Skip to comments.Kushan Empire (ca. 2nd century B.C.–3rd century A.D.)
Posted on 07/21/2013 10:08:33 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
Under the rule of the Kushans, northwest India and adjoining regions participated both in seagoing trade and in commerce along the Silk Road to China. The name Kushan derives from the Chinese term Guishang, used in historical writings to describe one branch of the Yuezhia loose confederation of Indo-European people who had been living in northwestern China until they were driven west by another group, the Xiongnu, in 176160 B.C. The Yuezhi reached Bactria (northwest Afghanistan and Tajikistan) around 135 B.C. Kujula Kadphises united the disparate tribes in the first century B.C. Gradually wresting control of the area from the Scytho-Parthians, the Yuezhi moved south into the northwest Indian region traditionally known as Gandhara (now parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan) and established a capital near Kabul. They had learned to use a form of the Greek alphabet, and Kujula's son was the first Indian ruler to strike gold coins in imitation of the Roman aureus exchanged along the caravan routes.
The rule of Kanishka, the third Kushan emperor who flourished from the late first to the early/mid-second century A.D., was administered from two capitals: Purushapura (now Peshawar) near the Khyber Pass, and Mathura in northern India. Under Kanishka's rule, at the height of the dynasty, Kushan controlled a large territory ranging from the Aral Sea through areas that include present-day Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan into northern India as far east as Benares and as far south as Sanchi.
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[snip] The Kushans were one of five branches of the Yuezhi confederation, a possibly Tocharian, Indo-European nomadic people who had migrated from the Tarim Basin and settled in ancient Bactria. They may also have been of Iranian origin. During the 1st and early 2nd centuries CE, the Kushans expanded across the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent at least as far as Saketa and Sarnath near Varanasi (Benares), where inscriptions have been found dating to the era of the Kushan emperor Kanishka, which began about 127 CE  Around 152 CE, Kanishka sent his armies north of the Karakoram mountains. They captured territories as far as Kashgar, Khotan and Yarkant, in the Tarim Basin of modern-day Xinjiang, China. A direct road from Gandhara to China was opened which remained under Kushan control for more than 100 years. The security offered by the Kushans encouraged travel across the Khunjerab Pass and facilitated the spread of Mahayana Buddhism to China. [/snip]
I’m a big fan of Greco-Buddhist art. Fascinating joining of Eastern and Western traditions, a real legacy of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic civilizations. Definite Kushan tie-in.
The Tocharians were the easternmost speakers of an Indo-European language in antiquity, inhabiting the Tarim basin in what is now Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwestern People's Republic of China. Their unique culture spanned from the 1st millennium BCE to the end of the 1st millennium CE. Their language is called Tocharian.
The Tarim mummies suggest that precursors of these easternmost speakers of an Indo-European language may have lived in the region of the Tarim Basin from around 1800 BCE until finally they were assimilated by Uyghur Turks in the 9th century CE.
"It has been suggested that this group may have been a relatively small group of Afanasevo/Tocharian refugees fleeing to the south, away from Indo-Iranian expansion arriving from regions west and southwest of the Sayan-Altai"