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Indo-Greek Kingdom

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Maximum extent of Indo-Greek territory circa 175 BCE.

The Indo-Greeks (or sometimes Greco-Indians) designate a series of Greek kings, who invaded and controlled parts of northwest and northern India from 180 BCE to around 10 CE.

They are the continuation of the Greco-Bactrian dynasty of Greek kings (the Euthydemids) founded by the military governor Diodotus around 250 BCE, when he established the independence of his Bactrian territory from the Seleucid Empire.

Contents

The Occupation of NW India

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The founder of the Indo-Greek Kingdom Demetrius I (205-171 BCE), wearing the scalp of an elephant, symbol of his conquest of India.

The Indo-Greek kingdom was established by Demetrius, the son of the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus.

Demetrius started the invasion of northern India from 180 BCE, following the destruction of the Mauryan dynasty by the general Pusyamitra Sunga, who then founded the new Indian Sunga dynasty (185-78 BCE). Greek conquest temporarily went as far as the capital Pataliputra in eastern India (today Patna): "Those who came after Alexander went to the Ganges and Pataliputra" (Strabo, 15.698). The Indian records also describes Greek attacks on Saketa, Panchala, Mathura and Pataliputra (Gargi-Samhita, Yuga Purana chapter). To the south, the Greeks occupied the areas of the Sindh and Gujarat down to the strategic harbour of Barigaza (Bharuch), as attested by several writers (Strabo 11; Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, ch.41) and by coinage of the Indo-Greek ruler Apollodotus I. Most likely the conquests east of the Punjab were made later, during the second half of the century, by the king Menander I

The first invasion was completed by 175 BCE, and the Sungas were confined to the east but, back in Bactria, the usurper Eucratides managed to eradicate the Euthydemid dynasty and occupy territory as far as the Indus, between ca 170 BCE and 150 BCE. The advance was however checked by the Indo-Greek king Menander I, who asserted himself in the Indian part of the empire and even began the last expansions eastwards.

The Indo-Greeks suffered losses of territory around 125 BCE, following the attack of the Greco-Bactrian king Heliocles, son of Eucratides, but around this time the Yuezhi conquered the kingdom of Bactria proper. The remaining domains were divided into two realms: the house of Menander retreated to their territories east of the Jhelum River as far as Mathura, whereas other kings ruled a larger kingdom of Paropamisadae, western Punjab and Arachosia to the south.

Little is known about the obviously complicated politics of the latter Indo-Greeks. Several kings reigned into the beginning of the 1st century CE, until Hellenic rule was finally submerged by the invasions of the Indo-Scythians, Indo-Parthians and Yuezhi.

Towards the end of their rule, the Indo-Greek kings seem to have received the support of the Chinese Empire. The Chinese Historical Chronicles Hou Hanshu describe the alliance between the Chinese general Wen-Chung, commander of the border area in western Gansu and on a mission to Ki-pin (Kabul valley), and Yin-Mo-Fu (Hermaeus), "son of the king of Yung-Kiu" (Yonaka, the Greeks) around 50 BCE. They attacked Ki-Pin, then under the control of the Indo-Scythians, and Yin-Mo-Fu (Hermaeus) was then installed as king of Ki-Pin, as a vassal of the Chinese Empire, and received the Chinese seal and ribbon of investiture. China later lost interest in such remote territories and the alliance died off.

The Yuezhi (future Kushans) were in many ways the cultural and political heirs to the Indo-Greeks, as suggested by their adoption of the Greek culture (writing system, Greco-Buddhist art) and their claim to a lineage with the last western Indo-Greek king Hermaeus, as examplified by the coinage of the first Kushan emperor Kujula Kadphises.

The Indo-Greeks and Indian culture

Buddhism flourished under the Indo-Greek kings, and it has been suggested that their invasion of India was intended to show their support for the philhellenic Mauryan empire, and to protect the Buddhist faith from the religious persecutions of the Sungas.

Silver  of Menander I (160-135 BC). Obv:  legend, BASILEOS SOTHROS MENANDROY lit. "Saviour King Menander".  Rev:  legend: MAHARAJA TRATASA MENADRASA "Saviour King Menander".  advancing right, with thunderbolt and shield.
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Silver drachm of Menander I (160-135 BC).
Obv: Greek legend, BASILEOS SOTHROS MENANDROY lit. "Saviour King Menander".
Rev: Kharosthi legend: MAHARAJA TRATASA MENADRASA "Saviour King Menander". Athena advancing right, with thunderbolt and shield.

Demetrius, who organized the invasion, was named Dharmamita ("Friend of the Dharma") in the Indian text of the Yuga-Purana. 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" (BASILEOS SOTHROS), a title with a very high value in the Greek world which "had only been used twice before in history: 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." (Tarn, "The Greeks in Bactria and India").

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Indian-standard coin of Apollodotus I (180-160 BCE).

Also the coins of the Greek kings in India were bilingual, written in Greek on the front and in Kharoshthi on the back, a tremendous concession to another culture never before made in the Hellenic world. Incidentally, the coins of the Indo-Greek were instrumental in the decipherment of the Kharoshthi language, which became extinct around the 3rd century CE.

In Indian literature, the Indo-Greeks are described as Yavanas (transliteration of "Ionians"). Direct epigraphic evidence involves the Indo-Greek kings, such as the mention of the "Yavana king" Antialcidas on the Heliodorus pillar in Vidisha, or the mention of Menander I in the Buddhist text of the Milinda Panha. 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 casts, there were only two classes of people, Aryas and Dasas (masters and slaves). The Arya could become Dasa and vice versa.

Main Indo-Greek kings, timeline and territories

Not strictly an Indo-Greek king, Sophytes (305-294) was an independent Greek prince in the Punjab, following the conquests of Alexander the Great.

Many of the dates, territories, and relationships between Indo-Greek kings are tentative and essentially based on numismatic analysis (find places, overstrikes, monograms, metallurgy, styles), a few Classical writings, and Indian writings and epigraphic evidence. 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 (Eastern territories)

The descendants of the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus invaded northern India around 180 BCE as far as Pataliputra, before retreating to the area between the Hindu-Kush and Mathura, where they ruled most of the northwestern Indian subcontinent:

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Demetrius I, founder of the Indo-Greek kingdom (r.c. 205-171 BCE).


The territory ruled by Demetrius, from Bactria to Pataliputra, was then separated between western and eastern parts, and ruled by several sub-kings and successor kings. The Western part made of Bactria was ruled by a succession of Greco-Bactrian kings until the end of the reign of Heliocles around 130 BCE. The Eastern part, made of the Paropamisadae, Arachosia, Gandhara and Punjab, sometimes as far as Mathura, was ruled by a succession of kings, called "Indo-Greek":


Territories of Paropamisadae to Mathura

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Apollodotus I (180-160 BCE), successor of Demetrius in India.

Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Antimachos+II&Thumb=1)


The usurper Eucratides managed to eradicate the Euthydemid dynasty and occupy territory as far as he Indus, between 170 and 145 BCE. Eucratides was then murdered by his son, whereafter Menander I seems to have regained all of the territory as far west as the Hindu-Kush


Territory from Hindu-Kush to Mathura (150 - 125 BCE):

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Agathokleia, Queen-mother and Regent for Strato I (r.c. 135-125 BCE).
  • Menander I (reigned c. 150125 BCE). Successor to Apollodotus. Married to Agathocleia. Legendary for the size of his Kingdom, and his support of the Buddhist faith. Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Menander+I&Thumb=1)
  • Agathokleia (r.c. 130-125 BCE), Possibly widow of Menander, Queen-Mother and regent for her son Strato I. Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Agathokleia+NOT+Menander&Thumb=1)


Following the 125 BCE invasion of the Paropamisadae and Arachosia by the Greco-Bactrian king Heliocles, son of Eucratides, the descendants of Euthydemus retreated to their territories from Gandhara to Mathura in the east, where they ruled until around 100 BCE.


Territory from Gandhara to Mathura (125 - 100 BCE):

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A coin of Strato I, ruler of North-Central India (r.c.125-110 BCE).
  • Strato I (125 - 110 BCE) Coin (http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/baktria/kings/strato_I/SNGANS_996.jpg), son of Menander and Agathokleia
  • Heliokles II (110 - 100 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Heliokles+II+NOT+Menander&Thumb=1)
  • Demetrios III Aniketos (c. 100 BCE).


After around 100 BCE, Indian kings recovered the area of Mathura. The Western king Philoxenus briefly occupied the whole territory from the Paropamisadae to Western Punjab between 100 to 95 BCE, after what the territories fragmented again. The eastern kings regained their territory as far west as Arachosia.

During the 1st century BCE, the Indo-Greeks progressively lost ground against the invasion of the Indo-Scythians, until the last king Strato II ended his ruled in eastern Punjab around 10 CE.


Territory of Arachosia and Gandhara (95-70 BCE)

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Double decadrachm of Amyntas.
  • Amyntas (95 - 90 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Amyntas+AND+bakt+NOT+Egypt&Thumb=1)
  • Peukolaos (c. 90 BC)
  • Menander II Dikaios "The Just" (90 - 85 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Menander+II&Thumb=1)
  • Archebios (90 - 80 BCE) (with western Punjab) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Archebios+NOT+oriental&Thumb=1)
  • (Maues), Indo-Scythian king.
  • Telephos (75 - 70 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Telephos+AND+serpent&Thumb=1)


Territory of Western Punjab (95-55 BCE)

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Tetradrachm of Hippostratus, reigned circa 65-55 BCE.
  • Epander (95 - 90 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Epander&Thumb=1)
  • Thrason (c.90 BCE)
  • Artemidoros (c.85 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Artemidoros+AND+Bakt&Thumb=1).
  • Archebios (90 - 80 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Archebios+NOT+oriental&Thumb=1)
  • (Maues), Indo-Scythian king
  • Apollodotus II (80 - 65 BCE) (with Eastern Punjab) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Apollodotus+II&Thumb=1)
  • Hippostratos (65 - 55 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Hippostratos&Thumb=1), defeated by the Indo-Scythian King Azes I.
  • (Azes I). Indo-Scythian king.


Territories of Eastern Punjab (80 BCE - 10 CE)

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Coin of king Zoilos II (55 - 35 BCE).


House of Eucratides (Western territories)

The descendants of the Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides ruled the territories of the Paropamisadae and Arachosia in the Hindu Kush, following their invasion by Heliocles. They then progressively lost their southern territories to the Indo-Scythians until around 80 BCE, when Taxila was taken by the Scythian king Maues. The last western king Hermaeus held out in the mountains a few more years.


Territories of the Paropamisadae and Arachosia (130 - 95 BCE):

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Silver coin of Heliocles (145-130 BC)
  • Heliocles (r.c. 145-130 BCE), occupied the western part of the Indo-Greek kingdom around 130 BCE.
  • Zoilos I (130 - 120 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=zoilos+I&Thumb=1)
  • Lysias (120 - 110 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Lysias&Thumb=1)
  • Antialcidas (r.c. 115-95 BCE) Coins (http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/baktria/kings/antialkidas/t.html)
  • Polyxenios (c. 100 BCE)
  • Philoxenus (reigned c. 100––95 BCE) Coins (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Philoxenus&Thumb=1). Extended to the east as far as western Punjab.


The next kings retreated to the area of the Paropamisadae, following the counter-attack of the eastern kings:


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Coin of king Nicias (c. 90-85 BCE).

Territory of the Paropamisadae (95-70 BCE)


According to Bopearachchi, no trace of Indo-Scythians occupation (nor coins of major Indo-Scythian rulers such as Maues or Azes I) have been found in the Paropamisadae and western Gandhara. On the contrary, a vast quantity of posthumus issues of Hermaeus are known up to around 40 CE, when they blend with the coinage of the Kushan king Kujula Kadphises.

The Greeks of the territory of the Paropamisadae were probably closely associated to the Hellenized Yuezhi tribes, settled to the north-west in neighbouring Bactria from an early date. The Yuezhi probably then took control of the Paropamisadae after Hermaeus. The first documented Yuezhi prince, Sapadbizes, ruled around 20 BCE, and minted in Greek and in the same style as the western Indo-Greek kings, probably depending on Greek mints and celators. The Yuezhi expanded to the east during the 1st century CE, to found the Kushan Empire. The first Kushan emperor Kujula Kadphises ostensibly associated himself with Hermaeus on his coins, suggesting that he may have been one of his descendants by alliance, or at least wanted to claim his legacy.

Indo-Greek princelets (Gandhara)

After the Indo-Scythian Kings became the rulers of northern India, remaining Greek communities were probably governed by lesser Greek rulers, without the right of coinage, into the 1st century CE, in the areas of the Paropamisadae and Gandhara:

The Indo-Greeks may have kept a significant military role towards the 2nd century CE as suggested by the inscriptions of the Satavahana kings.


The Indo-Greeks and Buddhism

Main article: Greco-Buddhism

Menander I, one of the most famous successors of Demetrius, ruled from 150 to 135 BCE. He is presented by Greek authors as an even greater conqueror than Alexander the Great. Strabo (XI.II.I) says Menander was one of the two Bactrian kings who extended their power farthest into India.

A -style Buddhist  in the Indo-Greek city of , northern , . It combines the sculptures of three temple-fronts: Greek (hidden from view, on the left), Hindu (center) and Buddhist (right). (Wider view: [1] (http://www.web.virginia.edu/asianarc/public/taxila/eagle02.jpg)).
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A Hellenistic-style Buddhist stupa in the Indo-Greek city of Sirkap, northern Pakistan, 2nd century BCE. It combines the sculptures of three temple-fronts: Greek (hidden from view, on the left), Hindu (center) and Buddhist (right). (Wider view: [1] (http://www.web.virginia.edu/asianarc/public/taxila/eagle02.jpg)).

Menander, the "Saviour king", seems to have converted to Buddhism, and is described in Buddhist texts as a great benefactor of the religion, on a par with Ashoka or the future Kushan emperor Kanishka. He is famous for his dialogues with the Buddhist monk Nagasena, transmitted to us in the Milinda Panha. Upon his death, the honour of sharing his remains was claimed by the various cities under his rule, and they were enshrined in stupas, in a parallel with the historic Buddha (Plutarch, Praec. reip. ger. 28, 6).

Buddhist proselitism

During the reign of Menander, the Greek (Pali: Yona, lit: "Ionian") Buddhist monk Mahadhammarakkhita (Sanskrit: Mahadharmaraksita) is said to have come from Alasandra (thought to be Alexandria of the Caucasus, the city founded by Alexander the Great, near today's Kabul) with 30,000 monks for the foundation ceremony of the Maha Thupa ("Great stupa") at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, indicating the importance of Buddhism within Greek communities in northwestern India, and the prominent role Greek Buddhist monks played in them:

"From Alasanda the city of the Yonas came the thera (elder) Yona Mahadhammarakkhita with thirty thousand bhikkhus." (Mahavamsa, XXIX)

Buddhist symbolism

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A coin of Menander I with an eight-spoked wheel and a palm of victory on the reverse (British Museum).
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A coin of Menander II with a depiction of Zeus seated on a throne, with Nike on his right arm, holding a victory wreath above an eight-spoked wheel.

Some Indo-Greek coins incorporate the Buddhist symbol of the eight-spoked wheel, such as those of Menander I, as well as his probable grandson Menander II. On these coins, the wheel is associated with the Greek symbols of victory, either the palm of victory, or the victory wreath handed over by the goddess Nike.

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Coin of Apollodotus I associating the elephant with Buddhist symbols.

The ubiquitous symbol of the elephant may or may not have been associated with Buddhism. Interestingly, on some coin series of Antialcidas, the elephant holds the same relationship to Zeus and Nike as the Buddhist wheel on the coin of Menander II, tending to suggest a common meaning for both symbols. Some of the earlier coins of king Apollodotus I directly associate the elephant with Buddhist symbolism, such as the stupa hill surmounted by a star, also seen, for example on the coins of the Mauryan Empire or those of the later Kuninda kingdom. Conversely, the bull is probably associated with Shiva, and often described in an erectile state as on the coins of Apollodotus I.

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Mudra-like gestures on Indo-Greek coinage.

Also, after the reign of Menander I, several Indo-Greek rulers, such as Agathokleia, Amyntas, Nicias, Peukolaos, Hermaeus, Hippostratos and Menander II, depicted themselves or their Greek deities forming with the right hand a symbolic gesture identical to the Buddhist vitarka mudra (thumb and index joined together, with other fingers extended), which in Buddhism signifies the transmission of the Buddha's teaching.

At precisely the same time, right after the death of Menander, several Indo-Greek rulers also started to adopt on their coins the Pali title of "Dharmikasa", meaning "follower of the Dharma". This is the case of Strato I, Zoilos I, Heliokles II, Theophilos, Peukolaos, Menander II and Archebios.

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Indian relief of probable Indo-Greek king, with Buddhist triratana symbol on his sword. Indian Museum, Calcutta (drawing).

Altogether, the conversion of Menander I to Buddhism suggested by the Milinda Panha seems to have triggered the use of Buddhist symbolism in one form or another on the coinage of close to half of the kings who succeeded him.

A 2nd century BCE relief from a Buddhist stupa in Bharhut, in eastern Madhya Pradesh (today at the Indian Museum in Calcutta), represents a foreign soldier with the curly hair of a Greek and the royal headband with flowing ends of a Greek king. In his left hand, he hold a branch of ivy, symbol of Dionysos. Also parts of his dress, with rows of geometrical folds, are characteristically Hellenistic in style. On his sword appears the Buddhist symbol of the three jewels, or Triratana.

Buddha statues?

The absence of the Buddha in person from Indo-Greek coinage would tend to indicate that he was not considered as a God, but rather as an essentially human sage or philosopher, in line with the traditional Nikaya Buddhist doctrine. Just as philosophers were routinely represented in statues (but certainly not on coins) in Antiquity, the anthropomorphical representation of the Buddha in statuary may well have started around the time of the Indo-Greeks (as suggested by Foucher, and indicated by Chinese murals depicting Emperor Wu of Han worshipping Buddha statues brought from Central Asia in 120 BCE (See picture) ).

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One of the first known representations of the Buddha, Gandhara.

Stylistic evolutions also tend to indicate an early date. Indo-Greek coins generally display a very high level of Hellenistic artistic realism, which declined drastically around 50 BCE with the invasions of the Indo-Scythians, Yuezhi and Indo-Parthians. The first known statues of the Buddha are also very realistic and Hellenistic in style and are more consistant with the pre-50 BCE artistic level seen on coins. This would tend to suggest that the first statues were created between 130 BCE (death of Menander) and 50 BCE, precisely at the time when Buddhist symbolism appeared on Indo-Greek coinage. Datation of Greco-Buddhist statues is generally uncertain, but they are at least firmly established from the 1st century CE.

The progressive deification of the Buddha is also usually associated to the spread of the Indian principle of Bhakti (personal devotion to a deity). Bhakti is a principle which evolved in the Bhagavata religious movement, and is said to have permeated Buddhism from about 100 BCE, and to have been a contributing factor to the representation of the Buddha in human form. The association of the Indo-Greeks with the Bhagavata movement is documented in the inscription of the Heliodorus pillar, made during the reign of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas (r.c. 115-95 BCE). At that time relations with the Sungas seem to have improved, and some level of religious exchange seems to have occurred. The point of time when bhakti fervour would have encountered the Hellenistic artistic tradition would then be around 100 BCE.

Although the spread of Buddhism to Central Asia and Northern Asia is usually associated with the Kushans, a century or two later, there is a possibility that it may have been introduced in those areas from Gandhara "even earlier, during the time of Demetrius and Menander" (Puri, "Buddhism in Central Asia").

There were over 30 Indo-Greek kings, often in competition on different territories. Many of them are only known through their coins. The Indo-Greeks correspond to a key period of cultural interaction between the Hellenistic and the Buddhist cultures, referred to as Greco-Buddhism.

Scythian and Kushan invasions

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Kushan man in traditional costume with tunic and boots, 2nd century CE, Gandhara.

From 130 BCE, Indo-European nomads (the Scythians and then the Yuezhi) started to invade Bactria from the north. In 125 BCE the Greco-Bactrian king Heliocles abandoned Bactria and moved his capital to the Kabul valley, from where he ruled his Indian holdings.

Hellenistic culture in the Indian subcontinent: Greek clothes, , wine and music, , , .
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Hellenistic culture in the Indian subcontinent: Greek clothes, amphoras, wine and music, archeological site of Hadda, Gandhara, 1st century CE.

While the Yuezhi were to stay in Bactria for more than a century, the Scythians went on to the south-east into northern Pakistan to form Indo-Scythian kingdoms, seemingly recognizing the power of the local Indo-Greeks rulers there. The coins of the Indo-Scythians displayed Greek legends and Greek divinities such as Zeus or Nike. However, towards the end of the 1st century BCE it seems they finally controlled most of the territory under Azes II.

The last king in the western part of the Indo-Greek territory, Hermaeus, was probably replaced around 70 BCE by the phil-hellenic Yuezhi rulers, who maintained the minting of his coinage posthumously until around 40 CE. The last kings of the central areas, such as Hippostratos, were replaced by Indo-Scythian kings around 50 BCE. In the east, some the Indo-Greek kings persisted until the end of the reign of Strato II around 10 CE. Smaller Indo-Greek rulers, such as Theodamas in northern Gandhara, seem to have been ruling Greek communities, without the right of coinage, during the 1st century CE.

Aftermaths

From the 1st century CE, 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. 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.

Art and religion

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The "Kanishka casket", dated to 127 CE, with the Buddha surrounded by Brahma and Indra, and Kanishka standing at the center of the lower part, was signed by the Greek artist Agesilas. (British Museum, drawing).

The "Kanishka casket", dated to the first year of Kanishka's reign in 127 CE, was signed by a Greek artist named Agesilas, who oversaw work at Kanishka's stupas (caitya), confirming the direct involvement of Greeks with Buddhist realizations at such a late date.

Greek representations and artistic styles, with some possible admixtures from the Roman world, continued to maintain a strong identity down to the 3rd-4th century, as indicated by the archeological remains of such sites as Hadda in eastern Afghanistan.

Astronomy

The earliest Indian writing on astronomy, the "Yavanajataka" or "Saying of the Greeks", is a translation from Greek to Sanskrit made by "Yavanesvara" ("Lord of the Greeks") in 149-150 CE under the rule of the Western Kshatrapa king Rudrakarman I.

Indian astronomy is widely acknowledged to be derived from the Alexandrian school, and its technical nomenclature is essentially Greek: "The Yavanas are barbarians, yet the science of astronomy originated with them and for this they must be reverenced like gods" (The Gargi-Samhita).

Military role

At the beginning of the 2nd century CE, the Central India Satavahana king Gautamiputra Sātakarni (r. 106 - 130 CE) would call himself "Destroyer of Sakas (Western Kshatrapas), Yavanas (Indo-Greeks) and Pahlavas (Indo-Parthians)" in his inscriptions, suggesting a continued presence of the Indo-Greeks.

Genetic contribution

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Portraits from the site of Hadda, 3rd century CE.

Limited population genetics studies have been made on genetic markers such as mitochondrial DNA in the populations of the Indian subcontinent, to estimate the contribution of the Greeks to the genetic pool. Although some of the markers which are present in a large proportion of Greeks and Macedonians today have not been found, the Greek/European genetic contribution to the Punjab area has been estimated between 0%-15%:

"The political influence of Seleucid and Bactrian dynastic Greeks over northwest India, for example, persisted for several centuries after the invasion of the army of Alexander the Great (Tarn 1951). However, we have not found, in Punjab or anywhere else in India, Y chromosomes with the M170 or M35 mutations that together account for 30% in Greeks and Macedonians today (Semino et al. 2000). Given the sample size of 325 Indian Y chromosomes examined, however, it can be said that the Greek homeland (or European, more generally, where these markers are spread) contribution has been 0%–3% for the total population or 0%–15% for Punjab in particular. Such broad estimates are preliminary, at best. It will take larger sample sizes, more populations, and increased molecular resolution to determine the likely modest impact of historic gene flows to India on its pre-existing large populations." (Kivisild et al. "Origins of Indian Casts and Tribes" 1).

Some pockets of Greek populations probably remained for some time, and to this day, some communities in the Hindu Kush claim to be descendants of the Greeks, such as the Kalasha and Hunza in Pakistan, and the neighbouring Nuristani in Afghanistan.

One can not assume however that the present Greek population is representative of the Macedonian army under Alexander.This army probably contained a large number of Persians and other groups such as Scythians and Thracians.The Macedonians themselves may not have been genetically 'Greek',since they where initially considered outsiders by 'Greeks'.


Template:Middle kingdoms of India

See also

References

  • "Monnaies Gréco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques, Catalogue Raisonné", Osmund Bopearachchi, 1991, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, ISBN 2717718257.
  • "The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies" by Thomas McEvilley (Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts, 2002) ISBN 1581152035
  • "Buddhism in Central Asia" by B.N. Puri (Motilal Banarsidass Pub, January 1, 2000) ISBN 8120803728
  • "The Greeks in Bactria and India", W.W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.

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