History Files


Far East Kingdoms

South Asia




FeatureIndo-Greek Kingdom of India

When Alexander the Great's Macedonian forces smashed the Persian empire in 330 BC, they inherited a vast territory which stretched eastwards towards India. One of those regions, Bactria, became an independent kingdom in 256 BC, and for a while it flourished and conquered territory further south and east following the collapse of the Indian Mauryans, creating a kingdom that briefly covered all of Afghanistan, Pakistan and large swathes of India. Internecine wars and usurpations split the kingdom, creating an Indo-Greek state (or Greco-Indian state) which dominated in the east.

The kingdom's borders fluctuated considerably, as it and Bactria conquered and re-conquered territory from each other. At its height it could include the following: Paropamisadae (immediately east of Bactria proper, modern Kabul); Arachosia (modern southern Afghanistan and northern and central Pakistan, and perhaps extending as far as the Indus); and east to the Ganges and Pataliputra (modern Patna). Arachosia's capital was Alexandria in Arachosia (the modern form of which is Kandahar).

Index of Greek SatrapsArgead Dynasty in the Indus

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia who reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Following Alexander's conquest of central and eastern Persia in 331-328 BC, the Greek empire ruled the region until Alexander's death in 323 BC and the subsequent regency period which ended in 310 BC. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire. Following that latter period and during the course of several wars, the region was left in the hands of the Seleucid empire from 312 BC.

Buddhist literature, especially the Jatakas, mentions Taxila as the capital of the 'kingdom of Gandhara'. Under the Persians, this region was formed into the official satrapy or province of Hindush, while Taxila, on the east bank of the River Hydaspes (the modern Jhelum) seems to have broken away from Gandhara at some point during Persian governance, and formed a small but powerful independent kingdom. Its eastern neighbour, Paurava, may also have formed part of Hindush and was now also independent. Both states, in the Indus region, would have to be conquered by Alexander.

(Additional information from the Mudrarakshasa, Vishakhadatta (Playwright), from the Parishishtaparvan, Acharya Hemachandra, from Anabasis Alexandri, Arrian of Nicomedia, from The Generalship of Alexander the Great, J F C Fuller, from the Historical Dictionary of Ancient Greek Warfare, J Woronoff & I Spence, and from External Link: Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

330 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

327 - 325 BC

Philip (Son of Machatus)

Greek satrap of northern Punjab. Assassinated.

327 - 326 BC

King Ambhi rules Taxila (Takshasila), an important town on the eastern bank of the River Indus close to its northern headwaters, and immediately opposite the province of Gandhara (now in northern Pakistan). Having served as the Persian capital of the Hindush satrapy, it commands access to three important trade routes, one of these also being a major route into India itself, and is therefore strategically important.

Ambhi is in conflict with his immediate neighbour across the River Hydaspes (the modern Jhelum) to the east, King Porus of Paurava. The territory of Paurava stretches between the Hydaspes and the Acesines (the modern River Chenab) to the east, both branches of the Indus at its northern extent and both relatively close together, making Paurava a relatively minor but still strong kingdom on the great road into India. Both this kingdom and Taxila are located in the northern Punjab.

Ambhi invites Alexander into his kingdom in 326 BC and allies himself to the Greeks in return for help against Porus. Porus fights Alexander at the Battle of the Hydaspes (generally assigned to Mong in the Punjab) and, although defeated, his courage and determination are rewarded. While Ambhi is confirmed as satrap of his part of Punjab, Porus has his own territory extended eastwards to the River Hyphasis (the modern Beas), more than trebling its size. He is confirmed as satrap of this region. Presumably both are under the administrative gaze of the Greek satrap of northern Punjab (and are shown in green text to highlight this estimate), although this is not stated by ancient authors.

326 - 321? BC

Taxiles / Ambhi / Omphis

King of Taxila. Satrap of Taxila region in northern Punjab.

326 - 321? BC

Porus / Puru / Parvataka

King of Paurava. Satrap of Paurava region in Punjab. Killed.

325 BC

Following Alexander's return westwards, Satrap Philip of the northern Punjab is assassinated as the result of a conspiracy which has been formed amongst mercenary troops under his command. This appears to be with the encouragement of Chandragupta who is already busy forming his Mauryan empire in India. Alexander names Eudamus and Taxiles as the rulers of his territories in the northern Punjab until an official replacement can be sent. It is likely that Alexander dies before this takes place.

325 - 323 BC


Greek satrap of northern Punjab. Commander of Greek army.

325 - 316 BC


Greek satrap of southern Punjab. Left for Media.

321? - 316 BC


Restored in northern Punjab. Killed by Antigonus.

321 BC

Stasanor the Solian, former satrap of Aria and Drangiana, now becomes satrap of Bactria and Chorasmia, perhaps with more of a focus towards the Indo-Greek territories than the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea. His territory extends as far north as Ferghana, which contains the city of Alexandria Eschate ('the Furthest').

In the same year, and following his coronation as the Mauryan king of central northern India, Chandragupta embarks on his conquest of a large swathe of the rest of India, starting with central India. He overcomes all opposition in the territory up to the north of the River Narmada. Ancient authors mention an alliance between Chandragupta and the Himalayan King Parvataka (a figure who is sometimes identified as the King Porus of Paurava who has been an ally of the Greeks since 326 BC). Whether or not this is the same person, Porus is assassinated by Satrap Eudamus between 321-315 BC, probably to ensure his domination of northern Punjab.

316 - 312 BC

The Wars of the Diadochi decide how Alexander the Great's empire is carved up between his generals, but the period is very confused, especially in the east. These provinces appear to be invaded and controlled by Antigonus of Phrygia for a period, with the general responsible for the death of Eudamus.

312 - 305 BC

Bactria is taken by the Seleucids in around 312 BC, with the eastern provinces probably also being under their control.

305 - 185 BC

Following the failure of Seleucus Nicator's Seleucid reconquest of India between 305-303 BC, the Indo-Greek regions of Paropamisadae, Arachosia, Gandhara, and the Punjab in the Indus are ceded to the Mauryan empire as part of an alliance agreement. This territory also includes the former kingdoms of Taxila and Paurava. Subsequent relations between the Greeks and the Mauryans appear to be cordial. Seleucus even appoints Megasthenes as his ambassador to Chandragupta's court. The former Indo-Greek territories remain a Mauryan possession until the early years of the second century BC, after which they can be regained by the Greeks.

Index of Greek SatrapsMacedonian Indo-Greeks

Although Alexander the Great had conquered large areas of north-western India in 326-325 BC, holding onto that territory proved to be a tough prospect. The resurgent Indians of the Mauryan empire reclaimed the Punjab region of the Indus before 305 BC, and a failed campaign by Seleucus Nicator's Seleucid empire meant that this area, plus the Indo-Greek regions of Paropamisadae, Arachosia, and Gandhara, would remain in Mauryan hands until the beginning of the second century BC. This territory also included the former kingdoms of Taxila and Paurava in the Punjab. Subsequent relations between the Greeks and the Mauryans appeared to be cordial, with Seleucus even appointing Megasthenes as his ambassador to Chandragupta's court.

The Mauryan empire fell apart in 185 BC, and Demetrius of Bactria annexed the western half of the empire, including Paropamisadae, Gandhara, and Arachosia. He advanced as far as the Ganges and Pataliputra, although this advance is usually ascribed to the later king, Menander I. Western Punjab was also added to Greek territory.

Upon Demetrius' death in about 180 BC, many successors appeared in several regions of the enlargened kingdom. Some of them may have been co-regents, but civil wars and territorial divisions were very likely, and the split between Bactria and the Indo-Greek kingdom can be placed at this point. The Indo-Greek kingdom itself was rarely immune from internal division, with a second split usually forming between eastern and western sections. For clarification, in this list 'western' kings are shown in the left-hand column of kings, while 'eastern' kings are shown on the right.

(Where information conflicts regarding the Indo-Greek territories, Osmund Bopearachchi's Monnaies Gréco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques, Catalogue Raisonné (1991) has been followed. Additional information by David Kelleher, from Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus: Books 11-12, Volume 1, Marcus Junianus Justinus, John Yardley, & Waldemar Heckel, and from External Link: the Ancient History Encyclopaedia.)



200/195 - c.180 BC

Demetrius I

Euthydemid king of Bactria and Indo-Greek territories.

c.185/180 BC

A whole rash of rulers appears after the death of Demetrius. Some of them may be sub-rulers, but equally, some of them may be rulers of domains carved out of the kingdom itself, with shifting alliances and fortunes. Indo-Greek territory is pushed as far as Pataliputra.

Map of Bactria and India 200 BC
The kingdom of Bactria (shown in white) was at the height of its power around 200-180 BC, with fresh conquests being made in the south-east, encroaching into India just as the Mauryan empire was on the verge of collapse, while around the northern and eastern borders dwelt various tribes that would eventually contribute to the downfall of the Greeks - the Sakas and Tocharians (click on map to show full sized)

c.185 - 175 BC


Brother? In Arachosia.

c.180 - 165 BC


Brother? In Paropamisadae.

180? - 165? BC

Antimachus I Theos

Brother? In Bactria, Paropamisadae and Arachosia.

c.180/175 - 160 BC

Apollodotus I

In Paropamisadae, Arachosia, & Western Punjab.

175 - 170/165 BC

Demetrius II

Son of Antimachus I. In Paropamisadae & Arachosia.

c.175 BC

Demetrius II rules in Paropamisadae and Arachosia as a sub-king or joint ruler with his father, the Bactrian king, Antimachus I. While he is campaigning in the east, a usurper arises in the west in about 170 BC.

c.170? BC

Following the attack of Eucratides I in Bactria on their rule, the Euthydemid kings pull in their eastern border to Mathura. Eucratides is opposed by Demetrius II, who apparently returns to Bactria with 60,000 men to oust the usurper, but he is defeated and killed in the encounter. Antimachus I also fights against Eucratides, but ultimately loses in around 160 BC and Eucratides seems to occupy territory as far as the Indus. The Euthydemids are pushed out of Bactria, but they retain most of their Indo-Greek territories.

171 - 145 BC

Eucratides I / Eukratides I

Bactrian. In Paropamisadae, Arachosia, W Punjab.

160 - 155 BC

Antimachus II Nikephoros

In Paropamisadae, Arachosia, & Western Punjab.


Co-regent. Otherwise unknown.

c.160 BC

Antimachus II is either the son of Demetrius II or Antimachus I, and serves as co-regent until the deaths of both rulers. It is possible that Apollodotus I becomes the senior ruler until he too dies in 160 BC, at which point Antimachus II heads the kingdom.

c.155 BC

In the west, Menander seems to repel the invasion by Eucratides from Bactria, and pushes him back as far as Paropamisadae, thereby consolidating the rule of the Indo-Greek kings in northern India. After this, the Indo-Greek kingdom is permanently divided from Bactria.

Menander is the most famous Indo-Greek king, although his relationship to the other kings is unknown (he may have been one of Demetrius II's generals). He rules from Taxila (Sirkap) and later from Sagala, a very prosperous city in northern Punjab (modern Sialkot), and he rebuilds Taxila and Pushkalavati. His rule includes areas of the Panjshir and Kapisa, and extends to Punjab with diffuse tributaries to the south and east, probably as far as Mathura. He may also occupy Sunga Saraostus (modern Saurashtra and parts of south-western Gujarat) and Sigerdis (probably modern Sindh, the Indus Delta) for a short period. He becomes a Buddhist, further promoting the always-friendly relations between the faith and the Indo-Greeks, and in India he is known as the great King Milinda who debates Buddhist doctrines with Nagasena.

c.155 - 130 BC

Menander I Soter

In Paropamisadae, Western Punjab & Eastern Punjab.

c.140 - 130 BC

Indo-Scythians have long been pressing against the borders of the far distant Greek kingdom of Bactria. Now, following a long migration from the borders of the Chinese kingdoms, the Tocharians/Yuezhi start to invade Bactria from Sogdiana to the north. Initially, Indo-Scythian elements who are already in Bactria become vassals to the Tocharians.

At around the time of the death of Indo-Greek king Menander in 130 BC, the Tocharians overrun Bactria and end Greek rule. Heliocles may possibly invade the western part of the Indo-Greek kingdom, as there are strong suggestions that the Eucratids continue to rule there, especially in Heliocles' presumed son, Lysias.

c.130 BC

At around the time of Menander's death, the Central Asian Yuezhi overrun Bactria and end Greek rule there, isolating the remaining Greeks east of the Hindu Kush. Probable members of Menander's dynasty include Queen Agathokleia, her son Strato I, and Nicias, though it is uncertain whether they rule directly after Menander. Menander is briefly succeeded by his infant son, Thrason, as witnessed by a single surviving coin, but after Thrason is murdered, other kings emerge, usually in the western territories, such as Zoilos I, Lysias, Antialcidas and Philoxenos, and these rulers may be relatives of either the Euthydemids or surviving Eucratids who are forced eastwards by the collapse of Bactria.

Menander coin
This photo depicts a coin issued by Indo-Greek King Menander, known in India as the great King Milinda

There are no historical records of events in the Indo-Greek kingdom after Menander's death, since the Indo-Greeks have by now become very isolated from the rest of the Greco-Roman world. Events from this point are reconstructed almost entirely from archaeological and numismatic analyses.

c.130 BC


Son. In Paropamisadae, Arachosia, & W Punjab.

c.150? - 125? BC

Zoilus / Zoilos I

Euthydemid? In Paropamisadae & Arachosia.

According to numismatic evidence, Zolius rules during the reign of Menander, as the latter king overstrikes two of his coins. Upon Menender's death his queen, Agathokleia, apparently manages to flee east with her child (the future Strato I) in the face of Zoilus' appropriation of much of her husband's realm, and establishes a realm of her own there. Alternatively, Menander himself may have previously relocated east to the Punjab, where the mint marks on his coins changed, and this territory was then handed onto his wife and son upon his death.

c.150? - 125? BC


Queen. In Paropamisadae & W Punjab.

c.130 - 120 BC

Lysias Aniketos (the Invincible)

In Paropamisadae & Arachosia (& W Punjab?).

Probably the son of Heliocles I of Bactria, coins for Lysias have been found in the Punjab and it seems likely that he extends his control to both halves of the Indo-Greek kingdom for a period, placing his son as regent in Taxila. This makes understandable the fact that Lysias imitates Demetrius before him, claiming that he is also a conqueror of 'India' - which to the Greeks means Paropamisadae and Punjab.

c.120? BC


Son? Co-ruler. In northern Punjab. King from c.115 BC.

c.120 - 110 BC

Strato I Epiphanes

Son of Menander. In Paropamisadae & W Punjab.

115 - 100 BC

With Parthian territory having been harried for years by the Indo-Scythians, King Mithridates II is finally able to take control of the situation. First he defeats the Yuezhi (Tocharians) in Sogdiana in 115 BC, and then he defeats the Scythians in Parthia and Seistan around 100 BC. After their defeat, the Yuezhi tribes concentrate on consolidation in Bactria while the Indo-Scythians are diverted into Indo-Greek Paropamisadae.

c.115 - 100 BC


In Paropamisadae & Arachosia.

110 BC

The Heliodorus pillar in Vidisha in central India records that the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas sends an ambassador to the court of the Sunga king Bhagabhadra at or before this date.

c.110 - 100 BC

Heliocles II

In Paropamisadae & W Punjab.

c.100 BC


In Paropamisadae & Arachosia.

c.100 BC

Demetrius III

In Paropamisadae & W Punjab. Numismatic evidence only.

100 - 95 BC


In Paropamisadae, Arachosia, W & E Punjab.

c.100 - 70 BC

Philoxenus briefly rules the whole of the remaining Indo-Greek territory. He may even extend his rule as far as the city of Mathura (in modern Uttar Pradesh), according to an inscription there. From 95 BC the territories fragment again, with the western kings regaining their territory as far west as Arachosia. Some time after 70 BC, Mathura is lost to Indian kings, as is south-eastern Punjab.

c.95 - 90 BC


In Paropamisadae.

c.95 - 90 BC


In Arachosia & Paropamisadae.

c.95 - 90 BC


In W Punjab.

c.90 BC


In Paropamisadae.

c.90 BC


In Arachosia & Paropamisadae.

c.90 BC


In W Punjab.

c.90 - 85 BC


In Paropamisadae.

c.90 - 85 BC

Menander II

In Arachosia & Paropamisadae.

c.90 - 85 BC


In W Punjab. (Son of Maues of the Sakas?)

c.90 - 70 BC

Hermaeus Soter

In Paropamisadae. Last Indo-Greek king here (to 50 BC?).

c.90 - 70 BC

Hermaeus, or Hermaios, seems to share the throne with his wife, Kalliope, in the early days of his reign. He pursues an aggressive foreign policy and re-conquers some territories which his predecessors had lost. However, his success is only transitory and the Indo-Greeks find themselves surrounded by powerful enemies. Eventually Hermaios is defeated by the Kushans, bringing to an end any Indo-Greek efforts to regain Paropamisadae.

Hermaios coin from Gandhara
A Hermaeus coin from Paropamisadae at the beginning of the first century AD. The rear of the coin shows Zeus enthroned and facing three quarters to the left, right hand extended, and holding a sceptre in his left hand, with a monogram in the field to the left

c.90 - 70 BC


In Arachosia, Paropamisadae, & W Punjab.

c.80 BC

Maues, an Indo-Scythian king of the Sakas (cousins to the Parthians who are diverted by them from Iran), takes control in Paropamisadae before the Indo-Greeks regain control there after his death. The Indo-Greeks progressively lose ground to the Indians in the east, and the Indo-Scythians, Tocharians/Yuezhi, and Parthians in the west.

Maues issues some coins jointly with a Queen Machene, who may be an Indo-Greek ruler, and the Indo-Greek king, Artemidoros (c.90-85 BC), describes himself as 'son of Maues'. Curiously, the contemporary of Artemidoros in Indo-Greek Paropamisadae (western Indo-Greek territory) is Hermaeus Soter (who still reigns at this time, see above). The name is surprisingly close to that of Maues, and Hermaeus holds a level of importance with nomad rulers during and after his reign, with his coins being copied far and wide, especially by the Yuezhi, Sakas, and Kushans.

c.75 - 70 BC


In Paropamisadae.

c.75 - 70 BC

Apollodotus II

In Western & Eastern Punjab.

c.70 BC

The Indo-Scythians expel the Indo-Greeks from Arachosia but subsequently lose it to the Parthians. Parthian rule seems to be limited and perhaps doesn't include the entire region. Paropamisadae is also permanently lost to the Tocharians upon the death of Hermaeus Soter.

c.65 - 55 BC


In Western Punjab.

c.55 BC

Hippostratus is one of the most successful late Indo-Greek kings, until he loses to the Indo-Scythian king, Azes I, who establishes his own dynasty in Western Punjab. An alliance between Azes and the Indo-Greeks may be agreed after this, as they continue to rule Eastern Punjab.

Map of Central Asia & India c.50 BC
By the period between 100-50 BC the Greek kingdom of Bactria had fallen and the remaining Indo-Greek territories (shown in white) had been squeezed towards Eastern Punjab. India was partially fragmented, and the once tribal Sakas were coming to the end of a period of domination of a large swathe of territory in modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and north-western India. The dates within their lands (shown in yellow) show their defeats of the Greeks that had gained them those lands, but they were very soon to be overthrown in the north by the Kushans while still battling for survival against the Satvahanas of India (click on map to show full sized)

c.65 - 55 BC


In Eastern Punjab.

c.55 - 35 BC

Zoilus / Zoilos II

In Eastern Punjab.

c.55 - 35 BC


In Eastern Punjab.

c.50 BC?

The Kushans capture the territory of the Sakas in modern Afghanistan. They probably also cause the downfall of Indo-Greek King Hermaeus, as they conquer Paropamisadae in the process. The Sakas consolidate their rule in northern India as compensation for the loss of Paropamisadae. They also fight the Satvahanas in India, and later enter into matrimonial alliances with them.

c.25 BC - AD 10

Strato II

In Punjab. Last Indo-Greek king.

c.AD 10

The Indo-Greek kingdom disappears under Indo-Scythian pressure. It seems to be Rajuvula, kshatrapa in Mathura at this time, who invades what is virtually the last free Indo-Greek territory in the eastern Punjab, and kills Strato II and his son. Pockets of Greek population probably remain for some centuries under the subsequent rule of the Kushans and Indo-Parthians, and a possible enclave of Greek rule is apparently maintained briefly in Paropamisadae.

1st century AD


In Bajaur area of Paropamisadae.

Theodamus is the last Indo-Greek ruler of any kind to be noted, but only by an inscription on a signet ring. Possibly he governs as a vassal in this last stronghold of Indo-Greek influence in the region.


The Kushans, descendants of the Yuezhi who had conquered Bactria around 130 BC, capture Arachosia (now south-eastern Afghanistan) from the Indo-Parthians, although the dating is very uncertain.

c.200 - 400

The descendants of Greek artists who entered the region with Alexander the Great and who had subsequently settled there during the Hellenistic period construct the Bamiyan Bhuddas.


The Bamiyan Bhuddas are destroyed by the Taleban rulers of Afghanistan. By 2008 a project to rebuild one of them is underway, to be completed in 2009.