Научная статья на тему 'Mithridates i’s conquest of western Greek-Baktria'

Mithridates i’s conquest of western Greek-Baktria Текст научной статьи по специальности «История и археология»

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Аннотация научной статьи по истории и археологии, автор научной работы — Lerner Jeffrey D.

В статье предложен возможный маршрут вторжения Митридата I, который вторгся в Греко-Бактрию, вслед за более ранними подобными кампаниями Александра Великого и Антиоха III. Это позволяет автору выяснить, какие регионы страны и у кого были захвачены. Полученный результат дает ключ к новой реконструкции парфянско-бактрийских отношений во II в. до н.э.

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Текст научной работы на тему «Mithridates i’s conquest of western Greek-Baktria»



M. Gelin

Takht-i Sangin, in the south of modern Tajikistan and in the north of ancient Bactria, is located on the right bank of Amu Darya River, on a narrow land between Teshik Tosh Mountain in the west, and in the east of the river. The excavations were carried out by several expeditions which mainly concentrated on the Oxus Temple (the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD). French-Tajik Association (Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnology, Sciences Academy of Tajikistan and French National Centre for Scientific Research) has done preliminary researches in 2014, to clarify the nature and the evolution of the urban area, in order to obtain additional data on the Bactrian cities of which the closest geographically and chronologically are Bactria, Ai Khanum, Termez. Topographical and geophysical surveys were made, which we intend to continue expanding their geomorphological and geological studies. At the same time exploration was carried out in order to follow the route of archaeological excavations on two ramparts (closest to the temple). These studies are still at an early stage, but they allow us to hope for good results with the continuation of our research.

Key words: Takht-i Sangin, Ancient Bactria, Oxus Temple, urban area, fortifications, geophysics

© 2015

J. D. Lerner


В статье предложен возможный маршрут вторжения Митридата I, который вторгся в Греко-Бактрию, вслед за более ранними подобными кампаниями Александра Великого и Антиоха III. Это позволяет автору выяснить, какие регионы страны и у кого были захвачены. Полученный результат дает ключ к новой реконструкции парфян-ско-бактрийских отношений во II в. до н.э.

Ключевые слова: Митридат I, Греко-Бактрия, Евкратид I, Александр Македонский, Антиох III

There is a great deal that we do not know about Mithridates' campaign in western Greek-Baktria. What little information we do have is gleaned from just a few scattered sources. It appears that when Mithridates I ascended the throne upon the death of his brother, Phraates I, the Parthian kingdom included Khorasan, Gorgan, and southwestern Turkmenistan. According to Justin (41.6.1-3), at about the same time that he began his reign, Eukratides I usurped the Greek-Baktrian throne from Demetrios, the last of the Euthydemids. (Eodem ferme tempore, sicut in Parthis Mithridates, ita in Bactris Eucratides, magni uterque viri, regana ineunt.) Of the two, the Parthians prospered,

Lerner Jeffrey D. — professor Department of History, Wake Forest University. E-mail: lernerjd@wfu.edu

* I would like to thank Marek J. Olbrycht and J. Clark for their many valuable comments on a draft of this article, although any shortcomings and failings remain that of the author.

rising to the apex of their power under the leadership of Mithridates. (Sed Parthorun fortuna felicior ad summum hoc duce imperii fatigium eos perduxit.) The reason is that the Greek-Baktrians were overwhelmed by numerous wars with the Sogdians, Arachosians, Drangians, Areians, and Indians which resulted not only in the loss of their liberty but of their kingdom by the Parthians. (Bactriani autem per varia bella iactai non regnum tantum, verum etiam libertatem amiserunt, siquidem Sogdianorum et Arachotorum et Drangarum et Areorum Indorumque bellis fatigati adpostremum ad invalidioribus Parthis velut exsangues oppressi sunt.) Justin (41.6.5) adds that upon his return from a successful campaign in India, Eukratides was murdered by his son, whom he does not name, adding only that he had been acting as co-regent during the interim. (Unde cum se reciperet, afilio, quem socium regni fecerat, in itinere interficitur, qui non dissimulato parricidio, velut hostem, non patrem interfecisset, et per sanguinem eius currum egit et corpus abici insepultum iussit.) Moreover, Strabon (11.11.2 [516-517]), following the noted historian of Parthian and Greek-Baktrian history Apollodoros of Artemita, remarks that the Greek-Baktrians had divided the country into a series of satrapies. As part of their conquest of Baktria, the Parthians took from Eukratides two satrapies: Aspionos/Aspiones and Tourioua. (oi Sè Kaxaaxôvxeç aùrrçv "EMnveç Kai siç aaxpaneiaç SvAp^Kaaiv, œv x^v xs Aamœvou Kai x^v Toupiomv a^pnvxo EÙKpaxiS^v oi napGuafoi.) Finally, we learn from Moses of Khorene (2.68) that Mithridates I, "Arshak...called the Great," went to Balkh (Baktra)1.

Consequently, at some point after succeeding to the throne, Mithridates invaded the Greek-Baktrian realm of Eukratides I which was still experiencing or had recently undergone a series of rebellions2. The encounter proved successful for Mithridates, who presumably marched as far east as Baktra and was able to incorporate the satrapies of Aspionos/Aspiones and Tourioua. It is unknown, however, whether Eukratides or his son who was then co-regent swore an oath of allegiance to the Parthian king. In any event, during his triumphant return, Eukratides was slain by this same son whom he had left in charge. Mithridates' war against Greek-Baktria represents his first military campaign dated variously between 163 and 150 BCE3. As for Mithridates he afterward turned his attention westward where by 148/147 BCE4 he eventually succeeded in annexing Media assigning Bagasis or Vacasis, perhaps his brother, as the satrap of both Media and Atropatene prior to his return to Hyrkania5.


The success that Mithridates enjoyed raises a number of questions about the events that had occurred in Greek-Baktria prior to his arrival. To do so, we must revisit Justin's

1 Moses of Khorene, Langlois. For a discussion of this event, including the identification of Baktra in Moses and other sources in connection with the historiographical tradition of the Arsakids, see Assar 2006, 72-73.

2 Bopearachchi 1991, 65-66.

3 Komejiem» 1972, 97-98; Rtveladze 2011, 149 date the event 160-150 BCE; Olbrycht 2010, 237 prefers 163-155 BCE with n.42 for references to dates proposed by others in close proximity. For a discussion on 140-138 BCE; Altheim, Stiehl 1970, 581-583; Jenkins 1951, 16-17; Komejiemo 1972, 97; cf. Sève 2013, 219.

4 Justin 41.6.7. On the date of the conquest of Media, Bivar 1983, 33.

5 Assar 2001a, 41; 2001b, 17-22. The evidence largely depends on a Babylonian document dated to "about 165 B.C." that mentions Pilinusu "the strategos of Akkad" went to Media to report to the "brother of the king" Baga-Asa (i.e., the Vacasis of Justin 41.6.7), Simonetta, Widemann 1978, 162 n.9.

Epitome. One of the striking features of this text is how in his apparent attempt to reduce Trogus' work Justin tends to muddle the very events that he attempts to convey. Nowhere is this more acute than in the very passage that concerns us (41.6.1-5). This section begins with his attempt to form a kind of synchronization of the beginning of the reigns of Mithridates I and Eukratides I (41.6.1), followed by a statement that fortune favored the Parthians more than the Greek-Baktrians (41.6.2), that the latter were involved in myriad conflicts and as if exhausted were overcome by the weaker Parthians (41.6.3). We then learn that after a five months' siege by Demetrios the king of Greek-Baktria, Eukratides broke free and subsequently reduced India under his power (41.6.4), but upon his return he was assassinated by his son (41.6.5). The events as they are described appear out of order. On the one hand, the Greek-Baktrians were plagued with numerous rebellions and were conquered by the Parthians (41.6.3). On the other hand, we are informed that these same events were superseded by Demetrios' siege of Eukratides in an unidentified city, which he was somehow able to escape, whereupon he conquered India (41.6.4).

The sequence of events, however, make more sense if we place them in proper chronological order:

1. Eodem ferme tempore, sicut in Parthis Mithridates, ita in Bactris Eucratides, magni uterque viri, regna ineunt.

4. Multa tamen Eucratides bella magna virtute gessit, quibus adtritus cum obsidionem Demetrii, regis Indorum, pateretur, cum CCC militibus LX milia hostium adsiduis eruptionibus vicit.

3. Bactriani autem per varia bella iactati non regnum tantum, verum etiam libertatem amiserunt, siquidem Sogdianorum etArachotorum etDrancarum etAreorum Indorumque

4. Quinto itaque mense liberatus [i.e., Eucratides] Indiam inpotestatem redegit.

2. Sed Parthorum fortuna felicior ad summum hoc duce imperii fastigium eos perduxit.

3. bellis fatigati [i.e., Bactriani] ad postremum ab Invalidioribus Parthis velut

exsangues oppressi sunt.

5. Vnde cum se reciperet, a filio, quem socium regni fecerat, in itinere interficitur, qui non dissimulato parricidio, velut hostem, non patrem interfecisset, et per sanguinem eius currum egit et corpus abici insepultum iussit.

In this scenario, we begin with the attempted synchronization of the two sovereigns (1), followed by various battles undertaken by Eukratides, apparently during his rebellion, which culminated in his escape from a five months' siege in an unnamed city by the Greek-Baktrian king Demetrios, who is here referred to as the king of the Indians (4). As a result of Eukratides' successful usurpation of the throne, he was confronted by a series of regional revolts waged by the Sogdians, Arachosians, Drancae, and Arei (3).

We do not know whether these revolts were successful, leaving the kingdom splintered or if Eukratides was able to put down revolts thereby allowing him to launch his Indian campaign (4). It was during his absence that the Parthians under the leadership of Mithridates grew in power (2), and took advantage of Eukratides' absence to invade Greek-Baktria (3). During Eukratides' absence, the kingdom experienced a further erosion of its territory with the loss to the Parthians ofthe satrapies of Aspionos/Aspiones and Tourioua mentioned by Strabon (11.11.2 [516-517]), culminating with Mithridates' march on Baktra, if Moses of Khorene (2.68) is to be believed. No doubt these were the events that caused Eukratides' son as co-regent to assassinate him, and even to treat the corpse with such violent disrespect (5). By all appearances when Eukratides left for his conquest south of the Hindu Kush against the Indo-Greeks he did so leaving behind him a kingdom that was greatly diminished and still highly fractious. The responsibility of confronting Mithiridates' unexpected invasion fell to his son. If coins are any indication, three individuals succeeded Eukratides — Eukratides II, Platon, and Heliokles I - of whom one may have served as co-regent, fought Mithridates, and committed the patricide6. On this basis, Heliokles stands out as the best candidate, since his coins, like those of Eukratides, are plentiful and widely imitated north of the Oxos7.


This reconstruction raises a number of questions, not least of which is the location of the satrapies Aspionos (Aspiones) and Tourioua8, the extent of Mithridates' acquisition of Baktria, and thus the enlargement of the Parthian kingdom. In this regard, it is instructive to look back at the routes taken in two previous invasions of Baktria and its neighboring regions. The first occurred almost two centuries earlier by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE. The second transpired only about a half-century before and was no doubt still fresh in the minds of those who had lived through it. This was the anabasis of Antiochos III in 208-206 BCE. In both cases, the routes would have been identical had not unexpected circumstances developed during Alexander's anabasis.

When Alexander left Zadracarta, he made for the city of Susia (modern Tus near Mashhad) where he rested his army and met Satibarzanes, the satrap of Areia (Arrian 3.25.1-6; Curtius 6.6.13)9. From Susia Alexander made his way to the city ofArtacoana,

6 Bopearachchi 1991, 72-76, 217-225. Although arguments in favor of one or another have been made, the question is far from certain. E.g., Bernard 1985, 97-98; 1994, 101, 103; Leriche 1986, 83-84; Narain 1989, 402.

7 The best work on the imitations of the coins of Eukratides and Heliokles remains 3eftMant 1983, 93-128 with bibliography.

8 On the whereabouts of Aspionos/Aspiones and Tourioua, see the discussions of Tarn 1930, 122-126; Debevoise 1938, 19; Tarn 1951, 87-88, 114, 219, 292-293; Bivar 1983, 33; cf. Koshelenko, Bader, Gaibov 1996, 138. By the time the Avestan term Tuirya "Turanians" (Yast 13.143) appears the meaning had become a generic reference to "the ever-present national enemy of the Iranians" and in post-Avestan traditions they were regarded as dwelling north of the Oxos, "the river separating them from the Iranians" and were associated with various nomads who in the historic period continuously invaded Iran from the northeast (Yarshater 1983, 409; cf. Altheim, Stiehl 1970, 576-577, who locate the satrapies on the Baktrian-Parthian border with "Turiua irgendwo zwischen Ochos-Tejend und Margos-Murgab," see also 390).

9 Arrian (3.25.1) mistakenly situates Susia in Aria for the same reason that Strabo (11.11.4 [517-518]) erroneously places the rock of Sisimithres in Baktria: the former assumed that since the satrap of Areia, Satibarzanes, met Alexander in Susia, the city must have been in Areia and not as it actually was in Parthia; the latter conjectured that as the Baktrian nobleman Oxyartes and his followers, including Rhoxana, fled to the stronghold of Sisimithres, it must have been located in Baktria, not as it truly was in Sogdiana.

later Alexandria Ariana (near modern Herat) (Curtius 6.6.19). According to Strabo (15.2.8 [723]; cf. Curtius 6.6.18-21), a revolt by Satibarzanes prevented Alexander from taking the most direct route to Baktra (Balkh) that led through the Hindu Kush (Paropamisadae) into Ortospana ('Opxoanava; cf. 11.8.9 [514])10, where three roads (^ sk BaKxprov xpioSog) traversing Baktria converged. Alexander was compelled to follow the more roundabout route towards the south through Drangiana and Arachosia to the road that led to Kabul by way of the Hindu Kush.

In the second invasion, Polybios informs us that almost a century and a quarter later as Antiochos III was besieging a city - prehaps the Hyrkanian capital of Sirynx - (10.28.7-10.31.6), he learned that the Greek-Baktrian king Euthydemos I had set up a defense to the south in anticipation of the Seleukid's arrival. Euthydemos stationed his cavalry on the left, western bank of the river Arios guarding the river's ford, while he and his army encamped before the city of Tapuria (Tanoupia) (10.49.1-2; cf. Strabo 11.8.8; 11.9.1; 11.11.8; 11.13.3). Antiochos straightaway broke off his siege, and at a moderate rate arrived at the ford after a three days' march. Since the cavalry retired some twenty stades to Tapuria at night, Antiochos was able to have his army cross the river unmolested. Thereupon a battle between both sides ensued with Antiochos the victor. Euthydemos and the remainder of his army quickly retired to the Baktrian city of Zariaspa (sig noHiv Zapiaanav x^g BaKxpiav^g) (10.49.3-15).

With these two events as a backdrop, we can more easily understand the route that Mithridates might well have taken against Eukratides. Having departed from either Hyrkania or Parthia, he would have made his way southward until he reached the same ford that Alexander and Antiochos must have used to cross the Arios in their campaigns. Making his way eastward to the city of Tapuria/Tourioua in Areia about twenty stades distant, he would have then taken the most direct route northward across the Hindu Kush to the city of Ortospana in Baktria from where he may have made his way to another Baktrian city, Baktra or Zariaspa, where Mithridates presumably routed the army of Eukratides. Afterward, he would have returned through the satrapy of Aspionos/Aspiones.

An examination of Strabo's passage (11.11.2 [516-517]) in which the two "lost satrapies" — Aspionos/Aspiones and Tourioua - are mentioned reveals that there are discrepancies in the textual tradition as we have it.11 We find, for example, that besides Radt's resolution of x^v xs Aamrovou Kai x^v Toupiouav, there are other versions: x^v xs x&v Aamrov Kai x^v x&v roupairov; x^v xs Mapyiav&v Kai x^v Tanuprov vel x^v xs Mapyiav^v Kai x^v Tanupiav. Moreover, the spelling of Tourioua itself is inconsistent, appearing variously as Tanupiav, Toupi(ou)avou, Toupioua, and Toupioua. The English rendition of Turiva, however, is based on the reading of Toupiouav by Jones in his translation of the text in the Loeb edition12.

10 An alternative rendition appears as Kapouna ^ Kai 'Opxoanava, Ptol. 6.18.5; Amm. Marc. 23.6; Pliny 6.17 who records Ortospanum. According to Smith, (s.v. Ortospana) the earlier editions of Ptolemy (6.18.3) contain a reference to a people called KaPoHxai. This was changed by Nobbe to BroHxai, hence Kabul as noted by Lassen 1847 I, 29 and has subsequently become the standard (e.g., Ptolemaios, Ronca 1971, 67; Ptolemy, Humbach ,Ziegler 1998, 224, 225). Thus besides the road through the pass in the Hindu Kush, the others may have included one that went past Bamian and another that ran "from Anderab to Khawar." On problems of locating the whereabouts of the city, Fraser 1996, 140-145 with ns.72-74.

11 Radt 2004, (Strabon 11.11.2 [516-517]) 356, 33 sq. apparatus criticus. For an overview of the earlier literature, see Lerner 1999, 47-50.

12 Jones 1928 (Strabon 11.11.2 [516-517]).

As a result, a few patterns emerge. Chief among them is when Aspionos/Aspiones appears either as the genitive masculine singular Aamrovou or as the genitive plural Aanirov, it is paired with Toupiomv or roupairov, respectively. Alternatively, Aamrovou and Aamrov are replaced by Mapyiav^v or Mapyiav&v. It would seem, therefore, that there is a correspondence between Aanirov and Mapyiav&v in that they refer to the name of a people and thus the name of the satrapy in which the inhabitants resided. On the other hand, the masculine genitive singular Aamrovou seems to indicate the name of the satrap, while the feminine accusative singular Mapyiav^v emphasizes the name of a satrapy. It would seem that Aspionos/Aspiones and Margiana are similar in that they emphasize the same place albeit using different terms to do so.

Tourioua has been variously amended, of which the most illuminating is Meneke's edition in which we find x^v Tanupiav instead of x^v Toupiomv13. The result is a concurrence of the spelling of this city in Strabon with the one that forms Polybios' account of the location where Euthydemos positioned his troops prior to Antiochos III's arrival (10.49.1). In this case, it should be understood that both are transliterations of the same Iranian name. We may suppose that at some point a different spelling appeared, in which Tourioua is closer to the original than the more Greek-sounding Tapuria. It is, of course, impossible to know when in the course of the textual transmission this difference occurred. Moreover, Kiessling was the first to propose the reading of xa Toupiava (cf. roupairov above) for Tapuria which he identified with Ghurian on the river Hari-rud, or Arios west of modern Herat14. Consequently, we may regard Tourioua/Tapuria (Turiva) as synonymous for both the name of the city and satrapy in western Areia which was conquered by Alexander, Antiochos III, and Mithridates I. Olbrycht has identified this region of Areia as the location of the Masdoranoi who were in rebellion against Eukratides when Mithridates arrived and were incorporated as part of the Parthian kingdom during his campaign in Greek-Baktria15.

According to Abdullaev16, Mithridates' conquests included the middle course of the Amu Darya as far north as Old Chaijou and Mirzabekkal. If Aspinos/Aspiones, was the name of the satrap who governed the satrapy of Margiana, then we may assume that by the time of Mithridates' campaign the territory which fell under the jurisdiction of Margiana had diminished to a portion of the southwestern Karakum. It would have included the length of the river Ochos or Kelif Uzboi where the Oxos bifurcated. Since the Parthians controlled the region west of Merv, the Greek-Baktrians would have administered the section of the Ochos from Kelif to Merv.17 Margiana would have likewise commanded the section of the middle Oxos that extended northward from Kelif to Old Charjou and Mirzabekkal along the middle Oxos where the Oxos again bifurcated to form the Unguz or Uzboi proper. From here the district's border returned to Margiana along the

13 Meineke 1969 (1877): Strabon 11.11.2 (516-517).

14 Kiessling 1940, Guriane, cols. 1945-1946; Kiessling 1940, Hyrkania cols. 484, 493f.; Walbank 1967 ii, 265 for a complete discussion.

15 Olbrycht 2010, 234. The Masdoranoi appear in Ptol. Geogr. 6.17.3; cf. 6.5.1.

16 Abdullaev 1999, 6-7.

17 Koshelenko, Bader, Gaibov 1996, 135. Like Alexander before him, Mithridates would have traveled along the Ochos (Kelif Ochos) perhaps by a combination of land and water to reach Margiana (Lerner forthcoming).

ancient trade route that ran from Margiana to Samarkand by way of Bukhara.18 The Uzboi originally formed the natural boundary between Greek-Baktria in the south and Khorezm in the north. Mithridates' conquest enlarged the Parthian kingdom. It was now bordered by the Uzboi in the north, much of the Caspian Sea in the west, the Oxos in the east, and the entire extent of the Ochos (Kelif Uzboi) in the south. It was along the southern bank of the Uzboi that the Parthians between the second century BCE and first century CE founded their most northerly fortress at Igdy-qala on the border of Khorezm in order to safeguard the lucrative commercial waterways from the west and south and the overland caravan routes coming from the north and east19.

It is difficult, however, to agree with Rtveladze20 that Tourioua was situated in western Afghanistan in the vicinity of Mazar-i Sharif, Tillya Tepe, and Old Termez, based on a few coin finds dating to Mithridates II, or that Baktra was the satrapal seat of Aspionos/Aspiones, particularly as it is based on the flawed etymological argument of Tourioua<Tariab<Fariab21. The archaeological record has yielded precious few objects that offer conclusive evidence that the Parthians ever occupied the Oxos valley east of Kelif. Certainly, objects have been found, including Parthian coins and their imitations, small works of applied art, a sculpted head from Khalchyan, a terracotta statuette from Kampyrtepa, a kilns, and sepulchers.22 That some of these objects may bear attributes that one might identify as exhibiting Parthian influence does not by itself warrant sufficient evidence to conclude that they are manifestations of a Parthian occupation of the Oxos valley beyond the eastern borders of Margiana. On the other hand, Rtveladze is correct by not dismissing the notion that these few cultural objects might have been trade goods that were brought to various sites in the Oxos valley, such as Kampyrtepa, Old Termez, and elsewhere by merchants traveling from the Mediterranean through Central Asia and India to China and vice versa. Even if a coin had been found which could be attributed to Mithridates I and not as is the case to his successors, it would still not indicate that he incorporated this region. The same holds true of the coins of his successors: they do not indicate Parthian control of the Oxos valley east of Margiana. Moreover, it is all the more difficult to argue that this region formed part of Pathia given the uncertainty of dating most of these objects.

18 Coin finds at Merv confirm that the oasis had passed into Parthian hands. They do not, however, indicate when this transference of power took place. The oldest coins belong to Phraates II, the successor of Mithridates I, and seem to have been minted locally. Chiefly on this basis it is inferred that Mithridates I captured Margiana at some point in his reign. Longinov, Nikitin 1996, 40; Dqbrowa 1998, 36 n.9; 2006, 38; Olbrycht 2010, 237-238; cf. Smirnova 1996, 267-270 who is less certain about the role that Mithridates I played based solely on numismatics. For the contrarian views that Mithridates I may have not seized Margiana, see Olbrycht 2010, 237 n.43.

19 In one of its later incarnations, the fort has tentatively been identified as the capital of the Kidarites, known as Balkhan or Bolo-Balaam. Thus, Pilipko 1972, 78-86; 1973, 60-64; Yusupov 1975, 69; Pilipko 1975, 78-98; Yusupov 1979, 53-58; 1984, 91-94; 1986, 154-207, esp. 181-194, 207; Olbrycht 1998, 25-26; Yagodin 2007, 51; contra Grenet 2002, 211. Rtveladze conjectures that the fort might have been a Greek-Baktrian foundation, PTBejag3e 2012, 84. Vainberg supposes that the fortress Igdy-qala by the 4th century CE had ceased to exist (Vainberg 1999, 257); cf. Yusupov 1976, 40-46; Vainberg 1991, 129-141.

20 Rtveladze 1995, 184-185; PTBejiagje 2012, 83-84.

21 Similarly, Abdullaev's association of Medieval Kasbi with Aspionos/Aspiones in Kashkadarya, Uzbekistan and his identification of the satrapy of Tourioua with Tarab in the Bukharan oasis suffers from a lack of evidence to justify this contention, particularly as it, too, is based on a misleading etymological reconstruction (A6gyjraaeB 2010, 46-47).

22 Rtveladze 2011, esp. 158-165; PTBejiagje 2012, 139-156.

Finally, there is the issue of Baktria itself and how much of the country, including the city of Baktra-Zariaspa, Mithridates I might have seized from Eukratides I. It is worthwhile to return to the sources. Upon entering Baktria, Mithridates made his way to the city of Baktra (Moses of Khorene 2.68) where the Greek-Baktrians, engaged in a series of insurrections with Sogdians in the north and Arachosians, Drangians, Areians, and Indians to the south, had grown fatigued and lost their kingdom to the Parthians (Justin 41.6.3), including the satrapy of Aspionos/Aspiones and Tourioua (Strabon 11.11.2 [516-517]). The question is what in this particular context does Justin mean when he states that Bactriani autem per varia bella iactati non regnum tantum, verum etiam libertatem amiserunt... bellis fatigati ad postremum ab invalidioribus Parthis velut exsangues oppressi sunt. While it is possible that the Parthians subdued Greek-Baktria and turned Eukratides into a sort of vassal or even the country's satrap, it is not likely. We may assume that a battle of some sort was indeed fought in western Baktria which Eukratides lost to his Parthian aggressor. But it need not necessarily follow that the region was incorporated into Mithridates' kingdom. Certainly, there is no indication of this from the Baktrian side, if the legends on Eukratides' coins are any indication, for he never intimates anything but his authority as king either in Greek (BAIIAEQI MErAAOY, BAHAEQI MEEAI, BAHAEQI, BAHAEQI IQTHPOI) or in Kharosthi (KAVISIYE NAGARA DEVATA, MAHARAJASA, MAHARAJASA RAJATIRAJASA, RAJASA MAHATAKASA)23. How then to account for this apparent contradiction?

The solution might be found in Polybios' account of the peace that was reached between Antiochos III and Euthydemos I in 206 BCE at the conclusion of the siege of Baktra. Polybios reports that the two former combatants swore an alliance (au^axiav evopKov, 11.34.10) and Antiochos in arranging the terms of the peace with Euthdemos' son Demetrios agreed to allow the father to retain the royal title (Ssuxspov Ss auvsxrapnos xro naxpi to x^g Paoi^siag ovo^a, 11.34.9). There is no reason that a similar agreement might not have been reached between Mithridates and Eukratides with similar results. A battle may have been fought with Mithridates as the victor acknowledged by Eukratides who swore an oath of fidelity to him. Mithridates probably only possessed the extreme western portion of Baktria that bordered on Aria and Margiana. A region that was well to the west of Baktra, Mazar-i Sharif, Old Termez, and Kampyrtepa, but may have included Tillya Tepe. From all indications, once Mithridates left, bringing his campaign to Margiana, he ceased to exercise any further authority over Eukratides and his son. The conquest of Baktria proper then amounted to little more than a Pyrrhic victory: when Mithridates left for Margiana, he probably controlled only the extreme western portion of the country. There is no indication on any Greek-Baktrian coin or any other piece of evidence that he had ever incorporated Baktria as a satrapy. He had, however, accomplished the goal of extending his kingdom eastward to include Areia — Tourioua/ Tapuria - in the south, western Baktria in the east, and Margiana — the satrapy of Aspionos/Aspiones - in the north.


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J. D. Lerner

The article suggests the possible route taken by Mithridates I when he invaded Greek-Baktria, based on the earlier campaigns of Alexander the Great and Antiochus III. This allows the author to identify which regions of the country were seized and from whom. The result leads to a new reconstruction of Parthian-Bactrian relations in the second century BC.

Key words: Mithridates I, Greek-Bactria, Eucratides I, Alexander the Great, Antiochus III

© 2015


Борода, наложенная на лицо Тюхе на троне на тетрадрахмах парфянского царя Фраата II — это знак высокого ранга богини, которая в восточных терминах может быть уподоблена парфянской Нане/Нанайе. Изображение относится к концепции ан-дрогинности Божества в «допотопные» времена, которое известно в религиях Ближнего Востока и Египта с древнейших времен. На Западе оно имеет значимые фигурные прецеденты поклонения образу бородатой Афродиты на Кипре и в Греции в архаическое время. Самая поздняя по времени бородатая богиня изображена на миниатюре из Раджастана XVIII века.

Ключевые слова: парфянская иконография, парфянские монеты, парфянская религия, андрогинные богини, Тюхе, Нана

Invernizzi Antonio — professor Emeritus and former Full Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology at the University of Torino, national member of the Academy of Sciences of Torino, president of the Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi of Torino until 2010. E-mail: inver41@libero.it

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