Yavana era

Tetradrachm of Plato. Obv: Diademed bust of Plato. Rev: Sun divinity Helios, riding a four-horse chariot. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ ΠΛΑΤΩΝΟΣ (BASILEOS EPIPHANOYS PLATONOS) "Of King Plato, Manifestation of God on earth". Coin marked MZ (bottom left of reverse), which possibly is a dating which equals year 47 Yavana era = 138 BCE.
The Yavanarajya inscription, dated to "year 116 of Yavana hegemony", probably 70 or 69 BCE. Mathura Museum.
close-up pictures

Computational era used in the Indian subcontinent from the 2nd century BCE for several centuries thereafter, probably starting in 174 BCE.

- Yavana era

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Emperor of the Kushan dynasty, under whose reign (c.

Gold coin of Kanishka. Greco-Bactrian legend:
Shaonanoshao Kanishki Koshano
"King of Kings, Kanishka the Kushan".
British Museum.
Gold coin of Kanishka I with Greek legend and Hellenistic divinity Helios. (c. 120 AD).
Obverse: Kanishka standing, clad in heavy Kushan coat and long boots, flames emanating from shoulders, holding a standard in his left hand, and making a sacrifice over an altar. Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΚΑΝΗϷΚΟΥ "[coin] of Kanishka, king of kings".
Reverse: Standing Helios in Hellenistic style, forming a benediction gesture with the right hand. Legend in Greek script: ΗΛΙΟΣ Helios. Kanishka monogram (tamgha) to the left.
Gold coin of Kanishka I with a representation of the Buddha (c.120 AD).
Obv: Kanishka standing.., clad in heavy Kushan coat and long boots, flames emanating from shoulders, holding standard in his left hand, and making a sacrifice over an altar. Kushan-language legend in Greek script (with the addition of the Kushan Ϸ "sh" letter): ϷΑΟΝΑΝΟϷΑΟ ΚΑΝΗϷΚΙ ΚΟϷΑΝΟ ("Shaonanoshao Kanishki Koshano"): "King of Kings, Kanishka the Kushan".
Rev: Standing Buddha in Hellenistic style, forming the gesture of "no fear" (abhaya mudra) with his right hand, and holding a pleat of his robe in his left hand. Legend in Greek script: ΒΟΔΔΟ "Boddo", for the Buddha. Kanishka monogram (tamgha) to the right.
Depiction of the Buddha envelopped in a mandorla in Kanishka's coinage. The mandorla is normally considered as a late evolution in Gandhara art.
Depictions of the "Shakyamuni Buddha" (with legend ϷΑΚΑΜΑΝΟ ΒΟΔΔΟ "Shakamano Boddo") in Kanishka's coinage.
Depictions of "Maitreya" (with legend ΜΕΤΡΑΓΟ ΒΟΔΔΟ "Metrago Boddo") in Kanishka's coinage.
Kanishka inaugurates Mahayana Buddhism
Coin of Kanishka with the Bodhisattva Maitreya "Metrago Boudo".
The Ahin Posh stupa was dedicated in the 2nd century CE and contained coins of Kaniska
Kushan territories (full line) and maximum extent of Kushan dominions under Kanishka (dotted line), according to the Rabatak inscription.<ref>"The Rabatak inscription claims that in the year 1 Kanishka I's authority was proclaimed in India, in all the satrapies and in different cities like Koonadeano (Kundina), Ozeno (Ujjain), Kozambo (Kausambi), Zagedo (Saketa), Palabotro (Pataliputra) and Ziri-Tambo (Janjgir-Champa). These cities lay to the east and south of Mathura, up to which locality Wima had already carried his victorious arm. Therefore they must have been captured or subdued by Kanishka I himself." Ancient Indian Inscriptions, S. R. Goyal, p. 93. See also the analysis of Sims-Williams and J. Cribb, who had a central role in the decipherment: "A new Bactrian inscription of Kanishka the Great", in Silk Road Art and Archaeology No. 4, 1995–1996. Also see, Mukherjee, B. N. "The Great Kushanan Testament", Indian Museum Bulletin.</ref>
Probable statue of Kanishka, Surkh Kotal, 2nd century CE. Kabul Museum.<ref>{{cite journal|last1=Lo Muzio|first1=Ciro|title=Remarks on the Paintings from the Buddhist Monastery of Fayaz Tepe (Southern Uzbekistan)|journal=Bulletin of the Asia Institute|date=2012|volume=22|pages=189–206|url=https://www.academia.edu/3586155}}</ref>
Bronze coin of Kanishka, found in Khotan, modern China.
Samatata coinage of king Vira Jadamarah, in imitation of the Kushan coinage of Kanishka I. Bengal, circa 2nd-3rd century CE.<ref name="Samatata coin">{{cite web|title=Samatata coin|url=https://research.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3412701&page=1&partId=1|website=British Museum}}</ref>
Kosambi Bodhisattva, inscribed "Year 2 of Kanishka".<ref>Early History of Kausambi p.xxi</ref>
Bala Bodhisattva, Sarnath, inscribed "Year 3 of Kanishka".<ref>Epigraphia Indica 8 p.179</ref>
"Kimbell seated Buddha", with inscription "year 4 of Kanishka" (131 CE).<ref name="Kimbell">Seated Buddha with inscription starting with Gupta ashoka m.svgGupta ashoka haa.jpgGupta allahabad raa.jpgGupta ashoka j.svg{{sub|Gupta ashoka sya.svg}} Gupta ashoka kaa.svg{{sup|Gupta ashoka nni.jpg}}{{sub|Gupta ashoka ssk.jpgGupta ashoka sya.svg}} {{sup|Gupta ashoka sam.jpg}}<big><big>𑁕</big></big> Maharajasya Kanishkasya Sam 4 "Year 4 of the Great King Kanishka" in {{cite web|title=Seated Buddha with Two Attendants|url=https://www.kimbellart.org/collection/ap-198606|website=www.kimbellart.org|publisher=Kimbell Art Museum|language=en}}</ref><ref name="GPK">"The Buddhist Triad, from Haryana or Mathura, Year 4 of Kaniska (ad 82). Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth." in {{cite book|last1=Museum (Singapore)|first1=Asian Civilisations|last2=Krishnan|first2=Gauri Parimoo|title=The Divine Within: Art & Living Culture of India & South Asia|date=2007|publisher=World Scientific Pub|isbn=9789810567057|page=113|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=c-ny6Kmvu6cC|language=en}}</ref> Another similar statue has "Year 32 of Kanishka".<ref>{{cite book|last1=Behrendt|first1=Kurt A.|title=The Art of Gandhara in the Metropolitan Museum of Art|date=2007|publisher=Metropolitan Museum of Art|isbn=978-1-58839-224-4|page=48, Fig. 18|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=MJ3eCZVlT48C|language=en}}</ref>
Gandhara Buddhist Triad from Sahr-i-Bahlol, circa 132 CE, similar to the dated Brussels Buddha.<ref name="GF">{{cite journal|last1=FUSSMAN|first1=Gérard|title=Documents Epigraphiques Kouchans|journal=Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient|date=1974|volume=61|pages=54–57|doi=10.3406/befeo.1974.5193|issn=0336-1519|jstor=43732476 }}</ref> Peshawar Museum.<ref>{{cite book|last1=Rhi|first1=Juhyung|title=Identifying Several Visual Types of Gandharan Buddha Images. Archives of Asian Art 58 (2008).|pages=53–56|url=https://www.academia.edu/7976078|language=en}}</ref><ref>{{cite book|last1=The Classical Art Research Centre|first1=University of Oxford|title=Problems of Chronology in Gandhāran Art: Proceedings of the First International Workshop of the Gandhāra Connections Project, University of Oxford, 23rd-24th March, 2017|date=2018|publisher=Archaeopress|page=45, notes 28, 29|url=https://archive.org/details/ProblemsOfChronologyInGandharanArt}}</ref>
Image of a Nāga between two Nāgīs, inscribed in "the year 8 of Emperor Kanishka". 135 CE.<ref>{{cite book|last1=Sircar|first1=Dineschandra|title=Studies in the Religious Life of Ancient and Medieval India|date=1971|publisher=Motilal Banarsidass Publ.|isbn=978-81-208-2790-5|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=mh1y1eMgGBMC&pg=PA134|language=en}}</ref><ref>{{cite book|last1=Sastri|first1=H. krishna|title=Epigraphia Indica Vol-17|date=1923|pages=11–15|url=https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.70170}}</ref><ref>{{cite book|last1=Luders|first1=Heinrich|title=Mathura Inscriptions|date=1961|pages=148–149|url=https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.201093}}</ref>
Buddha from Loriyan Tangai with inscription mentionning the "year 318", thought to be 143 CE.<ref name="PC">{{cite book|last1=Rhi|first1=Juhyung|title=Problems of Chronology in Gandharan. Positionning Gandharan Buddhas in Chronology|date=2017|publisher=Archaeopress Archaeology|location=Oxford|pages=35–51|url=http://www.carc.ox.ac.uk/PublicFiles/media/Final%20e-version%20Problems%20of%20Chronology%20in%20Gandharan%20Art.pdf}}{{free access}}</ref>
A Buddha from Loriyan Tangai from the same period.

Several Buddhist statues are directly connected to the reign of Kanishka, such as several Bodhisattva statues from the Art of Mathura, while a few other from Gandhara are inscribed with a date in an era which is now thought to be the Yavana era, starting in 186 to 175 BCE.

Indo-Greek Kingdom

Hellenistic-era Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan, the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent, (virtually all of modern Pakistan), and a small part of Iran.

Pataliputra Palace capital, showing Greek and Persian influence, early Mauryan Empire period, 3rd century BC.
Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription (Greek and Aramaic) by king Ashoka, from Kandahar, Afghanistan.
According to the Mahavamsa, the Great Stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, was dedicated by a 30,000-strong "Yona" (Greek) delegation from "Alexandria" around 130 BC.
Greco-Bactrian statue of an old man or philosopher, Ai Khanoum, Bactria, 2nd century BC
Corinthian capital, found at Ai-Khanoum, 2nd century BC
Coin depicting the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus 230–200 BC. The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΕΥΘΥΔΗΜΟΥ – "(of) King Euthydemus".
Possible statuette of a Greek soldier, wearing a version of the Greek Phrygian helmet, from a 3rd-century BC burial site north of the Tian Shan, Xinjiang Region Museum, Urumqi.
Greco-Bactria and the city of Ai-Khanoum were located at the very doorstep of Mauryan India.
The Khalsi rock edict of Ashoka, which mentions the Greek kings Antiochus, Ptolemy, Antigonus, Magas and Alexander by name, as recipients of his teachings.
Shunga horseman, Bharhut.
Apollodotus I (180–160 BC) the first king who ruled in the subcontinent only, and therefore the founder of the proper Indo-Greek kingdom.
Silver coin depicting Demetrius I of Bactria (reigned c. 200–180 BC), wearing an elephant scalp, symbol of his conquests of areas in what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The coinage of Agathocles (circa 180 BC) incorporated the Brahmi script and several deities from India, which have been variously interpreted as Vishnu, Shiva, Vasudeva, Balarama or the Buddha.
Kharoshthi legend on the reverse of a coin of Indo-Greek king Artemidoros Aniketos.
Menander I (155–130 BC) is one of the few Indo-Greek kings mentioned in both Graeco-Roman and Indian sources.
The Shinkot casket containing Buddhist relics was dedicated "in the reign of the Great King Menander".
Indian-standard coinage of Menander I. Obv ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΜΕΝΑΝΔΡΟΥ "Of Saviour King Menander". Rev Palm of victory, Kharoshthi legend Māhārajasa trātadasa Menandrāsa, British Museum.
King Hippostratos riding a horse, circa 100 BC (coin detail).
The Yavanarajya inscription discovered in Mathura, mentions its carving on "The last day of year 116 of Yavana hegemony" (Yavanarajya), or 116th year if the Yavana era, suggesting the Greeks ruled over Mathura as late as 60 BC. Mathura Museum.
The Mathura Herakles. A statue of Herakles strangling the Nemean lion from Mathura. Today in the Kolkota Indian Museum.
Possible statue of a Yavana/ Indo-Greek warrior with boots and chiton, from the Rani Gumpha or "Cave of the Queen" in the Udayagiri Caves on the east coast of India, where the Hathigumpha inscription was also found. 2nd or 1st century BC.
Heliocles (145–130 BC) was the last Greek king in Bactria.
Coin of Antialcidas (105–95 BC).
Coin of Philoxenos (100–95 BC).
Coin of Zoilos I (130–120 BC) showing on the reverse the Heraklean club with the Scythian bow, inside a victory wreath.
The Heliodorus pillar, commissioned by Indo-Greek ambassador Heliodorus, is the first known inscription related to Vaishnavism in India. Heliodurus was one of the earliest recorded Indo-Greek converts to Hinduism.
Heliodorus travelled from Taxila to Vidisha as an ambassador of king Antialkidas, and erected the Heliodorus pillar.
The Bharhut Yavana, a possible Indian depiction of Menander, with the flowing head band of a Greek king, northern tunic with Hellenistic pleats, and Buddhist triratana symbol on his sword. Bharhut, 100 BC. Indian Museum, Calcutta.
At Bharhut, the gateways were made by northwestern (probably Gandharan) masons using Kharosthi marks 100-75 BC.
the Kharosthi letters were found on the balusters
Foreigners on the Northern Gateway of Stupa I at Sanchi.
Foreigners worshiping Stupa
Greek travelling costume
Hermaeus (90–70 BC) was the last Indo-Greek king in the Western territories (Paropamisadae).
Hermaeus posthumous issue struck by Indo-Scythians near Kabul, circa 80–75 BC.
Tetradrachm of Hippostratos, reigned circa 65–55 BC, was the last Indo-Greek king in Western Punjab.
Hippostratos was replaced by the Indo-Scythian king Azes I (r. c. 35–12 BC).
Approximate region of East Punjab and Strato II's capital Sagala.
The last known Indo-Greek kings Strato II and Strato III, here on a joint coin (25 BC-10 AD), were the last Indo-Greek king in eartern territories of Eastern Punjab.
Pillar of the Great Chaitya at Karla Caves, mentioning its donation by a Yavana. Below: detail of the word "Ya-va-na-sa" in old Brahmi script: Brahmi y 2nd century CE.jpgBrahmi v 2nd century CE.gifBrahmi n.svgBrahmi s.svg, circa AD 120.
The Buddhist symbols of the triratna and of the swastika (reversed) around the word "Ya-va-ṇa-sa" in Brahmi (Brahmi y 2nd century CE.jpg Brahmi v 2nd century CE.gif Brahmi nn.svg Brahmi s.svg). Shivneri Caves 1st century AD.
Statue with inscription mentioning "year 318", probably of the Yavana era, i.e. AD 143.
Piedestal of the Hashtnagar Buddha statue, with Year 384 inscription, probably of the Yavana era, i.e. AD 209.
Evolution of Zeus Nikephoros ("Zeus holding Nike") on Indo-Greek coinage: from the Classical motif of Nike handing the wreath of victory to Zeus himself (left, coin of Heliocles I 145–130 BC), then to a baby elephant (middle, coin of Antialcidas 115–95 BC), and then to the Wheel of the Law, symbol of Buddhism (right, coin of Menander II 90–85 BC).
Indo-Corinthian capital representing a man wearing a Graeco-Roman-style coat with fibula, and making a blessing gesture. Butkara Stupa, National Museum of Oriental Art, Rome.
Evolution of the Butkara stupa, a large part of which occurred during the Indo-Greek period, through the addition of Hellenistic architectural elements.
Coin of Menander II (90–85 BC). "King Menander, follower of the Dharma" in Kharoshthi script, with Zeus holding Nike, who holds a victory wreath over an Eight-spoked wheel.
Greek Buddhist devotees, holding plantain leaves, in purely Hellenistic style, inside Corinthian columns, Buner relief, Victoria and Albert Museum.
Hellenistic culture in the Indian subcontinent: Greek clothes, amphoras, wine and music (Detail of Chakhil-i-Ghoundi stupa, Hadda, Gandhara, 1st century AD).
Intaglio gems engraved in the northwest of India (2nd century BCE-2nd century CE).
Seated Buddha, Gandhara, 2nd century (Ostasiatisches Museum, Berlin)
Stone palette depicting a mythological scene, 2nd–1st century BC.
Cupro-nickel coins of king Pantaleon point to a Chinese origin of the metal.
Athena in the art of Gandhara, displayed at the Lahore Museum, Pakistan
Strato I in combat gear, making a blessing gesture, circa 100 BC.
The Indo-Scythian Taxila copper plate uses the Macedonian month of "Panemos" for calendrical purposes (British Museum).
Hellenistic couple from Taxila (Guimet Museum)
The story of the Trojan horse was depicted in the art of Gandhara. (British Museum).
Foreigner on a horse. The medallions are dated circa 115 BC.
Lakshmi with lotus and two child attendants, probably derived from [[:File:Venus with two cupids 2.jpg|similar images of Venus]]<ref>An Indian Statuette From Pompeii, Mirella Levi D'Ancona, in Artibus Asiae, Vol. 13, No. 3 (1950) p. 171</ref>
Female riding a Centaur.
Lotus within Hellenistic beads and reels motif.
Floral motif.
Entrance pillars
Pillar capital
Standing Buddha
Philoxenus (c. 100 BC), unarmed, making a blessing gesture.
Nicias making a blessing gesture.
Various blessing gestures: divinities (top), kings (bottom).

Finally, Demetrius may have been the founder of a newly discovered Yavana era, starting in 186/5 BC.

Azes I

Indo-Scythian ruler who ruled around c. 48/47 BCE – 25 BCE with a dynastic empire based in the Punjab and Indus Valley, completed the domination of the Scythians in the northwestern Indian subcontinent.

Coin of Azes I. Obv: Azes I in military dress, on a horse, with couched spear. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΖΟΥ "of the Great King of Kings Azes". British Museum.
Coin of Azes with Demeter and Hermes.

It is believed that the Greek era may have begun in 173 BCE, exactly 300 years before the first year of the Era of Kanishka.

Azes era

Named after the Indo-Scythian king, "King Azes the Great" or Azes I.

The Sūryaprajñaptisūtra, an astronomical work written in Jain Prakrit language (in Devanagari book script), c. 1500

The Azes era was recently connected to the Yavana era thanks to the Rukhana reliquary inscription.

Diodotus III Plato

Greco-Bactrian king who reigned under the regnal name of Diodotus III for a short time in southern Bactria during the mid 2nd century BCE.

Tetradrachm of Diodotus Platon. 
Obv: Diademed bust. 
Rev: Sun divinity Helios, riding a four-horse chariot. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ ΠΛΑΤΩΝΟΣ (BASILEOS EPIPHANOYS PLATONOS) "Of King Diodotos Platonos, Manifestation of God on earth". Coin marked MZ, which possibly is a dating which equals year 47 Yavana era = 138 BCE
Coin of Diodotus Platon. 
Obv: Diademed bust. 
Rev: Sun divinity Helios, riding a chariot with four horses. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ ΠΛΑΤΩΝΟΣ (BASILEOS EPIPHANOYS PLATONOS) "Of King Platonos, Manifestation of God on earth". Coin marked MT, which possibly is a dating which equals year 49 Yavana era = 136 BCE
Obv: Diademed bust of Platon. 
Rev: Sun divinity Helios, riding a four-horse chariot. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ ΠΛΑΤΩΝΟΣ (BASILEOS EPIPHANOYS PLATONOS) "Of the King, Manifestation of God on earth". Coin marked MN, which possibly is a dating which equals year 48 Yavana era = 137 BCE

Some of Plato's coins have inscriptions which may possibly be interpreted as dates using the Indo-Greek era which started around 186 BCE.


Indo-Scythian king of the Apracas who ruled in the north-western region of ancient India, located in Bajaur of modern Pakistan.

Vijayamitra riding in armour, holding a whip. Like many other Indo-Scythians, Vijayamitra did not issue portraits.
Silver coin of Vijayamitra in the name of Azes. Buddhist triratna symbol in the left field on the reverse.
Apracaraja Vijayamitra.
Apracaraja Vijayamitra.

Vijayamitra is mentioned in a recently discovered inscription in Kharoshthi on a Buddhist reliquary (the "Rukhana reliquary", published by Salomon in 2005), which gives a relationship between several eras of the period, and especially gives confirmation of a Yavana era in relation to the Azes era:

Yavanarajya inscription

Discovered in the village of Maghera, 17 kilometers north of Mathura, India in 1988.

The Indo-Greek king Menander I.

The inscription is in Brahmi script, and is significant because it mentions that it was made in Year 116 of the Yavanarajya ("Kingdom of the Yavanas"), and proves the existence of a "Yavana era" in ancient India.

Rukhuna reliquary

Scythian reliquary which was dedicated and inscribed in 16 CE by Rukhuna, Queen of Indo-Scythian king Vijayamitra .

The Darunta reliquary from Passani Stupa No.2 is structurally similar to the Rukhuna reliquary, especially with the inside compartments.<ref name="RS">{{cite book |last1=Salomon |first1=Richard |title=A New Inscription dated in the "Yona" (Greek) Era of 186/5 B.C. |date=2005 |publisher=Brepols |isbn=978-2-503-51681-3 |pages=359–400 |url=http://www.brepols.net/Pages/ShowProduct.aspx?prod_id=IS-9782503516813-1}}</ref>
Another similar example: the Bimaran casket. This reliquary is inscribed on the outside, rather than the inside.
Broadly similar stone containers with compartments from Ai-Khanoum, 2nd century BCE.<ref name="HF">{{cite book |last1=Falk |first1=Harry |title=Buddhistische Reliquienbehälter aus der Sammlung Gritli von Mitterwallner |date=2015 |page=135 |url=https://www.academia.edu/20438939 |language=en}}</ref>
Stone vessels (pyxides) from the Temple with niches, Sanctuary of Ai-Khanoum, 3rd-2nd century BCE.

The inscription on the reliquary, also called the Bajaur reliquary inscription, was published by Richard Salomon with a photograph in 2005, and gives a relationship between several eras of the period, and especially a confirmation of a Yavana era (Yoṇaṇa vaṣaye) in relation to the Azes era, that is "Azes era= Yavana era - 128 years".

Loriyan Tangai

Archaeological site in the Gandhara area of Pakistan, consisting of many stupas and religious buildings where many Buddhist statues were discovered.

A Loriyan Tangai Stupa (reenactment).
close-up pictures

The era in question is not specified, but it is now thought, following the discovery of the Bajaur reliquary inscription, that it is about the Yavana era beginning in 174 BCE, and gives a date for the Buddha statue of about 143 CE.

Mitra dynasty (Mathura)

The Mitra dynasty refers to a group of local rulers whose name incorporated the suffix "-mitra" and who are thought to have ruled in the area of Mathura from around 150 BCE to 50 BCE, at the time of Indo-Greek hegemony over the region, and possibly in a tributary relationship with them.

Coin of Menander I with elephant and Heraklian club.
The Yavanarajya inscription, dated to "year 116 of Yavana hegemony", probably 70 or 69 BCE. Mathura Museum.
It is thought that the Shungas did not rule in Mathura.

The inscription would date to the 116th year of the Yavana era (thought to start in 186–185 BCE) which would give it a date of 70 or 69 BCE.