Achaemenid Satrapies > Gandhara

Gandhara

Background

The main Vedic tribes remaining in the Indus Valley by 550 BC were the Kamboja, Sindhu, Taksas of Gandhara, the Madras and Kathas of the River Chenab, Mallas of the River Ravi and Tugras of the River Sutlej. These several tribes and principalities fought against one another to such an extent that the Indus Valley no longer had one powerful Vedic tribal kingdom to defend against outsiders and to wield the warring tribes into one organized kingdom. The area was wealthy and fertile, yet infighting led misery and despair. King Pushkarasakti of Gandhara was engaged in power struggles against his local rivals and as such the Khyber Pass remained poorly defended.

King Darius I of the Achaemenid Empire took advantage of the opportunity and planned for an invasion. The Indus Valley was fabled in Persia for its gold and fertile soil and conquering it had been a major objective of his predecessor Cyrus The Great.[15] In 542 BC, Cyrus had led his army and conquered the Makran coast in southern Balochistan. However, he is known to have campaigned beyond Makran (in the regions of Kalat, Khuzdar, Panjgur) and lost most of his army in the Gedrosian Desert (speculated today as the Kharan Desert).

In 518 BC, Darius led his army through the Khyber Pass and southwards in stages, eventually reaching the Arabian Sea coast in Sindh by 516 BC. Under Persian rule, a system of centralized administration, with a bureaucratic system, was introduced into the Indus Valley for the first time. Provinces or "satrapy" were established with provincial capitals:

Gandhara satrapy, established 518 BC with its capital at Pushkalavati (Charsadda).[16] Gandhara Satrapy was established in the general region of the old Gandhara grave culture, in what is today Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. During Achaemenid rule, the Kharosthi alphabet, derived from the one used for Aramaic (the official language of Achaemenids), developed here and remained the national script of Gandhara until 200 AD.

The inscription on Darius' (521–486 BC) tomb at Naqsh-i-Rustam near Persepolis records Gadāra (Gandāra) along with Hindush (Hənduš, Sindh) in the list of satrapies. By about 380 BC the Persian hold on the region had weakened. Many small kingdoms sprang up in Gandhara. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great conquered Gandhara as well as the Indian satrapies of the Persian Empire. The expeditions of Alexander were recorded by his court historians and by Arrian (around AD 175) in his Anabasis Alexandri and by other chroniclers many centuries after the event.

Sir Mortimer Wheeler conducted some excavations there in 1962, and identified various Achaemenid remains.

Achaemenid Satrapies

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