Exact Match
  Indus Valley
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Satvahanas | Shakas | Kushanas & Kanishka | Rudradaman | Christianity

The decline of the Greek kingdoms in the north-west coincided with an attack on Bactria itself by nomadic tribes from central Asia. These tribes included the Scythians. The movement of these tribes westwards originated with the activities of the Chinese emperor Shi Huang Ti, who built the Great Wall in the last half of the third century B.C. to defend China's frontiers against the nomadic tribes of the Hiung-nu, Wu-sun, and Yuchchi. The nomads kept herds of animals and pastured them in the plains to the west of China.

Gradually, as their pasture lands began to dry up, they made intermittent raids into the Chinese empire in search not only of new pastures, but also the wealth of the more civilized Chinese. But with the construction of the Wall, China was closed to them. The tribes were therefore forced to migrate south and west. Of the three main tribes the Yuch-chi were driven from the best lands and had to flee far across the continent. They split into two hordes - the Little Yueh-chi settled in northern Tibet and the Great Yueh-chi wandered further west to the shores of the Aral Sea, where they stopped for a while, displacing the inhabitants of the region, the Scythians, or the Shakas as they were called in Indian sources.

The Shakas poured into Bactria and Parthia. The Parthians failed to hold back the Shakas except for a brief period during the reign of Mithridates 11. On his death in 88 B.C. Parthia was overrun by the Shakas, who however did not pause there, but, using the Bolan Pass (near Quetta), swept down into the Indus valley, and settled in western India, their power eventually reaching as far as Mathura (in the neighbourhood of Delhi) and Gandhara in the north.

The first Shaka king in India was Maues or Moga (c. So B.C.), who established Shaka power in Gandhara. His successor, Azes, successfully attacked the last of the Greek kings in northern India, Hippostratos. A later king, Gondophernes, achieved fame through the association of his name with that of St Thomas, it being held by tradition that St Thomas travelled from Israel to the court of Gondophernes.

Shaka administration was broadly similar. to that of the Achaemenid and Seleucid systems in Iran. The kingdom was divided into provinces each under a military governor called mahakshatrapa (great Satrap). Each of these provinces was further subdivided into units under the control of lesser governors or satraps, who not only issued their own inscriptions in whatever era they wished to observe, but also minted their own coins, thereby indicating a more independent status than was normal to an administrative governor.

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