Kushan Empire

KushanKushansKushanaKushanasKushan periodKushan dynastyKuṣāṇa EmpireKushKushan emperorKushan era
The Kushan Empire (, ; ; BHS: ; Chinese: 貴霜帝國; ) was a syncretic empire, formed by the Yuezhi, in the Bactrian territories in the early 1st century.wikipedia
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Afghanistan

🇦🇫AfghanAfghans
It spread to encompass much of Afghanistan, and then 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 the Great.
The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khaljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.

Yuezhi

Da YuezhiLesser YuezhiTokharian
The Kushan Empire (, ; ; BHS: ; Chinese: 貴霜帝國; ) was a syncretic empire, formed by the Yuezhi, in the Bactrian territories in the early 1st century. The Kushans were one of five branches of the Yuezhi confederation, a possibly Iranian or Tocharian, Indo-European nomadic people who migrated from Gansu and settled in ancient Bactria.
The Greater Yuezhi have consequently often been identified with Bactrian peoples mentioned in classical European sources, like the Tókharioi (Greek Τοχάριοι; Sanskrit Tukhāra) and Asii (or Asioi). During the 1st century BC, one of the five major Greater Yuezhi tribes in Bactria, the Kushanas, began to subsume the other tribes and neighbouring peoples.

Bactrian language

Bactrian BactrianBactrian script
The Kushans possibly used the Greek language initially for administrative purposes, but soon began to use Bactrian language.
Bactrian (Αριαο, Aryao, [arjaːu̯ɔ]) was an Iranian language which was spoken in the Central Asian region of Bactria (present-day Afghanistan and Tajikistan) and used as the official language of the Kushan and the Hephthalite empires.

Silk Road transmission of Buddhism

Buddhismspread of Buddhismtransmission of Buddhism
A direct road from Gandhara to China remained under Kushan control for more than a century, encouraging travel across the Karakoram and facilitating the spread of Mahayana Buddhism to China.
The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China (all foreigners) were in the 2nd century CE under the influence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin under Kanishka.

Gandhara

GandhāraGandhariGandharis
A direct road from Gandhara to China remained under Kushan control for more than a century, encouraging travel across the Karakoram and facilitating the spread of Mahayana Buddhism to China. The Kushan empire fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms in the 3rd century AD, which fell to the Sasanians invading from the west, establishing the Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom in the areas of Sogdiana, Bactria and Gandhara. Gradually wresting control of the area from the Scythian tribes, the Kushans expanded south into the region traditionally known as Gandhara (an area primarily in Pakistan's Pothowar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region but going in an arc to include the Kabul valley and part of Qandahar in Afghanistan) and established twin capitals in Begram and Peshawar, then known as Kapisa and Pushklavati respectively.
Later the capital city was moved to Peshawar by the Kushan emperor Kanishka the Great in about AD 127.

Kashgar

ShuleKashiKashgar City
Kanishka sent his armies north of the Karakoram mountains, capturing territories as far as Kashgar, Khotan and Yarkant, in the Tarim Basin of modern-day Xinjiang, China.
The Book of the Later Han also gives the only extant historical record of Yuezhi or Kushan involvement in the Kashgar oasis:

Sogdia

SogdianSogdiansSoghdian
The Kushan empire fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms in the 3rd century AD, which fell to the Sasanians invading from the west, establishing the Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom in the areas of Sogdiana, Bactria and Gandhara.
The region would then be annexed by the Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great in 328 BC. The region would continue to change hands under the Seleucid Empire, Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Kushan Empire, Hephthalite Empire, and Sasanian Empire.

Iranian peoples

IranianIraniansPersian
The Kushans were one of five branches of the Yuezhi confederation, a possibly Iranian or Tocharian, Indo-European nomadic people who migrated from Gansu and settled in ancient Bactria.
The Bactrian (a Middle Iranian language) inscription of Kanishka (the founder of the Kushan Empire) at Rabatak, which was discovered in 1993 in an unexcavated site in the Afghan province of Baghlan, clearly refers to this Eastern Iranian language as Arya.

Sasanian Empire

SasanianSassanidPersian
The Kushan empire fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms in the 3rd century AD, which fell to the Sasanians invading from the west, establishing the Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom in the areas of Sogdiana, Bactria and Gandhara. The Kushan dynasty had diplomatic contacts with the Roman Empire, Sasanian Persia, the Aksumite Empire and Han Dynasty of China.
Later Sassanid inscriptions also claim the submission of the Kings of Kushan, Turan and Mekran to Ardashir, although based on numismatic evidence it is more likely that these actually submitted to Ardashir's son, the future Shapur I.

Tocharians

TocharianAgni-KuchiDukur
The Kushans were one of five branches of the Yuezhi confederation, a possibly Iranian or Tocharian, Indo-European nomadic people who migrated from Gansu and settled in ancient Bactria.
The Tókharoi are often identified by modern scholars with the Yuezhi of Chinese historical accounts, who founded the Kushan Empire.

Heraios

The earliest documented ruler, and the first one to proclaim himself as a Kushan ruler, was Heraios.
Heraios (sometimes Heraus, Heraos, Miaos) was apparently a king or clan chief of the Kushans (reign: c. 1 –30 CE), one of the five constituent tribes of the Yuezhi, in Bactria, during in the early 1st century CE.

Indo-Scythians

Indo-Scythian KingdomIndo-ScythianScythian
Ban Gu's Book of Han tells us the Kushans (Kuei-shuang) divided up Bactria in 128 BC. Fan Ye's Book of the Later Han "relates how the chief of the Kushans, Ch'iu-shiu-ch'ueh (the Kujula Kadphises of coins), founded by means of the submission of the other Yueh-chih clans the Kushan Empire, known to the Greeks and Romans under the name of Empire of the Indo-Scythians." Gradually wresting control of the area from the Scythian tribes, the Kushans expanded south into the region traditionally known as Gandhara (an area primarily in Pakistan's Pothowar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region but going in an arc to include the Kabul valley and part of Qandahar in Afghanistan) and established twin capitals in Begram and Peshawar, then known as Kapisa and Pushklavati respectively.
The Indo-Scythians were apparently subjugated by the Kushan Empire, by either Kujula Kadphises or Kanishka.

Peshawar

Peshawar cityPeshawar, PakistanPeshwar
Gradually wresting control of the area from the Scythian tribes, the Kushans expanded south into the region traditionally known as Gandhara (an area primarily in Pakistan's Pothowar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region but going in an arc to include the Kabul valley and part of Qandahar in Afghanistan) and established twin capitals in Begram and Peshawar, then known as Kapisa and Pushklavati respectively.
Peshawar was the capital of the ancient Kushan Empire, and was home to what may have been the tallest building in the ancient world, the Kanishka stupa.

Gupta Empire

GuptaGuptasGupta period
In the 4th century, the Guptas, an Indian dynasty also pressed from the east.
In the later period, the title Maharaja was used by feudatory rulers, which has led to suggestions that Gupta and Ghatotkacha were vassals (possibly of Kushan Empire).

Han dynasty

HanHan EmpireEastern Han dynasty
The Kushan dynasty had diplomatic contacts with the Roman Empire, Sasanian Persia, the Aksumite Empire and Han Dynasty of China.
Ban Chao (d. AD 102) enlisted the aid of the Kushan Empire, occupying the area of modern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, to subdue Kashgar and its ally Sogdiana.

Vima Takto

From the time of Vima Takto, many Kushans started adopting aspects of Buddhist culture, and like the Egyptians, they absorbed the strong remnants of the Greek culture of the Hellenistic Kingdoms, becoming at least partly Hellenised.
Vima Takto or Vima Taktu was a Kushan emperor who reigned c. 80–90 CE.

Vima Kadphises

Kadphises
The great Kushan emperor Vima Kadphises may have embraced Shaivism (a sect of Hinduism), as surmised by coins minted during the period.
jiam-kaw-trin) was a Kushan emperor from approximately 90–100 CE. According to the Rabatak inscription, he was the son of Vima Takto and the father of Kanishka.

Hindu Kush

Hindu Kush MountainsHindukush Hindu Kush Range
The Yuezhi reached the Hellenic kingdom of Greco-Bactria (in northern Afghanistan and Uzbekistan) around 135 BC. The displaced Greek dynasties resettled to the southeast in areas of the Hindu Kush and the Indus basin (in present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan), occupying the western part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom.
Some 19th century Encyclopedias and gazetteers state that the term Hindu Kush originally applied only to the peak in the area of the Kushan Pass, which had become a centre of the Kushan Empire by the first century.

Surkh Kotal

Ratabak/Surkh Kotal
Archaeological structures are known in Takht-I-Sangin, Surkh Kotal (a monumental temple), and in the palace of Khalchayan.
It is the location of monumental constructions made during the rule of the Kushans.

Kharosthi

KharoṣṭhīkharoshthiKharoṣṭhī script
On their coins they used Greek language legends combined with Pali legends (in the Kharoshthi script), until the first few years of the reign of Kanishka.
An abugida, it was introduced at least by the middle of the 3rd century BCE, possibly during the 4th century BCE, and remained in use until it died out in its homeland around the 3rd century CE. It was also in use in Bactria, the Kushan Empire, Sogdia and along the Silk Road, where there is some evidence it may have survived until the 7th century in the remote way stations of Khotan and Niya.

Buddhism

BuddhistBuddhistsBuddha
From the time of Vima Takto, many Kushans started adopting aspects of Buddhist culture, and like the Egyptians, they absorbed the strong remnants of the Greek culture of the Hellenistic Kingdoms, becoming at least partly Hellenised. Emperor Kanishka was a great patron of Buddhism.
The Kushans (mid 1st–3rd century CE) came to control the Silk Road trade through Central and South Asia, which brought them to interact with ancient Buddhist monasteries and societies involved in trade in these regions.

Taxila

ancient TaxilaTakshashilaTakshasila
Rosenfield notes that archaeological evidence of a Kushan rule of long duration is present in an area stretching from Surkh Kotal, Begram, the summer capital of the Kushans, Peshawar, the capital under Kanishka I, Taxila, and Mathura, the winter capital of the Kushans.
Some ruins at Taxila date to the time of the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BCE, followed successively by Mauryan Empire, Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian, and Kushan Empire periods.

Shaivism

ShaiviteShaivaSaivite
The great Kushan emperor Vima Kadphises may have embraced Shaivism (a sect of Hinduism), as surmised by coins minted during the period.
Other evidence that is possibly linked to the importance of Shaivism in ancient times are in epigraphy and numismatics, such as in the form of prominent Shiva-like reliefs on Kushan Empire era gold coins.

Malwa

MalavaMalwa PlateauMālwa
Other areas of probable rule include Khwarezm, Kausambi (excavations of Allahabad University), Sanchi and Sarnath (inscriptions with names and dates of Kushan kings), Malwa and Maharashtra, and Odisha (imitation of Kushan coins, and large Kushan hoards).
Although evidence is sparse, Malwa was probably ruled by the Kushanas, the Shakas and the Satavahana dynasty during the 1st and 2nd century CE. Ownership of the region was the subject of dispute between the Western Kshatrapas and the Satavahanas during the first three centuries AD. Ujjain emerged a major trading centre during the 1st century AD.

Bactria

BahlikaTokharistanBactrian
The Kushan Empire (, ; ; BHS: ; Chinese: 貴霜帝國; ) was a syncretic empire, formed by the Yuezhi, in the Bactrian territories in the early 1st century. The Kushan empire fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms in the 3rd century AD, which fell to the Sasanians invading from the west, establishing the Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom in the areas of Sogdiana, Bactria and Gandhara. The Kushans were one of five branches of the Yuezhi confederation, a possibly Iranian or Tocharian, Indo-European nomadic people who migrated from Gansu and settled in ancient Bactria.
Kujula Kadphises, the xihou (prince) of the Yuezhi, united the region in the early 1st century and laid the foundations for the powerful, but short-lived, Kushan Empire.