Written sources few, spotty, confused, and late. Written sources few, spotty, confused, and late


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Written sources few, spotty, confused, and late.

  • Written sources few, spotty, confused, and late.

  • Strabo, Geography (17-23 CE).

  • Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus; 3rd century summary of a 1st century universal history.

  • Plutarch (ca. 46-120 CE), Moralia.

  • Polybius (ca. 200-117 BCE), Histories.

  • NOTE: Events post Alexander drawn largely from Megasthenes and Apollodorus of Artemita.

  • Milindapanha, “Song of Menander” (1st century BCE).

  • Yuga Purana (3rd century CE).

  • Numismatics.

  • Epigraphy.

  • Archaeology (i.e. Ai Khanum; Taxila).



329-328 BCE – Alexander conquers Bactria-Sogdiana (roughly Afghanistan); marries Roxanne.

  • 329-328 BCE – Alexander conquers Bactria-Sogdiana (roughly Afghanistan); marries Roxanne.

  • Founded eight cities in Bactria, some new and some on top of native cities.

  • Appointed a Persian, Artabazus, as satrap.

  • Settles veterans in Bactria-Sogdiana.

  • 323 BCE – Death of Alexander left the status of Bactria-Sogdiana in limbo.

  • Redivision of satrapies under Perdiccas; Artabazus replaced; Amyntas (or Philip) satrap in Bactria, Scythaeus satrap in Sogdiana (cf. Justin, 13.4).

  • 315-309 BCE – Upper satrapies threw off Greco-Macedonian rule owing to conflict between Antigonus I and Seleucus I; India under the Mauryan kings (Chandragupta).

  • 309-306 BCE – Seleucus I recovers upper satrapies including Bactria; Seleucid satrapy until ca. 250 BCE; Chandragupta’s rule over Western India acknowledged – alliance secured by marriage between Seleucids and Mauryans.



“Be that as it may, they say that Alexander founded eight cities in Bactriana and Sogdiana, and that he razed certain cities to the ground, among which was Cariatae in Bactriana, in which Callisthenes was seized and imprisoned, and Maracanda and Cyra in Sogdiana, Cyra being the last city founded by Cyrus…” (Strabo, Geography 11.2.4. Trans. H.L. Jones, 1928)

  • “Be that as it may, they say that Alexander founded eight cities in Bactriana and Sogdiana, and that he razed certain cities to the ground, among which was Cariatae in Bactriana, in which Callisthenes was seized and imprisoned, and Maracanda and Cyra in Sogdiana, Cyra being the last city founded by Cyrus…” (Strabo, Geography 11.2.4. Trans. H.L. Jones, 1928)



“That he might leave his name to these parts, he founded the city of Alexandria on the river Tanais, completing a wall six miles in circuit in seventeen days, and transplanting into it the inhabitants of three cities that had been built by Cyrus. He also built twelve cities in the territories of the Bactrians and the Sogdians, and distributed among them such of the soldiers as he had found mutinous.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 12.5).

  • “That he might leave his name to these parts, he founded the city of Alexandria on the river Tanais, completing a wall six miles in circuit in seventeen days, and transplanting into it the inhabitants of three cities that had been built by Cyrus. He also built twelve cities in the territories of the Bactrians and the Sogdians, and distributed among them such of the soldiers as he had found mutinous.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 12.5).



“After the division of the Macedonian empire among the followers of Alexander, he (i.e. Seleucus I) carried on several wars in the east. He first took Babylon (312-11 BCE), and then, his strength being increased by this success, subdued the Bactrians.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 15.4).

  • “After the division of the Macedonian empire among the followers of Alexander, he (i.e. Seleucus I) carried on several wars in the east. He first took Babylon (312-11 BCE), and then, his strength being increased by this success, subdued the Bactrians.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 15.4).



Slightly before 250 BCE (i.e. 254/30 BCE) – Seleucid satrap of Bactria, Diodotus, declared independence.

  • Slightly before 250 BCE (i.e. 254/30 BCE) – Seleucid satrap of Bactria, Diodotus, declared independence.

  • Revolt likely a function of three factors: 1. The growth in prosperity and strength of Bactria under Diodotus. 2. Distance from Seleucid control made it de facto independent anyway. 3. Second Syrian War (ca. 260-253 BCE) preoccupied Seleucids.

  • Seleucus marches east to quell revolt but is defeated.

  • Ca. 250 BCE – Seleucids recognize independence of Bactria-Sogdiana; chronology very confused.



“After the death of Alexander the Great, when the kingdoms of the east were divided among his successors, the government of Parthia was committed to Stasanor, a foreign ally, because none of the Macedonians would deign to accept it. Subsequently, when the Macedonians were divided into parties by civil discord, the Parthians, with the other people of Upper Asia, followed Eumenes, and, when he was defeated, went over to Antigonus. After his death, they were under the rule of Seleucus (I) Nicator, and then under Antiochus and his successors, from whose great-grandson they first revolted (Seleucus II Callinicus 246-225 BCE OR Seleucus III Ceraunus & Antiochus III Megas), in the first Punic War, when Lucius Manlius Vulso and Marcus Attilius Regulus were consuls (i.e. 250 BCE). For their revolt, the dispute between the two brothers (i.e. 222 BCE), Seleucus and Antiochus, procured them impunity; for while they sought to wrest the throne from one another, they neglected to pursue the revolters. At the same period, also, Theodotus (i.e. Diodotus), governor of the thousand cities in Bactria, revolted, and assumed the title of king.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 41.4).

  • “After the death of Alexander the Great, when the kingdoms of the east were divided among his successors, the government of Parthia was committed to Stasanor, a foreign ally, because none of the Macedonians would deign to accept it. Subsequently, when the Macedonians were divided into parties by civil discord, the Parthians, with the other people of Upper Asia, followed Eumenes, and, when he was defeated, went over to Antigonus. After his death, they were under the rule of Seleucus (I) Nicator, and then under Antiochus and his successors, from whose great-grandson they first revolted (Seleucus II Callinicus 246-225 BCE OR Seleucus III Ceraunus & Antiochus III Megas), in the first Punic War, when Lucius Manlius Vulso and Marcus Attilius Regulus were consuls (i.e. 250 BCE). For their revolt, the dispute between the two brothers (i.e. 222 BCE), Seleucus and Antiochus, procured them impunity; for while they sought to wrest the throne from one another, they neglected to pursue the revolters. At the same period, also, Theodotus (i.e. Diodotus), governor of the thousand cities in Bactria, revolted, and assumed the title of king.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 41.4).

  • Note: Independence somewhere between 250 and 222 BCE; 250 BCE the preferred the date.



Very little textual evidence; stray references and fragments; heavy reliance on archaeology and numismatics.

  • Very little textual evidence; stray references and fragments; heavy reliance on archaeology and numismatics.

  • Under “Diodotid” rule from ca 250 BCE.

  • Diodotus I succeeded by Diodotus II before 235 BCE: “But being soon relieved of his fears by the death of Theodotus (i.e. Diodotus I), he made peace and an alliance with his son, who was also named Theodotus (i.e. Diodotus II); and not long after, engaging with king Seleucus (II), who came to take vengeance on the revolters (in 235 BCE), he obtained a victory.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 41.4).









Ca. 230 BCE – Euthydemus I overthrows Diodotus II; circumstances unknown; likely consequence of incursions by Parthians et. al.

  • Ca. 230 BCE – Euthydemus I overthrows Diodotus II; circumstances unknown; likely consequence of incursions by Parthians et. al.

  • Ca. 220 BCE – Euthydemus I leads expeditions east into Chinese Turkestan; first Chinese contacts with western civ.

  • 209-204 BCE – The “anabasis” of Antiochus III; Antiochus attempts to recover Bactria and Parthia/Hyrcania; Antiochus recognizes Euthydemus’ title in light of a common interest (ca. 207-206 BCE).

  • 206 BCE – Euthydemus I retakes some territories lost to Parthian expansion (i.e. Astauene and Apavarktikene); transformed into Bactrian satrapies (Tapuria and Traxiane); son of Euthydemus I, Antimachus I, satrap.

  • 200 BCE – Euthydemus I succeeded by his son Demetrius I.

  • Before 180 BCE – The Mauryan dynasty (Buddhists; allies of the Seleucids) overthrown by the Sunga dynasty (Hindus; persecution of Buddhists).

  • 180-175 BCE – Demetrius II enters western India; est. a Greek kingdoms with its capital Pataliputra.

  • 170 BCE – In Bactria Euthydemid power overthrown by Eucratides; Demetrius II returns to oust Eucratides and is killed.

  • 160 BCE – Antimachus I makes second attempt to oust Eucratides and is defeated.



“For Euthydemus himself was a native of Magnesia, and he now, in defending himself to Teleas, said that Antiochus was not justified in attempting to deprive him of his kingdom, as he himself had never revolted against the king, but after others had revolted he had possessed himself of the throne of Bactria by destroying their descendants. After speaking at some length in the same sense he begged Teleas to mediate between them in a friendly manner and bring about a reconciliation, entreating Antiochus not to grudge him the name and state of king, as if he did not yield to this request, neither of them would be safe; for considerable hordes of Nomads were approaching, and this was not only a grave danger to both of them, but if they consented to admit them, the country would certainly relapse into p303barbarism. After speaking thus he dispatched Teleas to Antiochus. The king, who had long been on the look-out for a solution of the question when he received Teleas' report, gladly consented to an accommodation owing to the reasons above stated. Teleas went backwards and forwards more than once to both kings, and finally Euthydemus sent off his son Demetrius to ratify the agreement. Antiochus, on receiving the young man and judging him from his appearance, conversation, and dignity of bearing to be worthy of royal rank, in the first place promised to give him one of his daughters in marriage and next gave permission to his father to style himself king. After making a written treaty concerning other points and entering into a sworn alliance, Antiochus took his departure, serving out generous ratons of corn to his troops and adding to his own the elephants belonging to Euthydemus.” (Polybius, Histories 11.34).

  • “For Euthydemus himself was a native of Magnesia, and he now, in defending himself to Teleas, said that Antiochus was not justified in attempting to deprive him of his kingdom, as he himself had never revolted against the king, but after others had revolted he had possessed himself of the throne of Bactria by destroying their descendants. After speaking at some length in the same sense he begged Teleas to mediate between them in a friendly manner and bring about a reconciliation, entreating Antiochus not to grudge him the name and state of king, as if he did not yield to this request, neither of them would be safe; for considerable hordes of Nomads were approaching, and this was not only a grave danger to both of them, but if they consented to admit them, the country would certainly relapse into p303barbarism. After speaking thus he dispatched Teleas to Antiochus. The king, who had long been on the look-out for a solution of the question when he received Teleas' report, gladly consented to an accommodation owing to the reasons above stated. Teleas went backwards and forwards more than once to both kings, and finally Euthydemus sent off his son Demetrius to ratify the agreement. Antiochus, on receiving the young man and judging him from his appearance, conversation, and dignity of bearing to be worthy of royal rank, in the first place promised to give him one of his daughters in marriage and next gave permission to his father to style himself king. After making a written treaty concerning other points and entering into a sworn alliance, Antiochus took his departure, serving out generous ratons of corn to his troops and adding to his own the elephants belonging to Euthydemus.” (Polybius, Histories 11.34).



“The Greeks who caused Bactria to revolt grew so powerful on account of the fertility of the country that they became the masters, not only of Ariana, but also of India, as Apollodorus of Artemita says…” (Strabo, Geography 11.11.1. Trans. H.L. Jones, 1928)

  • “The Greeks who caused Bactria to revolt grew so powerful on account of the fertility of the country that they became the masters, not only of Ariana, but also of India, as Apollodorus of Artemita says…” (Strabo, Geography 11.11.1. Trans. H.L. Jones, 1928)









""When I was in Bactria (Ta-Hia)", Zhang Qian reported, "I saw bamboo canes from Qiong and cloth made in the province of Shu (territories of southwestern China). When I asked the people how they had gotten such articles, they replied, "Our merchants go buy them in the markets of Shendu (India)."" (Shiji 123, Sima Qian, trans. Burton Watson).

  • ""When I was in Bactria (Ta-Hia)", Zhang Qian reported, "I saw bamboo canes from Qiong and cloth made in the province of Shu (territories of southwestern China). When I asked the people how they had gotten such articles, they replied, "Our merchants go buy them in the markets of Shendu (India)."" (Shiji 123, Sima Qian, trans. Burton Watson).

  • http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/History/GrecoBactrianKingdom.html



“Almost at the same time that Mithridates ascended the throne among the Parthians (171 BCE), Eucratides began to reign among the Bactrians; both of them being great men. But the fortune of the Parthians, being the more successful, raised them, under this prince, to the highest degree of power; while the Bactrians, harassed with various wars, lost not only their dominions, but their liberty; for having suffered from contentions with the Sogdians, the Drangians, and the Indians, they were at last overcome, as if exhausted, by the weaker Parthians. Eucratides, however, carried on several wars with great spirit, and though much reduced by his losses in them, yet, when he was beseiged by Demetrius king of the Indians, with a garrison of only three hundred soldiers, he repulsed, by continual sallies, a force of sixty thousand enemies. Having accordingly escaped, after a five months’ siege, he reduced India into his power. But as he was returning from the country, he was killed by his son, with whom he had shared the throne, and who was so far from concealing the murder, that, as if he had killed an enemy, he drove his chariot through his blood, and ordered his body cast out unburied.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 41.6).

  • “Almost at the same time that Mithridates ascended the throne among the Parthians (171 BCE), Eucratides began to reign among the Bactrians; both of them being great men. But the fortune of the Parthians, being the more successful, raised them, under this prince, to the highest degree of power; while the Bactrians, harassed with various wars, lost not only their dominions, but their liberty; for having suffered from contentions with the Sogdians, the Drangians, and the Indians, they were at last overcome, as if exhausted, by the weaker Parthians. Eucratides, however, carried on several wars with great spirit, and though much reduced by his losses in them, yet, when he was beseiged by Demetrius king of the Indians, with a garrison of only three hundred soldiers, he repulsed, by continual sallies, a force of sixty thousand enemies. Having accordingly escaped, after a five months’ siege, he reduced India into his power. But as he was returning from the country, he was killed by his son, with whom he had shared the throne, and who was so far from concealing the murder, that, as if he had killed an enemy, he drove his chariot through his blood, and ordered his body cast out unburied.” (Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus. 41.6).



Then, having approached Saketa together with the Pancalas and Mathuras, the Yavanas – valiant in battle – will reach Kusumadhvaja….And in the city the Yavanas, the princes, will make this people acquainted with them: but the Yavanas, infatuated by war, will not remain in Madhyadesa; there will be mutual agreements among them to leave, due to a terrible and dreadful war having broken out in their own realm – there is no doubt. Then, at the disappearance of those Yavanas due to the power of the Yuga, there will be seven mighty kings in Saketa. (Yuga Purana, 47, 56-8)

  • Then, having approached Saketa together with the Pancalas and Mathuras, the Yavanas – valiant in battle – will reach Kusumadhvaja….And in the city the Yavanas, the princes, will make this people acquainted with them: but the Yavanas, infatuated by war, will not remain in Madhyadesa; there will be mutual agreements among them to leave, due to a terrible and dreadful war having broken out in their own realm – there is no doubt. Then, at the disappearance of those Yavanas due to the power of the Yuga, there will be seven mighty kings in Saketa. (Yuga Purana, 47, 56-8)



Events in Bactria under Eucratides and his successors pieced together entirely from coins and Chinese sources.

  • Events in Bactria under Eucratides and his successors pieced together entirely from coins and Chinese sources.

  • 170-145 BCE - Eucratides I.

  • 145-140 BCE – Eucratides II.

  • 145-130 BCE – Heliocles; last king of Bactria; Bactria overrun by nomadic Saca.

  • 130 BCE – Heliocles invades north west India; Euucratidids rule in India to 50 BCE.







Darius I conquers Western India (ca. 518 BCE).

  • Darius I conquers Western India (ca. 518 BCE).

  • Scylax of Caryanda, Ionian sea captain sent by Darius I to explore the Indus river down to the sea (ca. 521-518 BCE).

  • Ktesias of Cnidus (fl. Ca. 400 BCE) sent by Artaxerxes II to catalogue flora and fauna of India; wrote Indika based in part upon Indian source material.

  • Alexander the Great in India (326-324 BCE); Onesicritus and Nearchus both wrote an Indika.

  • Seleucus I Nicator invades India (306 BCE); marries his daughter to Chandragupta Maurya (305 BCE).

  • (306-305 BCE) - Megasthenes sent to India as Seleucus’ ambassador; wrote another Indika; principal source for all things Indian.

  • 275 BCE – Ptolemy II sends Dionysius to the court of Bindusara (son of Chandragupta).

  • Asoka (272-237 BCE) sends Buddhist missionaries into Greece seeking converts; Asoka’s Major Rock Edict 13.

  • 183-182 BCE – Euthydemid invasion of India by Bactrian Greeks; establishment of the Indo-Greek Kingdoms; ca. 36 Greek kings and queens in India known mostly through numismatics.

  • The rule of Menander (ca. 167 BCE – 150 BCE); Milindapanha; Indo-Greeks increasingly cut off from Greece by Parthian expansion.

  • Indo-Greek kings gradually lose control of Western India after ca. 100 BCE; Greek settlements and culture only gradually are absorbed; The Red Sea Periplus (1st Century CE).





After the partitioning of the Macedonian empire amongst the allies, Seleucus fought many wars in the East. First of all he took Babylon, after which, his strength augmented by the victory, he conquered the Bactrians. Then he crossed into India which, following Alexander’s death, had shaken from its shoulders the yoke of servitude and put to death his governors. The man responsible for this liberation was Sandrocottus. (Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Trans.J.C. Yardley, Atlanta, 1994. XV.4.10-13).

  • After the partitioning of the Macedonian empire amongst the allies, Seleucus fought many wars in the East. First of all he took Babylon, after which, his strength augmented by the victory, he conquered the Bactrians. Then he crossed into India which, following Alexander’s death, had shaken from its shoulders the yoke of servitude and put to death his governors. The man responsible for this liberation was Sandrocottus. (Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Trans.J.C. Yardley, Atlanta, 1994. XV.4.10-13).



There is in the country of the Yonakas  a great centre of trade , a city that is called Sâgala, situate in a delightful country well watered and hilly, abounding in parks and gardens and groves and lakes and tanks, a paradise of rivers and mountains and woods. Wise architects have laid it out , and its people know of no oppression, since all their enemies and adversaries have been put down. Brave is its defence, with many and various strong towers and ramparts, with superb gates and entrance archways; and with the royal citadel in its midst, white walled and deeply moated. Well laid out are its streets, squares, cross roads, and market places . Well displayed are the innumerable sorts of costly merchandise with which its shops are filled. It is richly adorned with hundreds of alms-halls of various kinds; and splendid with hundreds of thousands of magnificent mansions, which rise aloft like the mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Its streets are filled with elephants, horses, carriages, and foot-passengers, frequented by groups of handsome men and beautiful women, and crowded by men of all sorts and conditions, Brahmans, nobles, artificers, and servants. They resound with cries of welcome to the teachers of every creed, and the city is the resort of the leading men of each of the differing sects. Shops are there for the sale of Benares muslin, of Kotumbara stuffs , and of other cloths of various kinds; and sweet odours are exhaled from the bazaars, where all sorts of flowers and perfumes are tastefully set out. jewels are there in plenty, such as men's hearts desire, and guilds of traders in all sorts of finery display their goods in the bazaars that face all quarters of the sky. So full is the city of money, and of gold and silver ware, of copper and stone ware, that it is a very mine of dazzling treasures. And there is laid up there much store of property and corn and things of value in warehouses-foods and drinks of every sort, syrups and sweetmeats of every kind. In wealth it rivals Uttara-kuru, and in glory it is as Âlakamandâ, the city of the gods. (Milindapanha 1.2.1-2 Trans. D.T. Rhys).

  • There is in the country of the Yonakas  a great centre of trade , a city that is called Sâgala, situate in a delightful country well watered and hilly, abounding in parks and gardens and groves and lakes and tanks, a paradise of rivers and mountains and woods. Wise architects have laid it out , and its people know of no oppression, since all their enemies and adversaries have been put down. Brave is its defence, with many and various strong towers and ramparts, with superb gates and entrance archways; and with the royal citadel in its midst, white walled and deeply moated. Well laid out are its streets, squares, cross roads, and market places . Well displayed are the innumerable sorts of costly merchandise with which its shops are filled. It is richly adorned with hundreds of alms-halls of various kinds; and splendid with hundreds of thousands of magnificent mansions, which rise aloft like the mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Its streets are filled with elephants, horses, carriages, and foot-passengers, frequented by groups of handsome men and beautiful women, and crowded by men of all sorts and conditions, Brahmans, nobles, artificers, and servants. They resound with cries of welcome to the teachers of every creed, and the city is the resort of the leading men of each of the differing sects. Shops are there for the sale of Benares muslin, of Kotumbara stuffs , and of other cloths of various kinds; and sweet odours are exhaled from the bazaars, where all sorts of flowers and perfumes are tastefully set out. jewels are there in plenty, such as men's hearts desire, and guilds of traders in all sorts of finery display their goods in the bazaars that face all quarters of the sky. So full is the city of money, and of gold and silver ware, of copper and stone ware, that it is a very mine of dazzling treasures. And there is laid up there much store of property and corn and things of value in warehouses-foods and drinks of every sort, syrups and sweetmeats of every kind. In wealth it rivals Uttara-kuru, and in glory it is as Âlakamandâ, the city of the gods. (Milindapanha 1.2.1-2 Trans. D.T. Rhys).





“Inland behind Barygaza there are numerous peoples: the Aratrioi, Arachusioi, Gandaraioi, and the peoples of Proklais, in whose area Bukephalos Alexandreia is located. And beyond these is a very warlike people, the Bactrians, under a king…Alexander, setting out from these parts, penetrated as far as the Ganges but did not get to Limyrike and the south of India. Because of this there are to be found on the market of Barygaza even today old drachmas engraved with the inscriptions, in Greek letters, of Apollodotus and Menander, rulers who came after Alexander.” (Red Sea Periplus, 47).

  • “Inland behind Barygaza there are numerous peoples: the Aratrioi, Arachusioi, Gandaraioi, and the peoples of Proklais, in whose area Bukephalos Alexandreia is located. And beyond these is a very warlike people, the Bactrians, under a king…Alexander, setting out from these parts, penetrated as far as the Ganges but did not get to Limyrike and the south of India. Because of this there are to be found on the market of Barygaza even today old drachmas engraved with the inscriptions, in Greek letters, of Apollodotus and Menander, rulers who came after Alexander.” (Red Sea Periplus, 47).









“This Garuda pillar of the god of gods, Vasudeva, was caused to be made by Heliodorus, the devotee, the son of Dion, from Taxila, who came as Greek ambassador from the court of the Great King Antialkidas to Bhagabadra, the son of Kasi, the Savior, who was then in the fourteenth year of his prosperous reign.”

  • “This Garuda pillar of the god of gods, Vasudeva, was caused to be made by Heliodorus, the devotee, the son of Dion, from Taxila, who came as Greek ambassador from the court of the Great King Antialkidas to Bhagabadra, the son of Kasi, the Savior, who was then in the fourteenth year of his prosperous reign.”

  • (“Dedication to the Hindu god Vishnu by Heliodorus, son of Dion. Besnegar, India.” The Hellenistic Age from the battle of Ipsos to the death of Kleopatra VII. Ed. Stanley, M. Burstein. Cambridge, 1985. Inscr. 53., Trans. K. Bohlle & J. Puhvel)




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