After death of Alexander in 323 BC, his generals, known as diadochi started fighting for his massive empire. Seleukos Nictator, a friend and general of Alexander proclaimed himself King of Persia,Bactria (afghanistan) and Syria. He founded a dynasty named after him, widely known as Seleukid dynasty. He had his capital at Babylon and invaded India (modern Punjab, located in northern India and Pakistan) in 304 BC, which was then Muaryan empire ruled by Chandragupta Maurya. Chandragupta Maurya (Sandrocottus according to Greek Historians) put an army of hundred thousand men and 9000 war elephants on battle field! The sheer number of men on battlefield and the battle elephants (I guess Greeks were more worried of beasts rather than Indian soldiers) made Seluekos change his mind. Wisely, Seleucus concluded an alliance and gave his daughter in marriage to Chandragupta. He also transferred Kabul, Kandahar (modern Afganistan) and Baluchistan (modern Pakistan) to Chandragupta. Chandragupta in turn presented him with 500 war elephants. Seleukos sent an ambassador named Magasthenes to Chandragupta's court, who repeatedly visited Patliputra (modern patana in Bihar state), capital of Chandragupta. Magasthenes has written detailed description of India and Chandragupta's reign, which is perhaps the earliest description of ancient India by a foreign traveller. Seleukos minted Coins bearing his name which are rare gold staters and silver tetradrachms/drachms (some day I shall introduce the image).

In 281 BC Seleukos was assasinated but the kings who followed him maintained friendly relationship with mighty Mauryan emperors for some time (records exist that Antiochus II was in friendly terms with Chandragupta's son Bindusara). Seleucid empire disintegrated soon after assasination of Seleukos into Parthia (Arsaces as King), Syria (Antiochus I as king) and Bactria (Diodotus as king). During 151-150 BC, a Seleukid pretender, Alexander Balas, Attalos II of Pergamum, Ariarathes V of Cappadocia, Ptolemy VI and the Roman Senate, arrived in Ake-Ptolemais, to lay claim to the Seleukid throne. Within months they won a decisive military victory over Demetrios I, who was killed in battle. With the defeat of Demetrios I, Phoenicia and Southern Syria, disputed territory that separated the Seleukids and Ptolemies was now in the hand of an Egyptian ally. To cement the alliance between the two empires, Ptolemy VI offered his daughter in marriage, Cleopatra Thea, to Alexander Balas. Shown below is the coin minted by Demetrios I, Seleukid Kings of Syria.

Demetrios I, the Soter
162-150 BC
Seleukid King of Syria
Silver drachm
Weight: 4.2 gm
Obverse: Diademed head
Reverse: Cornucopia
Minted at Antioch, Yr 162 BC
Reference: Newell 134

Diodotos was a Seleucid governor of Bactria who seized the opportunity and declared himself king of Bactria (256 BC). He soon issued gold and copper coins bearing his portrait on obverse and Greek deities (prominently Zeus) on reverse. He is considered to be the first ruler of Indo-Greek dynasties which ruled north-western part of India, called Bactria . He was followed by many kings of Greek origin who ruled this region for little more than 100 years till arrival of next conquorers, Kushans.

250-230 BC
Indo-Greek Dynasty
Bronze Unit
Weight: 1.00 gm

After death of last great Mauryan King, Ashoka, India was disintegrated into many small kingdoms, which provided great opportunity for Indo-Greek kings for eastern expansion of their kingdoms. Seleucid monarch, Antiochus III (223-187 BC) carried out the third Greek (first Greek invasion is considered to be by Alexander while second is by Seleucus) invasion of India in 206 BC. The first stop was the Kabul valley in Afghanistan, then ruled by Mauryan governor, Subhagsena or Subhashsena ( Sophagasenus according to Greek historians). Interestingly, the invasion did not escalate into a expected massive bloodshed but resulted into exchange of gifts and Antiochus withdrew from India. Subhagsena is listed in names of Mauryan princes and also Yadava dynasty as descendants of Pradyumana. Most Probably, he was a prince of ancient Vrishni vansha (claims descent from lord Krishna) and also related to Mauruyan dynasty. Possibly he was a grandson of Ashoka or Ashoka's son Kunala. Initially, he ruled as governor of Kabul valley from 206 BC but soon assumed independance on Shunga coup in 185 BC. After withdrawal of Antiochus from India, Euthydemos consolidated his realm in Bactria by re-oraganizing the currency and mints. Euthydemos died in 190 BC and succeded by his son Demetrius. Demetrius (190-171 BC) was the first Indo-Greek ruler who successfully brought most of the Afganistan, Punjab and Sindh under his control. He defeated Subhagsena, now king of Kabul and proudely took a title `King of Indians'. The descendants of Subhagsena did not die out but went on to found state of zabul (or Gujni in Afghansistan) before retreating back to Indus/Punjab and are current Bhatti rulers of Jaisalmer princely state (modern Rajasthan).

Demetrios I
200-190 BC
Indo-greek King of Baktria
Silver drachm
Weight: 4.1 gm
Obverse: Head of Demetrios wearing elephant's skin
Reverse: Herakles holding club and lion's skin

The coins stuck by Euthydemus, Demetrius and Antimachus (weriearing kausia cap and half mocking smile) are purely Greek in style, in language and in weight. These coins are THE BEST example of art as applied to portraiture, anywhwere in the world. Such beautiful coins depicting lifelike portraits of these kings have no parallel in history. After so called `conquest of India', Demetrius minted coins showing himself wearing elephant's scalp which represent the excellent example of portrait coins of Indo-Greeks. Demetrius was followed by two of his generals, Apollodotus I and Menander who proclaimed themselves to be kings of this house. Both ruled in different regions of North Western India.

MENANADER (160-145 BC)

160-145 BC
Silver drachm, Bilingual
Obverse: Bust of King, Greek legends
Reverse: Pallas, Kharosthi legends
Minted at Panjshir
Weight: 2.33 gm

Menander is the only Yavana (person of Greek origin in Indian language) king who has become celebrated in ancient Indian literature. He is known as `Milinda' who had his capital at Sakala (modern Sialkot in Pakistan, Euthymedia in Greek). He one of the two leading characters of a Pali (ancient language of India) treatise Milindpanha (Questions of Milinda). This book describes fundamental principles of Buddhist philosophy which is narrated in form of a dialogue between King Milinda and Buddhist scholar Nagasena. Thus Menander is well known for Indian historians as a philosopher with superior knowledge in various schools of thought and not as a mighty conqueror. He was born at Charikar, a country between Kabul and Panjshir rivers, a connecting link between Bactria and India. Menander has earned tremendous fame as a great ruler not only in India but also in Greek world. There is no doubt that he was great conqueror and ruled over large area. His coins are found in all of modern Afganistan, Pakistan and north western region of modern India.

The numismatic record of Menander is extraordinarily good which shows greater variety and wider distribution than those of any other Indo-Greek ruler. Shown above is a fine example of his coin minted at Taxila (Takshshila). This is a bilingual coin with interrupted legends. On obverse is king throwing Javelin, the legends are in Greek, King Soter Menander while reverse shows Pallas Athene facing left with sloping shield. The legends on reverse are in ancient Indian language Prakrit, written in Kharoshthi script which reads Maharajasa tratasa Menandrasa (-of the king, saviour, Menander) .


Apollodotus I
180-160 BC
Silver drachm
Obverse: Elephant, Greek legends
Reverse: Humped bull, Kharosthi legends
minted at Taxila
Weight: 2.38 gm
Reference: MIG#207h, MAC#1754

Another general of Demetrius who became king and minted beautiful coins. Shown above is very atteactive coin mintd by him which is square in shape. Before arrival of Indo-Greeks, local population of his newly acquired kingdom had been using rectangular/square shaped punch-marked coins for most transactions. Perhaps this fact had enfluenced him to issue square shaped, bilingual coinage which can be accepted readily by local merchants. Secondly, to keep up with Indian tradition of punching animals like Elephant and Bull on punch-marked coin, this coin also bear these two animals on the coin. The legends on reverse are in Prakrit, written in Kharoshthi script which reads Maharajasa tratarasa Apaladatasa(-of the king, saviour, Apollodotus ).


110-80 BC
Silver tetradrachm
Minted at Pushkalavati
Weight: 7.32 gm

Bactrian king Antimachus claimed that he was a successor of Diodotus and thus belonged to house of Euthydemus. He ruled in lower Kabul Valley consisting of Jalalabad and Peshwar districts (part of modern Afganistan and Pakistan). He was succeded by Philoxenus and Diomedes who jointly ruled the western Indo-Greek kingdom from river Indus to Qunduz region of bactria.Their coins depicts king wearing flat cap (kausia) sitting on prancing horse. Philoxenus kingdom consited of Valley of Jhelum river. His coins are found only to the east of Jalalabad district. Philoxenus and Diomedes were succeded by two pairs of kings: Archebios, Peucolaus and Theophiles Nicias. Archebios and Peucolaus issued coins in Kabul valley and Koht in 80-60 BC while Theophiles and Nicias struck their coins in Gandhara. Shown above is fine example of coin minted by Philoxenus. On obverse is king throwing Javelin with his name below the portrait while on reverse is king mounted on prancing horse. This is another bilingual coin with Greek legends on obverse while Kharoshti legends Maharajasa apadihatasa Philasinasa on reverse.

NICIAS (80-60 BC)

80-60 BC
Silver tetradrachm
Weight: 9.09 gm

Most likely Nicias was junior colleague of Theophilos who might have succeded to the kingdom of Gandhara. Coins of Nicias are found mostly in Jhelum valley (modern Pakistan). Shown above is a nice example of his coin which is bilingual. On obverse the legends are in Greek with his name at the bottom of portrait while reverse shows Pallas facing left with sloping shield. The legends on reverse are in Kharaoshti which reads `Maharajasa tratarasa Nikiasa'.


The kings of house of Eucratides ruled in the region south of Hidu Kush and upper Kabul valley (southern half of modern Afganistan). Hermaeus belonged to this house and minted coins depicting Zeus enthroned. Hermaeus was the last Indo-Greek king. His kingdom was invaded successively by Shakas (Scythias), Pahalavas (parthians) and lastly by Kushanas. It is very likely that Indo-Greeks were followed by Pahalavas which in turn were replaced by Kushanas. Coins bearing last Yavana King Hermaeus and first Kushana ruler Kujula Kadphises are available indicating eventual passing of Kabul valley and whole of North east India to Kushana dynasty, the next suzerain power in ancient India.

Shown below are two of his coins portraying him on obverse. On reverse one can see Zeus enthroned. Both are bilingual coins with Greek legends on obverse while Kharoshti legends Maharajasa tratarasa Heramayasa on reverse.

40-1 BC
Silver tetradrachm
Minted at Chach
Weight: 9.17 gm

40-1 BC
Silver tetradrachm
Minted at Kapisa
Weight: 12.72 gm

The portraits on all Indo-greeks coins are very realistic which express powerful features and minute personal details very clearly. This indicate that all the engravers were from same school of art and obviously very well familiar with Hellinstic art. Indian coinage is greatly enfluenced by coinage of Indo-Greeks. The policy of rulers to show their subject their true appearance was totally unknown in Indian subcontinent. The first Indian King who issued coins bearing his portrait was Saubhuti (Sophytes or Sopeithes according to Greek historians). He ruled in Bactria or Panjab in 315-305 BC and minted Greek styled coins (I am hoping to get his coin which are just too expensive). His silver coins were greatly enfluenced by his contemporary Bactrian Greek ruler Seleucus Nictator. He is the first Indian ruler whose name and portrait appears on a coin. The reverse shows cock standing right.

This section is currently under construction. I am putting together more images of coins and lot more interesting information. Come back soon! If you have any comments, please send at

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