Indo-Greek Kingdom

The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya),[3] was a Hellenistic-era Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent (parts of modern Pakistan and northwestern India),[4][5][6][7][8][9] which existed during the last two centuries BC and was ruled by over 30 kings, Menander, being the most illustrious and successful.

Indo-Greek Kingdom
200 BC–10 AD
The Elephant and Nike - popular symbols of Indo-Greek rulers.
The Indo-Greek Kingdom and events during the reign of Menander I c.165 BC.
CapitalAlexandria in the Caucasus (modern Bagram) [1]


Common languagesGreek (Greek alphabet)
Pali (Kharoshthi script)
(Brahmi script)
Greek polytheism
 200 – 180 BC
Demetrius I (first)
 25 BC – 10 AD
Strato III (last)
Historical eraAntiquity
200 BC
10 AD
150 BC[2]1,100,000 km2 (420,000 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
Maurya Empire
Today part ofAfghanistan

The kingdom was founded when the Graeco-Bactrian king Demetrius (and later Eucratides) invaded India from Bactria in 200 BC.[10] The Greeks in the Indian Subcontinent were eventually divided from the Graeco-Bactrians centered on Bactria (now the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan), and the Indo-Greeks in the present-day north-western Indian Subcontinent. The most famous Indo-Greek ruler was Menander (Milinda). He had his capital at Sakala in the Punjab (present-day Sialkot).[11]

The expression "Indo-Greek Kingdom" loosely describes a number of various dynastic polities, traditionally associated with a number of regional capitals like Taxila,[12] (modern Punjab (Pakistan)), Pushkalavati and Sagala.[13] Other potential centers are only hinted at; for instance, Ptolemy's Geographia and the nomenclature of later kings suggest that a certain Theophila in the south of the Indo-Greek sphere of influence may also have been a satrapal or royal seat at one time.

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 Greek and Indian ideas, as seen in the archaeological remains.[14] The diffusion of Indo-Greek culture had consequences which are still felt today, particularly through the influence of Greco-Buddhist art.[15] The ethnicity of the Indo-Greek may also have been hybrid to some degree. Euthydemus I was, according to Polybius,[16] 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. The ethnicity of later Indo-Greek rulers is sometimes less clear.[17] For example, Artemidoros (80 BC) was supposed to have been of Indo-Scythian ascendency, although he is now seen a regular Indo-Greek king.[18]

Following the death of Menander, most of his empire splintered and Indo-Greek influence was considerably reduced. Many new kingdoms and republics east of the Ravi River began to mint new coinage depicting military victories.[19] The most prominent entities to form were the Yaudheya Republic, Arjunayanas, and the Audumbaras. The Yaudheyas and Arjunayanas both are said to have won "victory by the sword".[20] The Datta dynasty and Mitra dynasty soon followed in Mathura. 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.[21]