Indo-Greek Kingdom

Indo-Greek Kingdom

Infobox Former Country
native_name =
conventional_long_name = Indo-Greek Kingdom
common_name = Indo-Greek Kingdom
continent = Asia
region =
country =
era = Antiquity
status =
event_start =
year_start = 180 BC
date_start =
event1 =
date_event1 =
event_end =
year_end = 10 AD
date_end =
p1 = Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
flag_p1 =
s1 = Indo-Scythians
flag_s1 =

flag_type =

image_map_caption = Indo-Greek Kingdoms in 100 BC.
capital = Alexandria in the Caucasus
common_languages = Greek (Greek alphabet)
Pali (Kharoshthi script)
Sanskrit, Prakrit (Brahmi script)
Possibly Aramaic
religion = Buddhism
Ancient Greek religion
government_type = Monarchy
leader1 = Apollodotus I
year_leader1 = 180-160 BC
leader2 = Strato II
year_leader2 = 25 BC-10 AD
title_leader = King
legislature =

The Indo-Greek Kingdom (or sometimes Graeco-Indian Kingdom [As in other compounds such as "Franco-Canadian", "African-American" , "Indo-European" etc..., the area of origin usually comes first, and the area of arrival comes second, so that "Greco-Indian" is normally a more accurate nomenclature than "Indo-Greek". The latter however has become the general usage, especially since the publication of Narain's book "The Indo-Greeks".] ) covered various parts of the northwest and northern Indian subcontinent during the last two centuries BC, and was ruled by more than 30 Hellenistic kings, [Euthydemus I was, according to Polybius [ 11.34] , a Magnesian Greek. His son, Demetrius I, founder of the Indo-Greek kingdom, was therefore of Greek ethnicity at least by his father. A marriage treaty was arranged for the same Demetrius with a daughter of the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III (who had some Persian descent). [ Polybius 11.34] . The ethnicity of later Indo-Greek rulers is less clear ( [ "Notes on Hellenism in Bactria and India".] W. W. Tarn. "Journal of Hellenic Studies", Vol. 22 (1902), pages 268–293). For example, Artemidoros (80 BC) may have been of Indo-Scythian ascendency. Some level of inter-marriage may also have occurred, as exemplified by Alexander III of Macedon (who married Roxana of Bactria) or Seleucus (who married Apama).] often in conflict with each other. The kingdom was founded when the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius invaded India early in the second century BC; in this context the boundary of "India" is the Hindu Kush. The Greeks in India were eventually divided from the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom centered in Bactria (now the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan). The expression "Indo-Greek Kingdom" loosely describes a number of various dynastic polities. There were numerous cities, such as Taxila [Mortimer Wheeler "Flames over Persepolis" (London, 1968). Pp. 112 "ff." It is unclear whether the Hellenistic street plan found by Sir John Marshall's excavations dates from the Indo-Greeks or from the Kushans, who would have encountered it in Bactria; Tarn (1951, pp. 137, 179) ascribes the initial move of Taxila to the hill of Sirkap to Demetrius I, but sees this as "not a Greek city but an Indian one"; not a "polis" or with a Hippodamian plan. ] in the easternmost part of the Pakistani Punjab, or Pushkalavati and Sagala. ["Menander had his capital in Sagala" Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.83. McEvilley supports Tarn on both points, citing Woodcock: "Menander was a Bactrian Greek king of the Euthydemid dysnasty. His capital (was) at Sagala (Sialkot) in the Punjab, "in the country of the Yonakas (Greeks)"." McEvilley, p.377. However, "Even if Sagala proves to be Sialkot, it does not seem to be Menander's capital for the Milindapanha states that Menander came down to Sagala to meet Nagasena, just as the Ganges flows to the sea." ] These cities would house a number of dynasties in their times, and based on Ptolemy's "Geographia" and the nomenclature of later kings, a certain Theophila in the south was also probably a satrapal or royal seat at some point.

During the two centuries of their rule, the Indo-Greek kings combined the Greek and Indian languages and symbols, as seen on their coins, and blended ancient Greek, Hindu and Buddhist religious practices, as seen in the archaeological remains of their cities and in the indications of their support of Buddhism, pointing to a rich fusion of Indian and Hellenistic influences. ["A vast hoard of coins, with a mixture of Greek profiles and Indian symbols, along with interesting sculptures and some monumental remains from Taxila, Sirkap and Sirsukh, point to a rich fusion of Indian and Hellenistic influences", "India, the Ancient Past", Burjor Avari, p.130] The diffusion of Indo-Greek culture had consequences which are still felt today, particularly through the influence of Greco-Buddhist art.

The Indo-Greeks ultimately disappeared as a political entity around 10 AD following the invasions of the Indo-Scythians, although pockets of Greek populations probably remained for several centuries longer under the subsequent rule of the Indo-Parthians and Kushans. ["When the Greeks of Bactria and India lost their kingdom they were not all killed, nor did they return to Greece. They merged with the people of the area and worked for the new masters; contributing considerably to the culture and civilization in southern and central Asia." Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.278]


Preliminary Greek presence in India

In 326 BC Alexander the Great conquered the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent as far as the Hyphasis River, and established satrapies as well as several cities, such as Bucephala, until his troops refused to go further east. ["India, the Ancient Past", Burjor Avari, p.92-93] The Indian satrapies of the Punjab were left to the rule of Porus and Taxiles, who were confirmed again at the Treaty of Triparadisus in 321 BC, and remaining Greek troops in these satrapies were left under the command of general Eudemus. Sometime after 321 Eudemus toppled Taxiles, until he left India in 316 BC. Another general also ruled over the Greek colonies of the Indus: Peithon, son of Agenor, [:"To the colonies settled in India, Python, the son of Agenor, was sent." [ Justin XIII.4] ] until his departure for Babylon in 316 BC.

In 305 BC, Seleucus I led an army to the Indus, where he encountered Chandragupta. The confrontation ended with a peace treaty, and "an intermarriage agreement" (Epigamia, Greek: Επιγαμια), meaning either a dynastic marriage or an agreement for intermarriage between Indians and Greeks. Accordingly, Seleucus ceded to Chandragupta his northwestern territories, possibly as far as Arachosia and received 500 war elephants (which played a key role in the victory of Seleucus at the Battle of Ipsus): ["India, the Ancient Past", Burjor Avari, p.106-107]

Also several Greeks, such as the historian Megasthenes, ["India, the Ancient Past", Burjor Avari, p.108-109] followed by Deimachus and Dionysius, were sent to reside at the Mauryan court. ["Three Greek ambassadors are known by name: Megasthenes, ambassador to Chandragupta; Deimachus, ambassador to Chandragupta's son Bindusara; and Dyonisius, whom Ptolemy Philadelphus sent to the court of Ashoka, Bindusara's son", McEvilley, p.367] Presents continued to be exchanged between the two rulers. [Classical sources have recorded that following their treaty, Chandragupta and Seleucus exchanged presents, such as when Chandragupta sent various aphrodisiacs to Seleucus: "And Theophrastus says that some contrivances are of wondrous efficacy in such matters [as to make people more amorous] . And Phylarchus confirms him, by reference to some of the presents which Sandrakottus, the king of the Indians, sent to Seleucus; which were to act like charms in producing a wonderful degree of affection, while some, on the contrary, were to banish love" Athenaeus of Naucratis, "The deipnosophists" Book I, chapter 32 [ Ath. Deip. I.32] . Mentioned in McEvilley, p.367] The intensity of these contacts is testified by the existence of a dedicated Mauryan state department for Greek (Yavana) and Persian foreigners, ["The very fact that both Megasthenes and Kautilya refer to a state department run and maintained specifically for the purpose of looking after foreigners, who were mostly Yavanas and Persians, testifies to the impact created by these contacts.", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks", p.363] or the remains of Hellenistic pottery that can be found throughout northern India. ["It also explains (…) random finds from the Sarnath, Basarth, and Patna regions of terra-cotta pieces of distinctive Hellenistic or with definite Hellenistic motifs and designs", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.363]

On these occasions, Greek populations apparently remained in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent under Mauryan rule. Chandragupta's grandson Ashoka, who had converted to the Buddhist faith declared in the Edicts of Ashoka, set in stone, some of them written in Greek, ["The second Kandahar edict (the purely Greek one) of Asoka is a part of the "corpus" known as the "Fourteen-Rock-Edicts"" Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.452] ["It is also in Kandahar that were found the fragments of a Greek translation of Edicts XII and XIII, as well as the Aramean translation of another edict of Ashoka", Bussagli, p.89] that Greek populations within his realm also had converted to Buddhism: ["Within Ashoka's domain Greeks may have had special privileges, perhaps ones established by the terms of the Seleucid alliance. Rock Edict Thirteen indicates the existence of a Greek principality in the northwest of Ashoka's empire -perhaps Kandahar, or Alexandria-of-the-Arachosians- which was not ruled by him and for which he troubled to send Buddhist missionaries and published at least some of his edicts in Greek", McEvilley, p.368]

In his edicts, Ashoka claims he sent Buddhist emissaries to Greek rulers as far as the Mediterranean (Edict No. 13), ["Thirteen, the longest and most important of the edicts, contains the claim, seemingly outlandish t first glance, that Ashoka had sent missions to the lands of the Greek monarchs -not only those of Asia, such as the Seleucids, but those back in the Mediterranean also", McEvilley, p.368] ["When Ashoka was converted to Buddhism, his first thought was to despatch missionaries to his friends, the Greek monarchs of Egypt, Syria, and Macedonia", Rawlinson, "Intercourse between India and the Western world", p.39, quoted in McEvilley, p.368] and that he developed herbal medicine in their territories, for the welfare of humans and animals (Edict No. 2). ["In Rock Edict Two Ashoka even claims to have established hospitals for men and beasts in the Hellenistic kingdoms", McEvilley, p.368]

The Greeks in India even seem to have played an active role in the propagation of Buddhism, as some of the emissaries of Ashoka such as Dharmaraksita, ["One of the most famous of these emissaries, Dharmaraksita, who was said to have converted thousands, was a Greek (Mhv.XII.5 and 34)", McEvilley, p.370] or the teacher Mahadharmaraksita, ["The Mahavamsa tells that "the celebrated Greek teacher Mahadharmaraksita in the second century BC led a delegation of 30,000 monks from Alexandria-of-the-Caucasus [Alexandra-of-the-Yonas, or of-the-Greeks, the Ceylonese text actually says] to the opening of the great Ruanvalli Stupa at Anuradhapura"", McEvilley, p.370, quoting Woodcock, "The Greeks in India", p.55] are described in Pali sources as leading Greek ("Yona") Buddhist monks, active in Buddhist proselytism (the Mahavamsa, XII). [Full text of the Mahavamsa [ Click chapter XII] ] It is also thought that Greeks contributed to the sculptural work of the Pillars of Ashoka, ["The finest of the pillars were executed by Greek or Perso-Greek sculptors; others by local craftsmen, with or without foreign supervision" Marshall, "The Buddhist art of Gandhara", p4] and more generally to the blossoming of Mauryan art. ["A number of foreign artisans, such as the Persians or even the Greeks, worked alongside the local craftsmen, and some of their skills were copied with avidity" Burjor Avari, "India, The ancient past", p118]

Again in 206 BC, the Seleucid emperor Antiochus led an army into India, where he received war elephants and presents from the king Sophagasenus: ["Antiochos III, after having made peace with Euthydemus I after the aborted siege of Bactra, renewed with Sophagasenus the alliance concluded by his ancestor Seleucos I", Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.52]

Greek rule in Bactria

Alexander had also established several colonies in neighbouring Bactria, such as Alexandria on the Oxus (modern Ai-Khanoum) and Alexandria of the Caucasus (medieval Kapisa, modern Bagram). After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Bactria became a Satrapy of the Seleucid Empire. In 250 BC the Satrap Diodotus of Bactria rebelled against the Seleucids and proclaimed himself King of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. Diodotus' son was overthrown by Euthydemus I in 230 BC, who founded the Euthydemid Dynasty. The Greco-Bactrians maintained a strong Hellenistic culture at the door of India during the rule of the Mauryan empire in India, as exemplified by the archaeological site of Ai-Khanoum . ["So far, in Bactria, a theater has been identified at Ai Khanoum", McEvilley, p.386] ["The discovery of the Bactrian Greek city of Ai-Khanoum is surely one of the most significant gifts archaeology has given to history during the last thirty years", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.426] .

The Greeks in Bactria (Greco-Bactrians) remained in close contact with the Greeks in the Mauryan Empire. ["Bactria, as part of the Persian conquests of Alexander the Great, had become part of the Seleucid kingdom run from Syria. In the middle of the third century BC Bactria, along with another Persian province, Parthia, revolted against the Seleucids. (...) These Greco-Bactrian kings clashed with the Mauryans during their forays into northwest India", "India, the Ancient Past", Burjor Avari, p.130] When the Mauryan empire was overthrown by the Sunga Dynasty around 185 BC, a army led by King Demetrius I of Bactria invaded India and seized the lands of the Kabul Valley.

Rise of the Sungas (185 BC)

In India, the Maurya Dynasty was overthrown around 185 BC when Pusyamitra Sunga, the commander-in-chief of Mauryan Imperial forces and a Brahmin, assassinated the last of the Mauryan emperors Brhadrata. ["General Pusyamitra, who is at the origin of the Sunga dynasty. He was supported by the Brahmins and even became the symbol of the Brahmanical turnover against the Buddhism of the Mauryas. The capital was then transferred to Pataliputra (today's Patna)", Bussagli, p.99] [Pushyamitra is described as a "senapati" (Commander-in-chief) of Brhadrata in the Puranas] Pusyamitra Sunga then ascended the throne and established the Sunga Empire, which extended its control as far west as the Punjab.

Buddhist sources, such as the "Asokavadana", mention that Pusyamitra was hostile towards Buddhists and allegedly persecuted the Buddhist faith. A large number of Buddhist monasteries (viharas) were allegedly converted to Hindu temples, in such places as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sarnath or Mathura. While it is established by secular sources that Hinduism and Buddhism were in competition during this time, with the Sungas preferring the former to the latter, historians such as Etienne Lamotte [E. Lamotte: History of Indian Buddhism, Institut Orientaliste, Louvain-la-Neuve 1988 (1958), p. 109.] and Romila Thapar [Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar, Oxford University Press, 1960 P200] argue that Buddhist accounts of persecution of Buddhists by Sungas are largely exaggerated.

History of the Indo-Greek kingdom

Nature and quality of the sources

Some narrative history has survived for most of the Hellenistic world, at least of the kings and the wars; [See Polybius, Arrian, Livy, Cassius Dio, and Diodorus. Justin, who will be discussed shortly, provides a summary of the histories of Hellenistic Macedonia, Egypt, Asia, and Parthia.] this is lacking for India. The main Greco-Roman source on the Indo-Greeks is Justin, who wrote an anthology drawn from the Roman historian Pompeius Trogus, who in turn wrote, from Greek sources, at the time of Augustus Caesar. [For the date of Trogus, see the "OCD" on "Trogus" and Yardley/Develin, p. 2; since Trogus' father was in charge of Julius Caesar's diplomatic missions before the history was written (Justin 43.5.11), Senior's date in the following quotation is too early: "The Western sources for accounts of Bactrian and Indo-Greek history are: Polybius, a Greek born c.200 BC; Strabo, a Roman who drew on the lost history of Apollodoros of Artemita (c.130-87 BC9, and Justin, who drew on Trogus, a post 87 BC writer", Senior, "Indo-Scythian coins IV", p.x; the extent to which Strabo is citing Apollodorus is disputed, beyond the three places he names Apollodorus (and he may have those through Eratosthenes). Polybius speaks of Bactria, not of India. ] Justin tells the parts of Trogus' history he finds particularly interesting at some length; he connects them by short and simplified summaries of the rest of the material. In the process he has left 85% to 90% of Trogus out; and his summaries are held together by phrases like "meanwhile" ("eodem tempore") and "thereafter" ("deinde"), which he uses very loosely. Where Justin covers periods for which there are other and better sources, he has occasionally made provable mistakes. As Tarn and Develin both point out, Justin is not trying to write history in our sense of the word; he is collecting instructive moral anecdotes. [Justin, "Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus" translated by J. C. Yardley, notes and introduction by Robert Develin. (Atlanta 1994). The source for these paragraphs, and the next insofar as it is not Justin, is the Introduction pp. 1-11. See also Tarn (1951) p.50.] Justin does find the customs and growth of the Parthians, which were covered in Trogus' 41st book, quite interesting, and discusses them at length; in the process, he mentions four of the kings of Bactria and one Greek king of India. [Justin, 41.4.5, 41.4.8-9, 41.6.1-5, "ed. cit."; The names of Theodotus I and II; Eucratides and his unnamed parricidal son; and "Demetrius, king of the Indians" (so Yardley: "Indorum rex", Develin's note implies this is Demetrius II, but suggests that Demetrius I and II may be the same person.) Theodotus in Justin's text is clearly an error for Diodotus; the two prefixes both mean "God" no coins support his existence, and Trogus' tables of contents (the so-called prologues) survive (Develin and Yardley, p.284) saying Diodotus; they also include "Indicae quoque res additae, gestae per Apollodotum et Menandrum, reges eorum" "some Indian matters, namely the achievements of the Indian kings, Apollodotus and Menander.", although Justin does not mention Apollodotus. Tarn, Narain, and Bopearchchi all correct to Diodotus. ]

In addition to these dozen sentences, the geographer Strabo mentions India a few times in the course of his long dispute with Eratosthenes about the shape of Eurasia. Most of these are purely geographical claims, but he does mention that Eratosthenes' sources say that some of the Greek kings conquered further than Alexander; Strabo does not believe them on this, but modern historians do; nor does he believe that Menander and Demetrius son of Euthydemus conquered more tribes than Alexander [Strabo, "Geographia" 11.11.1 p.516 "Casaubon". 15.1.2, p. 686 "Casaubon", "tribes" is Jones' version of "ethne" (Loeb)] There is half a story about Menander in one of the books of Polybius which has not come down to us intact. [For a list of classical testimonia, see Tarn's Index II; but this covers India, Bactria, and several sources for the Hellenstic East as a whole.]

There are Indian literary sources, ranging from the Milinda Panha, a dialogue between a Buddhist sage Nagasena and King Menander I, which includes some incidental information on Menander's biography and the geography and institutions of his kingdom, down to a sentence about Menander (presumably the same Menander) and his attack on Pataliputra which happens to have survived as a standard example in grammar texts; none is a narrative history. Names in these sources are consistently Indianized, and there is some dispute whether, for example, "Dharmamitra" represents "Demetrius" or is an Indian prince with that name. There was also a Chinese expedition to Bactria by Chang-k'ien under the Emperor Wu of Han, recorded in the Records of the Grand Historian and Book of the Former Han, additional evidence is in the Book of the Later Han; the identification of places and peoples behind transcriptions into Chinese is difficult, and several alternate interpretations have been proposed. [Tarn, App. 20; Narain (1957) pp. 136, 156 "et alii".]

There is also significant archaeological evidence, including some epigraphic evidence, for the Indo-Greek kings, such as the mention of the "Yavana" embassy of king Antialcidas on the Heliodorus pillar in Vidisha, ["The Besnagar Garuda pillar inscription witnesses to the presence of the Yavana Heliodorus son of Dion in Vidisa as an envoy from Taxila of king Antialkidas around 140 BC", Mitchener, "The Yuga Purana", p.64] primarily in Indic languages, which has the same problems with names as the Indic literary evidence. But the chief archaeological evidence is the coins.

There are coin finds of several dozen Indo-Greek rulers in India; exactly how many is complicated to determine, because the Greeks did not number their kings, and the eastern Greeks did not date their coins. For example, there are a substantial number of coin finds for a King Demetrius, but authors have postulated one, two, or three Demetrii, and the same coins have been identified by different enquirers as describing Demetrius I, Demetrius II, or Demetrius III. [Tarn and Narain postulate two Demetrii; the former thinks the "Demetrius Anicetus" coins describe Demetrius I, although actually made by Demetrius II; the latter that they are entirely by Demetrius II, and have nothing to do with Demetrius I. Bopearachchi ascribes one more recent find to Agathocles, but depicting Demetrius I; he postulates a much later Demetrius III for the previously known coins; this result is now fairly widely accepted by numismatists. The possibility of one Demetrius is attested by Develin and "Brill's New Pauly", "Demetrius [4] " ] The following deductions have been made from coins, in addition to mere existence:
*Kings who left many coins reigned long and prosperously.
*Hoards which contain many coins of the same king come from his realm.
*Kings who use the same iconography are friendly, and may well be from the same family,
*If a king overstrikes another king's coins, this is an important evidence to show that the overstriker reigned after the overstruck. Overstrikes may indicate that the two kings were enemies.
*Indo-Greek coins, like other Hellenistic coins, have monograms in addition to their inscriptions. These are generally held to indicate a mint official; therefore, if two kings issue coins with the same monogram, they reigned in the same area, and if not immediately following one another, have no long interval between them. All of these arguments are arguments of probability, and have exceptions; one of Menander's coins was found in Wales.

The exact time and progression of the Bactrian expansion into India is difficult to ascertain, but ancient authors name Demetrius, Apollodotus, and Menander as conquerors. [This reconstruction is adapted mainly from the works of Bopearachchi. Bopearachchi (1991,1998)]


Demetrius I was the son of Euthydemus I of Bactria; there is an inscription from his father's reign already officially hailing him as victorious. He also has one of the few absolute dates in Indo-Greek history: after his father held off Antiochus III for two years, 208-6 BC, the peace treaty included a the offer of a marriage between Demetrius and Antiochus' daughter. [Polybius 11.34] Coins of Demetrius I have been found in Arachosia and in the Kabul Valley; the latter would be the first entry of the Greeks into India, as they defined it. There is also literary evidence for a campaign eastward against the Seres and the Phryni; but the order and dating of these conquests is uncertain. [The first conquests of Demetrius have usually been held to be during his father's lifetime; the difference has been over the actual date. Tarn and Narain agreed on having them begin around 180; Bopearachchi moved this back to 200, and has been followed by much of the more recent literature, but see "Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World" (Boston, 2006) "Demetrius" §10, which places the invasion "probably in 184". D.H. MacDowall, "The Role of Demetrius in Arachosia and the Kabul Valley," published in the volume: O. Bopearachchi, Landes (ed), "Afghanistan Ancien Carrefour Entre L'Est Et L'Ouest", (Brepols 2005) discusses an inscription dedicated to Euthydemus, "Greatest of all kings" and his son Demetrius, who is not called king but "Victorious" (Kallinikos). This is taken to indicate that Demetrius was his father's general during the first conquests. It is uncertain whether the Kabul valley or Arachosia were conquered first, and whether the latter province was taken from the Seleucids after their defeat by the Romans in 190 BC. Peculiar enough, more coins of Euthydemus I than of Demetrius I have been found in the mentioned provinces. The calendar of the "Yonas" is proven by an inscription giving a triple synchronism to have begun in 186/5 BC; what event is commemorated is itself uncertain. Richard Salomon "The Indo-Greek era of 186/5 B.C. in a Buddhist reliquary inscription", in "Afghanistan, Ancien Carrefour" cited. ] Demetrius I seems to have conquered the Kabul valley, Arachosia and perhaps Gandhara; ["Demetrius occupied a large part of the Indus delta, Saurashtra and Kutch", Burjor Avari, p.130] he struck no Indian coins, so either his conquests did not penetrate that far into India or he died before he could consolidate them. On his coins, Demetrius I always carries the elephant-helmet worn by Alexander, which seems to be a token of his Indian conquests. ["It would be impossible to explain otherwise why in all his portraits Demetrios is crowned with an elephant scalp", Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.53] Bopearachchi believes that Demetrius received the title of "King of India" following his victories south of the Hindu Kush. ["We think that the conquests of these regions south of the Hindu Kush brought to Demetrius I the title of "King of India" given to him by Apollodorus of Artemita." Bopearachchi, p.52] He was also given, though perhaps only posthumously, the title "ανικητος" ("Anicetos", lit. "Invincible") a cult title of Heracles, which Alexander had assumed; the later Indo-Greek kings Lysias, Philoxenus, and Artemidorus also took it. [For Heracles, see Lillian B. Lawler " [ Orchesis Kallinikos] " "Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association", Vol. 79. (1948), pp. 254-267, p. 262; for Artemidorus, see K. Walton Dobbins " [ The Commerce of Kapisene and Gandhāra after the Fall of Indo-Greek Rule] " "Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient", Vol. 14, No. 3. (Dec., 1971), pp. 286-302 (Both JSTOR). Tarn, p.132, argues that Alexander did not assume as a title, but was only hailed by it, but see Peter Green, "The Hellenistic Age", p.7; see also Senior, Indo-Scythian coins, p.xii. No undisputed coins of Demetrius I himself use this title, but it is employed on one of the pedigree coins issued by Agathocles, which bear on the reverse the classical profile of Demetrius crowned by the elephant scalp, with the legend DEMETRIOS ANIKETOS, and on the reverse Herakles crowning himself, with the legend "Of king Agathocles" (Boppearachchi, "Monnaies", p.179 and Pl 8). Tarn, The Greeks in Bactria and India, Chap IV.] Finally, Demetrius may have been the founder of a newly discovered Greek Era, starting in 186/5 BC. ["It now seeems most likely that Demetrios was the founder of the newly discovered Greek Era of 186/5", Senior, "Indo-Scythian coins IV"]

After Demetrius I

After the death of Demetrius, the Bactrian kings Pantaleon and Agathocles struck the first bilingual coins with Indian inscriptions found as far east as Taxila [MacDowall, 2004] so in their time (c. 185-170 BC) the Bactrian kingdom seems to have included Gandhara. ["The only thing that seems reasonnably sure is that Taxila was part of the domain of Agathocles", Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.59] Several Bactrian kings followed after Demetrius' death, and it seems likely that the civil wars between them made it possible for Apollodotus I (from c. 180/175 BC) to make himself independent as the first proper Indo-Greek king (who did not rule from Bactria). Large numbers of his coins have been found in India, and he seems to have reigned in Gandhara as well as western Punjab. Apollodotus I was succeeded by or ruled alongside Antimachus II, likely the son of the Bactrian king Antimachus I. [Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.63]

The next important Indo-Greek king was Menander (from c. 165/155 BC) whose coins are frequently found even in eastern Punjab. Menander seems to have begun a second wave of conquests, and since he already ruled in India, it seems likely that the easternmost conquests were made by him. ["There is certainly some truth in Apollodorus and Strabo when they attribute to Menander the advances made by the Greeks of Bactria beyond the Hypanis and even as far as the Ganges and Palibothra (...) That the Yavanas advanced even beyond in the east, to the Ganges-Jamuna valley, about the middle of the second century BC is supported by the cumulative evidence provided by Indian sources", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" p.267.]

According to Apollodorus of Artemita, quoted by Strabo, the Indo-Greek territory for a while included the Indian coastal provinces of Sindh and possibly Gujarat. ["The Greeks... took possession, not only of Patalena, but also, on the rest of the coast, of what is called the kingdom of Saraostus and Sigerdis." Strabo 11.11.1 ( [ Strabo 11.11.1] )] With archaeological methods, the Indo-Greek territory can however only be confirmed from the Kabul Valley to the eastern Punjab, so Greek presence outside was probably short-lived or less significant.

Western and Indian sources also indicate that the Indo-Greeks may have captured the Sunga capital Pataliputra in northeastern India, but if this was the case, they did not hold it for long but were forced to retreat, probably due to wars in their own territories. ["The combination of textual and numismatic evidence allows to see what was the conflict between Eucratides and Menander. When Menander was engaged in a bloody conquest of the Ganges valley, Eucratides I would have taken advantage of this opportunity to invade his kingdom. This would be the "civil war" mentioned in the Yuga Purana; this would explain that Menander had to stop his conquest of the Ganges valley, and had to return hastily to face the aggressor", Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.85] Menander's reign saw the end of the Indo-Greek expansion.

The first conquests

Greek presence in Arachosia, where Greek populations had been living since before the acquisition of the territory by Chandragupta from Seleucus is mentioned by Isidore of Charax. He describes Greek cities there, one of them called Demetrias, probably in honour of the conqueror Demetrius. [In the 1st century BC, the geographer Isidorus of Charax mentions Parthians ruling over Greek populations and cities in Arachosia: "Beyond is Arachosia. And the Parthians call this White India; there are the city of Biyt and the city of Pharsana and the city of Chorochoad and the city of Demetrias; then Alexandropolis, the metropolis of Arachosia; it is Greek, and by it flows the river Arachotus. As far as this place the land is under the rule of the Parthians." "Parthians stations", 1st century BC. Mentioned in Bopearachchi, "Monnaies Greco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques", p52. Original text in paragraph 19 of [ Parthian stations] ]

Apollodotus I (and Menander I) were mentioned by Pompejus Trogus as important Indo-Greek kings. [Pompeius Trogus, Prologue to Book XLI.] It is theorized that Greek advances temporarily went as far as the Sunga capital Pataliputra (today Patna) in eastern India. Senior considers that these conquests can only refer to Menander: ["When Strabo mentions that "Those who after Alexander advanced beyond the Hypanis to the Ganges and Polibothra (Pataliputra)" this can only refer to the conquests of Menander.", Senior, "Indo-Scythian coins and history", p.XIV] Against this, John Mitchener considers that the Greeks probably raided the Indian capital of Pataliputra during the time of Demetrius, [Mitchener, "The Yuga Purana", 2000, p.65: "In line with the above discussion, therefore, we may infer that such an event (the incursions to Pataliputra) took place, after the reign of Salisuka Maurya (c.200 BC) and before that of Pusyamitra Sunga (187 BC). This would accordingly place the Yavana incursions during the reign of the Indo-Greek kings Euthydemus (c.230-190 BC) or Demetrios (c.205-190 as co-regent, and 190-171 BC as supreme ruler".] though Mitchener's analysis is not based on numismatic evidence.

The seriousness of the attack is in some doubt: Menander may merely have joined a raid led by Indian Kings down the Ganga, [A.K. Narain and Keay 2000] as Indo-Greek presence has not been confirmed this far east.

To the south, the Greeks may have occupied the areas of the Sindh and Gujarat, including the strategic harbour of Barygaza (Bharuch), ["Menander became the ruler of a kingdom extending along the coast of western India, including the whole of Saurashtra and the harbour Barukaccha. His territory also included Mathura, the Punjab, Gandhara and the Kabul Valley", Bussagli p101)] conquests also attested by coins dating from the Indo-Greek ruler Apollodotus I and by several ancient writers (Strabo 11; Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Chap. 41/47): [Tarn, p.147-149]

Narain however dismisses the account of the Periplus as "just a sailor's story", and holds that coin finds are not necessarily indicators of occupation. ["the account of the Periplus is just a sailor's story", Narain (p.118-119)] Coin hoards suggest that in Central India, the area of Malwa may also have been conquered. ["A distinctive series of Indo-Greek coins has been found at several places in central India: including at Dewas, some 22 miles to the east of Ujjain. These therefore add further definite support to the likelihood of an Indo-Greek presence in Malwa" Mitchener, "The Yuga Purana", p.64]

Various Indian records describe "Yavana" attacks on Mathura, Panchala, Saketa, and Pataliputra. The term "Yavana" is thought to be a transliteration of "Ionians" and is known to have designated Hellenistic Greeks (starting with the Edicts of Ashoka, where Ashoka writes about "the "Yavana" king Antiochus"), ["Because the Ionians were either the first ot the most dominant group among the Greeks with whom people in the east came in contact, the Persians called all of them "Yauna", and the Indians used "Yona" and "Yavana" for them", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks", p.249] but may have sometimes referred to other foreigners as well after the 1st century AD. ["The term (Yavana) had a precise meaning until well into the Christian era, when gradually its original meaning was lost and, like the word Mleccha, it degenerated into a general term for a foreigner" Narain, p.18]

Patanjali, a grammarian and commentator on Panini around 150 BC, describes in the "Mahābhāsya", the invasion in two examples using the imperfect tense of Sanskrit, denoting a recent event: ["Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian and Indo-Parthian coins in the Smithsonian institution", Bopearachchi, p16.] [Tarn, p.145-146]
* "Arunad Yavanah Sāketam" ("The Yavanas (Greeks) were besieging Saketa")
* "Arunad Yavano Madhyamikām" ("The Yavanas were besieging Madhyamika" (the "Middle country")).

Also the Brahmanical text of the "Yuga Purana", which describes Indian historical events in the form of a prophecy, but is thought to be likely historical, ["But the real story of the Indo-Greek invasion becomes clear only on the analysis of the material contained in the historical section of the Gargi Samhita, the Yuga Purana" Narain, p110, "The Indo-Greeks". Also "The text of the Yuga Purana, as we have shown, gives an explicit clue to the period and nature of the invasion of Pataliputra in which the Indo-Greeks took part, for it says that the Pancalas and the Mathuras were the other powers who attacked Saketa and destroyed Pataliputra", Narain, p.112] ["For any scholar engaged in the study of the presence of the Indo-Greeks or Indo-Scythians before the Christian Era, the "Yuga Purana" is an important source material" Dilip Coomer Ghose, General Secretary, The Asiatic Society, Kolkata, 2002] ["..further weight to the likelihood that this account of a Yavana incursion to Saketa and Pataliputra-in alliance with the Pancalas and the Mathuras- is indeed historical" Mitchener, "The Yuga Purana", p.65] relates the attack of the Indo-Greeks on the capital Pataliputra, ["The advance of the Greek to Pataliputra is recorded from the Indian side in the Yuga-purana", Tarn, p.145] a magnificent fortified city with 570 towers and 64 gates according to Megasthenes, ["The greatest city in India is that which is called Palimbothra, in the dominions of the Prasians [...] Megasthenes informs us that this city stretched in the inhabited quarters to an extreme length on each side of eighty stadia, and that its breadth was fifteen stadia, and that a ditch encompassed it all round, which was six hundred feet in breadth and thirty cubits in depth, and that the wall was crowned with 570 towers and had four-and-sixty gates." Arr. Ind. 10. "Of Pataliputra and the Manners of the Indians.", quoting Megasthenes [ Text] ] and describes the ultimate destruction of the city's walls: ["The text of the Yuga Purana, as we have shown, gives an explicit clue to the period and nature of the invasion of Pataliputra in which the Indo-Greeks took part, for it says that the Pancalas and the Mathuras were the other powers who attacked Saketa and destroyed Pataliputra", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks", p.112]

Earlier authors such as Tarn have suggested that the raid on Pataliputra was made by Demetrius [Tarn, p. 132-133] . According to Mitchener, the Hathigumpha inscription indicates the presence of the Greeks led by a "Demetrius" in eastern India (Magadha) sometime during the 1st century BC, ["The name Dimita is almost certainly an adaptation of "Demetrios", and the inscription thus indicates a Yavana presence in Magadha, probably around the middle of the 1st century BC." Mitchener, "The Yuga Purana", p.65] , although this interpretation was previously disputed by Narain. ["The Hathigumpha inscription seems to have nothing to do with the history of the Indo-Greeks; certainly it has nothing to do with Demetrius I", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks", p.50] But while this inscription may be interpreted as an indication that Demetrius I was the king who made conquests in Punjab, it is still true that he never issued any Indian coins, and the restoration of his name in Kharosthi on the Hathigumpha inscription: "Di-Mi-Ta", has been doubted. [P.L.Gupta: Kushâna Coins and History, D.K.Printworld, 1994, p.184, note 5] . The "Di" is a reconstruction, and it may be noted that the name of another Indo-Greek king, Amyntas, is spelt "A-Mi-Ta" in Kharosthi and may fit in.

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


The important Bactrian king Eucratides seems to have attacked the Indo-Greek kingdom during the mid 2nd century BC. A Demetrius, called "King of the Indians", seems to have confronted Eucratides in a four month siege, reported by Justin, but he ultimately lost. ["Justin refers to an incident in which Eucratides with a small force of 300 was besieged for four months by "Demetrius, king of the Indians" with a large army of 60,000. The numbers are obviously an exageration. Eucratides managed to break out and went on to conquer India.",

It is uncertain who this Demetrius was, and when the siege happened. Some scholars believe that it was Demetrius I."(Demetrius I) was probably the Demetrius who besieged Eucratides for four months", D.W. Mac Dowall, p.201-202, "Afghanistan, ancien carrefour entre l'est et l'ouest". This analysis goes against Bopearachchi, who has suggested that Demetrius I died long before Eucratides came to power.]

In any case, Eucratides seems to have occupied territory as far as the Indus, between ca. 170 BC and 150 BC. [Bopearachchi, p.72] His advances were ultimately checked by the Indo-Greek king Menander I, ["As Bopearachchi has shown, Menander was able to regroup and take back the territory that Eucratides I had conquered, perhaps after Eucratides had died (1991, pp. 84-6). Bopearachchi demonstrates that the transition in Menander's coin designs were in response to changes introduced by Eucratides".]

Menander is considered to have been probably the most successful Indo-Greek king, and the conqueror of the largest territory. ["Numismats and historians are unanimous in considering that Menander was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, and the most famous of the Indo-Greek kings. The coins to the name of Menander are incomparably more abundant than those of any other Indo-Greek king" Bopearachchi, "Monnaies Gréco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques", p76.] The finds of his coins are the most numerous and the most widespread of all the Indo-Greek kings. Menander is also remembered in Buddhist literature, where he called Milinda, and is described in the Milinda Panha as a convert to Buddhism: ["Menander, the probable conqueror of Pataliputra, seems to have been a Buddhist, and his name belongs in the list of important royal patrons of Buddhism along with Ashoka and Kanishka", McEvilley, p.375] he became an arhat ["(In the Milindapanha) Menander is declared an arhat", McEvilley, p.378] whose relics were enshrined in a manner reminiscent of the Buddha. ["Plutarch, who talks of the burial of Menander's relics under monuments or stupas, had obviously read or heard some Buddhist account of the Greek king's death", McEvilley, p.377] ["The statement of Plutarch that when Menander died "the cities celebrated (…) agreeing that they should divide ashes equally and go away and should erect monuments to him in all their cities", is significant and reminds one of the story of the Buddha", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.123, "This is unmistakably Buddhist and recalls the similar situation at the time of the Buddha's passing away", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.269] He also introduced a new coin type, with Athena Alkidemos ("Protector of the people") on the reverse, which was adopted by most of his successors in the East. [Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.86]

The fall of Bactria and death of Menander

From the mid-2nd century BC, the Scythians and then the Yuezhi, following a long migration from the border of China, started to invade Bactria from the north. ["By about 130 BC nomadic people from the Jaxartes region had overrun the northern boundary of Bactria itself", McEvilley, p.372] Around 130 BC the last Greco-Bactrian king Heliocles was probably killed during the invasion and the Greco-Bactrian kingdom proper ceased to exist. The Parthians also probably played a role in the downfall of the Bactrian kingdom.

The Indo-Greek states, shielded by the Hindu Kush range, were saved from the invasions, but the civil wars which had weakened the Greeks continued. Menander I, died around the same time, and even though the king himself seems to have been popular among his subjects, his dynasty was at least partially dethroned (see discussion under Menander I). Probable members of the dynasty of Menander include the ruling queen Agathokleia, her son Strato I, and Nicias, though it is uncertain whether they ruled directly after Menander. [Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.88] Other kings emerged, usually in the western part of the Indo-Greek realm, such as Zoilos I, Lysias, Antialcidas and Philoxenos. [Senior, "Indo-Scythian coins and history IV", p.xi] These rulers may have been relatives of either the Eucratid or the Euthydemid dynasties. The names of later kings were often new (members of Hellenistic dynasties usually inherited family names) but old reverses and titles were frequently repeated by the later rulers.

While all Indo-Greek kings after Apollodotus I mainly issued bilingual (Greek and Kharoshti) coins for circulation in their own territories, several of them also struck rare Greek coins which have been found in Bactria. The later kings probably struck these coins as some kind of payment to the Scythian or Yuezhi tribes who now ruled there, though if as tribute or payment for mercenaries remains unknown."P.Bernard thinks that these emissions were destined to commercial exchanges with Bactria, then controled by the Yuezhi, and were post-Greek coins remained faithful to Greco-Bactrian coinage. In a slightly different perspective (...) G. Le Rider considers that these emission were used to pay tribute to the nomads of the north, who were thus incentivized not to pursue their forays in the direction of the Indo-Greek realm", Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.76.] For some decades after the Bactrian invasion, relationships seem to have been peaceful between the Indo-Greeks and these relatively hellenised nomad tribes.

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

Later History

Throughout the 1st century BC, the Indo-Greeks progressively lost ground to the Indians in the east, and the Scythians, the Yuezhi, and the Parthians in the West. About 20 Indo-Greek king are known during this period, ["During the century that followed Menander more than twenty rulers are known to have struck coins", Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.270] down to the last known Indo-Greek ruler, a king named Strato, who ruled in the Punjab region until around 10 AD.

Loss of Mathura and eastern territories (circa 100 BC)

The Indo-Greeks may have ruled as far as the area of Mathura until sometime in the 1st century BC: the Maghera inscription, from a village near Mathura, records the dedication of a well "in the one hundred and sixteenth year of the reign of the Yavanas", which could be as late as 70 BC. [The Sanskrit inscription reads "Yavanarajyasya sodasuttare varsasate 100 10 6". R.Salomon, "The Indo-Greek era of 186/5 B.C. in a Buddhist reliquary inscription", in "Afghanistan, ancien carrefour entre l'est et l'ouest", p373] Soon however Indian kings recovered the area of Mathura and south-eastern Punjab, west of the Yamuna River, and started to mint their own coins. The Arjunayanas (area of Mathura) and Yaudheyas mention military victories on their coins ("Victory of the Arjunayanas", "Victory of the Yaudheyas"). During the 1st century BC, the Trigartas, Audumbaras ["The coinage of the former (the Audumbaras) to whom their trade was of importance, starts somewhere in the first century BC; they occasionally imitate the types of Demetrius and Apollodotus I", Tarn, p.325] and finally the Kunindas [ The Kunindas must have been included in the Greek empire, not only because of their geographical position, but because they started coining at the time which saw the end of Greek rule and the establishment of their independence", Tarn, p.238] also started to mint their own coins, usually in a style highly reminiscent of Indo-Greek coinage. ["Further evidence of the commercial success of the Greek drachms is seen in the fact that they influenced the coinage of the Audumbaras and the Kunindas", Narain "The Indo-Greeks", p.114] ["The wealthy Audumbaras (...) some of their coins after Greek rule ended imitated Greek types", Tarn, p.239] ["Most of the people east of the Ravi already noticed as within Menander's empire -Audumbaras, Trigartas, Kunindas, Yaudheyas, Arjunayanas- began to coins in the first century BC, which means that they had become independent kingdoms or republics.", Tarn, p.324] ["Later, in the first century a ruler of the Kunindas, Amogabhuti, issued a silver coinage "which would compete in the market with the later Indo-Greek silver"", Tarn, p.325]

The Western king Philoxenus briefly occupied the whole remaining Greek territory from the Paropamisadae to Western Punjab between 100 to 95 BC, after what the territories fragmented again. The western kings regained their territory as far west as Arachosia, and eastern kings continued to rule on and off until the beginning of our era.

cythian invasions (80 BC-20 AD)

Around 80 BC, an Indo-Scythian king named Maues, possibly a general in the service of the Indo-Greeks, ruled for a few years in northwestern India before the Indo-Greeks again took control. He seems to have been married to an Indo-Greek princess. ["Maues himself issued joint coins with Machene, (...) probably a daughter of one of the Indo-Greek houses" Senior, "Indo-Scythians", p.xxxvi] King Hippostratos (65-55 BC) seems to have been one of the most successful subsequent Indo-Greek kings until he lost to the Indo-Scythian Azes I, who established an Indo-Scythian dynasty. [G.K. Jenkins, using overstrikes and monograms, showed that, contrary to what Narai would write two years later, Apoloodotus II and Hippostratus were posterior, by far, to Maues. (...) He reveals an overstike if Azes I over Hippostratus. (...) Apollodotus and Hippostratus are thus posterior to Maues and anterior to Azes I, whose era we now starts in 57 BC." Bopearachchi, p.126-127.] Various coins seem to suggest that some sort of alliance may have taken place between the Indo-Greeks and the Scythians. ["It is curious that on his copper Zoilos used a Bow and quiver as a type. A quiver was a badge used by the Parthians (Scythians) and had been used previously by Diodotos, who we know had made a treaty with them. Did Zoilos use Scythian mercenaries in his quest against Menander perhaps?" Senior, "Indo-Scythian coins", p.xxvii]

Although the Indo-Scythians clearly ruled militarily and politically, they remained surprisingly respectful of Greek and Indian cultures. Their coins were minted in Greek mints, continued using proper Greek and Kharoshthi legends, and incorporated depictions of Greek deities, particularly Zeus. ["The Indo-Scythian conquerors, who, also they adopted the greek types, minted money with their own names". Bopearachchci, "Monnaies", p.121] The Mathura lion capital inscription attests that they adopted the Buddhist faith, as do the depictions of deities forming the vitarka mudra on their coins. Greek communities, far from being exterminated, probably persisted under Indo-Scythian rule. There is a possibility that a fusion, rather than a confrontation, occurred between the Greeks and the Indo-Scythians: in a recently published coin, Artemidoros presents himself as "son of Maues", [ Described in R.C. Senior "The Decline of the Indo-Greeks" [] . See also [ this source] .] and the Buner reliefs show Indo-Greeks and Indo-Scythians reveling in a Buddhist context.

The Indo-Greeks continued to rule a territory in the eastern Punjab, until the kingdom of the last Indo-Greek king Strato was taken over by the Indo-Scythian ruler Rajuvula around 10 AD. ["Around 10 AD, with the joint rule of Straton II and his son Straton in the area of Sagala, le last Greek kingdom succumbed to the attacks of Rajuvula, the Indo-Scythian satrap of Mathura.", Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.125]

Western Yuezhi or Saka expansion (70 BC-)

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

One of the last important kings in the Paropamisadae was Hermaeus, who ruled until around 80 BC; soon after his death the Yuezhi or Sakas took over his areas from neighbouring Bactria. When Hermaeus is depicted on his coins riding a horse, he is equipped with the recurve bow and bow-case of the steppes and RC Senior believes him to be of partly nomad origin. The later king Hippostratus may however also have held territories in the Paropamisadae.

After the death of Hermaeus, the Yuezhi or Saka nomads became the new rulers of the Paropamisadae, and minted vast quantities of posthumous issues of Hermaeus up to around 40 AD, when they blend with the coinage of the Kushan king Kujula Kadphises. ["Kujula Kadphises, founder of the Kushan Empire, succeeded there (in the Paropamisadae) to the nomads who minted imitations of Hermaeus" Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.117] The first documented Yuezhi prince, Sapadbizes, ruled around 20 BC, and minted in Greek and in the same style as the western Indo-Greek kings, probably depending on Greek mints and celators.

The last known mention of an Indo-Greek ruler is suggested by an inscription on a signet ring of the 1st century AD in the name of a king Theodamas, from the Bajaur area of Gandhara, in modern Pakistan. No coins of him are known, but the signet bears in kharoshthi script the inscription "Su Theodamasa", "Su" being explained as the Greek transliteration of the ubiquitous Kushan royal title "Shau" ("Shah", "King"). ["We get two Greeks of the Parthian period, the first half of the first century AD, who used the Indian form of their names, King Theodamas on his signet-ring found in Bajaur, and Thedorus son of Theoros on two silver bowls from Taxila." Tarn, p.389]


Buddhism flourished under the Indo-Greek kings, and their rule, especially that of Menander, has been remembered as benevolent. It has been suggested, although direct evidence is lacking, that their invasion of India was intended to show their support for the Mauryan empire which may have had a long history of marital alliances, [Marital alliances:
*Discussion on the dynastic alliance in Tarn, pp. 152–153: "It has been recently suggested that Asoka was grandson of the Seleucid princess, whom Seleucus gave in marriage to Chandragupta. Should this far-reaching suggestion be well founded, it would not only throw light on the good relations between the Seleucid and Maurya dynasties, but would mean that the Maurya dynasty was descended from, or anyhow connected with, Seleucus… when the Mauryan line became extinct, he (Demetrius) may well have regarded himself, if not as the next heir, at any rate as the heir nearest at hand". Also: "The Seleucid and Maurya lines were connected by the marriage of Seleucus' daughter (or niece) either to Chandragupta or his son Bindusara" John Marshall, Taxila, p20. This thesis originally appeared in "The Cambridge Shorter History of India": "If the usual oriental practice was followed and if we regard Chandragupta as the victor, then it would mean that a daughter or other female relative of Seleucus was given to the Indian ruler or to one of his sons, so that Asoka may have had Greek blood in his veins." The Cambridge Shorter History of India, J. Allan, H. H. Dodwell, T. Wolseley Haig, p33 [ Source] .
*Description of the 302 BC marital alliance in [ Strabo 15.2.1(9)] : "The Indians occupy [in part] some of the countries situated along the Indus, which formerly belonged to the Persians: Alexander deprived the Ariani of them, and established there settlements of his own. But Seleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus in consequence of a marriage contract, and received in return five hundred elephants." The ambassador Megasthenes was also sent to the Mauryan court on this occasion.
] exchange of presents, [Exchange of presents:
*Classical sources have recorded that Chandragupta sent various aphrodisiacs to Seleucus: "And Theophrastus says that some contrivances are of wondrous efficacy in such matters [as to make people more amourous] . And Phylarchus confirms him, by reference to some of the presents which Sandrakottus, the king of the Indians, sent to Seleucus; which were to act like charms in producing a wonderful degree of affection, while some, on the contrary, were to banish love" Athenaeus of Naucratis, "The deipnosophists" Book I, chapter 32 [ Ath. Deip. I.32]
*Ashoka claims he introduced herbal medicine in the territories of the Greeks, for the welfare of humans and animals (Edict No2).
*Bindusara asked Antiochus I to send him some sweet wine, dried figs and a sophist: "But dried figs were so very much sought after by all men (for really, as Aristophanes says, "There's really nothing nicer than dried figs"), that even Amitrochates, the king of the Indians, wrote to Antiochus, entreating him (it is Hegesander who tells this story) to buy and send him some sweet wine, and some dried figs, and a sophist; and that Antiochus wrote to him in answer, "The dry figs and the sweet wine we will send you; but it is not lawful for a sophist to be sold in Greece" Athenaeus, "Deipnosophistae" XIV.67 [ Athenaeus, "Deipnosophistae" XIV.67]
] demonstrations of friendship, [Treaties of friendship:
*When Antiochos III, after having made peace with Euthydemus, went to India in 209 BC, he is said to have renewed his friendship with the Indian king there and received presents from him: "He crossed the Caucasus (Hindu Kush) and descended into India; renewed his friendship with Sophagasenus the king of the Indians; received more elephants, until he had a hundred and fifty altogether; and having once more provisioned his troops, set out again personally with his army: leaving Androsthenes of Cyzicus the duty of taking home the treasure which this king had agreed to hand over to him." [ Polybius 11.39]
] exchange of ambassadors [Ambassadors:
*Known ambassadors to India are Megasthenes, Deimakos and Dionysius.
] and religious missions [Religious missions:
*In the Edicts of Ashoka, king Ashoka claims to have sent Buddhist emissaries to the Hellenistic west around 250 BC.
] with the Greeks. The historian Diodorus even wrote that the king of Pataliputra had "great love for the Greeks". [The historian Diodorus wrote that the king of Pataliputra, apparently a Mauryan king, "loved the Greeks": "Iambulus, having found his way to a certain village, was then brought by the natives into the presence of the king of Palibothra, a city which was distant a journey of many days from the sea. And since the king loved the Greeks ("Philhellenos") and devoted to learning he considered Iambulus worthy of cordial welcome; and at length, upon receiving a permission of safe-conduct, he passed over first of all into Persia and later arrived safe in Greece" Diodorus ii,60.] ["Diodorus testifies to the great love of the king of Palibothra, apparently a Mauryan king, for the Greeks" Narain, "The Indo-Greeks", p362]

The Greek expansion into Indian territory may have been intended to protect Greek populations in India, [ "Obviously, for the Greeks who survived in India and suffered from the oppression of the Sunga (for whom they were aliens and heretics), Demetrios must have appeared as a saviour" Mario Bussagli, p. 101] and to protect the Buddhist faith from the religious persecutions of the Sungas. ["We can now, I think, see what the Greek 'conquest' meant and how the Greeks were able to traverse such extraordinary distances. To parts of India, perhaps to large parts, they came, not as conquerors, but as friends or 'saviors'; to the Buddhist world in particular they appeared to be its champions" (Tarn, p. 180)] The city of Sirkap founded by Demetrius combines Greek and Indian influences without signs of segregation between the two cultures.

The first Greek coins to be minted in India, those of Menander I and Appolodotus I bear the mention "Saviour king" (ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ), a title with high value in the Greek world which indicated an important deflective victory. For instance, Ptolemy I had been "Soter" (saviour) because he had helped save Rhodes from Demetrius the Besieger, and Antiochus I because he had saved Asia Minor from the Gauls. The title was also inscribed in Pali as ("Tratarasa") on the reverse of their coins. Menander and Apollodotus may indeed have been saviours to the Greek populations residing in India, and to some of the Indians as well. [Tarn p. 175. Also: "The people to be 'saved' were in fact usually Buddhists, and the common enimity of Greek and Buddhists to the Sunga king threw them into each other's arms", Tarn p. 175. "Menander was coming to save them from the oppression of the Sunga kings",Tarn p. 178]

Also, most of the coins of the Greek kings in India were bilingual, written in Greek on the front and in Pali on the back (in the Kharoshthi script, derived from Aramaic, rather than the more eastern Brahmi, which was used only once on coins of Agathocles of Bactria), a tremendous concession to another culture never before made in the Hellenic world. [Whitehead, "Indo-Greek coins", p 3-8] From the reign of Apollodotus II, around 80 BC, Kharoshthi letters started to be used as mintmarks on coins in combination with Greek monograms and mintmarks, suggesting the participation of local technicians to the minting process. [Bopearachchi p. 138] Incidentally, these bilingual coins of the Indo-Greeks were the key in the decipherment of the Kharoshthi script by James Prinsep (1799–1840). [Whitehead,] Kharoshthi became extinct around the 3rd century AD.

In Indian literature, the Indo-Greeks are described as Yavanas (in Sanskrit), ["These Indo-Greeks were called Yavanas in ancient Indian litterature" p.9 + note 1 "The term had a precise meaning until well into the Christian era, when gradually its original meaning was lost and, like the word "Mleccha", it degenerated into a general term for a foreigner" p.18, Narain "The Indo-Greeks"] ["All Greeks in India were however known as Yavanas", Burjor Avari, "India, the ancient past", p.130] ["The term Yavana may well have been first applied by the Indians to the Greeks of various cities of Asia Minor who were settled in the areas contiguous to north-west India" Narain "The Indo-Greeks", p.227] or Yonas (in Pali) ["Of the Sanskrit Yavana, there are other forms and derivatives, viz. Yona, Yonaka, Javana, Yavana, Jonon or Jononka, Ya-ba-na etc... Yona is a normal Prakrit form from Yavana", Narain "The Indo-Greeks", p.228] both thought to be transliterations of "Ionians". In the Harivamsa the "Yavana" Indo-Greeks are qualified, together with the Sakas, Kambojas, Pahlavas and Paradas as "Kshatriya-pungava" i.e foremost among the Warrior caste, or Kshatriyas. The Majjhima Nikaya explains that in the lands of the Yavanas and Kambojas, in contrast with the numerous Indian castes, there were only two classes of people, Aryas and Dasas (masters and slaves).


In addition to the worship of the Classical pantheon of the Greek deities found on their coins (Zeus, Herakles, Athena, Apollo...), the Indo-Greeks were involved with local faiths, particularly with Buddhism, but also with Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. [Tarn, p.391: "Somewhere I have met with the zhole-hearted statement that every Greek in India ended by becoming a Buddhist (...) Heliodorus the ambassador was a Bhagavatta, a worshiper of Vshnu-Krishna as the supreme deity (...) Theodorus the meridrarch, who established some relics of the Buddha "for the purpose of the security of many people", was undoubtedly Buddhist". Images of the Zoroastrian divinity Mithra - depicted with a radiated phrygian cap - appear extensively on the Indo-Greek coinage of the Western kings.This Zeus-Mithra is also the one represented seated (with the gloriole around the head, and a small protrusion on the top of the head representing the cap) on many coins of Hermaeus, Antialcidas or Heliokles II.]

After the Greco-Bactrians militarily occupied parts of northern India from around 180 BC, numerous instances of interaction between Greeks and Buddhism are recorded. Menander I, the "Saviour king", seems to have converted to Buddhism, ["It is not unlikely that "Dikaios", which is translated Dhramaika in the Kharosthi legend, may be connected with his adoption of the Buddhist faith." Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.124] and is described as a great benefactor of the religion, on a par with Ashoka or the future Kushan emperor Kanishka. ["Menander, the probable conqueror of Pataliputra, seems to have been a Buddhist, and his name belongs in the list of important royal patrons of Buddhism along with Asoka and Kanishka", McEvilley, p.375] The wheel he represented on some of his coins was probably Buddhist, and he is famous for his dialogues with the Buddhist monk Nagasena, transmitted to us in the Milinda Panha, which explain that he became a Buddhist arhat:

Another Indian text, the "Stupavadana" of Ksemendra, mentions in the form of a prophecy that Menander will build a stupa in Pataliputra. [Stupavadana, Chapter 57, v15. Quotes in E.Seldeslachts.]

Plutarch also presents Menander as an example of benevolent rule, and explains that upon his death, the honour of sharing his remains was claimed by the various cities under his rule, and they were enshrined in "monuments" (μνημεία, probably stupas), in a parallel with the historic Buddha: [McEvilley, p.377]


In general, the art of the Indo-Greeks is poorly documented, and few works of art (apart from their coins and a few stone palettes) are directly attributed to them. The coinage of the Indo-Greeks however is generally considered as some of the most artistically brilliant of Antiquity. ["The extraordinary realism of their portraiture. The portraits of Demetrius, Antimachus and of Eucratides are among the most remarkable that have come down to us from antiquity" Hellenism in Ancient India, Banerjee, p134] The Hellenistic heritage (Ai-Khanoum) and artistic proficiency of the Indo-Greek world would suggest a rich sculptural tradition as well, but traditionally very few sculptural remains have been attributed to them. On the contrary, most Gandharan Hellenistic works of art are usually attributed to the direct successors of the Indo-Greeks in India in 1st century AD, such as the nomadic Indo-Scythians, the Indo-Parthians and, in an already decadent state, the Kushans ["Just as the Frank Clovis had no part in the development of Gallo-Roman art, the Indo-Scythian Kanishka had no direct influence on that of Indo-Greek Art; and besides, we have now the certain proofs that during his reign this art was already stereotyped, of not decadent" Hellenism in Ancient India, Banerjee, p147] In general, Gandharan sculpture cannot be dated exactly, leaving the exact chronology open to interpretation.

The possibility of a direct connection between the Indo-Greeks and Greco-Buddhist art has been reaffirmed recently as the dating of the rule of Indo-Greek kings has been extended to the first decades of the 1st century AD, with the reign of Strato II in the Punjab. ["The survival into the 1st century AD of a Greek administration and presumably some elements of Greek culture in the Punjab has now to be taken into account in any discussion of the role of Greek influence in the development of Gandharan sculpture", The Crossroads of Asia, p14] Also, Foucher, Tarn, and more recently, Boardman, Bussagli and McEvilley have taken the view that some of the most purely Hellenistic works of northwestern India and Afghanistan, may actually be wrongly attributed to later centuries, and instead belong to a period one or two centuries earlier, to the time of the Indo-Greeks in the 2nd-1st century BC: [On the Indo-Greeks and the Gandhara school:
*1) "It is necessary to considerably push back the start of Gandharan art, to the first half of the first century BC, or even, very probably, to the preceding century.(...) The origins of Gandharan art... go back to the Greek presence. (...) Gandharan iconography was already fully formed before, or at least at the very beginning of our era" Mario Bussagli "L'art du Gandhara", p331–332
*2) "The beginnings of the Gandhara school have been dated everywhere from the first century B.C. (which was M.Foucher's view) to the Kushan period and even after it" (Tarn, p394). Foucher's views can be found in "La vieille route de l'Inde, de Bactres a Taxila", pp340–341). The view is also supported by Sir John Marshall ("The Buddhist art of Gandhara", pp5–6).
*3) Also the recent discoveries at Ai-Khanoum confirm that "Gandharan art descended directly from Hellenized Bactrian art" (Chaibi Nustamandy, "Crossroads of Asia", 1992).
*4) On the Indo-Greeks and Greco-Buddhist art: "It was about this time (100 BC) that something took place which is without parallel in Hellenistic history: Greeks of themselves placed their artistic skill at the service of a foreign religion, and created for it a new form of expression in art" (Tarn, p393). "We have to look for the beginnings of Gandharan Buddhist art in the residual Indo-Greek tradition, and in the early Buddhist stone sculpture to the South (Bharhut etc...)" (Boardman, 1993, p124). "Depending on how the dates are worked out, the spread of Gandhari Buddhism to the north may have been stimulated by Menander's royal patronage, as may the development and spread of the Gandharan sculpture, which seems to have accompanied it" McEvilley, 2002, "The shape of ancient thought", p378.

This is particularly the case of some purely Hellenistic works in Hadda, Afghanistan, an area which "might indeed be the cradle of incipient Buddhist sculpture in Indo-Greek style". [Boardman, p141] Referring to one of the Buddha triads in Hadda, in which the Buddha is sided by very Classical depictions of Herakles/Vajrapani and Tyche/Hariti, Boardman explains that both figures "might at first (and even second) glance, pass as, say, from Asia Minor or Syria of the first or second century BC (...) these are essentially Greek figures, executed by artists fully conversant with far more than the externals of the Classical style". [Boardman, p143] Alternatively, it has been suggested that these works of art may have been executed by itinerant Greek artists during the time of maritime contacts with the West from the 1st to the 3rd century AD. ["Others, dating the work to the first two centuries A.D., after the waning of Greek autonomy on the Northwest, connect it instead with the Roman Imperial trade, which was just then getting a foothold at sites like Barbaricum (modern Karachi) at the Indus-mouth. It has been proposed that one of the embassies from Indian kings to Roman emperors may have brought back a master sculptorto oversee work in the emerging Mahayana Buddhist sensibility (in which the Buddha came to be seen as a kind of deity), and that "bands of foreign workmen from the eastern centers of the Roman Empire" were brought to India" (Mc Evilley "The shape of ancient thought", quoting Benjamin Rowland "The art and architecture of India" p121 and A.C. Soper "The Roman Style in Gandhara" American Journal of Archaeology 55 (1951) pp301–319)]

The Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, beyond the omnipresence of Greek style and stylistic elements which might be simply considered as an enduring artistic tradition, [Boardman, p.115] offers numerous depictions of people in Greek Classical realistic style, attitudes and fashion (clothes such as the chiton and the himation, similar in form and style to the 2nd century BC Greco-Bactrian statues of Ai-Khanoum, hairstyle), holding contraptions which are characteristic of Greek culture (amphoras, "kantaros" Greek drinking cups), in situations which can range from festive (such as Bacchanalian scenes) to Buddhist-devotional. [McEvilley, p.388-390] [Boardman, 109-153] Uncertainties in dating make it unclear whether these works of art actually depict Greeks of the period of Indo-Greek rule up to the 1st century BC, or remaining Greek communities under the rule of the Indo-Parthians or Kushans in the 1st and 2nd century AD. Benjamin Rowland thinks that the Indo-Greeks, rather than the Indo-Scythians or the Kushans, may have been the models for the Bodhisattva statues of Gandhara ["It is noteworthy that the dress of the Gandharan Bodhisattva statues has no resemblance whatever to that of the Kushan royal portrait statues, which has many affiliations with Parthian costume. The finery of the Gandhara images must be modeled on the dress of local native nobility, princes of Indian or Indo-Greek race, who had no blood connection with the Scythian rulers. It is also evident that the facial types are unrelated to the features of the Kushans as we know them from their coins and fragmentary portrait statues.", Benjamin Rowland JR, foreword to "The Dyasntic art of the Kushan", John Rosenfield, 1967]


Very little is known about the economy of the Indo-Greeks, although it seems to have been rather vibrant. ["Those tiny territories of the Indo-Greek kings must have been lively and commercially flourishing places", "India: The ancient past", Burjor Avari, p.130] ["No doubt the Greeks of Bactria and India presided over a flourishing economy. This is clearly indicated by their coinage and the monetary exchange they had established with other currencies." Narain, "The Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.275] The abundance of their coins would tend to suggest large mining operations, particularly in the mountainous area of the Hindu-Kush, and an important monetary economy. The Indo-Greek did strike bilingual coins both in the Greek "round" standard and in the Indian "square" standard, [Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.27] suggesting that monetary circulation extended to all parts of society. The adoption of Indo-Greek monetary conventions by neighbouring kingdoms, such as the Kunindas to the east and the Satavahanas to the south, [Rapson, clxxxvi-] would also suggest that Indo-Greek coins were used extensively for cross-border trade.

Tribute payments

It would also seem that some of the coins emitted by the Indo-Greek kings, particularly those in the monolingual Attic standard, may have been used to pay some form of tribute to the Yuezhi tribes north of the Hindu-Kush. This is indicated by the coins finds of the Qunduz hoard in northern Afghanistan, which have yielded quantities of Indo-Greek coins in the Hellenistic standard (Greek weights, Greek language), although none of the kings represented in the hoard are known to have ruled so far north. [Bopearachchi, "Monnaies", p.75] Conversely, none of these coins have ever been found south of the Hindu-Kush. [Fussman, JA 1993, p127 and Bopearachchi, "Graeco-Bactrian issues of the later Indo-Greek kings", Num. Chron.1990, pp79–104)]

Trade with China

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

Indian Ocean trade

Maritime relations across the Indian ocean started in the 3rd century BC, and further developed during the time of the Indo-Greeks together with their territorial expansion along the western coast of India. The first contacts started when the Ptolemies constructed the Red Sea ports of Myos Hormos and Berenike, with destination the Indus delta, the Kathiawar peninsula or Muziris. Around 130 BC, Eudoxus of Cyzicus is reported (Strabo, "Geog." II.3.4) [ [*.html#3.4 Strabo II.3.4‑5 on Eudoxus] ] to have made a successful voyage to India and returned with a cargo of perfumes and gemstones. By the time Indo-Greek rule was ending, up to 120 ships were setting sail every year from Myos Hormos to India (Strabo "Geog." II.5.12). ["Since the merchants of Alexandria are already sailing with fleets by way of the Nile and of the Persian Gulf as far as India, these regions also have become far better known to us of today than to our predecessors. At any rate, when Gallus was prefect of Egypt, I accompanied him and ascended the Nile as far as Syene and the frontiers of Ethiopia, and I learned that as many as one hundred and twenty vessels were sailing from Myos Hormos for India, whereas formerly, under the Ptolemies, only a very few ventured to undertake the voyage and to carry on traffic in Indian merchandise." [*.html Strabo II.5.12] ]

Armed forces

The coins of the Indo-Greeks provide rich clues on their uniforms and weapons. Typical Hellenistic uniforms are depicted, with helmets being either round in the Greco-Bactrian style, or the flat kausia of the Macedonians (coins of Apollodotus I).

Military technology

Their weapons were spears, swords, longbow (on the coins of Agathokleia) and arrows. Interestingly, around 130 BC the Central Asian recurve bow of the steppes with its gorytos box starts to appear for the first time on the coins of Zoilos I, suggesting strong interactions (and apparently an alliance) with nomadic peoples, either Yuezhi or Scythian. ["It is curious that on his copper Zoilos used a Bow and quiver as a type. A quiver was a badge used by the Parthians (Scythians) and had been used previously by Diodotos, who we know had made a treaty with them. Did Zoilos use Scythian mercenaries in his quest against Menander perhaps?" Senior, Indo-Scythian coins, p.xxvii] The recurve bow becomes a standard feature of Indo-Greek horsemen by 90 BC, as seen on some of the coins of Hermaeus.

Generally, Indo-Greek kings are often represented riding horses, as early as the reign of Antimachus II around 160 BC. The equestrian tradition probably goes back to the Greco-Bactrians, who are said by Polybius to have faced a Seleucid invasion in 210 BC with 10,000 horsemen. [ [ Polybius 10.49, Battle of the Arius] ] Although war elephants are never represented on coins, a harness plate (phalera) dated to the 3-2nd century BC, today in the Hermitage Museum, depicts a helmetted Greek combatant on an Indian war elephant.

The Milinda Panha, in the questions of Nagasena to king Menander, provides a rare glimpse of the military methods of the period:

:"(Nagasena) Has it ever happened to you, O king, that rival kings rose up against you as enemies and opponents?:-(Menander) Yes, certainly.:-Then you set to work, I suppose, to have moats dug, and ramparts thrown up, and watch towers erected, and strongholds built, and stores of food collected?:-Not at all. All that had been prepared beforehand.:-Or you had yourself trained in the management of war elephants, and in horsemanship, and in the use of the war chariot, and in archery and fencing?:-Not at all. I had learnt all that before.:-But why?:-With the object of warding off future danger.":(Milinda Panha, Book III, Chap 7)

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

ize of Indo-Greek armies

The armed forces of the Indo-Greeks engaged in important battles with local Indian forces. The ruler of Kalinga, Kharavela, claims in the Hathigumpha inscription that he led a "large army" in the direction of Demetrius' own "army" and "transports", and that he induced him to retreat from Pataliputra to Mathura. The Greek ambassador Megasthenes took special note of the military strength of Kalinga in his "Indica" in the middle of the 3rd century BC:

An account by the Roman writer Justin gives another hint of the size of Indo-Greek armies, which, in the case of the conflict between the Greco-Bactrian Eucratides and the Indo-Greek Demetrius II, he numbers at 60,000 (although they allegedly lost to 300 Greco-Bactrians):

These are considerable numbers, as large armies during the Hellenistic period typically numbered between 20,000 to 30,000. [On the size of Hellenistic armies, see accounts of Hellenistic battles by Diodorus, books XVIII and XIX]

The Indo-Greeks were later confronted by the nomadic tribes from Central Asia (Yuezhi and Scythians). According to Zhang Qian, the Yuezhi represented a considerable force of between 100,000 and 200,000 mounted archer warriors, ["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, 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)] with customs identical to those of the Xiongnu.

Legacy of the Indo-Greeks

From the 1st century AD, the Greek communities of central Asia and northwestern India lived under the control of the Kushan branch of the Yuezhi, apart from a short-lived invasion of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom. ["Though the Indo-Greek monarchies seem to have ended in the first century BC, the Greek presence in India and Bactria remained strong", McEvilley, p.379] The Kushans founded the Kushan Empire, which was to prosper for several centuries. In the south, the Greeks were under the rule of the Western Kshatrapas.

It is unclear how much longer the Greeks managed to maintain a distinct presence in the Indian sub-continent. The legacy of the Indo-Greeks was felt however for several centuries, from the usage of the Greek language and calendrical methods, ["The use of the Greek months by the Sakas and later rulers points to the conclusion that they employed a system of dating started by their predecessors." Narain, "Indo-Greeks" 2003, p.190] to the influences on the numismatics of the Indian subcontinent, tracable down to the period of the Gupta Empire in the 4th century. [ "Evidence of the conquest of Saurastra during the reign of Chandragupta II is to be seen in his rare silver coins which are more directly imitated from those of the Western Satraps... they retain some traces of the old inscriptions in Greek caracters, while on the reverse, they substitute the Gupta type (a peacock) for the chaitya with crescent and star." in Rapson "A catalogue of Indian coins in the British Museum. The Andhras etc...", p.cli ]

The Indo-Greeks may also have had some influence on the religious plan as well, especially in relation to the developing Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism has been described as "the form of Buddhism which (regardless of how Hinduized its later forms became) seems to have originated in the Greco-Buddhist communities of India, through a conflation of the Greek Democritean-Sophistic-Skeptical tradition with the rudimentary and unformalized empirical and skeptical elements already present in early Buddhism". [McEvilley, "The Shape of Ancient Thought", p503.]

List of the Indo-Greek kings and their territories

Today 36 Indo-Greek kings are known. Several of them are also recorded in Western and Indian historical sources, but the majority are known through numismatic evidence only. The exact chronology and sequencing of their rule is still a matter of scholarly inquiry, with adjustments regular being made with new analysis and coin finds (overstrikes of one king over another's coins being the most critical element in establishing chronological sequences). The system used here is adapted from Osmund Bopearachchi, supplemented by the views of R C Senior and occasionally other authorities. [Under each king, information from Bopearachchi is taken from "Monnaies Gréco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques, Catalogue Raisonné" (1991) or occasionally "SNG9" (1998). Senior's chronology is from "The Indo-Greek and Indo-Scythian king sequences in the second and first centuries BC", ONS179 Supplement (2004), whereas the comments (down to the time of Hippostratos) are from "The decline of the Indo-Greeks" (1998).] Indo-Greek kings



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title = The Yuga Purana : critically edited, with an English translation and a detailed introduction
year = 1986
publisher = Asiatic Society
location = Calcutta, India
id = OCLC 15211914 ISBN 81-7236-124-6

*cite book
last = Narain
first = A.K.
authorlink = Narain
coauthors =
title = The Indo-Greeks
year = 1957
language = English
publisher = Clarendon Press
location = Oxford
id =

**reprinted by Oxford, 1962, 1967, 1980; reissued (2003), "revised and supplemented," by B. R. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi.
*cite book
last = Narain
first = A.K.
authorlink = Narain
coauthors =
title = The coin types of the Indo-Greeks kings
year = 1976
language = English
publisher = Ares Publishing
location = Chicago, USA
id = ISBN 0-89005-109-7

*cite book
last = Puri
first = Baij Nath
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Buddhism in Central Asia
year = 2000
publisher = Motilal Banarsidass
location = Delhi
id = ISBN 81-208-0372-8

*cite book
last = Rosenfield
first = John
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The Dynastic art of the Kushans
year = 1967
language = English
publisher = University of California Press
location = Berkeley, California
id = ISBN 81-215-0-579-9

*cite journal
last = Salomon
first = Richard
authorlink =
coauthors =
year =
month =
title = The "Avaca" Inscription and the Origin of the Vikrama Era
journal =
volume = Vol. 102
issue =
pages =
doi =
id =
url =
format =
accessdate =
quotes =

*cite book
last = Seldeslachts
first = E.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The end of the road for the Indo-Greeks?
year = 2003
language = English
publisher = Iranica Antica, Vol XXXIX, 2004
location = (Also available [ online] )
id =

*cite book
last = Senior
first = R.C.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Indo-Scythian coins and history. Volume IV.
year = 2006
language = English
publisher = Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
location =
id = ISBN 0-9709268-6-3

*cite book
last = Tarn
first = W. W.
authorlink = William Woodthorpe Tarn
coauthors =
title = The Greeks in Bactria and India
year = 1938
publisher = Cambridge University Press
location =
id =

**Second edition, with addenda and corrigenda, (1951). Reissued, with updating preface by Frank Lee Holt (1985), Ares Press, Chicago ISBN 0-89005-524-6
*cite book
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = "Afghanistan, ancien carrefour entre l'est et l'ouest"
year = 2005
language = French/English
publisher = Brepols
location = Belgium
id = ISBN 2503516815

*cite book
last = 東京国立博物館 (Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan); 兵庫県立美術館 (Hyogo Kenritsu Bijutsukan)
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Alexander the Great : East-West cultural contacts from Greece to Japan
year = 2003
publisher = 東京国立博物館 (Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan)
location = Tokyo
id = OCLC 53886263

ee also

*Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
*Seleucid Empire
*Indo-Parthian Kingdom
*Kushan Empire
*Roman commerce
*Timeline of Indo-Greek Kingdoms

External links

* [ News story of the latest archaeological discovery of artefacts dated back to Indo-Greek period]
* [ Indo-Greek history and coins]
* [ Ancient coinage of the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms]
* [ Text of Prof. Nicholas Sims-Williams (University of London) mentioning the arrival of the Kushans and the replacement of Greek Language.]
* [ Wargame reconstitution of Indo-Greek armies]
* [ Files dealing with Indo-Greeks & a genealogy of the Bactrian kings]

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