLI, paragraph 1 * ^ possibly present day Qarshi ; Encyclopaedia Metropolitana: Or Universal Dictionary of Knowledge, Volume 23, edited by Edward Smedley, Hugh James Rose, Henry John Rose, 1923, page 260, states: "Eucratidia, named from its ruler, (Strabo, xi. p. 516.) was, according to Ptolemy, 2° North and 1° West of Bactra." As these coordinates are relative to, and close to, Bactra , it is reasonable to disregard the imprecision in Ptolemy's coordinates and accept them without adjustment. If the coordinates for Bactra are taken to be 36°45′N 66°55′E / 36.750°N 66.917°E / 36.750; 66.917 , then the coordinates 38°45′N 65°55′E / 38.750°N 65.917°E / 38.750; 65.917 can be seen to be close to the modern day city of Qarshi . * ^ A B Strabo
Strabo
XI.XI.I * ^ Justin XLI * ^ A B Polybius 11.34 * ^ A B Strabo
Strabo
11.11.2 * ^ A B Polybius 10.49, Battle of the Arius * ^ Polybius 11.34 Siege of Bactra * ^ On the image of the Greek kneeling warrior: "A bronze figurine of a kneeling warrior, not Greek work, but wearing a version of the Greek Phrygian helmet.. From a burial, said to be of the 4th century BC, just north of the Tien Shan range". Ürümqi Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Museum. (Boardman "The diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity") * ^ Notice of the British Museum
British Museum
on the Zhou vase (2005, attached image): "Red earthenware bowl, decorated with a slip and inlaid with glass paste. Eastern Zhou period, 4th–3rd century BC. This bowl was probably intended to copy a more precious and possibly foreign vessel in bronze or even silver. Glass was little used in China. Its popularity at the end of the Eastern Zhou period was probably due to foreign influence." * ^ "The things which China
China
received from the Graeco-Iranian world-the pomegranate and other "Chang-Kien" plants, the heavy equipment of the cataphract, the traces of Greeks influence on Han art (such as) the famous white bronze mirror of the Han period with Graeco-Bactrian designs (...) in the Victoria and Albert Museum" (Tarn, The Greeks in Bactria
Bactria
and India, pp. 363-364) * ^ BBC Western contact with China
China
began long before Marco Polo, experts say * ^ The Mausoleum of China’s First Emperor Partners with the BBC and National Geographic Channel to Reveal Groundbreaking Evidence That China
China
Was in Contact with the West During the Reign of the First Emperor * ^ Copper-Nickel coinage in Greco-Bactria. * ^ Ancient Chinese weapons A halberd of copper-nickel alloy, from the Warring States Period. * ^ A.A. Moss pp317-318 Numismatic Chronicle 1950 * ^ C.Michael Hogan, Silk Road, North China, Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham * ^ Clement of Alexandria "The Stromata, or Miscellanies" Book
Book
I, Chapter XV * ^ John Boardman, "The Origins of Indian Stone Architecture", p.15 * ^ John Boardman, "The Origins of Indian Stone Architecture", p.13-22 * ^ Alexander the Great and Bactria: The Formation of a Greek Frontier in Central Asia, Frank Lee Holt, Brill Archive, 1988, p.2 * ^ A B Iconography of Balarāma, Nilakanth Purushottam Joshi, Abhinav Publications, 1979, p.22 * ^ A B The Hellenistic World: Using Coins as Sources, Peter Thonemann, Cambridge University Press, 2016, p.101 * ^ A B C Justin XLI,6 * ^ Justin XXXVI, 1,1 * ^ Mentioned in "Hellenism in ancient India", Banerjee, p140, to be taken carefully since Orosius is often rather unreliable in his accounts. * ^ " Parthians and Sassanid Persians", Peter Wilcox, p15 * ^ "They are a nation of nomads, moving from place to place with their herds, and their customs are like those of the Xiongnu. They have some 100,000 or 200,000 archer warriors... The Yuezhi originally lived in the area between the Qilian or Heavenly mountains and Dunhuang
Dunhuang
, but after they were defeated by the Xiongnu they moved far away to the west, beyond Dayuan , where they attacked and conquered the people of Daxia (Bactria) and set up the court of their king on the northern bank of the Gui (Oxus) river" ("Records of the Great Historian ", Sima Qian , trans. Burton Watson, p234) * ^ Strabo
Strabo
11-8-1 on the nomadic invasions of Bactria * ^ A B Nikonorov, Valerii; The Armies of Bactria
Bactria
700 B.C. - 450 A.D * ^ Nikonorov, Valerii; The Armies of Bactria
Bactria
700 B.C. - 450 A.D, page 39.

REFERENCES

* Boardman, John (1994). The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-03680-2 . * Boardman, John, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray (2001). The Oxford Illustrated History of Greece
Greece
and the Hellenistic World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-285438-4 . * Bopearachchi , Osmund (1991). Monnaies Gréco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques, Catalogue Raisonné. Bibliothèque Nationale
Bibliothèque Nationale
de France, ISBN 2-7177-1825-7 . * Bopearachchi, Osmund and Christine Sachs (2003). De l' Indus
Indus
à l'Oxus, Archéologie de l'Asie Centrale: catalogue de l'exposition. ISBN 2-9516679-2-2 . * McEvilley, Thomas (2002).The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies. Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts. ISBN 1-58115-203-5 * Puri, B. N. (2000). Buddhism
Buddhism
in Central Asia. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. ISBN 81-208-0372-8 . * Tarn, W. W. (1966) The Greeks in Bactria
Bactria
and India. 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press. * Watson, Burton, trans. (1993). Records of the Great Historian. Han dynasty II, by Sima Qian . Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-08167-7 .

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EXTERNAL LINKS

* Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Kingdoms in Ancient Texts * Some new hypotheses on the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms by Antoine Simonin * Catalogue of Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Coins

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Hellenistic rulers

ARGEADS

* Philip II * Alexander III the Great * Philip III Arrhidaeus * Alexander IV

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