Testimonies of Greek lifestyles?

Inscriptions East of the Hindu Kush, 327 - ca. 100 BC

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2010 25 Pages

Classic Philology - Greek Studies - Literature


Table of contents

A Introduction

В Testimonies of Greek lifestyles? Inscriptions East of the Hindu Kush from 327 to ca. 100 BC

1.City foundations of Greeks in India
2. The Inscriptions of 327 to 250 BC
2.1. Classification with the political situation
2.2. The religious aspect of its contents

3 The inscriptions of 190 to 100 BC

3.1.Classification with the political situation

3.2.Content examination
a)The religious aspect
b)The economical aspect
c)The diplomatic aspect
d)Civic duty

4 Greek peculiarities, which can't be found in the inscriptions

C Résumé

Modern-day India is counted among the eastern areas, in which people with Greek culture settled down, the area east of the Hindu Kush to the easternmost tributary river of the Indus and in the south east to Gujarat: Between 327 and roundabout 130 BC Greeks and Macedonians reigned in Bactria, which is situated to the west of the Hindu Kush, since 280 BC they ruled also more independently from the Seleucids.1 Areas east of the Hindu Kush were controlled by them between 327 and 302 and between 190 and ca. 50 AD.

Regarding residues they have left some inscriptions besides coins, different utensils and relics of buildings. Do they provide information about the life of their creators?

According to the opinion of researchers, their lives should have had little similarities to the lives of Greeks, who were living in other areas, because Greek culture did not last long and pervasively, even so in the broadest sense roundabout a thousand years. There were also comparatively few Poleis in India, even so Bactria, as the neighbouring Greek empire, was assumably misleadingly called country of „a thousand cities".2 Nevertheless there are some Greek elements, which could survive or were reorganized: The „Gandhara" style of art and the Greek alphabet for example, which was in use there up to the ninth century after Christ. The Greek language again became „Lingua Franca" with the Parthians. The Parthians ruled Western India in the first century after Christ.3 Even today there are some Greek loanwords alive in Sanskrit: the Greek words for ink, pen, camel, book, horsy teeth and the word for a pit below a defense wall transitioned into Sanskrit.4 Even in Burmese the expression for "college", "tekkatho", is from Taxila, a center of Indo-Greek Buddhist learning just to the east of the Khyber Pass, and the very first images of Buddha were manufactured by Greeks based on models of Apollo.5 But if people with Greek culture are also responsible for the introduction of coinage and the inkpot made of metali in India is disputed.6 There is no Greek literature from India preserved, even though at least Homer was known to many Greeks and Semi-Greeks in India, as can be assumed. Still, in order to get to know something of their life style one can rely on inscriptions, which were found in Gandhara, Arachosia, Gujarat-Surastrene and the rest of India. Epigraphs which only mention them are not subject of this examination. To what extent the Greeks preserved their own cultural habits in India during the time of Hellenism and to what extent this can be proved by sixteen inscriptions, is going to be examined in this essay. Eleven inscriptions from 327 and 326, one inscription, which was written between ca. 300 and 250 BC and four inscriptions from the second century BC are going to be scrutinized. Attached one can find an assembly of these epigraphs. Some elements, like the edicts of the Maurya-king Asoka were incorporated, which he made to be erected in Aramaic and immaculate Koine-Greek in Northwest-lndia ca. 250 - but these elements aren't going to be examined, as they do not deal directly with Greeks. Neither was a categorization for the indo-Greek inscriptions used.7

Greeks mainly resided in villages or cities, not in the countryside. Therefore it only makes sense for archeologists to search for their inscriptions at former larger settlements. That's why firstly the settlements of the Greeks, which lived east of the Hindu Kush, shall be localized and classified. Secondly the inscriptions are going to be examined. To achieve this it was proceeded like this: First, the settlements of Greeks were gathered especially from Tarn (1938) and Fraser (1996). Then specialist literature about archeological excavations of these settlements was searched for inscriptions. The found coins and power relations especially were made subject by researchers at least since the early 19th century.8 It was not until the 1920ies that the first inscriptions of Greeks in Bactria were found, after some had already been found earlier in the 1900ies on Indian soil, others, which weren't examined by me in regard to its founding date, maybe even earlier.9 At the same time the scientific interest for the Greeks in ancient India began to raise - by now there are several monographies with general titles: starting with Tarn (1938) via Narain (1957), Woodcock (1966), Sedlár (1980) and Banerjee (1981). Within the last twenty years there were round about a dozen essays published about the theme "India and the Greeks" in German and English.10

City foundations of Greeks in India

Can one be surprised that no written records of Greeks in India have come down to us till now, with the exception of little more than two dozen pieces, most of which are short one- liners? It can indeed astonish, as one can estimate that some hundreds of Alexanders 20 000 men-army, especially veterans and wounded, had settled down for a more or less long time. On the one hand cities were built or repopulated, on the other side there were also only temporary camps or military settlements, which didn't have the structure of a Polis.11

First, Greeks lived assumably mainly or only in big groups, not alone in the countryside. One can therefore assume, that the sources found in cities are the only written productions of Greeks in these area.12

New cities were located in Gandhara in the fourth century BC, out of which five endured: Alexandria ad Caucasum,13 Alexandria/Calliope/lomousa,14 and in India the double-city Alexandria Bucephala-Nikaia. By whom and when Alexandria Rambakia in southern India was founded, couldn't be detected, it was situated roundabout 300 kilometre to the East of the assumed route of Alexander.15

Other Greek habitations were not built anew, but integrated in already existing cities; these Indian cities were assumedly not (completely) destroyed and were redesigned at the most by the arriving Greek settlers: Taxila, Sagala or Šakala, which was called Eythymedia by Demetrius I., after he had reconquered it,16 modern-day Sialkot, Barygaza in Surastrene, Alexandria Arachosia, which had been an Achaemenid fortified city before Alexander's conquest,17 and maybe also another city in Surastrene18 and Kapisa were such settlements for sure.19

Military colonies were founded between 327 and 325, and eventually also in the course of the invasions of Seleukos I. round about 300 and Demetrios round about 206 as well as by the kings born in Bactria or India who had again grinded out more power after 190 BC. Roundabout 190 BC under the reign of Demetrios I. Peucela(otis), the modern-day Pushkalavati was built.20 Other Poleis, which were assumedly built by Kings of the second century BC were: Nagara, also called Dionysopolis, in Gandhara, Demetrias next to Patala in Gujarat and Theophila in southern Gujarat, in the east of the Indusdelta.21 Not only Greeks were settled by Greek rulers, but also companioned tribes. For example Madhyamika was laid out by Appolodotos as a settlement of the Sibis, a Punjabi tribe.22

Out of these 15 to 20 cities, which demonstrably were settled by Geeks, there are only two which were Poleis for sure: Nikaia in India and Dionysopolis in Gandhara. Five others, Kalliope, Peucela in Pakistan and Bukephala, Demetrias and Teophila in India were assumedly also at least administratively organized as a Polis.23 Their streets are built grid- type. Gymnasia haven't (yet?) been found east of bactric Ai-Khanum.24

This insight seems to be the more important as one is scarcely informed about other determinants of the life of the Greeks: Neither their residence time nor their number can be provided for sure. Many Greek settlers already followed ten years after their arriving 316 the Thracian Satrap of Taxila Eudamos out of the countryside and also after the peace contract of Seleucos I. with the Maurya-ruler of 305, in which some areas were restored, some Greeks assumably moved out.25 This short stay involves, that the completion of two Alexandrias at the Indus is uncertain, as they cannot be traced by archeologie findings.26 Demetrias, Nikaia, Arigaion and Nysa in Gandhara and Surastrene could be settled for a longer time, as could the whole Northern Panjab.27 Assumably some thousand Greeks were living in India after the In- and Exvasions of Alexander.


1 Bivar (1996), S. 42. Zu den unterschiedlichen Angaben bezüglich der letzten griechischen Herrscher siehe Karttunen (1983), S. 277.

2 Siehe Tarn (1902), S. 268. Irreführenderweise deshalb, weil es wohl nicht so viele Städte in Baktrien gegeben hat, und sie nicht in besonderem Maß organisiert zu sein scheinen. Ein antiker Schriftsteller meinte von den Baktriern, sie seien mehr Orientalen als Griechen, was In der Forschung als ein weiterer Beleg für die weitverbreitete Praxis der interkulturellen Heiraten herangezogen wird.

3 Siehe Sedlár (1980), S. 63.

4 Tarn (1939), S. 376.

5 See Thant Mylnt-U: The River of Lost Footsteps. A Personal History of Burma. New York/London 2007, p. 49.

6 Siehe Pande (1989), S. 359.

7 Bei Karttunen (1983), S. 288 werden die Inschriften einer Kategorie zugeordnet: „1. Monumental and funerary inscriptions 2. Other inscriptions of a sedentary character 3. Inscriptions on easily movable objects; and 4. Single sherds".

8 See i. a. Lassen, Christian: Zur Geschichte der Griechischen und Indoskythischen Könige in Baktrien, Kabul und Indien durch Entzifferung der Altkabulischen Legenden auf ihren Münzen. Bonn 1838.

9 See Tarn (1938), p. 72.1 assume that the Garuda-pillar-inscription, which was first seen by Mr Marshall, was the first inscription, which was found in India and which was linked to the Greeks, see Vogel (1909), p. 126.

10 See: Sharma 1990, Arora 1991, Jameson 1997, Millar 1998, Salomon 2005.

11 Researchers don't only rely on Diodor, Curtius Rufus, Arrian and Plutarch when wanting to localize and name of the cities, but also on other writers as Ptolemäus.

“There is no examination, which would prove a lacking presence of Greeks in the countryside - still one can assume with Kattunen (1983), who proceeds on the assumption that there was a strict disconnection of Polis, Metropolis and a "purely native countryside", see there p. 277. With "Greeks" I name also Macedons, who were nevertheless not only living in peace with each another and in some circumstances also killed each other, asan uprising under the leadership of a Peithon shows.

12 Next to the Indian city Kapisa, near to Begram, Afghanistan, see Tarn (1938), p. 462.

13 At the confluence of Chenab and Indus acc. to Tarn (1938), p. 247. Arrian, anab. VI, 15: "Having fixed the Confluence Of the Acesines and Indus as the limit of Philip's viceroyalty, he left with him all the Thracians and as many men from the infantry regiments as appeared to him sufficient to provide for the security of the country. He then ordered a city to be founded there at the very junction of the two rivers, expecting that it would become large and famous among men. He also ordered a dockyard to be made there." ("F???pp? µ?? d? t?? sat?ape?a? ????? eta?e t?? s?µß???? t?? te??es???? ?a? ??d?? ?a? ?p??e?pe? ??? a?t? t??? te T ???a? p??ta? ?a? ??t?? t??e?? ?s?? ?? f??a??? t?? ???a? ??a??? ?fa????t?, p???? te ??ta??a?t?sa? ????e?se? ?p’ a? t? t? ??µß??? t??? p?taµ???, ??p?sa? µe????? te?ses?a? ?a? ?p?fa?? ?? a????p???, ?a? ?e?s?????? p??????a?".)

14 Bela, in Gujarat. There are many myths about the city foundations, for example one according to which Alexander had named a city after his dog Peritas, see Karttunen (1983), p. 324.

15 Singh (1991), p. 109.

16 See Sherwin-White (1993), p. 102.

17 Acc. to Tarn (1938), p.242.

18 See for Taxila: Tarn (1938), p. 244; see for Sagala: Tarn (1938), pp. 49,171, 247; for Kapisa: Tarn (1938), p. 462; for Barygaza: Tarn (1938), p. 321.

19 Today next to the Pakistani city Charsadda, which is situated in the vicinity of Peshawar, see Tarn (1938), p. 244. The last Greek king in Pushklavati was Artemidorus, who was reigning there till ca. 80 BC, see ibidem, p. 316. A publication of the excavation - "Charsadda. The British-Pakistani excavations at the Bala Hisar." Oxford 2007 - unfortunately doesn't offer new insights in regard to the Greek culture in India. There weren't found any inscriptions there. Charsadda was digged out in 1954-64. Bala Hisar was Peucelaotis by Alexander, see Badain (1987) and Shaikhan Deri was a indo-Greek city, see Karttunen (1983), p. 282.

20 Tarn (1902), pp. 244, 269. Tarn (1938), p. 147. The city is only mentioned by Ptolemäus, see ibidem.

21 See Tarn (1938), p. 170.

22 These assumptions were made by Tarn (1938), p. 258.

23 Sedlár (1961), p. 63.

24 See Marshall (1960), p. 13. Generally it is said, that Gandhara and the Indusvalley was restored; but Mehl (1986), p. 186 thinks that the southern pass over the Hindu Kush wasn't given back. Chandragupta would have expelled the Greeks according to Justinus, see Karttunen (1983), p. 259 - but Karttunen (1983), p. 267 reckons that some Greeks must have stayed.

25 See Tarn (1938), p. 168.

26 See Tarn (1938), pp. 168,180.

27 These assumptions I make because of the knowledge of 13 000 veterans, who are said to have been settled by Alexander in Bactria, see Tarn (1938), p. 72.


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Title: Testimonies of Greek lifestyles?