From Academic Kids

Missing image
Coin of the Indo-Scythian "King of Kings" Azes II, riding on horseback (c. 35-12 BCE).

The Indo-Scythians are a branch of the Indo-European Sakas (Scythians), who migrated from southern Siberia into Bactria, Sogdiana, Kashmir and finally into Arachosia and then India from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century BCE.



Around 175 BCE, the Indo-European Yuezhi tribes (probable ancestors to the Tocharians) who lived in the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang and Kansu areas), were defeated by the Xiongnu (Huns) tribes, and had to migrate towards the West into the Ili river area.

Missing image
A Scythian horseman from the general area of the Ili river, Pazyryk, c.300 BCE.

There, they displaced the Sakas (Scythian) tribes who had to migrate south and west towards Parthia and Bactria. According to the Chinese historical chronicals, "The Yuezhi attacked the king of the Sai who moved a considerable distance to the south and the Yuezhi then occupied his lands" (Han Shu 61 4B). The Sai then undetook their own migration, which was to lead them as far as Kashmir, after travelling through a "Suspended Crossing' (probably the Khunjerab Pass between present-day Xinjiang and northern Pakistan).

In the west, between 138-124 BCE, the Sakas came into conflict with the Parthian Empire, during the reign of Phraates II and Artabanus II.

In the south, around 130 BCE, the Sakas entered the territory of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. They were soon displaced once again by the Yuezhi tribes who were fleeing from renewed attacks from the Xiongnu.

Finally, in the period c. 125-1BCE, the Yuezhi settled Bactria and the Scythians settled further to the south-east into parts of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan in the Indus Valley.

Indo-Scythian kingdoms

Missing image
Silver tetradrachm of the Indo-Scythian King Maues (85-60 BCE).
Obv: Zeus standing with a sceptre. Greek legend: BASILEOS BASILEON MEGALOU MAUOU "of the Great King of Kings Maues".
Rev: Nike standing, holding a wreath. Kharoshthi legend. Taxila mint.

The presence of the Scythians in north-western India during the 1st century BC was contemporary with that of the Indo-Greek Kingdoms there, and it seems they initially recognized the power of the local Greek rulers. 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 BC it seems they finally controlled most of the territory under Azes II.

After the death of Aze II, the rule of the Indo-Scythians in northwestern India finally crumbled with the conquest of the Kushans, one of the five tribes of the Yuezhi who had lived in Bactria for more than a century, and were now expanding into India to create a Kushan Empire.

Soon after, the Parthians invaded from the west. Their leader Gondophares temporarily displaced the Kushans and founded the Indo-Parthian Kingdom that was to last towards the middle of the 1st century CE.

The Kushans ultimately regained northwestern India from around 75 CE, where they were to prosper for several centuries.

Main Indo-Scythian rulers

Maues, c. 90-60 BCE Coin (
Vonones, c. 75-65 BCE Coin (
Spalahores, c. 75-65 BCE Coin (
Spalirises, c. 60-57 BCE Coin (
Azes I, c. 57-35 BCE Coin (
Azilises, c. 57-35 BCE Coin (
Azes II, c. 35-12 BCE Coin (
Zeionises, c.10 BCE-10 CE
Rajuvula, c.10 CE (Mathura area)

Template:Middle kingdoms of India

See also

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