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Outline of forgery
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/25/21
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_forgery

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to forgery:
Forgery – process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive.

Types of forgery

• Archaeological forgery
• Art forgery
• Black propaganda — false information and material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side
• Counterfeiting
o Counterfeit money — types of counterfeit coin include the cliché forgery, the fourrée and the slug
o Counterfeit consumer goods
o Counterfeit medication
o Counterfeit watches
o Unapproved aircraft parts
o Watered stock
• False documents
• Forgery as covert operation
• Identity document forgery
o Fake passport
• Literary forgery
o Fake memoirs
o Pseudopigraphy — the false attribution of a work, not always as an act of forgery
• Musical forgery — music allegedly written by composers of past eras, but actually composed later by someone else
• Philatelic forgery — fake stamps produced to defraud stamp collecters
• Signature forgery

Legality of forgery

Kenya


• Forgery of Foreign Bills Act 1803
• Forgery Act 1830
• Forgery, Abolition of Punishment of Death Act 1832
• Forgery Act 1837
• Forgery Act 1861
• Forgery Act 1870
• Forgery Act 1913
• Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981

International

• Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
• Council of Europe Convention on the Counterfeiting of Medical Products

Related offences

• Phishing — impersonating a reputable organization via electronic media, which often involves creating a replica of a trustworthy website
• Uttering — knowingly passing on a forgery with the intent to defraud

Detection and prevention of forgery

Anti-counterfeiting agencies and organisations


• Authentics Foundation - an international non-governmental organization that raises public awareness of counterfeits
• Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group — an international group of central banks that investigates emerging threats to the security of banknotes
• Counterfeit Coin Bulletin — a now-defunct publication of the American Numismatic Association
• Alliance Against Counterfeit Spirits — the trade association for the worldwide spirit industry's protection against counterfeit produce
• Philatelic Foundation — a major source of authentication of rare and valuable postage stamps
• United States Secret Service — the agency responsible for the prevention and investigation of counterfeit U.S. currency
• Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributors — a program that offers accreditation to wholesale pharmaceutical distribution facilities

Tools and techniques

• Authentication - the act of confirming the truth of an attribute of a single piece of data claimed true by an entity.
• Counterfeit banknote detection pen — uses an iodine-based ink that reacts with the starch found in counterfeit banknotes
• EURion constellation — a pattern of symbols incorporated into banknote designs, which can be detected by imaging software
• Geometric lathe — a 19th-century lathe used for making ornamental patterns on the plates used in printing banknotes and stamps
• Microprinting - very small text hidden on banknotes or cheques, that is difficult to accurately reproduce
• Optical variable device — an iridescent image that cannot be photocopied or scanned
• Optically variable ink — ink that appears to change color depending on the angle it is viewed from
• Philatelic expertisation — the process whereby an expert is asked to give an opinion whether a philatelic item is genuine
• Questioned document examination — a forensic science discipline that attempts to answer questions about disputed documents
• Security printing — the field of the printing industry that deals with the printing of items such as banknotes and identity documents
• Security thread — a thin ribbon threaded through a banknote, that appears as a solid line when held up to the light
• Taggant — a radio frequency microchip that can be tracked and identified
• Watermark — a recognizable image or pattern in paper that appears as various shades of lightness when viewed

Examples of forgery

Archaeological forgery


• Acámbaro figures — over 32,000 ceramic figurines which appear to provide evidence for the co-existence of dinosaurs and humans
• Archaeoraptor — the supposed "missing link" between birds and tetrapod dinosaurs; constructed by rearranging pieces of genuine fossils
• AVM Runestone — a student prank that was believed to be an ancient Norse runestone
• Beringer's Lying Stones — fake fossils that were planted as an 18th-century prank
• Brandenburg stone — a stone slab bearing markings which appear to be letters of an unknown alphabet
• Calaveras Skull — a human skull that was thought to prove the existence of Pliocene-age man in North America
• Cardiff Giant — a ten-foot-tall "petrified man" carved out of gypsum
• Chiemsee Cauldron — a golden cauldron found at the bottom of a lake
• Crystal skull — a series of artifacts crafted from quartz, often attributed to Aztec or Mayan civilizations
• Drake's Plate of Brass — supposedly a brass plaque planted by Francis Drake upon arrival in America, but a practical joke that spun out of control
• Grave Creek Stone — a small sandstone disk inscribed with twenty-five pseudo-alphabetical characters
• Holly Oak gorget — a mammoth engraved upon a shell pendant
• Ica stones — a collection of andesite stones that depict dinosaurs co-existing with humans
• Japanese Paleolithic hoax — many paleolithic finds manufactured by amateur archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura to bolster his reputation
• Kafkania pebble — a small rounded pebble bearing what could be an early example of Greek syllabic writing
• Kinderhook plates — six bell-shaped pieces of brass with strange engravings; Latter-Day Saints founder Joseph Smith allegedly attempted to translate them
• Lead Books of Sacromonte — a series of texts inscribed on circular lead leaves, denounced as heretical forgeries by the Vatican in 1682; modern scholars concur with this analysis
• Lenape Stone — an engraving that appears to show Native Americans hunting a woolly mammoth
• Michigan relics — artifacts that appear to prove that East Europeans lived in Michigan in ancient times; a money-making scam
• The inscription at Pedra da Gávea — allegedly carved by Phoenicians, who were not thought to have had the naval capacity to travel across the ocean to Brazil
• Persian Princess — the mummified body of a "Persian princess"; the corpse of a woman who was murdered around 1996
• Piltdown Man — the jaw of an orangutan attached to the skull of a human, hailed as the missing link between humans and apes
• Sherborne Bone — a bone with a horse's head engraved on it, now known to be a schoolboy prank
• Solid Muldoon — a "petrified human" made out of the mortar, rock dust, clay, plaster, ground bones, blood, and meat
• Spirit Pond runestones — small stones bearing runic inscriptions, ostensibly of pre-Columbian origin
• Tiara of Saitaferne — a tiara exhibited at the Louvre Museum as belonging to a Scythian king, until this statement was disputed by the goldsmith who created it
• Vinland map — an allegedly 15th-century map of the world, which would have been be the earliest map to depict America (or "Vinland")

Art forgery

• Amarna Princess — a statue created by Shaun Greenhalgh in the ancient Egyptian style, and sold to Bolton Museum for £439,767
• Black Admiral — a Revolutionary War-era painting of a black man in a naval uniform
• Bust of Flora — a bust of the Roman goddess Flora, previously believed to be a work by Leonardo da Vinci, now attributed to Richard Cockle Lucas.
• Camille Corot forgeries — thousands of imitation Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot paintings
• Eadred Reliquary — a silver vessel created by Shaun Greenhalgh, containing a piece of wood which he claimed was a fragment of the True Cross
• Etruscan terracotta warriors — three terracotta warriors created by Italian forgers and sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
• The Faun — a sculpture created by Shaun Greenhalgh and sold as a work by Paul Gauguin
• Flower portrait — a portrait of William Shakespeare, probably painted in the 19th century
• Michelangelo's Cupid — a sleeping Cupid sculpture that was created, artificially aged and sold by Renaissance artist Michelangelo
• Risley Park Lanx — the replica of a genuine Roman artifact, "discovered" by the Greenhalgh family and put on display at the British Museum
• Rospigliosi Cup — a gold and enamel cup thought to have been crafted by Italian goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, but now considered a 19th-century forgery
• The works of the Spanish Forger — an unidentified 19th-century artist who created over 200 medieval miniatures, which are still highly valued by collectors

Black propaganda

• The Franklin Prophecy — an anti-Semitic speech falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, arguing against the admittance of Jewish immigrants to the newly formed United States
• Morey letter — a letter published during the 1880 US presidential elections, suggesting that James A. Garfield was in favor of Chinese immigration
• Our Race Will Rule Undisputed Over The World — a speech given by the non-existent Rabbi Emanuel Rabinovich, outlining Jewish plans for world domination
• A Protocol of 1919 — a document supposedly found among the belongings of a Jew killed in battle, outlining Jewish plans for world domination
• The Protocols of the Elders of Zion — a lengthy text, originating in Russia and widely publicized by the Nazi party, outlining Jewish plans for world domination
• A Radical Program for the Twentieth Century — a text supposedly written by a British Jewish Communist, cited as proof that the civil rights movement in America was a foreign Communist plot
• Tanaka Memorial — an alleged Japanese strategic planning document, advising Emperor Hirohito on how to conquer the world

Counterfeiting

• 2012 Pakistan fake medicine crisis — a batch of counterfeit medicine that killed over 100 heart patients at a hospital in Punjab
• Counterfeit United States currency — some notable examples of counterfeit operations
• Fake Indian Currency Note — fake currency in circulation in the Indian economy
• Operation Bernhard — a Nazi plot to destabilize the British economy by dropping counterfeit notes out of aircraft
• Superdollar — a very high-quality counterfeit the United States hundred dollar bill
• Partnair Flight 394 — a chartered flight that crashed in 1989, killing all 55 people on board; it was caused by counterfeit aircraft parts
• Unauthorized Apple Stores in China — twenty-two unauthorized Apple Stores discovered in Kunming

Forged documents

• Canuck letter — a letter implying that a Democratic presidential candidate was prejudiced against French-Canadians
• Casket letters — letters and sonnets supposedly written by Mary, Queen of Scots, implicating her in the murder of her husband
• Donation of Constantine — a decree issued by emperor Constantine I, granting authority over Rome and part of the Roman Empire to Pope Sylvester I and his successors
• Dossiers Secrets — documents, planted in the National Library of France, that were used as the basis for a series of BBC documentaries
• Habbush letter — a letter linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks
• Killian documents — memos critical of President George W. Bush's service in the National Guard
• Larmenius Charter — a Latin manuscript listing twenty-two successive Grand Masters of the Knights Templar
• Lindsay pamphlet scandal — pamphlets distributed by the Australian Liberal Party, claiming an alliance between the Labor Party and an Islamic organization
• Mustafa-letter — a letter used by Norway's Liberal Party to prove that the country was in danger of being overrun with Muslims
• Niger uranium forgeries — documents implying that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase yellowcake uranium powder, allegedly to build weapons of mass destruction
• Oath of a Freeman — a copy of the loyalty oath drawn up by 17th-century Pilgrims
• Privilegium Maius — a medieval manuscript boosting the legitimacy and influence of the House of Habsburg
• Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals — letters and canons purportedly authored by early popes, including a collection authored by "Benedict Levita".
• William Lynch speech — a speech by an 18th-century slave owner, who claims to have discovered the secret of controlling slaves by pitting them against each other
• Zeno map — a map of the North Atlantic containing many non-existent islands
• Zinoviev letter — a directive from Moscow to Britain's Communist Party, calling for intensified communist agitation; the letter contributed to the downfall of Prime Minister MacDonald

Literary forgery

• The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ — a religious text supposedly transcribed from the Akashic records
• The Archko Volume — a series of supposedly contemporary reports relating to the life and death of Jesus
• Autobiography of Howard Hughes — an "autobiography" of reclusive eccentric Howard Hughes, written without his knowledge or consent
• Book of Jasher — an alternative account of the Old Testament narrative
• Book of Veles — a set of Slavic texts written on wooden planks
• Centrum Naturae Concentratum — a 17th-century alchemical text
• Christine — a compilation of letters purportedly written by an English girl studying in Germany in 1914, before the outbreak of war
• Chronicle of Huru — supposedly an official chronicle of the medieval Moldavian court
• Chronicon of Pseudo-Dexter — a 15th-century account of the Church's activities in Spain, attributed to Flavius Dexter
• De Situ Britanniae — an 18th-century forgery represented as a Roman account of ancient Britain
• Epistle to the Alexandrians — an unknown text derided as a forgery in a 7th-century manuscript
• Epistle to the Laodiceans — a lost letter of Saint Paul, often "rediscovered" by forgers
• Essene Gospel of Peace — a text which claims, among other things, that Jesus was a vegetarian
• Gospel of Josephus — a forgery created to raise publicity for a novel
• Historias de la Conquista del Mayab — a Mexican manuscript supposedly written by an 18th-century monk
• History of the Captivity in Babylon — an ostensibly Old Testament text elaborating on the Book of Jeremiah
• Hitler Diaries — a set of volumes purported to be the diaries of Adolf Hitler, serialized in the German magazine Stern and the British Sunday Times
• Ireland Shakespeare forgeries — forged correspondence between Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and a "lost play" entitled Vortigern and Rowena
• Jack the Ripper Diary — the forged diary of Victorian merchant James Maybrick, apparently revealing him to be Jack the Ripper
• Letter of Benan — the letter of an Egyptian physician describing his encounters with Jesus
• Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend — a letter in support of Zionism, attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.
• The Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles — the "missing" 29th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles
• Memoirs Of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy To The Middle East — a document purporting to be the account of an 18th-century secret agent, describing his role in founding the Islamic reform movement of Wahhabism
• Manuscripts of Dvůr Králové and Zelená Hora — fraudulent Slavic manuscripts created in the early 19th century
• Minuscule 2427 — a minuscule manuscript of the Gospel of Mark
• Mussolini diaries — several forged diaries supposedly written by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini
• My Sister and I — an autobiographical work attributed to the philosopher Nietzsche, containing a probably fictional account of his incestuous relationship with his sister
• Oahspe: A New Bible — a New Age bible written by an American dentist
• Ossianic poems — a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson, attributed to the legendary Ossian
• Roxburghe Ballads — over a thousand 17th-century ballads published by John Payne Collier, some of which he had written himself
• Salamander Letter — a document that offers an alternative account of Joseph Smith's finding of the Book of Mormon.
• Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses — a magical text supposedly written by Moses, providing instructions on how to perform the miracles portrayed in the Bible
• The Songs of Bilitis — a collection of erotic poetry allegedly found on the walls of a tomb in Cyprus
• Supplements to the Satyricon — several forged versions of the Latin novel Satyricon
• Talmud Jmmanuel — a supposedly ancient Aramaic text suggesting an extraterrestrial origin for the Bible
• The Zohar — a primary text of medieval Kabbalah, written by a 16th-century Spanish Rabbi but attributed to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, an ancient sage of the Second Temple period

Musical forgery

• Adélaïde Concerto — a violin concerto attributed to Mozart

Philatelic forgery

• Russian philatelic forgeries — some examples of notable Russian stamp forgeries
• Stock Exchange Forgery 1872-73 — a fraud perpetrated by telegraph clerks at the London Stock Exchange
• Turner Collection of Forgeries — a collection of forged postage stamps on display at the British Library

Forgery controversies

The authenticity of certain documents and artifacts has not yet been determined and is still the subject of debate.

• Augustan History — a collection of biographies of Roman emperors
• Bat Creek inscription — an inscription on a stone allegedly found in a Native American burial mound
• Isleworth Mona Lisa — a close imitation of da Vinci's Mona Lisa, sometimes attributed in part to da Vinci
• James Ossuary — a chalk box used to contain the bones of the dead, bearing the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus"
• Jehoash Inscription — an inscription confirming the Biblical account of the repairs made to the temple in Jerusalem by Jehoash
• Jordan Lead Codices — a series of ring-bound books of lead and copper, that are said to pre-date the writings of St. Paul
• Kensington Runestone — a slab of greywacke covered in Scandinavian runes, found in North America and supposedly carved in the 14th century
• Letter of Lentulus — an epistle allegedly written by a Roman Consul, giving a physical description of Jesus
• Majestic 12 documents — supposedly leaked papers relating to the formation, in 1947, of a secret committee of US officials to investigate the Roswell incident
• Mar Saba letter — an epistle, attributed to Clement of Alexandria, discussing the Secret Gospel of Mark
• Newark Holy Stones — a set of artifacts allegedly discovered among a group of ancient Indian burial grounds
• Old High German lullaby — a supposedly 10th-century poem containing numerous references to Germanic mythology
• Prophecy of the Popes — a series of 112 short cryptic phrases which purport to predict future Roman Catholic Popes
• Shroud of Turin — a linen cloth that is said to be the burial shroud of Jesus, and bears the image of a man who appears to have suffered injuries consistent with crucifixion
• Sinaia lead plates — a set of lead plates written in an unknown language
• Sisson documents — sixty-eight Russian documents which claim that Trotsky and Lenin were German agents attempting to bring about Russia's withdrawal from World War I
• Stalin's alleged speech of 19 August 1939 — a speech supposedly given by Joseph Stalin in which he stated that the approaching war would benefit the Soviet Union
• Titulus Crucis — a piece of wood, ostensibly a fragment of the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified
• US Army Field Manual 30-31B — a text purporting to be a classified appendix of a US Army Field Manual which describes top-secret counter-insurgency tactics

Some documents and artifacts were previously thought to be forgeries, but have subsequently been determined to be genuine.

• Bords de la Seine à Argenteuil — an oil painting by Monet
• Glozel artifacts — over three thousand artifacts dating back to the Neolithic era, discovered in a small French hamlet
• Lady of Elche — a stone bust believed to have been carved by the Iberians
• Praeneste fibula — a golden brooch bearing an inscription in Old Latin

Notable forgers

Archaeological forgers


• Charles Dawson (1864–1916) — "discoverer" of the Piltdown Man
• Shinichi Fujimura (born 1950)
• Oded Golan (born 1951) — accused of forging the James Ossuary, among other things; he was acquitted of these charges in March 2012
• Islam Akhun
• Brigido Lara
• Moses Shapira (1830–1884)

Art forgers

• Giovanni Bastianini (1830–1868)
• William Blundell (born 1947)
• Chang Dai-chien (1899–1983)
• Yves Chaudron
• Alceo Dossena (1878–1937)
• John Drewe (born 1948)
• Kenneth Fetterman
• Alfredo Fioravanti (1886–1963)
• Shaun Greenhalgh (born 1961) — described by the Metropolitan Police as "the most diverse art forger known in history"
• Guy Hain
• Eric Hebborn (1934–1996)
• Elmyr de Hory (1905–1976) — subject of the Orson Welles documentary F for Fake
• Geert Jan Jansen (born 1943)
• Tom Keating (1917–1984)
• Konrad Kujau (1938–2000) — the author of the Hitler Diaries
• Mark A. Landis (born 1955)
• Lothar Malskat (1913–1988)
• Han van Meegeren (1889–1947) — estimated to have earned the equivalent of over thirty million dollars for his forgeries
• Jacques van Meegeren (1912–1977)
• John Myatt (born 1945)
• Sámuel Literáti Nemes (1796–1842)
• Edmé Samson (1810–1891)
• Ely Sakhai (born 1952)
• Jean-Pierre Schecroun
• Émile Schuffenecker (1851–1934)
• Karl Sim (born 1923)
• David Stein (1935–1999)
• Tony Tetro (born 1950)
• Robert Thwaites
• Franz Tieze (1842–1932)
• William J. Toye (born 1931)
• Eduardo de Valfierno — allegedly masterminded the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa
• Kenneth Walton (born 1967) — author of the memoir Fake: Forgery, Lies, & eBay
• E. M. Washington (born 1962)
• Theo van Wijngaarden (1874–1952)

Counterfeiters

• Philip Alston (c. 1740 - after 1799)
• Anatasios Arnaouti (born 1967)
• Trevor Ashmore
• Robert Baudin (1918–1983)
• Charles Black (1928 - 2012)
• William Booth (c. 1776 – 1812)
• Mary Butterworth (1686–1775)
• William Chaloner (c. 1665 – 1699)
• Louis Colavecchio
• The Cragg Vale Coiners
• Thomas Dangerfield (c. 1650 – 1685)
• Mike DeBardeleben (1940–2011)
• John Duff (c. 1759 – 1799)
• Edward Emery (died c. 1850)
• David Farnsworth
• Bernhard Krüger (1904–1989) — director of the Nazi counterfeiting plot codenamed Operation Bernhard
• Ignazio Lupo (1877–1947)
• Catherine Murphy (died 1789) — the last woman to be executed by burning.
• Emanuel Ninger (1845–1927)
• Bernard von NotHaus — inventor of the Liberty Dollar
• Salomon Smolianoff (1899–1976) — WWII concentration camp detainee and key figure in Operation Bernhard
• Samuel C. Upham (1819–1885)
• Arthur Williams

Document forgers

• Frank Abagnale (born 1948) — subject of the film Catch Me If You Can
• Charles Bertram (1723–1765) — author of De Situ Britanniae
• Joseph Cosey (1887 – c. 1950)
• Przybysław Dyjamentowski (1694–1774)
• Michael John Hamdani
• Adolfo Kaminsky (born 1925)
• Jean LaBanta (born c. 1879)
• Maharaja Nandakumar (died 1775)
• Richard Pigott (1835–1889)
• Piligrim (died 991)
• James Reavis (1843–1914)
• Alves dos Reis (1898–1955)
• Scott Reuben (born 1958)
• William Roupell (1831–1909)
• William Wynne Ryland (c. 1738 – 1783)
• Michael Sabo
• Alexander Howland Smith (fl. 1886)
• Robert Spring (1813–1876)
• Adolf Ludvig Stierneld (1755–1835)
• Brita Tott (fl. 1498)
• Lucio Urtubia (born 1931)
• Denis Vrain-Lucas (1818–1880)
• Henry Woodhouse (1884–1970)

Literary forgers

• Annio da Viterbo (c. 1432 – 1502)
• Sir Edmund Backhouse, 2nd Baronet (1873–1944)
• Adémar de Chabannes (c. 988 – 1034)
• Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770)
• Mark Hofmann (born 1954) — forger of several documents relating to the Latter Day Saint movement, including the Salamander letter
• William Henry Ireland (1775–1835) — author of the Ireland Shakespeare forgeries and the pseudepigraphical play Vortigern and Rowena
• Clifford Irving (1930 - 2017)
• William Lauder (c. 1680 – 1771)
• James Macpherson (1736–1796) — the supposed "translator" of the Ossianic poems
• Iolo Morganwg (1747–1826)
• François Nodot (c. 1650 – 1710)
• Francesco Maria Pratilli (1689–1763)
• Constantine Simonides (1820–1867)
• Clotilde de Surville (fl. 1421)
• Charles Weisberg (died 1945)

Musical forgers

• Henri Casadesus (1879–1947)
• Marius Casadesus (1892–1981) — creator of the Adélaïde Concerto
• François-Joseph Fétis (1784–1871)
• Fritz Kreisler (1875–1962)
• Winfried Michel (born 1948)
• David Popper (1843–1913)
• Roman Turovsky-Savchuk (born 1961)
• Vladimir Vavilov (1925–1973)
• Voller Brothers (1885-1927)

Signature forgers

• Henry Fauntleroy (1784–1824)
• James Townsend Saward (1799 – after 1857)

Stamp forgers

For a more comprehensive list, see List of stamp forgers.

• A. Alisaffi
• Bernhardt Assmus (c. 1856 – after 1892)
• Rainer Blüm
• Delandre (1883–1923)
• Georges Fouré (1848–1902)
• François Fournier (1846–1917)
• Sigmund Friedl (1851–1914)
• Julius Goldner (c. 1841 – 1898)
• N. Imperato
• Madame Joseph (c. 1900 – after 1945)
• Louis-Henri Mercier (fl. 1890)
• Erasmo Oneglia (1853–1934)
• Adolph Otto (fl. 1870)
• Angelo Panelli (c. 1887 – c. 1967)
• Oswald Schroeder (died c. 1920)
• Lucian Smeets
• Jean de Sperati (1884–1957)
• Philip Spiro
• Béla Székula (1881–1966)
• Raoul de Thuin (1890–1975)
• Harold Treherne (c. 1884 - after 1908)

Media

• The Art of the Faker — a book about art forgery by Frank Arnau
• The Counterfeiters — a movie inspired by the Nazi counterfeiting scheme, Operation Bernhard
• F for Fake — an Orson Welles documentary about art forger Elmyr de Hory
• Fake Britain — a BBC television series about counterfeiting and its effects on consumers
• Fake: Forgery, Lies, & eBay — a memoir by art forger Kenneth Walton
• Fake or Fortune? — a BBC television series which examines the provenance of notable artworks
• Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology — a book by Kenneth L. Feder on the topic of pseudoarcheology
• Pierre Grassou — a novel by Honoré de Balzac about a fictional art forger
• Selling Hitler — an ITV drama-documentary about the Hitler Diaries

External links

• Forgery and Fakes: Overview, Caslon Analytics.
• Sources of information on art forgery, Museum Security Network

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Literary forgery
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/25/21

[x]
Cover of The Songs of Bilitis (1894), a French pseudotranslation of Ancient Greek erotic poetry by Pierre Louÿs

Literary forgery (also known as literary mystification, literary fraud or literary hoax) is writing, such as a manuscript or a literary work, which is either deliberately misattributed to a historical or invented author, or is a purported memoir or other presumably nonfictional writing deceptively presented as true when, in fact, it presents untrue or imaginary information or content.

History

Literary forgery may involve the work of a famous author whose writings have an established intrinsic, as well as monetary, value. In an attempt to gain the rewards of such a reputation, the forger often engages in two distinct activities. The forger produces a writing which resembles the style of the known reputable author to whom the fake is to be attributed. The forger may also fake the physical alleged original manuscript. This is less common, as it requires a great deal of technical effort, such as imitating the ink and paper. The forger then claims that, not only is the style of writing the same, but also that the ink and paper are of the kind or type used by the famous author. Other common types of literary forgery may draw upon the potential historical cachet and novelty of a previously undiscovered author.

Literary forgery has a long history. Onomacritus (c. 530 – 480 BCE) is among the most ancient known literary forgers. He invented prophecies, which he ascribed to the bard Musaeus.[1]

In the 3rd century CE, a certain Septimius produced what appeared to be a Latin translation of an eyewitness account to the Trojan War by Dictys of Crete. In the letter of dedication, the translator gave additional credence to the document by claiming the Greek original had come to light during Nero's reign when Dictys' tomb was opened by an earthquake and his diary was discovered. Septimius then claimed the original had been handed to the governor of Crete, Rutilius Rufus, who gave the diary to Nero during his tour of Greece in 66-67 CE. According to historian Miriam Griffin, such bogus and romantic claims to antiquity were not uncommon at the time.[2]

One of the longest lasting literary forgeries is by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a 5th-6th century Syrian mystical writer who claimed to be a disciple of Paul the Apostle. Five hundred years later, Abelard expressed doubts about the authorship, but it was not until after the Renaissance that there was general agreement that the attribution of the work was false. In the intervening 1,000 years, the writings had much theological influence.[3]

Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770), the English poet and letter writer, began his brilliant medieval forgeries when little more than a child. While they brought him praise, and fame after his death, his writing afforded little in the way of financial success and he committed suicide aged 17, penniless, alone and half-starved.

The English Mercurie appeared to be the first English newspaper when it was discovered in 1794. This was, ostensibly, an account of the English battle with the Spanish Armada of 1588, but was, in fact, written in the 18th century by Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke, as a literary game with his friends.[4]

Literary forgery was promoted as a creative method by Charles Nodier and, in the 19th century, many writers produced literary forgeries under his influence, notably Prosper Merimee and Pierre Louys.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was an antisemitic forged document first published in Russia. The abridged version was available to the public in 1903. The unabridged version was later edited by a retired officer of the Russian Imperial Guard, G.V. Butmi. This forgery exploits Jews by stating that Jews were inevitably trying to exercise a coup against Christianity in order to essentially rule the world. The document was exposed as plagiarism by English journalist Philip Graves in 1921. Graves exposed the strong similarities in the political satire by Maurice Joly, The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu. The forged document was supported and promoted by Henry Ford in his newspaper, The Dearborn Independent.[5]

Related issues

Fake memoirs


Main pages: Fake memoir, List of fake memoirs and journals, and Category: Written fiction presented as fact

Sometimes, the authorship of a piece is uncontested, but the writer is untruthful about themselves to such a degree that it is as if it was a forgery - rather than forging in the name of an expert or authority, the author falsely claims such authority for themselves. This usually takes the form of autobiographical works as fake memoirs. Its modern form is most common with "misery lit" books, in which the author claims to have suffered illness, parental abuse, and/or drug addiction during their upbringing, yet recovered well enough to write of their struggles. The 1971 book Go Ask Alice is officially anonymous, but claims to be taken from the diary of an actual drug abuser; later investigation showed that the work is almost certainly fictitious, however. A recent example is the 2003 book A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, wherein Frey claimed to experience fighting drug addiction in rehab; the claimed events were fictional, yet not presented as such.[6]

Other forms considered literary hoaxes are when an author asserts an identity and history for themselves that is not accurate. Asa Earl Carter wrote under the pseudonym Forrest Carter; Forrest Carter claimed to be a half-Cherokee descendent who grew up in native culture, but the real Asa Earl Carter was a white man from Alabama. Forrest Carter's persona thus possessed a similar false authenticity as a forged work would, in both their memoir and their fiction.[7] Similarly, Nasdijj and Margaret Seltzer also falsely claimed Native American descent to help market their works.[8][9] Danny Santiago claimed to be a young Latino growing up in East Los Angeles, yet the author (whose real name was Daniel Lewis James) was a Midwesterner in his 70s.[10]

Transparent literary fiction

A rare case that can occur is when it is not entirely clear if a work was a fictional piece or a forgery. This generally occurs when a work is written intended as a piece of fiction, but through the mouthpiece of a famous historical character; the audience at the time understands that the work is actually written by others imagining what the historical persona might have written or thought. With later generations, this distinction is lost, and the work is treated as authoritatively by the real person. Later yet, the fact that the work was not really by the seeming author resurfaces. In the case of true transparent literary fictions, no deception is involved, and the issue is merely one of misinterpretation. However, this is fairly rare.

Examples of this may include several works of wisdom literature such as the book of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon in the Hebrew Bible. Both works do not directly name an author, but are written from the perspective of King Solomon, and feature poetry and philosophical thoughts from his perspective that can switch between first and third-person perspectives. The books may not have intended to be taken as actually from the hand of Solomon, but this became tangled, and many later generations did assume they were directly from Solomon's hand. The fact that it is not clear if any deception was involved makes many scholars reluctant to call the work forgeries, however, even those that take the modern scholarly view that they were unlikely to have been written by Solomon due to the work only being quoted by others many centuries after Solomon's death.

For more disputed examples, some New Testament scholars believe that pseudepigrapha in the New Testament epistles can be explained as such transparent fictions. Richard Bauckham, for example, writes that for the Second Epistle of Peter, "Petrine authorship was intended to be an entirely transparent fiction."[11] This view is contested. Bart Ehrman writes that if a religiously prescriptive document was widely known to be not actually from the authority it claimed, it would not be taken seriously. Therefore, the claim of authorship by Peter only makes sense if the intent was indeed to falsely claim the authority of a respected figure in such epistles.[12]

See also

• Helen Darville
• Hitler Diaries
• False document
• Clifford Irving
• Anthony Godby Johnson
• Journalistic scandal
• JT LeRoy
• Outline of forgery
• Dave Pelzer
• Pseudepigrapha
• B. Wongar

References

1. B. Ehrman, Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, HarperOne (2011)ISBN 0062012614, pp. 39-40
2. Nero: The end of a Dynasty, Miram T. Griffin, 1984. Chapter 9. ISBN 0415214645
3. Sarah Coakley (Editor), Charles M. Stang (Editor), Re-thinking Dionysius the Areopagite, Wiley-Blackwell (2009), ISBN 978-1405180894
4. Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Volume 9, January 18, 1840, pp. 17-19
5. Graves, Philip (1921). The Truth about the Protocols: A Literary Forgery. The Times of London.
6. "A Million Little Lies". The Smoking Gun. July 23, 2010.
7. Randall, Dave (September 1, 2002). "The tall tale of Little Tree and the Cherokee who was really a Klansman". The Independent.
8. William McGowan, Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means, pp. 160-161, Encounter books, 2010, ISBN 978-1594034862
9. Menand, Louis (2018). "Literary Hoaxes and the Ethics of Authorship". The New Yorker. Condé Nast.
10. Folkart, Burt A. "OBITUARIES : Daniel James : Writer Who Masqueraded as a Latino."Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 21 May 1988. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://articles.latimes.com/1988-05-21/news/mn-2879_1_daniel-james>
11. Jude-2 Peter, Volume 50, Word Biblical Commentary.
12. Ehrman, Bart (2012). Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Oxford University Press. p. 141–145. ISBN 9780199928033.

Bibliography

• Bart D. Ehrman Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics, Oxford University Press, USA (2012) 978-0199928033
• James Anson Farrer Literary Forgeries. With an Introduction by Andrew Lang, HardPress Publishing (2012) ISBN 978-1290475143
• Anthony Grafton Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990) ISBN 0-691-05544-0
• Ian Haywood The making of history: a study of the literary forgeries of James Macpherson and Thomas Chatterton in relation to eighteenth-century ideas of history and fiction, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1986, ISBN 978-0838632611
• Lee Israel Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (2008)ISBN 978-1416588672
• Melissa Katsoulis Telling Tales: A History of Literary Hoaxes (London: Constable, 2009) ISBN 978-1-84901-080-1
• Richard Landon Literary forgeries & mystifications, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library U. of Toronto, 2003, ISBN 978-0772760456
• Robin Myers Fakes and Frauds: Varieties of Deception In Print & Manuscript (New Castle: Oak Knoll Press 1996) ISBN 0-906795-77-X
• K. K. Ruthven Faking Literature Cambridge University Press (2001) ISBN 978-0521669658
• John Whitehead This Solemn Mockery: The Art of Literary Forgery (London: Arlington Books 1973) ISBN 0-85140-212-7
• Joseph Rosenblum Practice to Deceive: The Amazing Stories of Literary Forgery’s Most Notorious Practitioners (New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2000) ISBN 1-58456-010-X

External links

• Books about literary forgery at About.com
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False document
by Wikipedia
Accessed 12/25/21

Besides this history of Firoz Shah, the author often refers to his Manakib-i Sultan Tughlik, and he mentions his intention of writing similar memoirs of the reign of Sultan Muhammad, the son of Firoz Shah. Nothing more appears to be known of these works.

Firoz Shah was born in the year 709 H. (1309 A.D.). It is recorded that his father was named Sipah-salar Rajab, and was brother of Sultan Ghiyasu-d din Tughlik Ghazi. The writer of this work has given a full account of their parentage in his Memoirs of Sultan Tughlik (Manakib-i Sultan Tughlik)....

On the very day that Firoz Shah was born, the author's grandfather, Shams-i Shahab 'Afif, also came into the world. The females of the author's ancestors then lived at Dipalpur, and constantly visited the female apartments of Tughlik Shah, and often in talking of these matters the author's great-grandfather used to say that he had frequently given Firoz Shah a cup of milk; and Firoz Shah himself when he had reached the summit of his power and glory, used to tell the author's father that he had sucked at the breast of his grandmother....

On the death of Sultan Tughlik he was succeeded on the throne of Dehli by Muhammad Shah. At the accession of this monarch Firoz Shah was eighteen years of age.... Even at this period Firoz Shah showed himself very kind and generous to the poor, and when any case of distress came before him he was prompt to relieve it. When Muhammad Shah divided the territories of Dehli into four parts, as the author has fully explained in his Manakib-i Sultan Muhammad, he placed one part under the charge of Firoz Shah, so that he might acquire experience in the art of government....

It is commonly reported that when the Khwaja-i Jahan heard that Sultan Muhammad Shah was dead, and that Sultan Firoz Shah had been chosen by the nobles and chief men to succeed him, he set up the son of Muhammad Shah in opposition at Dehli, and gained the people over to his side. But this commonly received story is not true. The author here gives the true account of this transaction just as he heard it from Kishwar Khan, son of Kishlu Khan Bahram, one of the servants of the Court.

When Sultan Muhammad Shah died at Thatta, the chiefs of the Hazara of Khurasan, who had come to assist him, as soon as they heard of his death, plundered the chief bazar, as the author has related in his Manakib-i Sultan Muhammad Shah....

The Sultan then marched through Kanauj and Oudh to Jaunpur. Before this time there was no town of any extent (shahr-i abadan) there, but the Sultan, observing a suitable site, determined upon building a large town. He accordingly stayed there six months, and built a fine town on the banks of the Kowah, to which he determined to give the name of Sultan Muhammad Shah, son of Tughlik Shah, and as that sovereign bore the name of Jaunan, he called the place Jaunanpur (Jaunpur). An account of this foundation was sent to Khwaja-i Jahan at Dehli. Jaunpur was made a (capital) city in the reign of the Sultanu-sh Shark Khwaja-i Jahan, and I intend to give a full account of this King of the East in my memoirs (manakib) of the reign of Sultan Muhammad, son of Firoz. After this delay of six months, he marched for Bengal, and in due time arrived there...

During the forty years that Firoz Shah reigned, all his people were happy and contented; but when he departed, and the territory of Dehli came into the hands of others, by the will of fate, the people were dispersed and the learned were scattered. At length the inhabitants, small and great, all suffered from the inroads of the Mughals. The aged author of this work has written a full account thereof in his Description of the Sack of Dehli [Zikr-i kharabi Dehli]....

Towards the end of the reign of Firoz Shah, *** enmity broke out between the minister and Prince Muhammad Khan, afterwards Sultan Muhammad Shah. Their dissensions were the cause of great trouble and disaster to the country; old and young, small and great, suffered, and the country at length fell a prey to the inroads of the Mughals. The author has entered fully into the details of this quarrel in his memoir of Sultan Muhammad bin Firoz.

-- XVI. Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi, of Shams-i Siraj 'Afif, Excerpt from The History of India As Told By Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period, edited from the posthumous papers of the Late Sir H.M. Elliot, K.C.B., East India Company's Bengal Civil Service, by Professor John Dowson, M.R.A.S., Staff college, Sandhurst, Vol. III, P. 269-364, 1871


Shams-i Siraj ‘Afif, author of the Ta'rikh-i Firuz Shahi, completed his work after the death of Firuz Shah. The work was written after the capture of the city of Delhi by Timur’s army in 1398-1399. ‘Afif's relationship to the court is not known. He was not known to be a nadim like Barani and his patron is not known. ‘Afif devotes several chapters to the architectural endeavors of the sultan, most notably the foundations at Firuzabad and Hissar. He also provides a list of monuments where Firuz Shah undertook restoration and also discusses the transport of the Asokan columns to Delhi. Since ‘Afif witnessed the destruction of Delhi by Timur, his history is a nostalgic recollection of a past era. His account is not always firsthand and he frequently relies on the testimony of other authorities, such as his father, as well as his own memory. According to the author, the Ta’rikh is only part of a larger composition which records the history of the Delhi sultanate from the time of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq through the time of Timur’s capture. However, the known manuscripts of the work include only the reign of Firuz Shah. The name Ta’rikh-i Firuz Shahi has been ascribed to the work by modern historians on the basis of the surviving portions. Even these, however, are incomplete according to the author’s table of contents. ‘Afif refers to his work as the Manaqib-i Firuz Shahi. [The manaqib ("merit" or "virtue") is a literary genre which is usually reserved for biographies of saints and Muslim holymen. According to Hardy, the application of this genre to a biography of a sultan is unusual and he claims that ‘Afif "superimposes upon events a pattern required by the literary genre..." The same author contends that ‘Afif models the sultan "in conformity with an abstract ideal." See Hardy, Historians of Medieval India, p. 41.]

-- The Architecture of Firuz Shah Tughluq, Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate School of The Ohio State University, by William Jeffrey McKibben, B.A., M.A., 1988


A false document is a technique by which an author aims to increase verisimilitude in a work of fiction by inventing and inserting or mentioning documents that appear to be factual.[1] The goal of a false document is to convince an audience that what is being presented is factual.

In politics

-- Morale Operations Branch, by Wikipedia

-- Doctrine Re Rumors, by Office of Strategic Services Planning Group

-- Walt Disney's World War II propaganda production, by Wikipedia

-- Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States: Appendix, Part IV: German-American Bund: Three Documents on the German-American Bund, by Special Committee on Un-American Activities

-- Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States: Appendix, Part VII: Report on the Axis Front Movement in the United States [Excerpt from pp. 59-85]

-- Propaganda in the United States, by Wikipedia

-- Brand, by Wikipedia

-- Spin (Propaganda), by Wikipedia

-- Chapter 13: Tango with the Devil . The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willy Munzenberg, Moscow's Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West, by Sean McMeekin

-- Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit, by Robert Parry

-- Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe, by Gerald Sussman


A forged document, the Zinoviev Letter, helped bring the downfall of the first Labour Government in Britain. Conspiracies within secret intelligence services have occurred more recently, leading Harold Wilson to put in place rules to prevent in the 1960s phone tapping of members of Parliament, for example.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination, was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century.

In art

Artist JSG Boggs's life and work have been extensively explored by author and journalist Lawrence Weschler. Boggs drew currency with exceptional care and accuracy, but he only ever drew one side. He then attempted to buy things with the piece of paper upon which he has drawn the currency. His goal was to pass each bill for its face value in common transactions. He bought lunch, clothes, and lodging in this manner, and after the transactions were complete, his bills fetched many times their face value on the art market. Boggs did not make any money from the much larger art market value of his work, only from reselling the goods bought, the change and receipts and other such materials. He was arrested in many countries, and there was much controversy surrounding his work.

Orson Welles' F for Fake is a prime example of a film which is both about falsification (art forgery and the journalism surrounding art forgery) as well as having falsified moments within the film. The movie follows the exploits of a famous art forger, his biographer Clifford Irving, and the subsequent fake autobiography of Howard Hughes that Irving tries to publish. The issues of veracity and forgery are explored in the film, while at the same time, Welles tricks the audience by incorporating fake bits of narrative alongside the documentary footage.

In cross-marketing

There is a long history of producers creating tie-in material to promote and merchandise movies and television shows. Tie-in materials as far-ranging as toys, games, lunch boxes, clothing and so on have all been created and in some cases generate as much or more revenue as the original programming. One big merchandising arena is publishing. In most cases such material is not considered canon within the show's mythology; however, in some instances the books, magazines, etc. are specifically designed by the creators to be canonical. With the rise of the Internet, in-canon online material has become more prominent.

Hoaxes

Main article: Hoax

A number of hoaxes have involved false documents:

• Salamander Letter
The Report From Iron Mountain
• The Oera Linda book
• The Hitler Diaries
• The Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau

See also

• Alternate reality game
• A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century, an anti-Semitic forgery
• Donation of Constantine
• Epistolary novel
• False documentation
• Fictional book
• Forgery
• Frame tale
• Literary forgery
• Fictitious entry
• Questioned document examination
• Voynich manuscript

References

1. Baker, Timothy C. (2014). "Authentic Inauthenticity: The Found Manuscript". Contemporary Scottish Gothic. pp. 54–88. doi:10.1057/9781137457202_3. ISBN 978-1-349-49861-1.

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Pseudepigrapha
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/25/21

[x]
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

Pseudepigrapha (also anglicized as "pseudepigraph" or "pseudepigraphs") are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed author is not the true author, or a work whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past.[1]

In biblical studies, the term pseudepigrapha can refer to an assorted collection of Jewish religious works thought to be written c. 300 BCE to 300 CE. They are distinguished by Protestants from the deuterocanonical books (Catholic and Orthodox) or Apocrypha (Protestant), the books that appear in extant copies of the Septuagint in the fourth century or later[2] and the Vulgate, but not in the Hebrew Bible or in Protestant Bibles.[3] The Catholic Church distinguishes only between the deuterocanonical and all other books; the latter are called biblical apocrypha, which in Catholic usage includes the pseudepigrapha.[citation needed] In addition, two books considered canonical in the Orthodox Tewahedo churches, viz. Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilees, are categorized as pseudepigrapha from the point of view of Chalcedonian Christianity.[citation needed]

In addition to the sets of generally agreed to be non-canonical works, scholars will also apply the term to canonical works who make a direct claim of authorship, yet this authorship is doubted. For example, the Book of Daniel is widely considered to have been written in the 2nd century BCE, 400 years after the prophet Daniel lived, and thus the work is pseudepigraphic. A New Testament example might be the book of 2 Peter, widely considered to be written approximately 80 years after Saint Peter's death. Early Christians, such as Origen, harbored doubts as to the authenticity of the book's authorship.[4]

Etymology

The word pseudepigrapha (from the Greek: ψευδής, pseudḗs, "false" and ἐπιγραφή, epigraphḗ, "name" or "inscription" or "ascription"; thus when taken together it means "false superscription or title";[5] see the related epigraphy) is the plural of "pseudepigraphon" (sometimes Latinized as "pseudepigraphum").

Classical and biblical studies

There have probably been pseudepigrapha almost from the invention of full writing. For example, ancient Greek authors often refer to texts which claimed to be by Orpheus or his pupil Musaeus of Athens but which attributions were generally disregarded. Already in Antiquity the collection known as the "Homeric Hymns" was recognized as pseudepigraphical, that is, not actually written by Homer.[citation needed] The only surviving Ancient Roman book on cooking is pseudepigraphically attributed to a famous gourmet, Apicius, even though it is not clear who actually assembled the recipes.

Literary studies

In secular literary studies, when works of antiquity have been demonstrated not to have been written by the authors to whom they have traditionally been ascribed, some writers apply the prefix pseudo- to their names. Thus the encyclopedic compilation of Greek myth called the Bibliotheca is often now attributed, not to Apollodorus of Athens, but to "pseudo-Apollodorus" and the Catasterismi, recounting the translations of mythic figure into asterisms and constellations, not to the serious astronomer Eratosthenes, but to a "pseudo-Eratosthenes". The prefix may be abbreviated, as in "ps-Apollodorus" or "ps-Eratosthenes".[citation needed]

Old Testament and intertestamental studies

See also: Apocrypha and Biblical apocrypha

In biblical studies, pseudepigrapha refers particularly to works which purport to be written by noted authorities in either the Old and New Testaments or by persons involved in Jewish or Christian religious study or history. These works can also be written about biblical matters, often in such a way that they appear to be as authoritative as works which have been included in the many versions of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Eusebius indicates this usage dates back at least to Serapion of Antioch, whom Eusebius records[6] as having said: "But those writings which are falsely inscribed with their name (ta pseudepigrapha), we as experienced persons reject...."

Many such works were also referred to as Apocrypha, which originally connoted "secret writings", those that were rejected for liturgical public reading. An example of a text that is both apocryphal and pseudepigraphical is the Odes of Solomon.[7] It is considered pseudepigraphical because it was not actually written by Solomon but instead is a collection of early Christian (first to second century) hymns and poems, originally written not in Hebrew, and apocryphal because they were not accepted in either the Tanakh or the New Testament.

Protestants have also applied the word Apocrypha to texts found in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox scriptures which were not found in Hebrew manuscripts. Catholics call those "deuterocanonical books". Accordingly, there arose in some Protestant biblical scholarship an extended use of the term pseudepigrapha for works that appeared as though they ought to be part of the biblical canon, because of the authorship ascribed to them, but which stood outside both the biblical canons recognized by Protestants and Catholics. These works were also outside the particular set of books that Roman Catholics called deuterocanonical and to which Protestants had generally applied the term Apocryphal. Accordingly, the term pseudepigraphical, as now used often among both Protestants and Roman Catholics (allegedly for the clarity it brings to the discussion), may make it difficult to discuss questions of pseudepigraphical authorship of canonical books dispassionately with a lay audience. To confuse the matter even more, Eastern Orthodox Christians accept books as canonical that Roman Catholics and most Protestant denominations consider pseudepigraphical or at best of much less authority. There exist also churches that reject some of the books that Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants accept. The same is true of some Jewish religious movements. Many works that are "apocryphal" are otherwise considered genuine.[citation needed]

There is a tendency not to use the word pseudepigrapha when describing works later than about 300 CE when referring to biblical matters.[3]: 222–28  But the late-appearing Gospel of Barnabas, Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, the Pseudo-Apuleius (author of a fifth-century herbal ascribed to Apuleius), and the author traditionally referred to as the "Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite", are classic examples of pseudepigraphy. In the fifth century the moralist Salvian published Contra avaritiam ("Against avarice") under the name of Timothy; the letter in which he explained to his former pupil, Bishop Salonius, his motives for so doing survives.[8] There is also a category of modern pseudepigrapha.

Examples of books labeled Old Testament pseudepigrapha from the Protestant point of view are the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees (both of which are canonical in Orthodox Tewahedo Christianity and the Beta Israel branch of Judaism); the Life of Adam and Eve and "Pseudo-Philo".[citation needed]

The term pseudepigrapha is also commonly used to describe numerous works of Jewish religious literature written from about 300 BCE to 300 CE. Not all of these works are actually pseudepigraphical. It also refers to books of the New Testament canon whose authorship is misrepresented. Such works include the following:[3]

• 3 Maccabees
• 4 Maccabees
• Assumption of Moses
• Ethiopic Book of Enoch (1 Enoch)
• Slavonic Second Book of Enoch
• Book of Jubilees
• 3 Baruch
• Letter of Aristeas
• Life of Adam and Eve
• Ascension of Isaiah
• Psalms of Solomon
• Sibylline Oracles
• 2 Baruch
• Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
• 4 Ezra

Various canonical works accepted as scripture have since been reexamined and considered by modern scholars in the 19th century onward as likely cases of pseudepigraphica. The Book of Daniel directly claims to be written by the prophet Daniel, yet there are strong reasons to believe it was not written until centuries after Daniel's death, such as references to the book only appearing in the 2nd century BCE and onward. The book is an apocalypse wherein Daniel offers a series of predictions of the future, and is meant to reassure the Jews of the period that the tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes would soon be overthrown. By backdating the book to the 6th century BCE and providing a series of correct prophecies as to the history of the past 400 years, the authorship claim of Daniel strengthens the true author's predictions of the coming fall of the Seleucid Empire.[4][9]

New Testament studies

Some Christian scholars maintain that nothing known to be pseudepigraphical was admitted to the New Testament canon. However, many biblical scholars, such as Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, hold that only seven of Paul's epistles are convincingly genuine.[10] All of the other 20 books in the New Testament appear to many scholars to be written by unknown people who were not the well-known biblical figures to whom the early Christian leaders originally attributed authorship.[10] The Catholic Encyclopedia notes,

The first four historical books of the New Testament are supplied with titles, which however ancient, do not go back to the respective authors of those sacred texts. The Canon of Muratori, Clement of Alexandria, and St. Irenaeus bear distinct witness to the existence of those headings in the latter part of the second century of our era. Indeed, the manner in which Clement (Strom. I, xxi), and St. Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. III, xi, 7) employ them implies that, at that early date, our present titles to the gospels had been in current use for some considerable time. Hence, it may be inferred that they were prefixed to the evangelical narratives as early as the first part of that same century. That however, they do not go back to the first century of the Christian era, or at least that they are not original, is a position generally held at the present day. It is felt that since they are similar for the four Gospels, although the same Gospels were composed at some interval from each other, those titles were not framed and consequently not prefixed to each individual narrative, before the collection of the four Gospels was actually made. Besides as well pointed out by Prof. Bacon, "the historical books of the New Testament differ from its apocalyptic and epistolary literature, as those of the Old Testament differ from its prophecy, in being invariably anonymous, and for the same reason. Prophecies, whether in the earlier or in the later sense, and letters, to have authority, must be referable to some individual; the greater his name, the better. But history was regarded as common possession. Its facts spoke for themselves. Only as the springs of common recollection began to dwindle, and marked differences to appear between the well-informed and accurate Gospels and the untrustworthy ... become worth while for the Christian teacher or apologist to specify whether the given representation of the current tradition was 'according to' this or that special compiler, and to state his qualifications". It thus appears that the present titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the Evangelists themselves.[11]


The earliest and best manuscripts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were all written anonymously.[12] Furthermore, the books of Acts, Hebrews, 1 John, 2 John and 3 John were also written anonymously.[12]

Pauline epistles

Main article: Pauline epistles

There are thirteen letters in the New Testament which are attributed to Paul and are still considered by Christians to carry Paul's authority. These letters are part of the Christian Bible and are foundational for the Christian Church. Therefore, those letters which some think to be pseudepigraphic are not considered any less valuable to Christians.[13] Some of these epistles are termed as "disputed" or "pseudepigraphical" letters because they do not appear to have been written by Paul. They instead appear to have come from followers writing in Paul's name, often using material from his surviving letters. Some choose to believe that these followers may have had access to letters written by Paul that no longer survive, although this theory still depends on someone other than Paul writing these books.[14] Some theologians prefer to simply distinguish between "undisputed" and "disputed" letters, thus avoiding the term "pseudepigraphical".[13]

Authorship of 6 out of the 13 canonical epistles of Paul has been questioned by both Christian and non-Christian biblical scholars.[14] These include the Epistle to the Ephesians, Epistle to the Colossians, Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, First Epistle to Timothy, Second Epistle to Timothy, and Epistle to Titus. These six books are referred to as "deutero-Pauline letters", meaning "secondary" standing in the corpus of Paul's writings. They internally claim to have been written by Paul, but some biblical scholars present strong evidence that they could not have been written by Paul.[10] Those known as the "Pastoral Epistles" (Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) are all so similar that they are thought to be written by the same unknown author in Paul's name.[10]

Catholic epistles

Main article: Catholic epistles

There are seven letters in the New Testament which are attributed to several apostles, such as Saint Peter, John the Apostle, and Jesus's brothers James and Jude.

Three of the seven letters are anonymous. These three have traditionally been attributed to John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee and one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Consequently, these letters have been labelled the Johannine epistles, despite the fact that none of the epistles mentions any author. Most modern scholars believe the author is not John the Apostle, but there is no scholarly consensus for any particular historical figure. (see: Authorship of the Johannine works).[15][16]

Two of the letters claim to have been written by Simon Peter, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Therefore, they have traditionally been called the Petrine epistles. However, most modern scholars agree the second epistle was probably not written by Peter, because it appears to have been written in the early 2nd century, long after Peter had died. Yet, opinions on the first epistle are more divided; many scholars do think this letter is authentic. (see: Authorship of the Petrine epistles)[17]

In one epistle, the author only calls himself James (Ἰάκωβος Iákobos). It is not known which James this is supposed to be. There are several different traditional Christian interpretations of other New Testament texts which mention a James, brother of Jesus. However, most modern scholars tend to reject this line of reasoning, since the author himself does not indicate any familial relationship with Jesus. A similar problem presents itself with the Epistle of Jude (Ἰούδας Ioudas): the writer names himself a brother of James (ἀδελφὸς δὲ Ἰακώβου adelphos de Iakóbou), but it is not clear which James is meant. According to some Christian traditions, this is the same James as the author of the Epistle of James, who was allegedly a brother of Jesus; and so, this Jude should also be a brother of Jesus, despite the fact he does not indicate any such thing in his text.[18]

Other Pseudepigrapha

The Gospel of Peter[19] and the attribution to Paul of the Epistle to the Laodiceans are both examples of pseudepigrapha that were not included in the New Testament canon.[20] They are often referred to as New Testament apocrypha. Further examples of New Testament pseudepigrapha include the Gospel of Barnabas[21] and the Gospel of Judas, which begins by presenting itself as "the secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot".[22]

Authorship and pseudepigraphy: levels of authenticity

Scholars have identified seven levels of authenticity which they have organized in a hierarchy ranging from literal authorship, meaning written in the author's own hand, to outright forgery:

1. Literal authorship. A church leader writes a letter in his own hand.
2. Dictation. A church leader dictates a letter almost word for word to an amanuensis.
3. Delegated authorship. A church leader describes the basic content of an intended letter to a disciple or to an amanuensis.
4. Posthumous authorship. A church leader dies, and his disciples finish a letter that he had intended to write, sending it posthumously in his name.
5. Apprentice authorship. A church leader dies, and disciples who had been authorized to speak for him while he was alive continue to do so by writing letters in his name years or decades after his death.
6. Honorable pseudepigraphy. A church leader dies, and admirers seek to honor him by writing letters in his name as a tribute to his influence and in a sincere belief that they are responsible bearers of his tradition.
7. Forgery. A church leader obtains sufficient prominence that, either before or after his death, people seek to exploit his legacy by forging letters in his name, presenting him as a supporter of their own ideas.[23]: 224 

Others have questioned the usefulness and accuracy of distinguishing between the final three types. According to this criticism, the idea of "honest forgers" is a later creation of the 19th and 20th centuries for theological reasons to allow that a pseudepigraphic document that was included in the New Testament might have been written by someone other than the claimed author, but for a respectable reason that wouldn't require questioning its canonicity or credibility in other matters. It does not appear that early Christians considered such distinctions valid: works they believed in the authority of they asserted either literal authorship or dictation, while works from non-apostolic authors writing as if they were an apostle were denounced without interest to whether the motive was pure. In disputes between rival camps of Christians in the 2nd and 3rd century, their writings will sometimes accuse the other side of relying on forged works that were not truly from the apostles and their first-century associates. In these cases, the true authors surely believed that they were writing a message the apostles would have approved of, yet other Christians did not consider this honorable; rather, they denounced the documents as false.[24]

The Zohar



The Zohar (Hebrew: זֹהַר, lit. Splendor or Radiance), foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah,[25] first appeared in Spain in the 13th century, and was published by a Jewish writer named Moses de León. De León ascribed the work to Shimon bar Yochai ("Rashbi"), a rabbi of the 2nd century during the Roman persecution[26] who, according to Jewish legend,[27][28] hid in a cave for thirteen years studying the Torah and was inspired by the Prophet Elijah to write the Zohar. This accords with the traditional claim by adherents that Kabbalah is the concealed part of the Oral Torah. Modern academic analysis of the Zohar, such as that by the 20th century religious historian Gershom Scholem, has theorized that de León was the actual author, as textual analysis points to Medieval Spanish Jewish writer rather than one living in Roman-ruled Palestine. The view of some Orthodox Jews and Orthodox groups, as well as non-Orthodox Jewish denominations, generally conforms to this latter view, and as such, most such groups have long viewed the Zohar as pseudepigraphy and apocrypha.

Ovid

Conrad Celtes, a noted German humanist scholar and poet of the German Renaissance, collected numerous Greek and Latin manuscripts in his function as librarian of the Imperial Library in Vienna. In a 1504 letter to the Venetian publisher Aldus Manutius[29] Celtes claimed to have discovered the missing books of Ovid’s Fasti. However, it turned out that the purported Ovid verses had actually been composed by an 11th-century monk and were known to the Empire of Nicaea according to William of Rubruck. Even so, many contemporary scholars believed Celtes and continued to write about the existence of the missing books until well into the 17th century.[30]

As literary device

Pseudepigraphy has been employed as a metafictional technique. Authors who have made notable use of this device include James Hogg (The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner), Jorge Luis Borges ("An Examination of the Works of Herbert Quain"; "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote"), Vladimir Nabokov (Pale Fire), Stanislaw Lem (A Perfect Vacuum; Imaginary Magnitude) Roberto Bolaño (Nazi Literature in the Americas) and Stefan Heym (The Lenz Papers).

In a less literary refined genre, Edgar Rice Burroughs presented many of his works – including the most well-known, the Tarzan books – as pseudepigrapha, prefacing each book with a detailed introduction presenting the supposed actual author, with Burroughs himself pretending to be no more than the literary editor. J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings presents that story and The Hobbit as translated from the fictional Red Book of Westmarch written by characters within the novels. A similar device was used by various other writers of popular fiction.

See also

• False attribution
• False document
• Hadith
• Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
• List of Old Testament pseudepigrapha
• Prophecy of the Popes

Citations

1. Bauckham, Richard; "Pseudo-Apostolic Letters", Journal of Biblical Literature, Vo. 107, No. 3, September 1988, pp. 469–94.
2. Beckwith, Roger T. (2008). The Canon of the Old Testament (PDF). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Pub. pp. 62, 382–83. ISBN 978-1606082492. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
3. Harris, Stephen L. (2010). Understanding The Bible. McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 978-0-07-340744-9.
4. Ehrman, Bart (2012). Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Oxford University Press. p. 83–88. ISBN 9780199928033.
5. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940). "ψευδεπίγραφος". A Greek-English Lexicon. Trustees of Tufts University, Oxford. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
6. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae 6,12.
7. Charlesworth, James. Odes of Solomon Archived 2004-04-14 at the Wayback Machine
8. Salvian, Epistle, ix.
9. Collins, John (1999). "Pseudepigraphy and Group Formation in Second Temple Judaism". Pseudepigraphic Perspectives: The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. doi:10.1163/9789004350328_005.
10. D., Ehrman, Bart (2011). Forged : writing in the name of God : why the Bible's authors are not who we think they are (1st ed.). New York: HarperOne. ISBN 9780062012616. OCLC 639164332.
11. Farley (Archbishop of New York), Imprimatur John Cardinal (1913). Charles George Herbermann; Edward Aloysius Pace; Condé Bénoist Pallen; John Joseph Wynne; Thomas Joseph Shahan (eds.). The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, and History of the Catholic Church, Volume 6. New York: The Encyclopedia Press. pp. 655–56.
12. D., Ehrman, Bart (2005). Misquoting Jesus : the story behind who changed the Bible and why (1st ed.). New York: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0060738170. OCLC 59011567.
13. Just, Felix. "The Deutero-Pauline Letters"
14. Sanders, E. P. "Saint Paul, the Apostle". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 20 May 2013.
15. Brown, Raymond Edward (1988). The Gospel and Epistles of John: A Concise Commentary. Liturgical Press. ISBN 978-0-8146-1283-5.
16. Marshall, I. Howard (1978-07-14). The Epistles of John. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4674-2232-1.
17. Ehrman, Bart D. (2003). Lost Christianities : the battle for Scripture and the faiths we never knew. Internet Archive. New York : Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514183-2.
18. Ehrman, Bart D. (2003). Lost Christianities : the battle for Scripture and the faiths we never knew. Internet Archive. New York : Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514183-2.
19. Joel Willitts, Michael F. Bird: "Paul and the Gospels: Christologies, Conflicts and Convergences" p. 32
20. Lewis R. Donelson: "Pseudepigraphy and Ethical Argument in the Pastoral Epistles", p. 42
21. Joosten, Jan (January 2002). "The Gospel of Barnabas and the Diatessaron". Harvard Theological Review. 95 (1): 73–96.
22. Kasser, Rodolphe; Meyer, Marvin Meyer; Wurst, Gregor, eds. (2006). The Gospel of Judas. Commentary by Bart D. Ehrman. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society. pp. 1, 4–5, 7, 43. ISBN 978-1426200427.
23. Powell, Mark A. Introducing the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8010-2868-7
24. Ehrman, Bart (2012). Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Oxford University Press. p. 44–56. ISBN 9780199928033.
25. Scholem, Gershom and Melila Hellner-Eshed (2007). "Zohar". In Berenbaum, Michael; Skolnik, Fred (eds.). Encyclopaedia Judaica. 21 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference. pp. 647–64. ISBN 978-0-02-866097-4.
26. Jacobs, Joseph; Broydé, Isaac. "Zohar". Jewish Encyclopedia. Funk & Wagnalls Company.
27. Scharfstein, Sol (2004). Jewish History and You II. Jewish History and You. Jersey City, NJ: KTAV Publishing House. p. 24. ISBN 9780881258066.
28. "Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai – Lag BaOmer at". Ou.org. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
29. Wood, Christopher S. (2008). Forgery, Replica, Fiction: Temporalities of German Renaissance Art. University Of Chicago Press. p. 8.
30. Fritsen, Angela (2015). Antiquarian Voices: The Roman Academy and the Commentary Tradition on Ovid's Fasti (Text and Context). Ohio State University Press.

Sources

• Cueva, Edmund P., and Javier Martínez, eds. Splendide Mendax: Rethinking Fakes and Forgeries in Classical, Late Antique, and Early Christian Literature. Groningen: Barkhuis, 2016.
• DiTommaso, Lorenzo. A Bibliography of Pseudepigrapha Research 1850–1999, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001.
• Ehrman, Bart. Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
• Kiley, Mark. Colossians as Pseudepigraphy (Bible Seminar, 4 Sheffield: JSOT Press 1986). Colossians as a non-deceptive school product.
• Metzger, Bruce M. "Literary forgeries and canonical pseudepigrapha", Journal of Biblical Literature 91 (1972).
• von Fritz, Kurt, (ed.) Pseudepigraphica. 1 (Geneva: Foundation Hardt, 1972). Contributions on pseudopythagorica (the literature ascribed to Pythagoras), the Platonic Epistles, Jewish-Hellenistic literature, and the characteristics particular to religious forgeries.

External links

• Online Critical Pseudepigrapha Online texts of the Pseudepigrapha in their original or extant ancient languages
• Smith, Mahlon H. Pseudepigrapha entry in Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus online historical source book, at VirtualReligion.net
• Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha official website
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Donation of Constantine
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Ashoka

The trappings of government set up in Calcutta to cope with the sudden acquisition of Bengal included not only a judiciary but also a mint. It was as Assistant Assay-Master at this mint that James Prinsep arrived in India in 1819. The post was an undistinguished one; Prinsep, far from being a celebrity like Jones, could expect nothing better. He was barely 20 and, according to his obituarist, "wanting, perhaps, in the finish of classical scholarship which is conferred at the public schools and universities of England''. As a child, the last in a family of seven sons, his passion had been constructing highly intricate working models; "habits of exactness and minute attention to detail'' would remain his outstanding traits. He studied architecture under Pugin, transferred to the Royal Mint when his eyesight became strained, and thence to Calcutta. ''Well grounded in chemistry, mechanics and the useful sciences", he was not an obvious candidate for the mantle of Jones and the distinction of being India's most successful scholar.

In the quarter century between Jones' death and Prinsep's arrival the British position in India had changed radically. The defeats of Tippu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, of the Marathas, and of the Gurkhas had left the British undisputed masters of as much of India as they cared to digest. Indeed the British raj had begun. The sovereignty of the East India Company was almost as much a political fiction as that of their nominal but now helpless overlord, the Moghul emperor. Both, though they lingered on for another 30 years, had become anachronisms.

From Calcutta a long arm of British territory now reached up the Ganges and the Jumna to Agra, Delhi and beyond. A thumb prodded the Himalayas between Nepal and Kashmir, while several stubby fingers probed into Punjab, Rajasthan and central India. In the west, Bombay had been expanding into the Maratha homeland; Broach and Baroda were under Britfsh control, and Poona, a centre of Hindu orthodoxy and the Maratha capital, was being transformned into the legendary watering place for Anglo-Indian bores. In the south, all that was not British territory was held by friendly feudatories; the French had been obliterated, Mysore settled, and the limits of territorial expansion already reached.

Visitors in search of the real India no longer had to hop around the coastline; they could now march boldly, and safely, across the middle. Bishop Heber of Calcutta (the appointment itself was a sign of the times; in Jones's day there had not been even a church in Calcutta) toured his diocese in the 1820s. The diocese was a big one -- the whole of India -- and ''Reginald Calcutta", as he signed himself, travelled the length of the Ganges to Dehra Dun in the Himalayas, then down through Delhi and Agra into Rajasthan, still largely independent, and came out at Poona and thence down to Bombay.

The acquisition of all this new territory brought the British into contact with the country's architectural heritage. Two centuries earlier Elizabethan envoys had marvelled at the cities of Moghul India ''of which the like is not to be found in all Christendom". The famous buildings of Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Delhi, ''either of them much greater than London and more populous", they had described in detail. When, therefore, the first generation of British administrators arrived in upper India they showed genuine reverence for the architectural relics of Moghul power. Instead of the landscapes of Hodges and the Daniells their souvenirs of India would be detailed drawings of the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. Their curiosity also extended to buildings sacred to the non-Mohammedan population; Khajuraho, Abu and many other sites were discovered between 1810 and 1830. The raw materials for a new investigation of India's past were accumulating. But it was another class of monuments, predating the Mohammedan invasions and with unmistakable signs of extreme antiquity, which would become Prinsep's speciality.

The first of these monuments -- one could scarcely call them buildings -- to attract European attention were the cave temples in the vicinity of Bombay. The island of Elephanta in Bombay harbour had been known to the Portuguese and became the subject of one of the earliest archaeological reports received by Jones's new Asiatic Society.
The cave is about three-quarters of a mile from the beach; the path leading to it lies through a valley; the hills on either side beautifully clothed and, except when interrupted by the dove calling to her absent mate, a solemn stillness prevails; the mind is fitted for contemplating the approaching scene.

The approaching scene was not of some natural cave with a few prehistoric scratchings, but of a spacious pillared hall, with delicate sculptural details and colossal stone figures -- an architectural creation in all but name; for the whole thing was hacked, hewn, carved and sculpted out of solid rock.

North of Bombay, the island of Salsette boasted more groups of such caves. In 1806 Lord Valentia, a young Englishman whose greatest claim to fame must be the sheer weight of his travelogue (four quarto volumes of just on half a hundredweight), set out to explore them. He took with him Henry Salt, his companion and artist, to help clear a path through the jungle that surrounded the caves. Outside the Jogeshwar caves they hesitated before the fresh pug marks of a tiger; according to the villagers, tigers actually lived in the caves for part of the year.

Salt found that the other Salsette caves at Kanheri and Montpezir had also been recently occupied. To the Portuguese, the pillared nave and the trahsepts had spelt basilica; there was even a hole in the facade for a rose window. They had just smothered the fine, but pagan, carving in stucco and consecrated the place. Salt chipped away at the stucco and observed how well it had preserved the sculpture.
Though these figures are by no means well proportioned, yet their air, size and general management give an expression of grandeur that the best sculptors have often failed in attaining; the laziness of attitude, the simplicity of drapery, the suitableness of their situation and the plainness of style in which they are executed . . . all contribute towards producing this effect.

He was getting quite a feeling for ancient art treasures. In Lord Valentia's train he would move on to Egypt, stay on there as British consul, and become so successful at appropriating and selling the art treasures of the Pharoahs that he rivalled the great tomb-robber Belzoni.

Meanwhile in India more rock-cut temples had come to light. The free-standing Kailasa temple at Ellora, cut into the rock from above like a gigantic intaglio, was discovered in the late 18th century. It was followed by the famous caves at Ajanta and Bagh. "Few remains of antiquity," wrote William Erskine in 1813, "have excited greater curiosity. History does not record any fact that can guide us in fixing the period of their execution, and many opposite opinions have been formed regarding the religion of the people by whom they were made." From the statuary at Elephanta and Ellora, particularly the figures with several heads and many arms, it was clear that these at least were Hindu.[???] But why were they in such remote locations and why had they been so long neglected? What, too, of the plainer caves like Kanheri and the largest of all, Karli in the Western Ghats? Lord Valentia was pretty sure that the sitting figure, surrounded by devotees, at Karli was ''the Boddh''; he had just come from Ceylon where Buddhism was still a living religion, though it appeared to be almost unknown in India.

Other critics who looked to the west for an explanation of anything they found admirable in Indian art, insisted that the excellence of the sculpture indicated the presence of a Greek, Phoenician or even Jewish colony in western India. Yet others looked to Africa: who but the builders of the pyramids could have achieved such monolithic wonders? These theories, were based on the idea that such monuments were exclusive to western India, which had a long history of maritime contacts with the West. They became less credible with the discovery of the so-called Seven Pagodas at Mahabalipuram near Madras. Here, a thousand miles away and on the other side of the Indian peninsula, were a group of temples cut not out of solid rock, but sculpted out of boulders. At first glance they looked like true buildings, a little rounded like old stone cottages, but well proportioned -- up to 55 feet long and 35 feet high -- with porches, pillars and statuary. It was only on closer inspection that one realised that each was a single gigantic stone sculpted into architecture. "Stupendous," declared William Chambers who twice visited the place in the 1770s (though his report had to wait for the Asiatic Society's first publication in 1789), ''of a style no longer in use, indeed closer to that of Egypt''.

Five years later, a further account of the boulder temples, or raths, was submitted by a man who had also seen Elephanta. To his mind there was no question that in style and technique the two were closely related. Had he also seen the intaglio temple of Ellora he might have been tempted to postulate some theory of architectural development; first the cave temple, then the free-standing excavation, and finally the boulder style, freed at last from solid rock. It was as if India's architecture had somehow evolved out of the earth's crust. Elsewhere, stone buildings have always evolved from wooden ones; but in India it was as if architecture was a development of sculpture. The distinctive characteristic of all truly Indian buildings is their sculptural quality. The great Hindu temples look like mountainous accumulations of figures and friezes; even the Taj Mahal, for all its purity of line, stays in the mind as a masterpiece of sculpture rather than of construction.

There was yet one other type of ancient monument which had intrigued early visitors. Thomas Coryat, an English eccentric who turned up in Delhi in 1616, was probably the first to take notice of it. South of the Moghul city of Delhi (now Old Delhi) lay the abandoned tombs and forts of half a dozen earlier Delhis (now, confusingly, the site of New Delhi). The ruins stretched for ten miles, overgrown, inhabited by bats and monkeys. But in the middle of this jungle of crumbling masonry Coryat saw something that made him stop; it did not belong. A plain circular pillar, 40 feet high, stuck up through the remains of some dying palace and, in the evening light so proper to ruins, it shone. At a distance he took it for brass, closer up for marble; it is in fact polished sandstone. Of a weight later estimated at 27 tons, it is a single, finely tapered stone, another example of highly developed monolithic craftsmanship. But what intrigued Coryat was the discovery that it was inscribed. Of the two principal inscriptions one was in a script consisting of simple erect letters, a bit like pin-men, which Coryat was sure were Greek. The pillar must then, he thought, have been erected by Alexander the Great, probably "in token of his victorie" over the Indian king Porus in 326 BC.

Fifty years later another such pillar was discovered by John Marshall, an East India Company factor who has been called "the first Englishman who really studied Indian antiquities". He was certainly less inclined to jump to wild conclusions. His pillar was "nine yards nine inches high" [27' 9"] and boasted a remarkable capital: ''at the top of this pillar ... is placed a tyger engraven, the neatliest that I have seene in India''.
It was actually a lion. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this pillar was that it was in Bihar, a thousand miles from Delhi and many more from the rock-cut monuments around Bombay and Madras.

Writing similar to that found on the Delhi pillar was also found on some of the cave temples; and at Karli there was actually a small pillar outside the cave. Clearly all these monuments were somehow connected. But it was doubtful whether Alexander had ever reached Delhi, let alone Bihar. The existence of a similar pillar there put paid to Coryat's idea of their commemorating Alexander's victories, although the possibility that the letters were some corrupt form of Greek would linger on for many years.

With the foundation of the Asiatic Society there was at last a forum in which a concerted investigation into all these monuments could take place. Reports of more pillars and caves were soon trickling in. Jones himself was rightly convinced that the mystery of who created them, when and why, could be solved only if the inscriptions could be translated. Some ancient civilisation, some foreign conqueror perhaps, or some master craftsman, seemed to be crying out for recognition. Another breakthrough seemed imminent; and with it another chunk of India's lost history might be restored.

Thanks to Charles Wilkins, the man who preceded Jones as a Sanskritist, progress was at first encouraging. At one of the earliest meetings of the Society he reported on a new pillar, also in Bihar.
Sometime, in the month of November in the year 1780 I discovered in the vicinity of the Town of Buddal, near which the Company has a factory, and which at that time was under my charge, a decapitated monumental pillar which at a little distance had very much the appearance of the trunk of a coconut tree broken off in the middle. It stands in a swamp overgrown with weeds near a small temple .... Upon my getting close enough to the monument to examine it, I took its dimensions and made a drawing of it. ... At a few feet above the ground is an inscription, engrained in the stone, from which I took two reversed impressions with printer's ink. I have lately been so fortunate as to decipher the character.

Though very different from Devanagari, the modern script used for Sanskrit, it was clearly related to it and Wilkins was not surprised to discover that the language was in fact Sanskrit. To historians the translation was a disappointment; the Buddal pillar told them nothing of interest. But the deciphering was an important development. Nowadays it is recognised that the modern Devanagari script has passed through three distinct stages; first the pin-men script that Coryat thought was Greek (Ashoka Brahmi); second a more ornate, chunky script (Gupta Brahmi); and third, a more curved and rounded script (Kutila) from which springs the washing-on-the-line script of Devanagari. The Buddal pillar was Kutila, and once Wilkins had established that it had some connection with Devanagari, the possibility of working backwards to the earlier scripts was dimly perceived.

As if to illustrate this, Wilkins next surprised his colleagues by teasing some sense out of an inscription written in Gupta Brahmi. It came from a cave near Gaya which had been known for some time though never visited; a Mr Hodgekis, who tried, "was assassinated on his way to it''. Encouraged by Warren Hastings, John Harrington, the secretary of the Asiatic Society, was more successful and found the cave hidden behind a tree near the top of a hill. The character of the inscription, according to Wilkins, was ''undoubtedly the most ancient of any that have hitherto come under my inspection. But though the writing is not modern, the language is pure Sanskrit.'' Wilkins, tantalising as ever about how he made his breakthrough, apparently divined that the inscription was in verse. It was the discovery of the metre that somehow helped him to the successful decipherment. But again, there was little in this new translation to satisfy the historian's thirst for facts.

A far more promising approach to the problem, indeed a short cut, seemed to be heralded in a letter to Jones from Lieutenant Francis Wilford, a surveyor and an enthusiastic student of all things oriental, who was based at Benares. Jones had been sent copies of inscriptions found at Ellora and written in Ashoka Brahmi, the still undeciphered pin-men. He had probably sent them to Wilford because Benares, the holy city of the hindus, was the most likely place to find a Brahmin who might be able to read them. In 1793 Wilford announced that he had found just such a man.

I have the honour to return to you the facsimile of several inscriptions with an explanation of them. I despaired at first of ever being able to decipher them ... However, after many fruitless attempts on our part, we were so fortunate as to find at lazst an ancient sage, who gave us the key, and produced a book in Sanskrit, containing a great many ancient alphabets formerly in use in different parts of India. This was really a fortunate discovery, which hereafter may be of great service to us.

According to the ancient sage, most of Wilford's inscriptions related to the wanderings of the five heroic Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata. At the unspecified time in question they were under an obligation not to converse with the rest of mankind; so their friends devised a method of communicating with them by writing short and obscure sentences on rocks and stones in the wilderness and in characters previously agreed upon betwixt them". The sage happened to have the key to these characters in his code book; obligingly he transcribed them into Devanagari Sanskrit and then translated them.

To be fair to Wilford, he was a bit suspicious about this ingenious explanation of how the inscriptions got there. But he had no doubts that the deciphering and translation were genuine. ''Our having been able to decipher them is a great point in my opinion, as it may hereafter lead to further discoveries, that may ultimately crown our labours with success.'' Above all, he had now located the code book, ''a most fortunate circumstance''.

Poor Wilford was the laughing stock of the Benares Brahmins for a whole decade. They had already fobbed him off with Sanskrit texts, later proved spurious, on the source of the Nile and the origin of Mecca. After the code book there was a geographical treatise on The Sacred Isles of the West, which included early Hindu reference to the British Isles. The Brahmins, to whom Sanskrit had so long remained a sacred prerogative, were getting their own back. One wonders how much Wilford paid his "ancient sage".

Jones was already a little suspicious of Wilford's sources, but on the code book, which was as much a fabrication as the translations supposedly based on it, he reserved judgement until he might see it. He never did. In fact it was never heard of again. But in spite of these disappointments Jones continued to believe that in time this oldest script would be deciphered. He had been sent a copy of the writings on the Delhi pillar and told a correspondent that they ''drive me to despair; you are right, I doubt not, in thinking them foreign; I believe them to be Ethiopian and to have been imported a thousand years before Christ". It was not one of his more inspired guesses and at the time of his death the mystery of the inscriptions and of the monoliths was as dark as ever.


And so it remained until the labours of James Prinsep. Jones had given oriental studies a strongly literary bias and his successors continued to concentrate on Sanskrit manuscripts. Archaeological studies were ignored in consequence, and so were inscriptions. Wilkins' few translations had led nowhere and the most intriguing of the scripts remained undeciphered. Indeed even the translation of the Gupta Brahmi script from the cave at Gaya was forgotten in the general waning of interest; it would have to be deciphered all over again.

During his first twelve years in India Prinsep confined his attention to scientific matters. He was sent to Benares to set up a second mint and while there redesigned the city's sewers. He also contributed a few articles to the Asiatic Society's journal (''Descriptions of a Pluviometer and Evaporameter", ''Note on the Magic Mirrors of Japan", etc).

But in 1830 he was recalled to Calcutta as assistant to the Assay-Master, Horace Hayman Wilson, who was also secretary of the Asiatic Society and an eminent Sanskrit scholar. At the time Wilson was puzzling over the significance of various ancient coins that had recently been found in Rajasthan and the Punjab. Prinsep helped to catalogue and describe them, and it was in attempting to decipher their legends that his interest in the whole question of ancient inscriptions was aroused. Although his ignorance of Sanskrit was undoubtedly a handicap, here, in the deciphering of scripts, was a field in which his quite exceptional talent for minute and methodical study could be deployed to brilliant advantage.

Since Jones' day another pillar like that at Delhi had been found at Allahabad; in addition to a Persian inscription of the Moghul period, it displayed a long inscription in each of the two older scripts (Ashoka Brahmi and Gupta Brahmi). A report had also been received of a rock in Orissa covered with the same two scripts. In 1833 Prinsep prevailed on a Lieutenant Burt, one of several enthusiastic engineers and surveyors, to take an exact impression of the Allahabad pillar inscription.

The facsimiles reached Prinsep in early 1834. With an eminent Sanskritist, the Rev W. H. Mill, he soon resolved the problem of the Gupta Brahmi. This was the script that Wilkins had deciphered nearly 50 years before, though his achievement had since been forgotten. The same thing was not likely to happen again; for this time the inscription had something to tell. Evidently it had been engraved on the instructions of a king called Samudragupta. It recorded his extensive conquests and it mentioned that he was the son of Chandragupta. The temptation to assume that this Chandragupta was the same as Jones' Chandragupta, the Sandracottus of the Greeks, was almost irresistible. But not quite. For one thing Jones' Chandragupta had not, according to the Sanskrit king lists, been succeeded by a Samudragupta; they did, however, mention several other Chandraguptas. But if Prinsep and Mill were disappointed at having to deny themselves the simplest and most satisfying of identifications, there would be compensation. They had raised the veil on a dynasty now known as the Imperial Guptas. According to the Allahabad inscriptions Samudragupta had ''violently uprooted'' nine kings and annexed their kingdoms. His rule stretched right across northern India and deep into the Deccan. Politically, here was an empire to rival that of Jones' Chandragupta. But, more important, the Gupta period, about AD 320-460, would soon come to be recognised as the golden age of classical Indian culture. To this period belong many of the frescoes of Ajanta, the finest of the Sarnath and Mathura sculptures, and the plays and poems of Kalidasa, ''the Indian Shakespeare".


But at the time Prinsep and Mill knew no more about these Guptas than what the pillar told them -- and much of that they were inclined to regard as royal hyperbole and therefore unreliable. Prinsep, anyway, was more interested in the scripts than in their historical interpretation. Unlike Jones, he did not indulge in grand theories. He was not a classical scholar, not even a Sanskritist, but a pragmatic, dedicated scientist.

In between experimenting with rust-proof treatments for the new steamboats to be employed on the Ganges, he wrestled next with the Ashoka Brahmi pin-men on the Allahabad column. Coryat's idea that it was some kind of Greek was back in fashion. One scholar claimed to have identified no less than seven letters of the Greek alphabet and another had actually read a Greek name written in this script on an ancient coin. Prinsep was sceptical. The Greek name was only Greek if read upside down. [???!!!] Turn it round and the pinmen letters were just like those on the pillars.

But as yet he had no solution of his own. ''It would require an accurate acquaintance with many of the languages of the East, as well as perfect leisure and abstraction from other pursuits to engage upon the recovery of this lost language.'' He guessed that it must be Sanskrit and thought the script looked simpler than the Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was still beyond him, though, and he could only hope that someone else in India would take up the challenge ''before the indefatigable students of Bonn and Berlin''.

No one reacted directly to this appeal, but in far away Kathmandu the solitary British resident at the Court of Nepal, Brian Houghton Hodgson, read his copy of the Society's journal and immediately dashed off a pained note. No man made more contributions to the discovery of India than Hodgson, or researched in so many different fields. From his outpost in the Himalayas he deluged the Asiatic Society with so many reports that it is hardly surprising some were mislaid. This was a case in point. "Eight or ten years ago" (so some time in the mid 1820s), he had sent in details of two more inscribed pillars. Prinsep could not find them. But Hodgson also disclosed that he had now found yet a third. It was at Bettiah (Lauriya Nandangarh) in northern Bihar and, like the others, very close to the Nepalese frontier. Could they then have been erected as boundary markers?

More intriguing was the facsimile of the inscription on this pillar which Hodgson thoughtfully enclosed. It was Ashoka Brahmi and Prinsep placed it alongside his copies of the Delhi and Allahabad inscriptions. Again he started to look for clues, concentrating this time on separating the shapes of the individual consonants from the vowels which were in the form of little marks festooning them. Darting from one facsimile to the other to verify these, he suddenly experienced that shiver down the spine that comes with the unexpected revelation. "Upon carefully comparing them, [the three inscriptions] with a view to finding any other words that might be common to them ... I was led to a most important discovery; namely that all three inscriptions were identically the same.''

Any surprise that he had not noticed this before must be tempered by the fact that the inscriptions, all of 2,000 years old, were far from perfect. Many letters had been worn away and in one case much of the original inscription had been obliterated by a later one written on top of it. The copies from which Prinsep worked also left much to be desired. Apart from the errors inevitable when someone tried to copy a considerable chunk of writing in totally unfamiliar characters, one copyist working his way round the pillar had managed to transpose the first and second halves of every line.

By correlating all three versions it was now possible to obtain a near perfect fair copy.
At the same time even the cautious Prinsep could not resist offering a few conjectures ''on the origin and nature of these singular columns, erected at places so distant from each other and all bearing the same inscription''.
Whether they mark the conquests of some victorious raja; -- whether they are, as it were, the boundary pillars of his dominions; -- or whether they are of a religious nature ... can only be satisfactorily solved by the discovery of the language.

Clearly this people, this kingdom, this religion, was of significance to the whole of north India. It was altogether too big a subject to be left to chance. Prinsep, well placed now as Secretary of the Asiatic Society to assess the various materials (Wilson had retired to England), resolved to undertake the translation himself. In 1834 he tried the obvious line of relating this script to that of the Gupta Brahmi which he had just deciphered. For each, he drew up a table showing the frequency with which individual letters occurred, the idea being that those which occurred approximately the same number of times in each script might be the same letters.[???!!!] It was worth a try, but obviously would work only if both were in the same language and dealt with the same sort of subject. They did not, in fact they were not even in the same language, and Prinsep soon gave up this approach.[???!!!]

Next he tried relating the individual letters from each of the two scripts which had a similar conformation. This was more encouraging. He tentatively identified a handful of consonants and heard from a correspondent in Bombay, who was working on the cave temple inscriptions, that he too had identified these and five others. Armed with these few identifications, he attempted a translation, hoping that the sense might reveal the rest. But some of his letters were wrongly identified, and anyway he was still barking up the wrong tree in imagining that the language was pure Sanskrit. The attempt was a dismal failure. Discouraged, but far from defeated, Prinsep returned to the drawing board.

For the next four years he pushed himself physically and mentally towards the brink. Outside his office Calcutta was changing. The Governor-General had a new residence modelled on Kedleston Hall, but considerably grander: the dining-room could seat 200 and over 500 sometimes attended the Government House balls. Society was less boorish than in Jones' day. The hookah had gone out and so had most of the ''sooty bibis''; the memsahibs were taking over. But the only innovation Prinsep would have been aware of was the flapping punkah, or fan, above his desk. Now the Assay-Master, he spent all day at the mint and all evening with his coins and inscriptions or conferring with his pandits. By seven in the morning he was back at his desk. There is no record, as with Jones, of an early morning walk or ride, no mention of leisure. Instead he lived vicariously, through the endeavours and successes of his correspondents.

Jones, as president and founder of the Asiatic Society, and the most respected scholar of his age, had both inspired and dominated his fellows. Prinsep was just the opposite. He was the secretary of the Society, not the President, a plain Mr with few pretensions other than his total dedication. But this in itself was enough. His enthusiasm communicated itself to others and was irresistible. When he asked for coins and inscriptions they came flooding in from every corner of India. Painstakingly he acknowledged, translated and commented upon them. By 1837 he had an army of enthusiasts -- officers, engineers, explorers, political agents and administrators -- informally collecting for him. Colonel Stacy at Chitor, Udaipur and Delhi, Lieutenant A. Connolly at Jaipur, Captain Wade at Ludhiana, Captain Cautley at Sahranpur, Lieutenant Cunningham at Benares, Colonel Smith at Patna, Mr Tregear at Jaunpur, Dr Swiney in Upper India .... the list was long.

It was from one of these correspondents, Captain Edward Smith, an engineer at Allahabad, that in 1837 there came the vital clue to the mysterious script. On Prinsep's suggestion, Smith had made the long journey into Central India to visit an archaeological site of exceptional interest at Sanchi near Bhopal. Prinsep wanted accurate drawings of its sculptural wonders and facsimiles of an inscription in Gupta Brahmi which had not yet been translated. Smith obliged with both of these and, noticing some further very short inscriptions on the stone railings round the main shrine, took copies of them just for good measure.

These apparently trivial fragments of rude writing [wrote Prinsep] have led to even more important results than the other inscriptions. They have instructed us in the alphabet and language of these ancient pillars and rock inscriptions which have been the wonder of the learned since the days of Sir William Jones, and I am already nearly prepared to render the Society an account of the writing on the lat [pillar] at Delhi. With no little satisfaction that, as I was the first to analyse these unknown symbols ... so I should now be rewarded with the completion of a discovery I then despaired of accomplishing for want of a competent knowledge of the Sanskrit language.


Typically, Prinsep then launched into a long discussion of the sculpture and other inscriptions, keeping his audience and readers on tenterhooks for another 10 pages. But to Lieutenant Alexander Cunningham, his protege in Benares, he had already announced the discovery in a letter.
23 May 1837.

My dear Cunningham, Hors de department de mes etudes! [Out of my department studies!] [a reference to a Mohammedan coin that Cunningham had sent him]. No, but I can read the Delhi No. 1 which is of more importance; the Sanchi inscriptions have enlightened me. Each line is engraved on a separate pillar or railing. Then thought I, they must be the gifts of private individuals where names will be recorded. All end in danam [in the original characters] -- that must mean 'gift' or 'given'.[???!!!] Let's see ...

Table 1. John Marshall's phasing at Sanchi.
Phase / Date range / Monuments / Inscriptions / Sculptures

I / 3rd century BC / Stupa 1: brick core; Pillar 10; Temple 40 (apsidal); Temple 18 (apsidal) / Ashokan inscription (c. 269-232 BC) / Elephant capital from Temple 40 (?)

Image
Sanchi Pillar 10

Image
Sanchi Temple 40

Image
Sanchi Temple 18

Image
Elephant capital from East Gate of Stupa 1

Image
Elephant capital from Sankissa, one of the Pillars of Ashoka, 3rd century BCE


II / 2nd-1st century BC / Stupas 2, 3, 4; Stupa 1: casing and railings; Temples 18 and 40 (enlargements); Building 8 (platformed monastery) / Donative inscriptions on Stupa 1, 2, and 3 railings; reliquary inscriptions from Stupas 2 and 3. / Pillar by Stupa 2; Pillar 25.

III / 1st-3rd century AD / Stupa 1: gateway carvings. / Southern gateway inscription of Shatakarni (c. AD 25)....

-- Sanchi as an archaeological area, by Julia Shaw, 2013

He proved his point by immediately translating four such lines, and then turned to the first line of the famous pillar inscriptions: Devam piya piyadasi raja hevam aha, "the most-particularly-loved-of-the-gods raja declareth thus". He was not quite right; the r should have been l, laja not raja. But he was near enough. Danam giving him the d, the n and the m, all very common and hitherto unidentified, had been just enough to tip the balance.

With the help of a distinguished pandit he immediately set about the long pillar inscriptions. It was June, the most unbearable month of the Calcutta year; to concentrate the mind even for a minute is a major achievement. By now the Governor-General and the rest of Calcutta society were in the habit of taking themselves off to the cool heights of Simla at such a time. Prinsep stayed at his desk. The deciphering was going well but he had at last acknowledged the unexpected difficulty of the language not being Sanskrit.[???] As Hodgson had suggested, it was closer to Pali, the sacred language of Tibet, or in other words it was one of the Prakrit languages, vernacular derivations of the classical Sanskrit. This made it difficult to pin down the precise meaning of many phrases. Prinsep also had, himself, to engrave all the plates for the script that would illustrate his account. Nevertheless, in the incredibly short space of six weeks, his translation was ready and he announced it to the Society. As usual he treated them to a long preamble on the discoveries that had led up to it and on the difficulties it still presented. But, unlike other inscriptions, these had one remarkable feature in their favour. There was an almost un-Indian frankness about the language, no exaggeration, no hyperbole, no long lists of royal qualities. Instead there was a bold and disarming directness:[???!!!]
Thus spake King Devanampiya Piyadasi. In the twenty-seventh year of my annointment I have caused this religious edict to be published in writing. I acknowledge and confess the faults that have been cherished in my heart ...

The king had obviously undergone a religious conversion and, from the nature of the sentiments expressed, it was clearly Buddhism that he had adopted. The purpose of his edicts was to promote this new religion, to encourage right thinking and right behaviour, to discourage killing, to protect animals and birds, and to ordain certain days as holy days and certain men as religious administrators. The inscriptions ended in the same style as they had begun.
In the twenty-seventh year of my reign I have caused this edict to be written; so sayeth Devanampiya; ''Let stone pillars be prepared and let this edict of religion be engraven thereon, that it may endure into the remotest ages."

Something about both the language and the contents was immediately familiar: it was Old Testament. Even Prinsep could not resist the obvious analogy -- "we might easily cite a more ancient and venerable example of thus fixing the law on tablets of stone". Perhaps it was just out of reverence that he called them edicts rather than commandments. But the message was clear enough. Here was an Indian king uncannily imitating Moses[???!!!], indeed going one better; as well as using tablets of stone, he had created these magnificent pillars to bear his message through the ages.

But who was this king? "Devanampiya Piyadasi" could be a proper name but it was not one that appeared in any of the Sanskrit king lists. Equally it could be a royal epithet, "Beloved of the Gods and of gracious mien''. At first Prinsep thought the former. In Ceylon a Mr George Turnour had been working on the Buddhist histories preserved there and ad just sent in a translation that mentioned a king Piyadasi who was the first Ceylon king to adopt Buddhism. This fitted well; but what was a king of Ceylon doing scattering inscriptions all over northern India? One of the edicts actually claimed that the king had planted trees along the highways, dug wells, erected traveller's rest houses etc. How could a Sinhalese king be planting trees along the Ganges?

A few weeks later Turnour himself came up with the answer. Studying another Buddhist work he discovered that Piyadasi was also the normal epithet of a great Indian sovereign, a contemporary of the Ceylon Piyadasi, and that this king was otherwise known as Ashoka. It was further stated that Ashoka was the grandson of Chandragupta and that he was consecrated 218 years after the Buddha's enlightenment.

Suddenly it all began to make sense. Ashoka was already known from the Sanskrit king lists as a descendant of Chandragupta Maurya (Sandracottus) and, from Himalayan Buddhist sources, as a legendary patron of early Buddhism. Now his historicity was dramatically established. Thanks to the inscriptions, from being just a doubtful name, more was suddenly known about Ashoka than about any other Indian sovereign before AD 1100. As heir to Chandragupta it was not surprising that his pillars and inscriptions were so widely scattered. The Mauryan empire was clearly one of the greatest ever known in India, and here was its noblest scion speaking of his life and work through the mists of 2,000 years. It was one of the most exciting moments in the whole story of archaeological discovery.


-- "Ashoka," Excerpt from India Discovered, by John Keay


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A 13th-century fresco of Sylvester I and Constantine the Great, showing the purported Donation (Santi Quattro Coronati, Rome)

The Donation of Constantine (Latin: Donatio Constantini) is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the 4th-century emperor Constantine the Great supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the Pope. Composed probably in the 8th century, it was used, especially in the 13th century, in support of claims of political authority by the papacy.[1] In many of the existing manuscripts (handwritten copies of the document), including the oldest one, the document bears the title Constitutum domini Constantini imperatoris.[2] The Donation of Constantine was included in the 9th-century collection Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals.

Lorenzo Valla, an Italian Catholic priest and Renaissance humanist, is credited with first exposing the forgery with solid philological arguments in 1439–1440,[3] although the document's authenticity had been repeatedly contested since 1001.[1]

The text is purportedly a decree of Roman Emperor Constantine I, dated 30 March—a year mistakenly said to be both that of his fourth consulate (315) and that of the consulate of Gallicanus (317).[4] In it "Constantine" professes Christianity (confessio) and entitles to Pope Sylvester several imperial insignia and privileges (donatio), as well as the Lateran Palace. Rome, the rest of Italy, and the western provinces of the empire are made over to the papacy.[5]

The text recounts a narrative founded on the 5th-century hagiography the Acts of Sylvester. This fictitious tale describes the sainted Pope Sylvester's rescue of the Romans from the depredations of a local dragon and the pontiff's miraculous cure of the emperor's leprosy by the sacrament of baptism.[5] The story was rehearsed by the Liber Pontificalis; by the later 8th century the dragon-slayer Sylvester and his apostolic successors were rewarded in the Donation of Constantine with temporal powers never in fact exercised by the historical Bishops of Rome under Constantine.

In his gratitude, "Constantine" determined to bestow on the seat of Peter "power, and dignity of glory, vigor, and imperial honor," and "supremacy as well over the four principal sees: Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Constantinople, as also over all the churches of God in the whole earth". For the upkeep of the church of Saint Peter and that of Saint Paul, he gave landed estates "in Judea, Greece, Asia, Thrace, Africa, Italy and the various islands". To Sylvester and his successors he also granted imperial insignia, the tiara, and "the city of Rome, and all the provinces, places and cities of Italy and the western regions".[6][7]

The Donation sought reduction in the authority of Constantinople; if Constantine had elevated Sylvester to imperial rank before the 330 inauguration of Constantinople, then Rome's patriarch had a lead of some fifteen years in the contest for primacy among the patriarchates. Implicitly, the papacy asserted its supremacy and prerogative to transfer the imperial seat; the papacy had consented to the translatio imperii to Byzantium by Constantine and it could wrest back the authority at will.[5]
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Part 2 of 2

Origin

It has been suggested that an early draft of the Donation of Constantine was made shortly after the middle of the 8th century, in order to assist Pope Stephen II in his negotiations with Pepin the Short, who then held the position of Mayor of the Palace (i.e., the manager of the household of the Frankish king).[8][9] In 754, Pope Stephen II crossed the Alps to anoint Pepin king, thereby enabling the Carolingian family to supplant the old Merovingian royal line. In return for Stephen's support, Pepin gave the pope the lands in Italy which the Lombards had taken from the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire.[10] It is also possible it originated in the chancery of Stephen's immediate successor Paul I.[5] These lands would become the Papal States and would be the basis of the papacy's temporal power for the next eleven centuries.

Another interpretation holds that the Donation was not an official forgery directed at Constantinople, but was instead a ploy in Roman ecclesiastical politics to bolster the status of the Lateran, which does have historical Constantinian connections, against the rising status of the Vatican, and it may have been composed by a Greek monk working in a Roman monastery.[5] In one study, an attempt was made at dating the forgery to the 9th century, and placing its composition at Corbie Abbey, in northern France.[11]

German medievalist Johannes Fried draws a distinction between the Donation of Constantine and an earlier, also forged version, the Constitutum Constantini, which was included in the collection of forged documents, the False Decretals, compiled in the later half of the ninth century. Fried argues the Donation is a later expansion of the much shorter Constitutum.[11] Christopher B. Coleman understands the mention in the Constitutum of a donation of "the western regions" to refer to the regions of Lombardia, Veneto, and Istria.[12]

Medieval use and reception

What may perhaps be the earliest known allusion to the Donation is in a letter of 778, in which Pope Hadrian I exhorts Charlemagne – whose father, Pepin the Younger, had made the Donation of Pepin granting the Popes sovereignty over the Papal States – to follow Constantine's example and endow the Roman Catholic church. Otto III's chancery denied its authenticity.[13]

The first pope to directly invoke the decree was Pope Leo IX, in a letter sent in 1054 to Michael I Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople.[2] He cited a large portion of the document, believing it genuine,[14][15] furthering the debate that would ultimately lead to the East–West Schism. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Donation was often cited in the investiture conflicts between the papacy and the secular powers in the West.[2]

The document's contents contradicted the Byzantines' notion that Constantine's translatio imperii transferred the seat of imperial authority from Rome to his foundation of Constantinople, named the "New Rome". Consequently, the Donation featured in the east–west dispute over ecclesiastical primacy between the patriarchal sees of Rome and New Rome.[5] Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida also issued a version of the document to support the papacy's claims against the eastern emperors' and patriarchs' primacy.[5]

By the 12th century the text existed in Greek translation, of which a 14th-century manuscript survives, and Byzantine writers were also using the Donation in their polemics; John Kinnamos, writing in the reign of eastern emperor Manuel I Komnenos, criticized western Staufer emperors as usurpers and denied the popes had the right to bestow the imperial office.[5] Theodore Balsamon justified Michael Cerularius's behaviour in 1054 using the Donation as a rationale for his dismissal of the papal legation and the mutual excommunications that followed.[5]

In 1248, the Chapel of St Sylvester in the Basilica of the Santi Quattro Coronati was decorated with fresco showing the story of the Roman baptism and Donation of Constantine.[16]

In his Divine Comedy, written in the early 14th century, the poet Dante Alighieri wrote:[17]

Ahi, Costantin, di quanto mal fu matre,
non la tua conversion, ma quella dote
che da te prese il primo ricco patre!

(Ah, Constantine, how much evil was born,
not from your conversion, but from that donation
that the first wealthy Pope received from you!)

— Dante Alighieri, Inferno, canto 19, lines 115–117.
Investigation


[x]
Workshop of Raphael, The Donation of Constantine. Stanze di Raffaello, Vatican City

During the Middle Ages, the Donation was widely accepted as authentic, although Holy Roman Emperor Otto III did possibly raise suspicions of the document "in letters of gold" as a forgery, in making a gift to the See of Rome.[13] It was not until the mid-15th century, with the revival of Classical scholarship and textual criticism, that humanists, and eventually the papal bureaucracy, began to realize that the document could not possibly be genuine. Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa declared it to be a forgery[18][19] and spoke of it as an apocryphal work.

[x]
Lorenzo Valla

Later, the Catholic priest Lorenzo Valla argued in his philological study of the text that the language used in manuscript could not be dated to the 4th century.[20] The language of the text suggests that the manuscript can most likely be dated to the 8th century. Valla believed the forgery to be so obvious that he suspected that the Church knew the document to be inauthentic. Valla further argued that papal usurpation of temporal power had corrupted the church, caused the wars of Italy, and reinforced the "overbearing, barbarous, tyrannical priestly domination."[20]

This was the first instance of modern, scientific diplomatics. Independently of both Cusa and Valla, Reginald Pecocke, Bishop of Chichester (1450–57), reached a similar conclusion. Among the indications that the Donation must be a fake are its language and the fact that, while certain imperial-era formulas are used in the text, some of the Latin in the document could not have been written in the 4th century; anachronistic terms such as "fief" were used. Also, the purported date of the document is inconsistent with the content of the document itself, as it refers both to the fourth consulate of Constantine (315) as well as the consulate of Gallicanus (317).

Pope Pius II wrote a tract in 1453, five years before becoming pope, to show that though the Donation was a forgery, the papacy owed its lands to Charlemagne and its powers of the keys to Peter; however, he did not publish it.[21]

Contemporary opponents of papal powers in Italy emphasized the primacy of civil law and civil jurisdiction, now firmly embodied once again in the Justinian Corpus Juris Civilis. The Florentine chronicler Giovanni Cavalcanti reported that, in the very year of Valla's treatise, Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, made diplomatic overtures toward Cosimo de' Medici in Florence, proposing an alliance against the pope. In reference to the Donation, Visconti wrote: "It so happens that even if Constantine consigned to Sylvester so many and such rich gifts – which is doubtful, because such a privilege can nowhere be found – he could only have granted them for his lifetime: the empire takes precedence over any lordship."[citation needed]

Later, scholars further demonstrated that other elements, such as Sylvester's curing of Constantine, are legends which originated at a later time. Wolfram Setz, a recent editor of Valla's work, has affirmed that at the time of Valla's refutation, Constantine's alleged "donation" was no longer a matter of contemporary relevance in political theory and that it simply provided an opportunity for an exercise in legal rhetoric.[22]

The bulls of Nicholas V and his successors made no further mention of the Donation, even when partitioning the New World, though the doctrine of "omni-insular" papal fiefdoms, developed out of the Donation's vague references to islands since Pope Nicholas II's grant of Sicily to Robert Guiscard, was deployed after 1492 in papal pronouncements on the overlapping claims of the Iberian kingdoms in the Americas and Moluccas, including Inter caetera, a bull that resulted in the Treaty of Tordesillas and the Treaty of Zaragoza.[16][23] Valla's treatise was taken up vehemently by writers of the Protestant Reformation, such as Ulrich von Hutten and Martin Luther, causing the treatise to be placed on the index of banned books in the mid-16th century.

The Donation continued to be tacitly accepted as authentic until Caesar Baronius in his Annales Ecclesiastici (published 1588–1607) admitted that it was a forgery, after which it was almost universally accepted as such.[2] Some continued to argue for its authenticity; nearly a century after Annales Ecclesiastici, Christian Wolff still alluded to the Donation as undisputed fact.[24]

See also

• Catholicism portal
• Italy portal
• Vatican City portal
• Constantinianism
• Caesaropapism
• Donation of Sutri
• Donation of Pepin
• Investiture Controversy
• Privilegium maius
• Translatio imperii
• Vatican City
• List of late imperial Roman consuls
• Legacy of the Roman Empire
• Inter caetera
• Treaty of Tordesillas and Treaty of Zaragoza

Notes

1. Vauchez, Andre (2001). Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Routledge. p. 445. ISBN 9781579582821.
2. "Donation of Constantine". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
3. Whelton, M. (1998). Two Paths: Papal Monarchy – Collegial Tradition. Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press. p. 113.
4. Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages.
5. Hollingsworth, Paul A. (1991). "Donation of Constantine". In Kazhdan, Alexander P. (ed.). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (2005 online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195046526.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
6. "The Donation of Constantine". Decretum Gratiani. Part 1, Division 96, Chapters 13–14. Quoted in: Coleman, Christopher B. (1922). Discourse on the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Translation of: Valla, Lorenzo (1440). Declamatio de falso credita et ementita donatione Constantini.) Hosted at the Hanover Historical Texts Project.
7. A slightly more ample summary is given in: Russell, Bertrand (2004). A History of Western Philosophy. Routledge. p. 366. ISBN 9780415325059.
8. Duffy, Eamon (2006). Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-300-11597-0.
9. O'Malley, S. W. J. (2009). A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present. Government Institutes. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-580-51229-9.
10. Schnürer, Gustav (1912). States of the Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
11. Fried, Johannes (2007). "Donation of Constantine" and "Constitutum Constantini": The Misinterpretation of a Fiction and Its Original Meaning. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-018539-3.
12. Coleman, Christopher Bush (1914). Constantine the Great and Christianity: Three Phases : the Historical, the Legendary, and the Spurious. Columbia University Press.
13. Monumenta Germaniae Historica. DD II 820. pp. 13–15.
14. Migne, Jacques-Paul (1891). Patrologia Latina. Volume 143 (cxliii). Col. 744–769.
15. Mansi, Giovanni Domenico. Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova Amplissima Collectio. Volume 19 (xix). Col. 635–656.
16. Curta, Florin (2016). "Donation of Constantine". In Curta, Florin; Holt, Andrew (eds.). Great Events in Religion: An Encyclopedia of Pivotal Events in Religious History [3 volumes]. vol. II. ABC-CLIO. pp. 407–409. ISBN 978-1-61069-566-4.
17. Dante Alighieri. Inferno. Canto 19, lines 115–117.
18. Toulmin, Stephen; Goodfield, June (1982). The Discovery of Time (Phoenix ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 104–106. ISBN 0-226-80842-4.
19. Nicholas of Cusa, Paul E. Sigmund (editor and translator) (1991). "The properly ordered power of the Western emperor does not depend on the Pope". The Catholic Concordance. Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought. Cambridge University Press. pp. 216–222. ISBN 0-521-40207-7.
20. Prosser, Peter E. (2001). "Church history's biggest hoax: Renaissance scholarship proved fatal for one of the medieval papacy's favorite claims". Christian History. 20 (Journal Article): 35–. ISSN 0891-9666. – via General OneFile (subscription required)
21. Pope Pius II (1883). Opera inedita. pp. 571–81. Cited in: Lea, Henry Charles (1895). "The 'Donation of Constantine'". The English Historical Review 10(37). pp. 86–87. doi:10.1093/ehr/X.XXXVII.86
22. Setz, Wolfram (1976). Lorenzo Vallas Schrift gegen die Konstantinische Schenkung. Weimar. (Translation of: Valla, Lorenzo (1440). De Falso Credita et Ementita Constantini Donatione Declamatio).
23. Wilson, Eric Michael (2008). The Savage Republic: De Indis of Hugo Grotius, Republicanism and Dutch Hegemony Within the Early Modern World-System (c.1600-1619). BRILL. pp. 166ff. ISBN 978-90-04-16788-9.
24. Wolff, Christian. "Append. ad Concilium Chalcedonensem". Opere. ii:261. Cited in: Lea, Henry Charles (1895). "The 'Donation of Constantine'". The English Historical Review 10(37). pp. 86–87. doi:10.1093/ehr/X.XXXVII.86

Further reading

• Camporeale, Salvatore I. "Lorenzo Valla's Oratio on the Pseudo-Donation of Constantine: Dissent and Innovation in Early Renaissance Humanism." Journal of the History of Ideas (1996) 57#1 pp: 9-26. online
• Delph, Ronald K. "Valla Grammaticus, Agostino Steuco, and the Donation of Constantine." Journal of the History of Ideas (1996) 57#1 pp: 55–77. online
• Fried, Johannes, ed. Donation of Constantine and Constitutum Constantini: The Misinterpretation of a Fiction and Its Original Meaning (Walter de Gruyter, 2007)
• Levine, Joseph M. "Reginald Pecock and Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine." Studies in the Renaissance (1973): 118–143. in JSTOR
• McCabe, Joseph (1939). A History Of The Popes. Watts & Co.
• Valla, Lorenzo. On the donation of Constantine (Harvard University Press, 2007), translation by G. W. Bowersock of 1440 version
• Zinkeisen, F. "The Donation of Constantine as applied by the Roman Church." English Historical Review (1894) 9#36 pp: 625–632. in JSTOR
• Luis R. Donat (PhD) (2004). "Para una historia del derecho canónico-político medieval: la donación de constantino". Revista de estudios histórico-jurídicos (in Spanish). Ediciones Universitarias de Valparaíso (24/2004): 337–358. doi:10.4067/S0716-54552004002600010. ISSN 0716-5455. Archived from the original on August 13, 2018. Retrieved Aug 13, 2018.

External links

• Text of the Constitutum Donatio Constantini (Latin) at The Latin Library
• Text of the Constitutum Donatio Constantini (Latin) at the Bibliotheca Augustana
• Text of the Constitutum Constantini (Latin) at The Roman Law Library
• Lorenzo Valla's Discourse on the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine
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List of all "Maurya Dynasty" fictional kings
Excerpt from "Maurya Empire" and related webpages
by Wikipedia

• 322–298 BCE: Chandragupta

Chandragupta's life and accomplishments are described in ancient... Hindu, Buddhist and Jain texts, but they vary significantly....

According to the Jain accounts dated to 800 years after his death, Chandragupta abdicated his throne and became a Jain monk, traveled away from his empire to South India and committed sallekhana or fasting to death....

His main biographical sources in chronological order are:...

• Hindu texts such as the Puranas and Arthashastra; later composed Hindu sources include legends in Vishakhadatta's Mudrarakshasa, Somadeva's Kathasaritsagara and Kshemendra's Brihatkathamanjari.
• Buddhist sources are those dated in 4th-century or after, including the Sri Lankan Pali texts Dipavamsa (Rajavamsa section), Mahavamsa, Mahavamsa tika and Mahabodhivamsa. • 7th to 10th century Jain inscriptions at Shravanabelgola; these are disputed by scholars as well as the Svetambara Jain tradition. The second Digambara text interpreted to be mentioning the Maurya emperor is dated to about the 10th-century such as in the Brhatkathakosa of Harisena (Jain monk), while the complete Jain legend about Chandragupta is found in the 12th-century Parisishtaparvan by Hemachandra.

-- Chandragupta Maurya, by Wikipedia


• 298–272 BCE: Bindusara

Bindusara's life is not documented as well as the lives of these two emperors: much of the information about him comes from legendary accounts written several hundred years after his death....

The 16th century Tibetan Buddhist author Taranatha credits his administration with extensive territorial conquests in southern India, but some historians doubt the historical authenticity of this claim.

Ancient and medieval sources have not documented Bindusara's life in detail. Much of the information about him comes from Jain legends focused on Chandragupta and the Buddhist legends focused on Ashoka. The Jain legends, such as Hemachandra's Parishishta-Parvan were written more than a thousand years after his death. Most of the Buddhist legends about Ashoka's early life also appear to have been composed by Buddhist writers who lived several hundred years after Ashoka's death, and are of little historical value. While these legends can be used to make several inferences about Bindusara's reign, they are not entirely reliable because of the close association between Ashoka and Buddhism.

Buddhist sources that provide information about Bindusara include Divyavadana (including Ashokavadana and Pamsupradanavadana), Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, Vamsatthappakasini (also known as Mahvamsa Tika or "Mahavamsa commentary"), Samantapasadika, and the 16th century writings of Taranatha. The Jain sources include the 12th century Parishishta-Parvan by Hemachandra and the 19th century Rajavali-Katha by Devachandra. The Hindu Puranas also mention Bindusara in their genealogies of Mauryan rulers. Some Greek sources also mention him by the name "Amitrochates" or its variations.

-- Bindusara, by Wikipedia


• 268–232 BCE: Ashoka

Beyond the Edicts of Ashoka, biographical information about him relies on legends written centuries later, such as the 2nd-century CE Ashokavadana ("Narrative of Ashoka", a part of the Divyavadana), and in the Sri Lankan text Mahavamsa ("Great Chronicle")….

Information about Ashoka comes from ... ancient literature, especially Buddhist texts. These sources often contradict each other… while Ashoka is often attributed with building many hospitals during his time, there is no clear evidence any hospitals existed in ancient India during the 3rd century BC or that Ashoka was responsible for commissioning the construction of any….

Much of the information about Ashoka comes from Buddhist legends, which present him as a great, ideal king. These legends appear in texts that are not contemporary to Ashoka, and were composed by Buddhist authors, who used various stories to illustrate the impact of their faith on Ashoka. This makes it necessary to exercise caution while relying on them for historical information. Among modern scholars, opinions range from downright dismissal of these legends as mythological to acceptance of all historical portions that seem plausible….

All these legends can be traced to two primary traditions:

• the North Indian tradition preserved in the Sanskrit-language texts such as Divyavadana (including its constituent Ashokavadana); and Chinese sources such as A-yü wang chuan and A-yü wang ching.

• the Sri Lankan tradition preserved in Pali-language texts, such as Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, Vamsatthapakasini (a commentary on Mahavamsa), Buddhaghosha's commentary on the Vinaya, and Samanta-pasadika.

There are several major differences between the two traditions. For example, the Sri Lankan tradition emphasises Ashoka's role in convening the Third Buddhist council, and his dispatch of several missionaries to distant regions, including his son Mahinda to Sri Lanka. However, the North Indian tradition makes no mention of these events, and describes other events not found in the Sri Lankan tradition, such as a story about another son named Kunala.

Even while narrating the common stories, the two traditions diverge in several ways. For example, both Ashokavadana and Mahavamsa mention that Ashoka's queen Tishyarakshita had the Bodhi Tree destroyed. In Ashokavadana, the queen manages to have the tree healed after she realises her mistake. In the Mahavamsa, she permanently destroys the tree, but only after a branch of the tree has been transplanted in Sri Lanka. In another story, both the texts describe Ashoka's unsuccessful attempts to collect a relic of Gautama Buddha from Ramagrama. In Ashokavadana, he fails to do so because he cannot match the devotion of the Nagas who hold the relic; however, in the Mahavamsa, he fails to do so because the Buddha had destined the relic to be enshrined by king Dutthagamani of Sri Lanka. Using such stories, the Mahavamsa glorifies Sri Lanka as the new preserve of Buddhism….

Ashoka's name appears in the lists of Mauryan kings in the various Puranas, but these texts do not provide further details about him…

[Ashoka's] early life, and much of the information on this topic comes from apocryphal legends written hundreds of years after him.… these legends include obviously fictitious details such as narratives of Ashoka's past lives…

The exact date of Ashoka's birth is not certain, as the extant contemporary Indian texts did not record such details….

The Ashokavadana states that Bindusara provided Ashoka with a fourfold-army (comprising cavalry, elephants, chariots and infantry), but refused to provide any weapons for this army. Ashoka declared that weapons would appear before him if he was worthy of being a king, and then, the deities emerged from the earth, and provided weapons to the army…. the gods declared that he would go on to conquer the whole earth….

According to the Mahavamsa, Bindusara appointed Ashoka as the viceroy of present-day Ujjain… This tradition is corroborated by the Saru Maru inscription discovered in central India; this inscription states that he visited the place as a prince….

"The king, who (now after consecration) is called "Piyadasi", (once) came to this place for a pleasure tour while still a (ruling) prince, living together with his unwedded consort." – Saru Mara, by Wikipedia…

According to the Sri Lankan tradition, on his way to Ujjain, Ashoka visited Vidisha, where he fell in love with a beautiful woman. According to the Dipamvamsa and Mahamvamsa, the woman was Devi – the daughter of a merchant. According to the Mahabodhi-vamsa, she was Vidisha-Mahadevi, and belonged to the Shakya clan of Gautama Buddha. The Shakya connection may have been fabricated by the Buddhist chroniclers in an attempt to connect Ashoka's family to Buddha….

Ashoka declared that if the throne was rightfully his, the gods would crown him as the next king. At that instance, the gods did so, Bindusara died, and Ashoka's authority extended to the entire world, including the Yaksha territory located above the earth, and the Naga territory located below the earth….

The Mahavamsa… also states that Ashoka killed ninety-nine of his half-brothers, including Sumana. The Dipavamsa states that he killed a hundred of his brothers, and was crowned four years later….

The figures such as 99 and 100 are exaggerated, and seem to be a way of stating that Ashoka killed several of his brothers. Taranatha states that Ashoka, who was an illegitimate son of his predecessor, killed six legitimate princes to ascend the throne. It is possible that Ashoka was not the rightful heir to the throne, and killed a brother (or brothers) to acquire the throne. However, the story has obviously been exaggerated by the Buddhist sources, which attempt to portray him as an evil person before his conversion to Buddhism….

According to the Sri Lankan texts Mahavamsa and the Dipavamsa, Ashoka ascended the throne 218 years after the death of Gautama Buddha, and ruled for 37 years. The date of the Buddha's death is itself a matter of debate, and the North Indian tradition states that Ashoka ruled a hundred years after the Buddha's death, which has led to further debates about the date….

The Ashokavadana also calls [Ashoka] "Chandashoka", and describes several of his cruel acts:

• The ministers who had helped him ascend the throne started treating him with contempt after his ascension. To test their loyalty, Ashoka gave them the absurd order of cutting down every flower-and fruit-bearing tree. When they failed to carry out this order, Ashoka personally cut off the heads of 500 ministers.

• One day, during a stroll at a park, Ashoka and his concubines came across a beautiful Ashoka tree. The sight put him in a sensual mood, but the women did not enjoy caressing his rough skin. Sometime later, when Ashoka fell asleep, the resentful women chopped the flowers and the branches of his namesake tree. After Ashoka woke up, he burnt 500 of his concubines to death as a punishment….

The 5th century Chinese traveller Faxian states that Ashoka personally visited the underworld to study the methods of torture there, and then invented his own methods.…

Such descriptions of Ashoka as an evil person before his conversion to Buddhism appear to be a fabrication of the Buddhist authors, who attempted to present the change that Buddhism brought to him as a miracle. In an attempt to dramatise this change, such legends exaggerate Ashoka's past wickedness and his piousness after the conversion….

Ashoka's own inscriptions mention that he conquered the Kalinga region during his 8th regnal year…

On the other hand, the Sri Lankan tradition suggests that Ashoka was already a devoted Buddhist by his 8th regnal year, having converted to Buddhism during his 4th regnal year, and having constructed 84,000 viharas during his 5th–7th regnal years. The Buddhist legends make no mention of the Kalinga campaign….

According to Ashoka's Major Rock Edict 13, he conquered Kalinga 8 years after his ascension to the throne. The edict states that during his conquest of Kalinga, 100,000 men and animals were killed in action; many times that number "perished"; and 150,000 men and animals were carried away from Kalinga as captives. Ashoka states that the repentance of these sufferings caused him to devote himself to the practice and propagation of dharma. He proclaims that he now considered the slaughter, death and deportation caused during the conquest of a country painful and deplorable; and that he considered the suffering caused to the religious people and householders even more deplorable.

This edict has been found inscribed at several places, including Erragudi, Girnar, Kalsi, Maneshra, Shahbazgarhi and Kandahar. However, [it] is omitted in Ashoka's inscriptions found in the Kalinga region, where the Rock Edicts 13 and 14 have been replaced by two separate edicts that make no mention of Ashoka's remorse.

Taranatha claims that Ashoka conquered the entire Jambudvipa.

Different sources give different accounts of Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism….

The Dipavamsa states that Ashoka invited several non-Buddhist religious leaders to his palace, and bestowed great gifts upon them in hope that they would be able to answer a question posed by the king. The text does not state what the question was… he met the Buddhist monk Moggaliputta Tissa, and became more devoted to the Buddhist faith. The veracity of this story is not certain. This legend about Ashoka's search for a worthy teacher may be aimed at explaining why Ashoka did not adopt Jainism, another major contemporary faith that advocates non-violence and compassion. The legend suggests that Ashoka was not attracted to Buddhism because he was looking for such a faith, rather, for a competent spiritual teacher….

The A-yu-wang-chuan states that a 7-year-old Buddhist converted Ashoka. Another story claims that the young boy ate 500 Brahmanas who were harassing Ashoka for being interested in Buddhism; these Brahmanas later miraculously turned into Buddhist bhikkus at the Kukkutarama monastery, where Ashoka paid a visit….

Both Mahavamsa and Ashokavadana state that Ashoka constructed 84,000 stupas or viharas….

The Ashokavadana states that Ashoka collected seven out of the eight relics of Gautama Buddha, and had their portions kept in 84,000 boxes made of gold, silver, cat's eye, and crystal. He ordered the construction of 84,000 stupas throughout the earth, in towns that had a population of 100,000 or more. He told Elder Yashas, a monk at the Kukkutarama monastery, that he wanted these stupas to be completed on the same day. Yashas stated that he would signal the completion time by eclipsing the sun with his hand. When he did so, the 84,000 stupas were completed at once.

The Mahavamsa states that Ashoka ordered construction of 84,000 viharas (monasteries) rather than the stupas to house the relics. Like Ashokavadana, the Mahavamsa describes Ashoka's collection of the relics, but does not mention this episode in the context of the construction activities. It states that Ashoka decided to construct the 84,000 viharas when Moggaliputta Tissa told him that there were 84,000 sections of the Buddha's Dhamma. Ashoka himself began the construction of the Ashokarama vihara, and ordered subordinate kings to build the other viharas. Ashokarama was completed by the miraculous power of Thera Indagutta, and the news about the completion of the 84,000 viharas arrived from various cities on the same day.

The number 84,000 is an obvious exaggeration, and it appears that in the later period, the construction of almost every old stupa was attributed to Ashoka….

Ashoka's rock edicts suggest that during his 8th–9th regnal years, he made a pilgrimage to the Bodhi Tree, started propagating dhamma, and performed social welfare activities. The welfare activities included establishment of medical treatment facilities for humans and animals…

The Sri Lankan tradition presents a greater role for Ashoka in the Buddhist community. In this tradition, Ashoka starts feeding monks on a large scale. His lavish patronage to the state patronage leads to many fake monks joining the sangha. The true Buddhist monks refuse to co-operate with these fake monks, and therefore, no uposatha ceremony is held for seven years. The king attempts to eradicate the fake monks, but during this attempt, an over-zealous minister ends up killing some real monks. The king then invites the elder monk Moggaliputta-Tissa, to help him expel non-Buddhists from the monastery founded by him at Pataliputra. 60,000 monks (bhikkhus) convicted of being heretical are de-frocked in the ensuing process. The uposatha ceremony is then held, and Tissa subsequently organises the Third Buddhist council, during the 17th regnal year of Ashoka. Tissa compiles Kathavatthu, a text that reaffirms Theravadin orthodoxy on several points.

The North Indian tradition makes no mention of these events, which has led to doubts about the historicity of the Third Buddhist council….

in his Minor Rock Edict 3, Ashoka recommends the members of the Sangha to study certain texts (most of which remain unidentified)….

In the Sri Lankan tradition, Moggaliputta-Tissa –- who is patronised by Ashoka –- sends out nine Buddhist missions to spread Buddhism in the "border areas" in c. 250 BCE.…

The tradition adds that during his 19th regnal year, Ashoka's daughter Sanghamitta went to Sri Lanka to establish an order of nuns, taking a sapling of the sacred Bodhi Tree with her.

The North Indian tradition makes no mention of these events. Ashoka's own inscriptions also appear to omit any mention of these events…

The Rock Edict XIII states that Ashoka won a "dhamma victory" by sending messengers to five kings and several other kingdoms. Whether these missions correspond to the Buddhist missions recorded in the Buddhist chronicles is debated. Indologist Etienne Lamotte argues that the "dhamma" missionaries mentioned in Ashoka's inscriptions were probably not Buddhist monks, as this "dhamma" was not same as "Buddhism". Moreover, the lists of destinations of the missions and the dates of the missions mentioned in the inscriptions do not tally [with] the ones mentioned in the Buddhist legends….

According to the Ashokavadana, Ashoka resorted to violence even after converting to Buddhism. For example:

• He slowly tortured Chandagirika to death in the "hell" prison.

• He ordered a massacre of 18,000 heretics for a misdeed of one.

• He launched a pogrom against the Jains, announcing a bounty on the head of any heretic; this results in the beheading of his own brother -– Vitashoka.

According to the Ashokavadana, a non-Buddhist in Pundravardhana drew a picture showing the Buddha bowing at the feet of the Nirgrantha leader Jnatiputra. The term nirgrantha ("free from bonds") was originally used for a pre-Jaina ascetic order, but later came to be used for Jaina monks. "Jnatiputra" is identified with Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. The legend states that on complaint from a Buddhist devotee, Ashoka issued an order to arrest the non-Buddhist artist, and subsequently, another order to kill all the Ajivikas in Pundravardhana. Around 18,000 followers of the Ajivika sect were executed as a result of this order. Sometime later, another Nirgrantha follower in Pataliputra drew a similar picture. Ashoka burnt him and his entire family alive in their house…

[T]hese stories of persecutions of rival sects by Ashoka appear to be clear fabrications arising out of sectarian propaganda….

Ashoka's last dated inscription -- the Pillar Edict 4 is from his 26th regnal year. The only source of information about Ashoka's later years are the Buddhist legends….

Both Mahavamsa and Ashokavadana state that Ashoka extended favours and attention to the Bodhi Tree, and a jealous Tissarakkha mistook "Bodhi" to be a mistress of Ashoka. She then used black magic to make the tree wither. According to the Ashokavadana, she hired a sorceress to do the job, and when Ashoka explained that "Bodhi" was the name of a tree, she had the sorceress heal the tree. According to the Mahavamsa, she completely destroyed the tree, during Ashoka's 34th regnal year.

The Ashokavadana states that Tissarakkha (called "Tishyarakshita" here) made sexual advances towards Ashoka's son Kunala, but Kunala rejected her. Subsequently, Ashoka granted Tissarakkha kingship for seven days, and during this period, she tortured and blinded Kunala. Ashoka then threatened to "tear out her eyes, rip open her body with sharp rakes, impale her alive on a spit, cut off her nose with a saw, cut out her tongue with a razor." Kunala regained his eyesight miraculously, and pleaded for mercy on the queen, but Ashoka had her executed anyway. Kshemendra's Avadana-kalpa-lata also narrates this legend, but seeks to improve Ashoka's image by stating that he forgave the queen after Kunala regained his eyesight….

According to the Ashokavadana, the emperor fell severely ill during his last days. He started using state funds to make donations to the Buddhist sangha, prompting his ministers to deny him access to the state treasury. Ashoka then started donating his personal possessions, but was similarly restricted from doing so. On his deathbed, his only possession was the half of a myrobalan fruit, which he offered to the sangha as his final donation….

Various sources mention five consorts of Ashoka: Devi (or Vedisa-Mahadevi-Shakyakumari), Karuvaki, Asandhimitra (Pali: Asandhimitta), Padmavati, and Tishyarakshita (Pali: Tissarakkha).

Kaurvaki is the only queen of Ashoka known from his own inscriptions: she is mentioned in an edict inscribed on a pillar at Allahabad. The inscription names her as the mother of prince Tivara, and orders the royal officers (mahamattas) to record her religious and charitable donations….

According to the Mahavamsa, Ashoka's chief queen was Asandhimitta, who died four years before him. It states that she was born as Ashoka's queen because in a previous life, she directed a pratyekabuddha to a honey merchant (who was later reborn as Ashoka). Some later texts also state that she additionally gave the pratyekabuddha a piece of cloth made by her. These texts include the Dasavatthuppakarana, the so-called Cambodian or Extended Mahavamsa (possibly from 9th–10th centuries), and the Trai Bhumi Katha (15th century). These texts narrate another story: one day, Ashoka mocked Asandhamitta [as she] was enjoying a tasty piece of sugarcane without having earned it through her karma. Asandhamitta replied that all her enjoyments resulted from merit resulting from her own karma. Ashoka then challenged her to prove this by procuring 60,000 robes as an offering for monks. At night, the guardian gods informed her about her past gift to the pratyekabuddha, and next day, she was able to miraculously procure the 60,000 robes. An impressed Ashoka makes her his favourite queen, and even offers to make her a sovereign ruler. Asandhamitta refuses the offer, but still invokes the jealousy of Ashoka's 16,000 other wives. Ashoka proves her superiority by having 16,000 identical cakes baked with his royal seal hidden in only one of them. Each wife is asked to choose a cake, and only Asandhamitta gets the one with the royal seal. The Trai Bhumi Katha claims that it was Asandhamitta who encouraged her husband to become a Buddhist, and to construct 84,000 stupas and 84,000 viharas.

According to Mahavamsa, after Asandhamitta's death, Tissarakkha became the chief queen. The Ashokavadana does not mention Asandhamitta at all, but does mention Tissarakkha as Tishyarakshita. The Divyavadana mentions another queen called Padmavati, who was the mother of the crown-prince Kunala.

As mentioned above, according to the Sri Lankan tradition, Ashoka fell in love with Devi (or Vidisha-Mahadevi), as a prince in central India. After Ashoka's ascension to the throne, Devi chose to remain at Vidisha than move to the royal capital Pataliputra. According to the Mahavamsa, Ashoka's chief queen was Asandhamitta, not Devi: the text does not talk of any connection between the two women, so it is unlikely that Asandhamitta was another name for Devi….

Tivara, the son of Ashoka and Karuvaki, is the only of Ashoka's sons to be mentioned by name in the inscriptions.

According to North Indian tradition, Ashoka had a son named Kunala. Kunala had a son named Samprati.

The Sri Lankan tradition mentions a son called Mahinda, who was sent to Sri Lanka as a Buddhist missionary; this son is not mentioned at all in the North Indian tradition. The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang states that Mahinda was Ashoka's younger brother (Vitashoka or Vigatashoka) rather than his illegitimate son.

The Divyavadana mentions the crown-prince Kunala alias Dharmavivardhana, who was a son of queen Padmavati. According to Faxian, Dharmavivardhana was appointed as the governor of Gandhara.

The Rajatarangini mentions Jalauka as a son of Ashoka.

According to Sri Lankan tradition, Ashoka had a daughter named Sanghamitta, who became a Buddhist nun. A section of historians, such as Romila Thapar, doubt the historicity of Sanghamitta, based on the following points:

• The name "Sanghamitta", which literally means the friend of the Buddhist Order (sangha), is unusual, and the story of her going to Ceylon so that the Ceylonese queen could be ordained appears to be an exaggeration.

• The Mahavamsa states that she married Ashoka's nephew Agnibrahma, and the couple had a son named Sumana. The contemporary laws regarding exogamy would have forbidden such a marriage between first cousins.

• According to the Mahavamsa, she was 18 years old when she was ordained as a nun. The narrative suggests that she was married two years earlier, and that her husband as well as her child were ordained. It is unlikely that she would have been allowed to become a nun with such a young child.

Another source mentions that Ashoka had a daughter named Charumati, who married a kshatriya named Devapala.

According to the Ashokavadana, Ashoka had an elder half-brother named Susima. According to the Sri Lankan tradition, Ashoka killed his 99 half-brothers.

Various sources mention that one of Ashoka's brothers survived his ascension, and narrate stories about his role in the Buddhist community.

• According to Sri Lankan tradition, this brother was Tissa, who initially lived a luxurious life, without worrying about the world. To teach him a lesson, Ashoka put him on the throne for a few days, then accused him of being an usurper, and sentenced him to die after seven days. During these seven days, Tissa realised that the Buddhist monks gave up pleasure because they were aware of the eventual death. He then left the palace, and became an arhat.

• The Theragatha commentary calls this brother Vitashoka. According to this legend, one day, Vitashoka saw a grey hair on his head, and realised that he had become old. He then retired to a monastery, and became an arhat.

• Faxian calls the younger brother Mahendra, and states that Ashoka shamed him for his immoral behaviour. The brother than retired to a dark cave, where he meditated, and became an arhat. Ashoka invited him to return to the family, but he preferred to live alone on a hill. So, Ashoka had a hill built for him within Pataliputra.

• The Ashoka-vadana states that Ashoka's brother was mistaken for a Nirgrantha, and killed during a massacre of the Nirgranthas ordered by Ashoka....

A legend in the Buddhist text Vamsatthapakasini states that an Ajivika ascetic invited to interpret a dream of Ashoka's mother had predicted that he would patronise Buddhism and destroy 96 heretical sects. However, such assertions are directly contradicted by Ashoka's own inscriptions. Ashoka's edicts, such as the Rock Edicts 6, 7, and 12, emphasise tolerance of all sects. Similarly, in his Rock Edict 12, Ashoka honours people of all faiths. In his inscriptions, Ashoka dedicates caves to non-Buddhist ascetics, and repeatedly states that both Brahmins and shramanas deserved respect. He also tells people "not to denigrate other sects, but to inform themselves about them".

In fact, there is no evidence that Buddhism was a state religion under Ashoka. None of Ashoka's extant edicts record his direct donations to the Buddhists….

Historically, the image of Ashoka in the global Buddhist circles was based on legends (such as those mentioned in the Ashokavadana) rather than his rock edicts. This was because the Brahmi script in which these edicts were written was forgotten soon and remained undeciphered until its study by James Prinsep in the 19th century. The writings of the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims such as Faxian and Xuanzang suggest that Ashoka's inscriptions mark the important sites associated with Gautama Buddha. These writers attribute Buddhism-related content to Ashoka's edicts, but this content does not match with the actual text of the inscriptions as determined by modern scholars after the decipherment of the Brahmi script. It is likely that the script was forgotten by the time of Faxian, who probably relied on local guides; these guides may have made up some Buddhism-related interpretations to gratify him, or may have themselves relied on faulty translations based on oral traditions. Xuanzang may have encountered a similar situation, or may have taken the supposed content of the inscriptions from Faxian's writings. This theory is corroborated by the fact that some Brahmin scholars are known to have similarly come up with a fanciful interpretation of Ashoka pillar inscriptions, when requested to decipher them by the 14th century Muslim king Firuz Shah Tughlaq. According to Shams-i Siraj's Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi, after the king had these pillars transported from Topra and Mirat to Delhi as war trophies, these Brahmins told him that the inscriptions prophesized that nobody would be able to remove the pillars except a king named Firuz. Moreover, by this time, there were local traditions that attributed the erection of these pillars to the legendary hero Bhima….

Buddhist legends mention stories about Ashoka's past lives. According to a Mahavamsa story, Ashoka, Nigrodha and Devnampiya Tissa were brothers in a previous life. In that life, a pratyekabuddha was looking for honey to cure another, sick pratyekabuddha. A woman directed him to a honey shop owned by the three brothers. Ashoka generously donated honey to the pratyekabuddha, and wished to become the sovereign ruler of Jambudvipa for this act of merit. The woman wished to become his queen, and was reborn as Ashoka's wife Asandhamitta….

According to an Ashokavadana story, Ashoka was born as Jaya… he gave the Gautama Buddha dirt imagining it to be food. The Buddha approved of the donation, and Jaya declared that he would become a king by this act of merit. The text also states that Jaya's companion Vijaya was reborn as Ashoka's prime-minister Radhagupta…. The Chinese writer Pao Ch'eng's Shih chia ju lai ying hua lu asserts that an insignificant act like gifting dirt could not have been meritorious enough to cause Ashoka's future greatness. Instead, the text claims that in another past life, Ashoka commissioned a large number of Buddha statues as a king, and this act of merit caused him to become a great emperor in the next life.

The 14th century Pali-language fairy tale Dasavatthuppakarana (possibly from c. 14th century) combines the stories about the merchant's gift of honey, and the boy's gift of dirt. It narrates a slightly different version of the Mahavamsa story, stating that it took place before the birth of the Gautama Buddha. It then states that the merchant was reborn as the boy who gifted dirt to the Buddha; however, in this case, the Buddha [gave it to] his attendant Ānanda to create plaster from the dirt, which is used [to] repair cracks in the monastery walls….

Ashoka's inscriptions have not been found at major cities of the Maurya empire, such as Pataliputra, Vidisha, Ujjayini, and Taxila…. the 7th century Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang refers to some of Ashoka's pillar edicts, which have not been discovered by modern researchers….

Ashoka had almost been forgotten, but in the 19th century James Prinsep contributed in the revelation of historical sources. After deciphering the Brahmi script, Prinsep had originally identified the "Priyadasi" of the inscriptions he found with the King of Ceylon Devanampiya Tissa. However, in 1837, George Turnour discovered an important Sri Lankan manuscript (Dipavamsa, or "Island Chronicle") associating Piyadasi with Ashoka:

"Two hundred and eighteen years after the beatitude of the Buddha, was the inauguration of Piyadassi, .... who, the grandson of Chandragupta, and the son of Bindusara, was at the time Governor of Ujjayani."— Dipavamsa....

After Ashoka's death, the Maurya empire declined rapidly. The various Puranas provide different details about Ashoka's successors, but all agree that they had relatively short reigns. The empire seems to have weakened, fragmented, and suffered an invasion from the Bactrian Greeks….

Romila Thapar, have suggested that the extent and impact of his pacifism have been "grossly exaggeratedf."

-- Ashoka, by Wikipedia


• 232–224 BCE: Dasharatha

Dasharatha was a grandson of the Mauryan ruler Ashoka and the son of Tivala. He is commonly held to have succeeded his grandfather as imperial ruler in India although some sources including the Vayu Purana have given different names and numbers of Mauryan Emperors after Ashoka. Of the grandsons of Ashoka, the two most frequently mentioned are Samprati and Dasharatha. The latter is described in the Vishnu Purana as the son and imperial successor of Suyashas (a son of Ashoka)....

The Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas mention three Mauryan rulers—Bandhupalita, Indrapalita and Dasona— whose identification is rather difficult....

The political unity of the Mauryan Empire did not long survive Ashoka's death....According to Taranatha, another Mauryan prince, Virasena declared himself king in Gandhara. Vidarbha also seceded....Epigraphic evidence indicates that Dasharatha retained imperial power in Magadha. [Kenneth Pletcher; The History of India. pg 70: "Ashoka ruled for 37 years. After his death a political decline set in, and half a century later the empire was reduced to the Ganges valley alone. Tradition asserts that Ashoka's son Kunala ruled in Gandhara. Epigraphic evidence indicates that his grandsom Dasharatha ruled in Magadha. [NO CITATION!]]...

According to a Jain text, the provinces of Surashtra, Maharashtra, Andhra, and the Mysore region broke away from the empire shortly after Ashoka's death, but were reconquered by Dasharatha's successor, Samprati (who supposedly deployed soldiers disguised as Jain monks)....

Samprati, who succeeded Dasharatha, was according to the Hindu Puranas, the latter's son and according to the Buddhist and Jain sources, Kunala's son (making him possibly a brother of Dasharatha). The familial relationship between the two is thus not clear although evidently they were closely related members of the imperial family.

-- Dasharatha Maurya, by Wikipedia


• 224–215 BCE: Samprati

According to the Jain tradition he ruled for 53 years. [citation needed] The Jaina text Pariśiṣṭaparvan mentions that he ruled both from Pataliputra and Ujjain. According to a Jain text, the provinces of Surashtra, Maharashtra, Andhra, and the Mysore region broke away from the empire shortly after Ashoka's death (i.e., during Dasharatha's reign), but were reconquered by Samprati, who later deployed soldiers disguised as Jain monks....

While in one source, he is described as nominally a Jain from birth (Sthaviravali 9.53), most accounts emphasize his conversion at the hands of the Jain monk Shri Suhastisuri, the eighth leader of the congregation established by Lord Mahavira Swami....

-- Samprati, by Wikipedia


• 215–202 BCE: Shalishuka

While the Yuga Purana section of the Gargi Samhita mentions him as a quarrelsome, unrighteous ruler, he is also noted as being of "righteous words".

According to the Puranas he was succeeded by Devavarman.

-- Shalishuka, by Wikipedia


• 202–195 BCE: Devavarman

According to the Puranas, he was the successor of Shalishuka Maurya and reigned for a short period of seven years. He was not unrighteous, quarrelsome, very weak, and cruel like his predecessor, Shalishuka. But he was a bit weak, like all the Mauryan emperors who reigned after Ashoka. He was succeeded by Shatadhanvan.

-- Devavarman, by Wikipedia


• 195–187 BCE: Shatadhanvan

According to the Puranas, he was the successor of Devavarman Maurya and reigned for eight years. He was succeeded by Brihadratha Maurya.

-- Shatadhanvan, by Wikipedia


• 187–180 BCE: Brihadratha

According to the Puranas, Brihadratha succeeded his father Shatadhanvan to the throne and ruled for seven years....

Bāṇabhaṭṭa's Harshacharita says that Pushyamitra, while parading the entire Mauryan army before Brihadratha on the pretext of showing him the strength of the army, crushed his master. Pushyamitra killed the former emperor in front of his military and established himself as the new ruler....

A key detail is mentioned by Ceylonese Buddhist monk Badra, pointing that Brihadratha married Demetrius' daughter, Berenisa (Suvarnnaksi in Pali texts)....

The hypothesized Yavana invasion of Pataliputra is based in the Yuga Purana.

-- Brihadratha Maurya, by Wikipedia


-- Maurya Empire, by Wikipedia
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Indo-Scythians
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/23/21

Indo-Scythian Kingdom
c. 150 BCE–400 CE
Image
Territories (green) and expansion (yellow) of the Indo-Scythian Kingdom at its greatest extent.
Capital: Sigal; Taxila; Mathura
Common languages: Saka,[1]; Greek; Pali (Kharoshthi script); Sanskrit; Prakrit (Brahmi script)
Religion: Hinduism[2]; Buddhism; Ancient Greek religion
Government: Monarchy
King:
• 85–60 BCE: Maues
• 10 CE: Hajatria
Historical era: Antiquity
• Established: c. 150 BCE
• Disestablished: 400 CE
Area
20 est.[3]: 2,600,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi)
Preceded by: Greco-Bactrian Kingdom; Indo-Greek Kingdom; Maurya Empire
Succeeded by: Kushan Empire; Sassanid Empire; Indo-Parthians; Gupta Empire

Indo-Scythians (also called Indo-Sakas) were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples of Scythian origin who migrated from Central Asia southward into northern and western regions of ancient India from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE.

The first Saka king of India was Maues/Moga (1st century BC) who established Saka power in Gandhara, and Indus Valley. The Indo-Scythians extended their supremacy over north-western India, conquering the Indo-Greeks and other local kingdoms. The Indo-Scythians were apparently subjugated by the Kushan Empire, by either Kujula Kadphises or Kanishka.[4] Yet the Saka continued to govern as satrapies,[5] forming the Northern Satraps and Western Satraps. The power of the Saka rulers started to decline in the 2nd century CE after the Indo-Scythians were defeated by the Satavahana emperor Gautamiputra Satakarni.[6][7] Indo-Scythian rule in the northwestern Indian subcontinent ceased when the last Western Satrap Rudrasimha III was defeated by the Gupta emperor Chandragupta II in 395 CE.[8][9]

The invasion of northern regions of the Indian subcontinent by Scythian tribes from Central Asia, often referred to as the Indo-Scythian invasion, played a significant part in the history of the Indian subcontinent as well as nearby countries. In fact, the Indo-Scythian war is just one chapter in the events triggered by the nomadic flight of Central Asians from conflict with tribes such as the Xiongnu in the 2nd century AD, which had lasting effects on Bactria, Kabul, and the Indian subcontinent as well as far-off Rome in the west, and more nearby to the west in Parthia.

Ancient Roman historians, including Arrian[10] and Claudius Ptolemy, have mentioned that the ancient Sakas ("Sakai") were nomadic people.[11] However, Italo Ronca, in his detailed study of Ptolemy's chapter vi, states: "The land of the Sakai belongs to nomads, they have no towns but dwell in forests and caves" as spurious.[12]

Origins

Main article: Saka

Image
Head of a Saka warrior, as a defeated enemy of the Yuezhi, from Khalchayan, northern Bactria, 1st century BCE.[13][14][15]

Image
The treasure of the royal burial Tillya Tepe is attributed to 1st century BC Sakas in Bactria.

The ancestors of the Indo-Scythians are thought to be Sakas (Scythian) tribes.

"One group of Indo-European speakers that makes an early appearance on the Xinjiang stage is the Saka (Ch. Sai). Saka is more a generic term than a name for a specific state or ethnic group; Saka tribes were part of a cultural continuum of early nomads across Siberia and the Central Eurasian steppe lands from Xinjiang to the Black Sea. Like the Scythians whom Herodotus describes in book four of his History (Saka is an Iranian word equivalent to the Greek Scythes, and many scholars refer to them together as Saka-Scythian), Sakas were Iranian-speaking horse nomads who deployed chariots in battle, sacrificed horses, and buried their dead in barrows or mound tombs called kurgans."[16]


The Sakas of Western India spoke the Saka language, also known as Khotanese as it is first attested in the Tarim Basin.[17]

Achaemenid period (6th-4th century BCE)

During the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley circa 515 BCE, the Achaemenid army was not uniquely Persian, and the Sakas probably participated in the invasion of northwestern India. The Achaemenid army was composed of many different ethnicities that were part of the vast Achaemenid Empire. The army included Bactrians, Sakas (Scythians), Parthians, Sogdians.[18] Herodotus gives a full list of the ethnicities of the Achaemenid army, in which are included Sakas together with Ionians (Greeks), and even Ethiopians.[19][18] These ethnicities are likely to have been included in the Achaemenid army which invaded India.[18]

Some scholars, including Michael Witzel[20] and Christopher I. Beckwith[21] suggested that the Shakyas, the clan of the historical Gautama Buddha, were originally Scythians from Central Asia, and that the Indian ethnonym Śākya has the same origin as “Scythian”, called Sakas in India.[18] This would also explain the strong support of the Sakas for the Buddhist faith in India.[21]

The Persians, the Sakas and the Greeks, may have later participated in the campaigns of Chandragupta Maurya to gain the throne of Magadha circa 320 BCE. The Mudrarakshasa states that after Alexander's death, an alliance of "Shaka-Yavana-Kamboja-Parasika-Bahlika" was used by Chandragupta Maurya in his campaign to take the throne in Magadha and found the Mauryan Empire.[22][23][24] The Sakas were the Scythians, the Yavanas were the Greeks, and the Parasikas were the Persians.[23][25]

Yuezhi expansion (2nd century BCE)

In the 2nd century BC, a fresh nomadic movement started among the Central Asian tribes, producing lasting effects on the history of Rome in Europe, Parthia in Western Asia, and Bactria, Kabul, and India in the east in Southern Asia.[citation needed] Recorded in the annals of the Han dynasty and other Chinese records, this great tribal movement began after the Yuezhi tribe was defeated by the Xiongnu, fleeing westwards after their defeat and creating a domino effect as they displaced other central Asian tribes in their path.[26]

Image
Detail of one of the Orlat plaques seemingly representing Scythian soldiers.

According to these ancient sources Modu Shanyu of the Xiongnu tribe of Mongolia attacked the Yuezhi (possibly related to the Tocharians who lived in eastern Tarim Basin area) and evicted them from their homeland between the Qilian Shan and Dunhuang around 175 BC.[27] Leaving behind a remnant of their number, most of the population moved westwards into the Ili River area. There, they displaced the Sakas, who migrated south into Ferghana and Sogdiana. According to the Chinese historical chronicles (who call the Sakas, "Sai" 塞): "[The Yuezhi] attacked the king of the Sai who moved a considerable distance to the south and the Yuezhi then occupied his lands."[28][29]

Sometime after 155 BC, the Yuezhi were again defeated by an alliance of the Wusun and the Xiongnu, and were forced to move south, again displacing the Scythians, who migrated south towards Bactria and present Afghanistan, and south-west closer towards Parthia.

The Sakas seem to have entered the territory of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom around 145 BC, where they burnt to the ground the Greek city of Alexandria on the Oxus.[citation needed] The Yuezhi remained in Sogdiana on the northern bank of the Oxus, but they became suzerains of the Sakas in Bactrian territory, as described by the Chinese ambassador Zhang Qian who visited the region around 126 BC.[citation needed]

In Parthia, between 138–124 BC, a tribe known to ancient Greek scholars as the Sacaraucae (probably from the Old Persian Sakaravaka "nomadic Saka") and an allied people, the Massagetae, came into conflict with the Parthian Empire. The Sacaraucae-Massagetae alliance won several battles and killed, in succession, the Parthian kings Phraates II and Artabanus I.

The Parthian king Mithridates II finally retook control of parts of Central Asia, first by defeating the Yuezhi in Sogdiana in 115 BC, and then defeating the Scythians in Parthia and Seistan around 100 BC.[citation needed]

After their defeat, the Yuezhi tribes migrated relatively far to the east into Bactria, which they were to control for several centuries,[citation needed] and from which they later conquered northern India to found the Kushan Empire.[30]

Settlement in Sakastan

Image
Map of Sakastan around 100 BC

The Sakas settled in Drangiana, an area of Southern Afghanistan, western Pakistan and south Iran, which was then called after them as Sakastan or Sistan.[31] From there, they progressively expanded into present day Iran as well as northern India, where they established various kingdoms, and where they are known as "Saka".[citation needed]

The mixed Scythian hordes that migrated to Drangiana and surrounding regions later spread further into north and south-west India via the lower Indus valley. Their migration spread into Sovira, Gujarat, Rajasthan and northern India, including kingdoms in the Indian mainland.

The Arsacid emperor Mithridates II (c. 123–88/87 BCE) claimed many successes in battle and added many provinces to the Parthian Empire.[32] Apparently the Scythian hordes that came from Bactria were conquered by him.

Following military pressure from the Yuezhi (precursors of the Kushana), a section of the Indo-Scythians moved from Bactria to Lake Helmond (or Hāmūn), and settled in or around Drangiana (Sigal), a region which later came to be called "Sakistana of the Skythian Sakai [sic]",[33] towards the end of 1st century BC.[34] The region is still known as Seistan. I The presence of the Sakas in Sakastan in the 1st century BC is mentioned by Isidore of Charax in his "Parthian stations". He explained that they were bordered at that time by Greek cities to the east (Alexandria of the Caucasus and Alexandria of the Arachosians), and the Parthian-controlled territory of Arachosia to the south:

"Beyond is Sacastana of the Scythian Sacae, which is also Paraetacena, 63 schoeni. There are the city of Barda and the city of Min and the city of Palacenti and the city of Sigal; in that place is the royal residence of the Sacae; and nearby is the city of Alexandria (Alexandria Arachosia), and six villages." Parthian stations, 18.[35]


Indo-Scythian kingdoms

Pamirs to Taxila


Image
Asia in 100 BC, showing the Sakas and their neighbors

Ahmad Hassan Dani and professor Karl Jettmar, from the petroglyphs left by Saka soldiers at principle river crossings at Chilas and the Sacred Rock of Hunza, have established the route across the Karakoram mountains used by Maues, the first Indo-Scythian king, to capture Taxila from Indo-Greek King Apollodotus II.[36]

The 1st century AD Periplus of the Erythraean Sea describes the Scythian territories there:

"Beyond this region (Gedrosia), the continent making a wide curve from the east across the depths of the bays, there follows the coast district of Scythia, which lies above toward the north; the whole marshy; from which flows down the river Sinthus, the greatest of all the rivers that flow into the Erythraean Sea, bringing down an enormous volume of water (...) This river has seven mouths, very shallow and marshy, so that they are not navigable, except the one in the middle; at which by the shore, is the market-town, Barbaricum. Before it there lies a small island, and inland behind it is the metropolis of Scythia, Minnagara; it is subject to Parthian princes who are constantly driving each other out."[37]


The Indo-Scythians ultimately established a kingdom in the northwest, based near Taxila, with two great Satraps, one in Mathura in the east, and one in Surastrene (Gujarat) in the southwest.

In the southeast, the Indo-Scythians invaded the area of Ujjain, but were subsequently repelled in 57 BC by the Malwa king Vikramaditya. To commemorate the event Vikramaditya established the Vikrama era, a specific Indian calendar starting in 57 BC. More than a century later, in AD 78, the Sakas would again invade Ujjain and establish the Saka era, marking the beginning of the long-lived Saka Western Satraps kingdom.[38]

Gandhara and Punjab

Image
Coin of Maues depicting Balarama, 1st century BC. British Museum.

Image
A coin of the Indo-Scythian king Azes

The presence of the Scythians in north-western India during the 1st century BCE was contemporary with that of the Indo-Greek Kingdoms there, and it seems they initially recognized the power of the local Greek rulers.

Maues first conquered Gandhara and Taxila around 80 BCE, but his kingdom disintegrated after his death. In the east, the Indian king Vikrama retook Ujjain from the Indo-Scythians, celebrating his victory by the creation of the Vikrama era (starting 58 BCE). Indo-Greek kings again ruled after Maues, and prospered, as indicated by the profusion of coins from Kings Apollodotus II and Hippostratos. Not until Azes I, in 55 BC, did the Indo-Scythians take final control of northwestern India, with his victory over Hippostratos.

Sculpture

Image
A toilet tray of the type found in the Early Saka layer at Sirkap

Several stone sculptures have been found in the Early Saka layer (Layer No4, corresponding to the period of Azes I, in which numerous coins of the latter were found) in the ruins of Sirkap, during the excavations organized by John Marshall.

Image
A bronze coin of the Indo-Scythian King Azes. Obverse: BASILEWS BASILEWN MEGALOU AZOU, Humped Brahman bull (zebu) walking right, Whitehead symbol 15 (Z in square) above; Reverse: Kharosthi "jha" to right / Kharosthi legend, Lion or leopard standing right, Whitehead symbol 26 above; Reference: Whitehead 259; BMC p. 86, 141.

Image
The Bimaran casket, representing the Buddha surrounded by Brahma (left) and Śakra (right) was found inside a stupa with coins of Azes inside. British Museum.

Several of them are toilet trays (also called Stone palettes) roughly imitative of earlier, and finer, Hellenistic ones found in the earlier layers. Marshall comments that "we have a praiseworthy effort to copy a Hellenistic original but obviously without the appreciation of form and skill which were necessary for the task". From the same layer, several statuettes in the round are also known, in very rigid and frontal style.

Bimaran casket

Main article: Bimaran casket

Azes is connected to the Bimaran casket, one of the earliest representations of the Buddha. The casket was used for the dedication of a stupa in Bamiran, near Jalalabad in Afghanistan, and placed inside the stupa with several coins of Azes. This event may have happened during the reign of Azes (60–20 BCE), or slightly later. The Indo-Scythians are otherwise connected with Buddhism (see Mathura lion capital), and it is indeed possible they would have commended the work.

Mathura area ("Northern Satraps")

Main article: Northern Satraps

Image
Coin of Rajuvula (c. 10 CE), AE, Mathura. Obv: Bust of King Rajuvula, with Greek legend. Rev: Pallas standing right (crude). Kharoshthi legend.

Image
The Mathura lion capital is an important Indo-Scythian monument dedicated to the Buddhist religion (British Museum).

In northern India, the Indo-Scythians conquered the area of Mathura over Indian kings around 60 BCE. Some of their satraps were Hagamasha and Hagana, who were in turn followed by the Saca Great Satrap Rajuvula.

The Mathura lion capital, an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital in crude style, from Mathura in northern India, and dated to the 1st century CE, describes in kharoshthi the gift of a stupa with a relic of the Buddha, by Queen Nadasi Kasa, the wife of the Indo-Scythian ruler of Mathura, Rajuvula. The capital also mentions the genealogy of several Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura.

Rajuvula apparently eliminated the last of the Indo-Greek kings Strato II around 10 CE, and took his capital city, Sagala.

The coinage of the period, such as that of Rajuvula, tends to become very crude and barbarized in style. It is also very much debased, the silver content becoming lower and lower, in exchange for a higher proportion of bronze, an alloying technique (billon) suggesting less than wealthy finances.

The Mathura lion capital inscriptions attest that Mathura fell under the control of the Sakas. The inscriptions contain references to Kharahostes and Queen Ayasia, the "chief queen of the Indo-Scythian ruler of Mathura, satrap Rajuvula." Kharahostes was the son of Arta as is attested by his own coins.[39] Arta is stated to be brother of King Moga or Maues.[40]

The Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura are sometimes called the "Northern Satraps", in opposition to the "Western Satraps" ruling in Gujarat and Malwa. After Rajuvula, several successors are known to have ruled as vassals to the Kushans, such as the "Great Satrap" Kharapallana and the "Satrap" Vanaspara, who are known from an inscription discovered in Sarnath, and dated to the 3rd year of Kanishka (c. AD 130), in which they were paying allegiance to the Kushans.[41]

Pataliputra

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Silver coin of Vijayamitra in the name of Azes. Buddhist triratna symbol in the left field on the reverse.

Image
Profile of the Indo-Scythian King Azes on one of his coins.

The text of the Yuga Purana describes an invasion of Pataliputra by the Scythians sometimes during the 1st century BC, after seven great kings had ruled in succession in Saketa following the retreat of the Yavanas. The Yuga Purana explains that the king of the Sakas killed one fourth of the population, before he was himself slain by the Kalinga king Shata and a group of Sabalas (Sabaras or Bhillas).[42]

Kushan and Indo-Parthian conquests

After the death of Azes, the rule of the Indo-Scythians in northwestern India was shattered with the rise of the Indo-Parthian ruler Gondophares in the last years of the 1st century BC. For the following decades, a number of minor Scythian leaders maintained themselves in local strongholds on the fringes of the loosely assembled Indo-Parthian empire, some of them paying formal allegiance to Gondophares I and his successors.

During the latter part of the 1st century AD, the Indo-Parthian overlordship was gradually replaced with that of the Kushans, one of the five tribes of the Yuezhi who had lived in Bactria for more than a century, and were now expanding into India to create a Kushan Empire. The Kushans ultimately regained northwestern India from around AD 75, and the area of Mathura from around AD 100, where they were to prosper for several centuries.[30][citation needed]

Western Kshatrapas

Image
Coin of the Western Kshatrapa ruler Rudrasimha I (c. AD 175 to 197), a descendant of the Indo-Scythians

Main article: Western Kshatrapas

Indo-Scythians continued to hold the area of Seistan until the reign of Bahram II (AD 276–293), and held several areas of India well into the 1st millennium: Kathiawar and Gujarat were under their rule until the 5th century under the designation of Western Kshatrapas. The Khsatrap Rudradaman I was a notable conqueror whose exploits are inscribed in the Junagadh rock inscription of Rudradaman. During his campaigns, Rudradaman conqured the Yaudheyas and defeated the Satavahana Empire. The Western Kshatraps were eventually conquered by the Gupta emperor Chandragupta II (also called Vikramaditya).

Indo-Scythian coinage

Image
Silver tetradrachm of the Indo-Scythian king Maues (85–60 BC).

Indo-Scythian coinage is generally of a high artistic quality, although it clearly deteriorates towards the disintegration of Indo-Scythian rule around AD 20 (coins of Rajuvula). A fairly high-quality but rather stereotypical coinage would continue in the Western Satraps until the 4th century.

Indo-Scythian coinage is generally quite realistic, artistically somewhere between Indo-Greek and Kushan coinage. It is often suggested Indo-Scythian coinage benefited from the help of Greek celators (Boppearachchi).

Indo-Scythian coins essentially continue the Indo-Greek tradition, by using the Greek language on the obverse and the Kharoshthi language on the reverse. The portrait of the king is never shown however, and is replaced by depictions of the king on horse (and sometimes on camel), or sometimes sitting cross-legged on a cushion. The reverse of their coins typically show Greek divinities.

Buddhist symbolism is present throughout Indo-Scythian coinage. In particular, they adopted the Indo-Greek practice since Menander I of showing divinities forming the vitarka mudra with their right hand (as for the mudra-forming Zeus on the coins of Maues or Azes II), or the presence of the Buddhist lion on the coins of the same two kings, or the triratana symbol on the coins of Zeionises.

Depiction of Indo-Scythians

Image
Azilises on horse, wearing a tunic

Besides coinage, few works of art are known to indisputably represent Indo-Scythians. Indo-Scythian rulers are usually depicted on horseback in armour, but the coins of Azilises show the king in a simple, undecorated, tunic.[citation needed]

Several Gandharan sculptures also show foreigners in soft tunics, sometimes wearing the pointed hat typical of Scythians. They stand in contrast to representations of Kushan men, who seem to wear thick, rigid, tunics, and who are generally represented in a much more simplistic manner.[43]

Image
Scythian devotee, Butkara Stupa

Buner reliefs

Indo-Scythian soldiers in military attire are sometimes represented in Buddhist friezes in the art of Gandhara (particularly in Buner reliefs). They are depicted in ample tunics with trousers, and have heavy straight swords as weapons. They wear pointed hoods or the Scythian cap (see Pointed hat), which distinguishes them from the Indo-Parthians who only wore a simple fillet over their bushy hair,[44] and which is also systematically worn by Indo-Scythian rulers on their coins. With the right hand, some of them are forming the Karana mudra against evil spirits. In Gandhara, such friezes were used as decorations on the pedestals of Buddhist stupas. They are contemporary with other friezes representing people in purely Greek attire, hinting at an intermixing of Indo-Scythians (holding military power) and Indo-Greeks (confined, under Indo-Scythian rule, to civilian life).

Another relief is known where the same type of soldiers are playing musical instruments and dancing, activities which are widely represented elsewhere in Gandharan art: Indo-Scythians are typically shown as reveling devotees.

Image
One of the Buner reliefs showing Scythian soldiers dancing. Cleveland Museum of Art.

Image
Indo-Scythians pushing along the Greek god Dionysos with Ariadne.[45]

Image
Hunting scene.

Image
Hunting scene.

Stone palettes

Main article: Stone palette

Image
Gandhara stone palette with Scythians playing music.

Numerous stone palettes found in Gandhara are considered good representatives of Indo-Scythian art. These palettes combine Greek and Iranian influences, and are often realized in a simple, archaic style. Stone palettes have only been found in archaeological layers corresponding to Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian and Indo-Parthian rule, and are essentially unknown in the preceding Mauryan layers or the succeeding Kushan layers.[46]

Very often these palettes represent people in Greek dress in mythological scenes, a few in Parthian dress (head-bands over bushy hair, crossed-over jacket on a bare chest, jewelry, belt, baggy trousers), and even fewer in Indo-Scythian dress (Phrygian hat, tunic and comparatively straight trousers). A palette found in Sirkap and now in the New Delhi Museum shows a winged Indo-Scythian horseman riding winged deer, and being attacked by a lion.

The Indo-Scythians and Buddhism

The Indo-Scythians seem to have been followers of Buddhism, and many of their practices apparently continued those of the Indo-Greeks.

Royal dedications

Image
The Bajaur casket was dedicated by Indravarman, Metropolitan Museum of Art.[47]

Several Indo-Scythian kings after Azes are known for making Buddhist dedications in their name, on plaques or reliquaries:

• Patika Kusulaka (25 BCE – 10 CE) related his donation of a relic of the Buddha Shakyamuni to a Buddhist monastery, in the Taxila copper plate.
• Kharahostes (10 BCE – 10 CE) is mentioned on the Buddhist Mathura lion capital and on a reliquary.[48][49] His coins were also found in the Bimaran casket, a beautiful Buddhist gold reliquary with an early image of the Buddha, now in the British Museum. Some of his coins bear the Buddhist triratna symbol.
• Vijayamitra (ruled 12 BCE - 15 CE) personally dedicated in his name a Buddhist reliquary.[50][51] Some of his coins bear the Buddhist triratna symbol.
• Indravarman, while still a Prince, personally dedicated in 5-6 CE a Buddhist reliquary, the Bajaur casket, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
• Zeionises and Aspavarma also used the Buddhist triratna symbol on their coins.
• Rajuvula erected the Mathura lion capital, which incorporates Buddhist symbols and relates the donations by his wife of relics to a stupa.

Butkara Stupa

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Buddhist stupas during the late Indo-Greek/Indo-Scythian period were highly decorated structures with columns, flights of stairs, and decorative Acanthus leaf friezes. Butkara stupa, Swat, 1st century BC.[52]

Image
Possible Scythian devotee couple (extreme left and right, often described as "Scytho-Parthian"),[53] around the Buddha, Brahma and Indra.

Excavations at the Butkara Stupa in Swat by an Italian archaeological team have yielded various Buddhist sculptures thought to belong to the Indo-Scythian period. In particular, an Indo-Corinthian capital representing a Buddhist devotee within foliage has been found which had a reliquary and coins of Azes buried at its base, securely dating the sculpture to around 20 BC.[54] A contemporary pilaster with the image of a Buddhist devotee in Greek dress has also been found at the same spot, again suggesting a mingling of the two populations.[55] Various reliefs at the same location show Indo-Scythians with their characteristic tunics and pointed hoods within a Buddhist context, and side-by-side with reliefs of standing Buddhas.[56]

Gandharan sculptures

Other reliefs have been found, which show Indo-Scythian men with their characteristic pointed cap pushing a cart on which is reclining the Greek god Dionysos with his consort Ariadne.

Mathura lion capital

The Mathura lion capital, which associates many of the Indo-Scythian rulers from Maues to Rajuvula, mentions a dedication of a relic of the Buddha in a stupa. It also bears centrally the Buddhist symbol of the triratana, and is also filled with mentions of the bhagavat Buddha Sakyamuni, and characteristically Buddhist phrases such as:

"sarvabudhana puya dhamasa puya saghasa puya"
"Revere all the Buddhas, revere the dharma, revere the sangha"
(Mathura lion capital, inscription O1/O2)


Image
Indo-Corinthian capital from Butkara Stupa, dated to 20 BC, during the reign of Azes II. Turin City Museum of Ancient Art.

Image
Dancing Indo-Scythians (top) and hunting scene (bottom). Buddhist relief from Swat, Gandhara.

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Butkara doorjamb, with Indo-Scythians dancing and reveling. On the back side is a relief of a standing Buddha[57]

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Statue with inscription mentioning "year 318", probably 143 CE.[58] The two devotees on the right side of the pedestal are in Indo-Scythian suit (loose trousers, tunic, and hood).[59]

Indo-Scythians in Indian literature

Main article: Indo-Scythians in Indian literature

The Indo-Scythians were named "Shaka" in India, an extension on the name Saka used by the Persians to designate Scythians. Shakas receive numerous mentions in texts like the Puranas, the Manusmriti, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Mahabhasiya of Patanjali, the Brhat Samhita of Vraha Mihira, the Kavyamimamsa, the Brihat-Katha-Manjari, the Katha-Saritsagara and several other old texts. They are described as part of an amalgam of other war-like tribes from the northwest.

There are important references to the warring Mleccha hordes of the Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas and Pahlavas in the Bala Kanda of the Valmiki Ramayana. H. C. Raychadhury glimpses in these verses the struggles between the Hindus and the invading hordes of Mlechcha barbarians from the northwest. The time frame for these struggles is the 2nd century BC onwards. Raychadhury fixes the date of the present version of the Valmiki Ramayana around or after the 2nd century AD.[60]

Mahabharata too furnishes a veiled hint about the invasion of the mixed hordes from the northwest. Vanaparava by Mahabharata contains verses in the form of prophecy deploring that "......the Mlechha (barbaric) kings of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Bahlikas, etc. shall rule the earth un-righteously in Kali Yuga..."[61]

As with many traditional epics, the two Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, which comprise the Itihasa, have gone through multiple interpolations and redactions since its conception, rendering it impossible to accurately date. It is highly likely that these additions were made with changing political factors and the introduction of new people into society.

Indo-Scythians in Greco-Roman Sources

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"Scythia" appears around the mouth of the river Indus in the Roman period Tabula Peutingeriana.

The country of Scythia in the area of Pakistan, and especially around the mouth of the Indus with its capital at Minnagara (modern day Karachi) is mentioned extensively in Western maps and travel descriptions of the period. The Ptolemy world map, as well as the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mention prominently, the country of Scythia on the Indus Valley, as well as Roman Tabula Peutingeriana. The Periplus states that Minnagara was the capital of Scythia, and that Parthian Princes from within it were fighting for its control during the 1st century AD. It also distinguishes Scythia with Ariaca further east (centred in Gujarat and Malwa), over which ruled the Western Satrap king Nahapana.

Sai-Wang Scythian hordes of Chipin or Kipin

Image
Coin of Azes, with king seated, holding a drawn sword and a whip.

A section of the Central Asian Scythians (under Sai-Wang) is said to have taken southerly direction and after passing through the Pamirs it entered the Chipin or Kipin after crossing the Xuandu (懸度 Hanging Pass) located above the valley of Kanda in Swat country.[62] Chipin has been identified by Pelliot, Bagchi, Raychaudhury and some others with Kashmir[63] while other scholars identify it with Kapisha (Kafirstan).[64][65] The Sai-Wang had established his kingdom in Kipin. S. Konow interprets the Sai-Wang as Śaka Murunda of Indian literature, Murunda being equal to Wang i.e. king, master or lord,[66] but Bagchi who takes the word Wang in the sense of the king of the Scythians but he distinguishes the Sai Sakas from the Murunda Sakas.[67] There are reasons to believe that Sai Scythians were Kamboja Scythians and therefore Sai-Wang belonged to the Scythianised Kambojas (i.e. Parama-Kambojas) of the Transoxiana region and came back to settle among his own stock after being evicted from his ancestral land located in Scythia or Shakadvipa. King Moga or Maues could have belonged to this group of Scythians who had migrated from the Sai country (Central Asia) to Chipin.[68]

Evidence about joint invasions

Image
"Scythian" soldier, Nagarjunakonda.[69][70]

The Scythian groups that invaded India and set up various kingdoms included, besides the Sakas, other allied tribes, such as the Medii, Xanthii, and Massagetae. These peoples were all absorbed into the community of Kshatriyas of mainstream Indian society.[71]

The Shakas were formerly a people of the trans-Hemodos region—the Shakadvipa of the Puranas or the Scythia of the classical writings. Isidor of Charax (beginning of 1st century AD) attests them in Sakastana (modern Seistan). The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (c. AD 70–80) also attests a Scythian district in lower Indus with Minnagra as its capital. Ptolemy (c. AD 140) also attests to an Indo-Scythia in south-western India which comprised the Patalene and Surastrene (Saurashtra) territories.

The 2nd century BC Scythian invasion of India, was in all probability carried out jointly by the Sakas, Pahlavas, Kambojas, Paradas, Rishikas and other allied tribes from the northwest.[72]

Main Indo-Scythian tribes and rulers

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Eastern Pakistan, and Kashmir

• Maues, c. 85–60 BC
• Vonones, c. 75–65 BC
• Spalahores, c. 75–65 BC, satrap and brother of King Vonones, and probably the later King Spalirises.
• Spalirises, c. 60–57 BC, king and brother of King Vonones.
• Spalagadames c. 50 BC, satrap, and son of Spalahores.
• Azilises, before 60 BC
• Azes I, c. 60–20 BC
• Zeionises, c. 10 BC – AD 10
• Kharahostes, c. 10 BC – AD 10
• Hajatria

Kshaharatas (Punjab, Pakistan and beyond)

• Liaka Kusuluka, satrap of Chuksa
• Kusulaka Patika, satrap of Chuksa and son of Liaka Kusulaka
• Bhumaka
• Nahapana (founder of the Western Satraps)

Aprācas (Bajaur, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan)

Main article: Apraca

• Vijayamitra (12 BC - AD 15), wife Rukhana
• Indravasu (c. AD 20), wife Vasumitra
• Vispavarman, wife Śiśirena
• Indravarman, wife Uttara
• Aspa (AD 15–45) [73] or Aspavarma (AD 15 - 45)
• Sasan[74]

Pāratas[75] (Balochistan, Pakistan)

Main article: Paratarajas

Image
Drachm of Parataraja Bhimarjuna. Obv: Robed bust of Bhimarjuna left, wearing tiara-shaped diadem. Rev: Swastika with legend surrounding. 1.70g. Senior (Indo-Scythian) 286.1 (Bhimajhuna)

• Yolamira, son of Bagareva (c. 125–150)
• Bagamira, son of Yolamira (c. 150)
• Arjuna, a second son of Yolamira (c. 150–160)
• Hvaramira, a third son of Yolamira (c. 160–175)
• Mirahvara, son of Hvaramira (c. 175–185)
• Miratakhma, another son of Hvaramira (c. 185–200)
• Kozana, son of Bagavharna (and perhaps grandson of Bagamira?) (c. 200–220)
• Bhimarjuna, son of Yolatakhma (and perhaps grandson of Arjuna?) (c. 220–235)
• Koziya, son of Kozana (c. 235–265)
• Datarvharna, son of Datayola I (possible grandson of Bhimarjuna) (c. 265–280)
• Datayola II, son of Datarvharna (c. 280–300)

"Northern Satraps" (Mathura area)

Main article: Northern Satraps

• Hagamasha (satrap, 1st century BC)
• Hagana (satrap, 1st century BC)
• Rajuvula, c. AD 10 (Great Satrap)
• Sodasa, son of Rajuvula
• "Great Satrap" Kharapallana (c. AD 130)
• "Satrap" Vanaspara (c. AD 130)

Minor local rulers

• Bhadayasa
• Mamvadi
• Arsakes (Indo-Scythian)

Western Satraps

Main article: Western Satraps

• Nahapana (119–124)
• Chastana (c. 120), son of Ghsamotika

Image

• Jayadaman, son of Chastana
• Rudradaman I (c. 130–150), son of Jayadaman

Image

• Damajadasri I (170–175)
• Jivadaman (175 died 199)
• Rudrasimha I (175–188 died 197)
• Isvaradatta (188–191)
• Rudrasimha I (restored) (191–197)
• Jivadaman (restored) (197–199)
• Rudrasena I (200–222)

Image

• Samghadaman (222–223)
• Damasena (223–232)
• Damajadasri II (232–239) with
• Viradaman (234–238)
• Yasodaman I (239)
• Vijayasena (239–250)
• Damajadasri III (251–255)
• Rudrasena II (255–277)
• Visvasimha (277–282)
• Bhratadarman (282–295) with

Image

• Visvasena (293–304)
• Rudrasimha II, son of Lord (Svami) Jivadaman (304–348) with
• Yasodaman II (317–332)
• Rudradaman II (332–348)
• Rudrasena III (348–380)
• Simhasena (Indo-Scythian ruler) (380– ?)
• Rudrasena IV (382–388)
• Rudrasimha III (388–395)

Image

Military actions

Descendants of the Indo-Scythians


Tadeusz Sulimirski notes that the Sacae also invaded parts of Northern India.[76] Weer Rajendra Rishi, an Indian linguist[77] has identified linguistic affinities between Indian and Central Asian languages, which further lends credence to the possibility of historical Sacae influence in Northern India.[76][78]

See also

• Ancient India and Central Asia
• Tillya Tepe

Notes

1. Diringer, David (1953) [1948]. The Alphabet: A Key to the History of Mankind (Second and revised ed.). London: Hutchinson's Scientific and Technical Publications. p. 350.
2. The Decline and Fall of the Hindus: The Book on India's Regeneration
3. Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 115–138. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959.
4. Kharapallana and Vanaspara are known from an inscription discovered in Sarnath, and dated to the 3rd year of Kanishka, in which they were paying allegiance to the Kushanas. Source: "A Catalogue of the Indian Coins in the British Museum. Andhras etc." Rapson, p ciii
5. "The titles "Kshatrap" and "Mahakshatrapa" certainly show that the Western Kshatrapas were originally feudatories" in Rapson, "Coins of the British Museum", p.cv
6. World history from early times to A D 2000 by B .V. Rao: p.97
7. A Brief History of India, by Alain Daniélou p.136
8. India in a Globalised World, by Sagarika Dutt p.24
9. Ancient India, by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar p. 234
10. "Arrian: Anabasis Alexandri: Book VIII (Indica); Section V". Ancient History Sourcebooks. Fordham University. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
11. Ptolemy vi, xiii (1932), p. 143.
12. Ronca (1971), pp. 39, 102, 108.
13. Abdullaev, Kazim (2007). "Nomad Migration in Central Asia (in After Alexander: Central Asia before Islam)". Proceedings of the British Academy. 133: 87–98.
14. Greek Art in Central Asia, Afghan – Encyclopaedia Iranica.
15. Also a Saka according to this source
16. Millward (2007), p. 13.
17. Diringer, David (1948). Alphabet A Key To The History Of Mankind. p. 350.
18. Beckwith, Christopher I. (2015). Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia. Princeton University Press. p. 5. ISBN 9781400866328.
19. Herodotus VII 65
20. Attwood, Jayarava. Possible Iranian Origins for the Śākyas and Aspects of Buddhism. pp. 47–69.
21. Beckwith, Christopher I. (2015). Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia. Princeton University Press. pp. 1–21. ISBN 9781400866328.
22. Mookerji, Radhakumud (1966). Chandragupta Maurya and His Times. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 27. ISBN 9788120804050.; Mookerji, Radha Kumud (1957). "The Foundation of the Mauryan Empire". In K. A. Nilakanta Sastri (ed.). A Comprehensive History of India, Volume 2: Mauryas and Satavahanas. Orient Longmans. p. 4.: "The Mudrarakshasa further informs us that his Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a composite army ... Among these are mentioned the following : Sakas, Yavanas (probably Greeks), Kiratas, Kambojas, Parasikas and Bahlikas."
23. Shashi, Shyam Singh (1999). Encyclopaedia Indica: Mauryas. Anmol Publications. p. 134. ISBN 9788170418597.: "Among those who helped Chandragupta in his struggle against the Nandas, were the Sakas (Scythians), Yavanas (Greeks), and Parasikas (Persians)"
24. D. B. Spooner (1915). "The Zoroastrian Period of Indian History". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 47 (3): 416–417. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00048437. JSTOR 25189338.: "After Alexander's death, when Chandragupta marched on Magada, it was with largely the Persian army that he won the throne of India. The testimony of the Mudrarakshasa is explicit on this point, and we have no reason to doubt its accuracy in matter[s] of this kind."
25. Mookerji, Radhakumud (1966). Chandragupta Maurya and His Times. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 210. ISBN 9788120804050.
26. Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. pp. 32. ISBN 978-0-8135-1304-1.
27. Shiji, chap. 123 translated in: Burton Watson (1993), p. 234.
28. Han Shu 61 4B Original tex: 西擊塞王。塞王南走遠徙,月氏居其地。
29. Craig Benjamin (October 2003). "The Yuezhi Migration and Sogdia". Transoxiana Webfestschrift Series I: Eran Ud Aneran.
30. Lena Jonson (3 October 2006). Tajikistan in the New Central Asia: Geopolitics, Great Power Rivalry and Radical Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-84511-293-6.
31. Bailey, H.W. (1996) [14 April 1983]. "Chapter 34: Khotanese Saka Literature". In Ehsan Yarshater (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol III: The Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Periods, Part 2 (reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 1230–1231. ISBN 978-0521246934.
32. Justin XL.II.2
33. Isodor of Charax, Sathmoi Parthikoi, 18.
34. Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 693.
35. "Parthian stations". Parthia.com. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
36. Ahmad Hasan Dani. History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Volume 2. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 191–207.
37. "Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, 38". Fordham.edu. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
38. The dynastic art of the Kushans, John Rosenfield, p 130
39. Kshatrapasa pra Kharaostasa Artasa putrasa. See: Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 398, H. C. Raychaudhury, B. N. Mukerjee; Ancient India, 1956, pp 220–221, R. K. Mukerjee
40. Ancient India, pp 220–221, R. k. Mukerjee; Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol II, Part 1, p 36, D S Konow
41. Source: "A Catalogue of the Indian Coins in the British Museum. Andhras etc..." Rapson, p ciii
42. "A gap in Puranic history". Boloji.com. 14 March 2004. Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
43. Francine Tissot "Gandhara", p74
44. Wilcox and McBride (1986), p. 12.
45. Photographic reference here Archived 10 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
46. "Let us remind that in Sirkap, stone palettes were found at all excavated levels. On the contrary, neither Bhir-Mound, the Maurya city preceding Sirkap on the Taxila site, nor Sirsukh, the Kushan city succeeding her, did deliver any stone palettes during their excavations", in "Les palettes du Gandhara", p89. "The terminal point after which such palettes are not manufactured anymore is probably located during the Kushan period. In effect, neither Mathura nor Taxila (although the Sirsukh had only been little excavated), nor Begram, nor Surkh Kotal, neither the great Kushan archaeological sites of Soviet Central Asia or Afghanistan have yielded such objects. Only four palettes have been found in Kushan-period archaeological sites. They come from secondary sites, such as Garav Kala and Ajvadz in Soviet Tajikistan and Jhukar, in the Indus Valley, and Dalverzin Tepe. They are rather roughly made." In "Les Palettes du Gandhara", Henri-Paul Francfort, p 91. (in French in the original)
47. Metropolitan Museum of Art notice [1]
48. Ahmad Hasan Dani et al., History of Civilizations of Central Asia, 1999, p 201, Unesco
49. Richard Salomon, "An Inscribed Silver Buddhist Reliquary of the Time of King Kharaosta and Prince Indravarman", Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 116, No. 3 (July - September 1996), pp. 418-452
50. "Afghanistan, carrefour en l'Est et l'Ouest" p.373. Also Senior 2003
51. Des Indo-Grecs aux Sassanides, Rika Gyselen, Peeters Publishers, 2007, p.103 [2]
52. Source:"Butkara I", Faccena
53. "Gandhara" Francine Tissot
54. The Turin City Museum of Ancient Art Text and photographic reference: Terre Lontane O2 Archived 12 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine
55. For the pilaster showing a man in Greek dress File:ButkaraPilaster.jpg.
56. Facenna, "Sculptures from the sacred area of Butkara I", plate CCCLXXI. The relief is this one, showing Indo-Scythians dancing and reveling, with on the back side a relief of a standing Buddha (not shown).
57. Faccenna, "Sculptures from the sacred area of Butkara I", plate CCCLXXII
58. Problems of Chronology in Gandharan Art pp.35-51, 2017
59. Greco-Buddhist Art of Gandhara p.491
60. Political History of Ancient India, 1996, pp 3–4.
61.
viparite tada loke purvarupa.n kshayasya tat || 34 ||
bahavo mechchha rajanah prithivyam manujadhipa |
mithyanushasinah papa mrishavadaparayanah || 35 ||
Andhrah Shakah Pulindashcha Yavanashcha naradhipah |
Kamboja Bahlikah Shudrastath abhira narottama || 36 ||
— (MBH 3.188.34–36).

62. Serindia, Vol I, 1980 Edition, p 8, M. A. Stein
63. H. C. Raychaudhury, B. N. Mukerjee; Early History of North India, p 3, S. Chattopadhyava; India and Central Asia, p 126, P. C. Bagchi
64. Epigraphia Indiaca XIV, p 291 S Konow; Greeks in Bactria and India, p 473, fn, W. W. Tarn; Yuan Chwang I, pp 259–60, Watters; Comprehensive History of India, Vol I, p 189, N. K. Sastri; History and Culture of Indian People, The Age of Imperial Unity, 122; History and Culture of Indian People, Classical Age, p 617, R. C. Majumdar, A. D. Pusalkar.
65. Scholars like E. J. Rapson, L. Petech etc. also connect Kipin with Kapisha. Levi holds that prior to AD 600, Kipin denoted Kashmir, but after this it implied Kapisha See Discussion in The Classical Age, p 671.
66. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, II. 1. XX f; cf: Early History of North India, pp 54, S Chattopadhyaya.
67. India and Central Asia, 1955, p 124, P. C. Bagchi; Geographical Data in Early Puranas, 1972, p 47, M. R. Singh.
68. See: Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p fn 13, B. N. Mukerjee; Chilas, Islamabad, 1983, no 72, 78, 85, pp 98, 102, A. H. Dani
69. "In Nagarjunakonda Scythian influence is noticed and the cap and coat of a soldier on a pillar may be cited as an example.", in Sivaramamurti, C. (1961). Indian Sculpture. Allied Publishers. p. 51.
70. "A Scythian dvarapala standing wearing his typical draperies, boots and head dress. Distinct ethnic and sartorial characteristics are noreworthy.", in Ray, Amita (1982). Life and Art of Early Andhradesa. Agam. p. 249.
71. History and Culture of Indian People, The Vedic Age, pp 286–87, 313–14.
72. Intercourse Between India and the Western World, pp 75–93, H. G. Rawlinson
73. e.g.: Aspa.bhrata.putrasa. See: An Inscribed Silver Buddhist Reliquary of the Time of King Kharaosta and Prince Indravarman, Jounranal of the American Oriental Society, Vol 116, No 3, 1996, p 448, Richard Saloman.
74. An Inscribed Silver Buddhist Reliquary of the Time of King Kharaosta and Prince Indravarman, Jounranal of the American Oriental Society, Vol 116, No 3, 1996, p 448, Richard Saloman.
75. [3] Further Light on the Paratarajas
76. Sulimirski, Tadeusz (1970). The Sarmatians. Volume 73 of Ancient peoples and places. New York: Praeger. pp. 113–114. The evidence of both the ancient authors and the archaeological remains point to a massive migration of Sacian (Sakas)/Massagetan tribes from the Syr Daria Delta (Central Asia) by the middle of the second century B.C. Some of the Syr Darian tribes; they also invaded North India.
77. Indian Institute of Romani Studies Archived 8 January 2013 at archive.today
78. Rishi, Weer Rajendra (1982). India & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity. Roma. p. 95.

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• Faccenna D., "Sculptures from the sacred area of Butkara I", Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Libreria Dello Stato, Rome, 1964.
• Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Paris, UNESCO Publishing.
• Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between AD 239 and 265. Draft annotated English translation. [6]
• Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries AD. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
• Hulsewé, A. F. P. and Loewe, M. A. N. 1979. China in Central Asia: The Early Stage 125 BC – AD 23: an annotated translation of chapters 61 and 96 of the History of the Former Han Dynasty. E. J. Brill, Leiden.
• Huet, Gerard (2010) "Heritage du Sanskrit Dictionnaire, Sanskrit-Francais," p. 128. [7]
• Litvinsky, B. A., ed., 1996. History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume III. The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. Paris, UNESCO Publishing.
• Liu, Xinru 2001 "Migration and Settlement of the Yuezhi-Kushan: Interaction and Interdependence of Nomadic and Sedentary Societies." Journal of World History, Volume 12, No. 2, Fall 2001. University of Hawaii Press, pp 261–292. [8].
• Bulletin of the Asia Institute: The Archaeology and Art of Central Asia. Studies From the Former Soviet Union. New Series. Edited by B. A. Litvinskii and Carol Altman Bromberg. Translation directed by Mary Fleming Zirin. Vol. 8, (1994), pp 37–46.
• Millward, James A. (2007). Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. Columbia University Press, New York. ISBN 978-0-231-13924-3.
• Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1970. "The Wu-sun and Sakas and the Yüeh-chih Migration." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 33 (1970), pp 154–160.
• Ptolemy (1932). The Geography. Translated and edited by Edward Luther Stevenson. 1991 unabridged reproduction. Dover Publications, Mineola, N. Y. ISBN 0-486-26896-9 (pbk)
• Puri, B. N. 1994. "The Sakas and Indo-Parthians." In: History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, pp 191–207.
• Ronca, Italo (1971). Ptolemaios Geographie 6,9–21. Ostrian und Zentralasien, Teil I. IsMEO — ROM.
• Watson, Burton. Trans. 1993. Records of the Grand Historian of China: Han Dynasty II (Revised Edition). Translated from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Chapter 123: The Account of Ta-yüan. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-08167-7
• Wilcox, Peter and Angus McBride (1986). Rome's Enemies (3): Parthians and Sassanid Persians (Men-at-Arms). Osprey Publishing; illustrated edition. ISBN 978-0-85045-688-2.
• Yu, Taishan. 1998. A Study of Saka History. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 80. July 1998. Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania.
• Yu, Taishan. 2000. A Hypothesis about the Source of the Sai Tribes. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 106. September 2000. Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania.
• Political History of Ancient India, 1996, H. C. Raychaudhury
• Hindu Polity, A Constitutional history of India in Hindu Times, 1978, K. P. Jayswal
• Geographical Data in Early Puranas, 1972, M. R. Singh
• India and Central Asia, 1955, P. C. Bagchi.
• Geography of Puranas, 1973, S. M. Ali
• Greeks in Bactria and India, W. W. Tarn
• Early History of North India, S. Chattopadhyava
• Sakas in Ancient India, S. Chattopadhyava
• Development of Kharoshthi script, C. C. Dasgupta
• Ancient India, 1956, R. K. Mukerjee
• Ancient India, Vol III, T. L. Shah
• Hellenism in Ancient India, G. N. Banerjee
• Manu and Yajnavalkya, K. P. Jayswal
• Anabaseeos Alexanddrou, Arrian
• Mathura lion capital inscriptions
• Corpus Inscriptionium Indicarum, Vol II, Part I, S. Konow

External links

• "Indo-Scythian dynasties", R. C. Senior
• Coins of the Indo-Scythians
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Mon Dec 27, 2021 11:11 am

Eucratides I
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/28/21

[x]
Eucratides I
King of Kings, Basileus
Rendering of Eucratides on a 20-stater gold coin, found in Bukhara and later acquired by Napoleon III. Now held at the Paris Cabinet des Médailles.
King of the Bactrian Empire
Reign: 171–145 BC
Successor: Eucratides II
Successor: Heliocles I
Born: c. 204 BCE, Ai-Khanum (modern day Takhar province, Afghanistan)
Died: 145 BCE (aged 59), Bactria
Spouse: Amastris
Issue : Agathoclea; Eukratides II; Heliokles I; Diodotus III(?)
Dynasty: Diodotid dynasty
Father: Heliokles
Mother: Laodice (daughter of Diodotus I)

Eucratides I (Koinē Greek: Εὐκρατίδης, Eúkratides) (reigned 172/171–145 BC), also known as Eucratides the Great,[1] was one of the most important Greco-Bactrian kings. Eucratides overthrew the Euthydemid dynasty of Bactria (possibly killing Demetrius) and restored the Diodotid dynasty of Diodotus I, allied to the Parthian Empire.[2] Eucratides fought against the easternmost Hellenistic and Indian rulers in India, holding territory in the Indus and as far as Barigaza until he was finally defeated by Menander and pushed back to Bactria. Eucratides minted a vast and prestigious coinage, suggesting a rule of considerable importance and prosperity. His son, Heliocles I was father of Heliocles II, who was the last Greek king to rule in Bactria, as Yuezhi and Saka nomads overran the country c.100 BCE.[3][4]

Biography

Early life


Eucratides was born c.204 BCE in the Hellenistic city of Ai-Khanoum, to “Heliocles” and “Laodice” as depicted on various finds of his coinage. Laodice was of the Diodotid dynasty, probably a daughter of Diodotus I and a sister of Diodotus II. She appears to have been spared from Euthydemus’ violent usurpation in 225 BCE and married a certain Heliocles, of whom nothing is known. It is also unclear as to whether Eucratides and his family held any positions of rank amongst the nobility during the reigns of Euthydemus and Demetrius, or whether he was treated as an ordinary Greek citizen.

Coup d'état

Eucratides came to the throne by overthrowing the Euthydemid dynasty in Bactria, possibly when its king, Demetrius was conquering northwestern India. The king whom Eucratides dethroned in Bactria was probably Antimachus I.

It is unclear whether Eucratides was a Diodotid Bactrian nobleman who raised a rebellion, or, according to the claims of some scholars,[5] a cousin of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes who was trying to regain the Bactrian territory. The Seleucid claim is highly unlikely and has been discredited by modern historians, and it is believed that Eucratides mother, Laodice was solely of the Diodotid dynasty. Justin explains that Eucratides acceded to the throne at about the same time as Mithridates, whose rule is accurately known to have started in 171 BC, thereby giving an approximate date for the accession of Eucratides:

"Around the same time, two great men started to rule: Mithridates among the Parthians, and Eucratides among the Bactrians" Justin XLI,6[6]


Some of the coins of Eucratides represent his parents, where his father is named Heliocles, and his mother, Laodice,[7] who is depicted wearing a royal diadem and therefore of royal descent. Narain and other modern authors propose that she was a daughter of Diodotus I.

Having become master of Bactria after de-throning the Euthydemid dynasty, Eucratides was faced with a Parthian invasion which began when Demetrius I was conquering India. Having taken Tapuria and Margiana from Demetrius in about 170 BCE, the powerful Mithridates I attempted to conquer Bactria itself but was checked by Eucratides who wisely reformed the Diodotid alliance with the Parthia, likely paying a sum of Indian war-Elephants.[8] Having secured his western borders, Eucratides then conquered parts of the India, campaigning as far south as Barigaza (modern day Bharuch), solidifying Greek presence in Northern India with the Indo-Greek Kingdom.[9] According to the single remaining source, Roman historian Justin, Eucratides defeated Demetrius of India, but the identity of this king is uncertain: he could be either Demetrius I, or Demetrius II, but more likely Menander I.

Eukratideion

[x]
The "Eukratideion", gold coin of Eucratides I (obverse and reverse)

[x]
Coin with flange visible. The largest gold coin of Antiquity was minted by Eucratides I: the 20-stater coin of Eucratides weighs 169.2 grams, and has a diameter of 58 millimeters. It was originally found in Bukhara, and later acquired by Napoleon III. Cabinet des Médailles, Paris.[10][11]

"Eucratides led many wars with great courage, and, while weakened by them, was put under siege by Demetrius, king of the Indians. He made numerous sorties, and managed to vanquish 60,000 enemies with 300 soldiers, and thus liberated after four months, he put India under his rule" Justin XLI,6[12]


Numismatic evidence suggests that Eucratides I was a contemporary of the Indo-Greek kings Apollodotus I, Apollodotus II and Diodotus III. In any case, Eucratides' advances into India are proved by his abundant bilingual coinage that are spread all over northern India and Pakistan.

Eucratides is most likely the founder of Eucratidia - a city of great wealth straddling the Oxus.

Death

Justin ends his account of Eucratides' life by claiming that the warlike king was murdered on his way back from India by his son, who hated Eucratides so much that he mutilated and dragged his dead body after his chariot. This may have been a misinterpretation by Justin, and the regicide could instead have been perpetrated by an Euthydemid prince, Demetrius II, the son and successor of Demetrius I. Justin appears to believe Eucratides was killed by his own son, Heliocles I, but this is unlikely as patricide was uncommon in the Hellenistic age.

"As Eucratides returned from India, he was killed on the way back by his son, who ran his chariot over the blood of the king, and ordered the corpse to be left without a sepulture" Justin XLI,6[13]


The murder of Eucratides probably brought about a civil war amongst the members of the dynasty. The successors to Eucratides were Eucratides II and Heliocles I (145–130 BC), who was the last Greek king to reign in Bactria. Once the Yuezhi tribes overpowered Heliocles, the Greco-Bactrians lost control of the provinces north of the Hindu Kush.

Two other members of the dynasty were Plato of Bactria and probably Demetrius II, who in that case was not identical with the king Justin claimed was the enemy of Eucratides I.[14]

The rule of the Greco-Bactrians soon crumbled following these numerous wars:

"The Bactrians, involved in various wars, lost not only their rule but also their freedom, as, exhausted by their wars against the Sogdians, the Arachotes, the Dranges, the Arians and the Indians, they were finally crushed, as if drawn of all their blood, by an enemy weaker than them, the Parthians." Justin, XLI,6[13]


However, the rule of the Indo-Greeks over territories south of the Hindu Kush lasted for a further 150 years, ultimately collapsing under the pressure of the Yüeh-chih and Scythian (Saka) invasions in around 10 BC, with the last Indo-Greek ruler Strato II.

Eukratidia

Eucratides founded the city of Eukratidia (Εὐκρατιδία).

Sources

Full account of Justin on Eucratides:

"Almost at the same time that Mithridates ascended the throne among the Parthians, Eucratides began to reign among the Bactrians; both of them being great men. But the fortune of the Parthians, being the more successful, raised them, under this prince, to the highest degree of power; while the Bactrians, harassed with various wars, lost not only their dominions, but their liberty; for having suffered from contentions with the Sogdians, the Drangians, and the Indians, they were at last overcome, as if exhausted, by the weaker Parthians. Eucratides, however, carried on several wars with great spirit, and though much reduced by his losses in them, yet, when he was besieged by Demetrius king of the Indians, with a garrison of only three hundred soldiers, he repulsed, by continual sallies, a force of sixty thousand enemies. Having accordingly escaped, after a five months’ siege, he reduced India under his power. But as he was returning from the country, he was killed on his march by his son, with whom he had shared his throne, and who was so far from concealing the murder, that, as if he had killed an enemy, and not his father, he drove his chariot through his blood, and ordered his body to be cast out unburied."

— Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, XLI 6.1-5, IIe CE.[15]


Modern

[x]
The coinage of Eucratides has been used in the design of some Afghanistan banknotes between 1979-2002, and is now in the emblem of the Bank of Afghanistan.
Da Afghanistan Bank which is the central bank of Afghanistan, in its seal has a Eucratides I-era coin having the Greek text, "ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ" which means “Of the great king Eucratides.”


Coins

[x]
The Gold 20-stater coin of Eucratides weighs 169.2 grams, and has a diameter of 58 millimeters. It was originally found in Bukhara, and later acquired by Napoleon III. Cabinet des Médailles, Paris.[16]

[x]
Silver tetradrachm of King Eucratides I (171–145 BC). Obv: Bust of Eucratides, helmet decorated with a bull's horn and ear, within bead and reel border. Rev: Depiction of the Dioscuri, each holding palm in left hand, spear in righthand. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ (BASILEŌS MEGALOU EUKRATIDOU) "Of Great King Eucratides". Mint monogram below. Characteristics: Diameter 34 mm, weight 16.96 g, Attic standard.[17]

[x]
Bilingual coin of Eucratides in the Indian standard (Greek on the obverse ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ "Of Great King Eucratides", Pali in the Kharoshthi script on the reverse)

[x]
Coin of Eucratides with parents Heliokles and Laodike. Greek legends: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΜΕΓΑΣ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΗΣ "Great King Eucratides" and ΗΛΙΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ ΚΑΙ ΛΑΟΔΙΚΗΣ "Son of Heliokles and Laodike".

[x]
Coin of Eucratides, holding a spear

[x]
Eukratides I, imitation by the Scythians of Merv

[x]
Eucratides I, Scythian imitation, end of 2nd century BC

[x]
Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kings, territories and chronology

See also

• History of Afghanistan
• Heliocles I

Notes

1. "Eucratides | king of Bactria". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
2. Marcellinus, xxvii. 6.
3. Foundation, Encyclopaedia Iranica. "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica". iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2021-08-01.
4. Boyce 1986, pp. 460-580
5. Tarn
6. "Eodem ferme tempore, sicut in Parthis Mithridates, ita in Bactris Eucratides, magni uterque uiri regna ineunt." tml Justin XLI,6[permanent dead link]
7. Astin, A. E. (1990). The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge University Press. p. 401. ISBN 978-0-521-23448-1.
8. "Mithradates I (c. 171 - 138 B.C.)". http://www.parthia.com. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
9. "Indo-Greek kingdom | Asian history". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
10. "Eucratides I". Oxford Reference. doi:10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095800416.
11. Hollis, Adrian S. (1996). "Laodice Mother of Eucratides of Bactria". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. 110: 161. ISSN 0084-5388.
12. Justin on Demetrius: "Multa tamen Eucratides bella magna uirtute gessit, quibus adtritus cum obsidionem Demetrii, regis Indorum, pateretur, cum CCC militibus LX milia hostium adsiduis eruptionibus uicit. Quinto itaque mense liberatus Indiam in potestatem redegit." Justin XLI,6
13. Justin XLI,6
14. "Demetrios II of Bactria and Hoards from Ai Khanoum" by L.M. Wilson (Oriental Numismatic Society newsletter nr 180)
15. Translation: John Selby Watson 1853
16. Homren, Wayne (23 November 2014). "The Biggest Ancient Coins". Vol. 17 no. 48. Numismatic Bibliomania Society. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
17. Monnaie, Eucratide I. (roi de Bactriane) Autorité émettrice de. [Monnaie : 20 Statères, Or, Incertain, Bactriane, Eucratide I].

References

• The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies by Thomas McEvilley (Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts, 2002) ISBN 1-58115-203-5
• Buddhism in Central Asia by B. N. Puri (Motilal Banarsidass Pub, January 1, 2000) ISBN 81-208-0372-8
• The Greeks in Bactria and India, W. W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.

External links

• Coins of Eucratides
• More coins of Eucratides
• Catalogue of the Coins of Eucratides I
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue Dec 28, 2021 8:33 am

Mathura
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/28/21

The Shunga Empire was an ancient Indian dynasty from Magadha that controlled areas of the central and eastern Indian subcontinent from around 184 to 75 BCE. The dynasty was established by Pushyamitra Shunga, after taking the throne of the Maurya Empire....
 
Pushyamitra Shunga ruled for 36 years and was succeeded by his son Agnimitra. There were ten Shunga rulers. However, after the death of Agnimitra, the second king of the dynasty, the empire rapidly disintegrated: inscriptions and coins indicate that much of northern and central India consisted of small kingdoms and city-states that were independent of any Shunga hegemony....
 
Art, education, philosophy, and other forms of learning flowered during this period including small terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and architectural monuments such as the stupa at Bharhut, and the renowned Great Stupa at Sanchi....
 
Artistry also progressed with the rise of the Mathura art style.... 
 
However, the city of Mathura further west never seems to have been under the direct control of the Shungas, as no archaeological evidence of a Shunga presence has ever been found in Mathura. On the contrary, according to the Yavanarajya inscription, Mathura was probably under the control of Indo-Greeks from some time between 180 BCE and 100 BCE, and remained so as late as 70 BCE.... 
The Yavanarajya inscription, states Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, mentions year 116 of the yavana hegemony (yavanarajya), attesting to the 2nd-century and 1st-century BCE Indo-Greek presence. This makes the inscription unique in that it mentions the Indo-Greeks, and it "may confirm" the numismatic and literary evidence which suggests that Mathura was under the ruler of the Indo-Greeks during the period between 185 BCE-85 BCE....

Quintanilla states that the nearly contemporaneous coinage of Menander I (165-135 BCE) and his successors found in the Mathura region, in combination with this inscription, suggests the hypothesis that there was a tributary style relationship between the Indo-Greek suzerains and the Mitra dynasty that ruled that region at the time.

-- Yavanarajya inscription, by Wikipedia
 
Meanwhile, Kabul and much of the Punjab passed into the hands of the Indo-Greeks...
 
-- Shunga Empire, by Wikipedia

The Western Satraps, or Western Kshatrapas (Brahmi: [x], Mahakṣatrapa, "Great Satraps") were Indo-Scythian (Saka) rulers of ancient India who ruled over the region of Sindh, Makran, Saurashtra and Malwa (in modern Sindh, Balochistan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh of India and Pakistan), between 35 and 405 CE. The Western Satraps were contemporaneous with the Kushans who ruled the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, and were possibly vassals of the Kushans...
 
They are called "Western Satraps" in modern historiography in order to differentiate them from the "Northern Satraps", who ruled in Punjab and Mathura until the 2nd century CE.

-- Western Satraps, by Wikipedia

The Northern Satraps ruled the area from Eastern Punjab to Mathura.

The Northern Satraps (Brahmi: [x], Kṣatrapa, "Satraps" or [x], Mahakṣatrapa, "Great Satraps"), or sometimes Satraps of Mathura, or Northern Sakas, are a dynasty of Indo-Scythian rulers who held sway over the area of Eastern Punjab and Mathura after the decline of the Indo-Greeks, from the end of the 1st century BCE to the 2nd century CE... They are thought to have replaced the last of the Indo-Greek kings in the Eastern Punjab, as well as the Mitra dynasty and the Datta dynasty of local Indian rulers in Mathura.

The Northern Satraps were probably displaced by, or became vassals of, the Kushans from the time of Vima Kadphises, who is known to have ruled in Mathura in 90–100 CE, and they are known to have acted as Satraps and Great Satraps in the Mathura region for his successor Kanishka (127–150 CE).


-- Northern Satraps, by Wikipedia


Country: India
State: Uttar Pradesh
District: Mathura

Mathura is a city and the administrative headquarters of Mathura district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is located approximately 57.6 kilometres (35.8 mi) north of Agra, and 166 kilometres (103 mi) south-east of Delhi; about 14.5 kilometres (9.0 mi) from the town of Vrindavan, and 22 kilometres (14 mi) from Govardhan. In ancient times, Mathura was an economic hub, located at the junction of important caravan routes. The 2011 Census of India estimated the population of Mathura at 441,894.

In Hinduism, Mathura is birthplace of Krishna, which is located at the Krishna Janmasthan Temple Complex.[7] It is one of the Sapta Puri, the seven cities considered holy by Hindus. The Kesava Deo Temple was built in ancient times on the site of Krishna's birthplace (an underground prison). Mathura was the capital of the kingdom of Surasena, ruled by Kansa, the maternal uncle of Krishna. Janmashtami is grandly celebrated in Mathura every year.

Mathura has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India.[8]

History

See also: Mathura art

Mathura, which lies at the centre of the cultural region of Braj[5] has an ancient history and is also believed to be the homeland and birthplace of Krishna, who belonged to the Yadu dynasty. According to the Archaeological Survey of India plaque at the Mathura Museum,[9] the city is mentioned in the oldest Indian epic, the Ramayana. In the epic, the Ikshwaku prince Shatrughna slays a demon called Lavanasura and claims the land. Afterwards, the place came to be known as Madhuvan as it was thickly wooded, then Madhupura and later Mathura.[10] The most important pilgrimage site in Mathura was Katra ('market place'), now referred to as Krishna Janmasthan ('the birthplace of Krishna'). Excavations at the site revealed pottery and terracotta dating to the sixth century BCE, the remains of a large Buddhist complex, including a monastery called Yasha Vihara of the Gupta period, as well as Jain sculptures of the same era.[11][12]

Image
Statue of Kanishka I, 2nd century CE, Mathura Museum.

Image
Sculpture of woman from ancient Braj-Mathura ca. 2nd century CE.

Ancient history

Archaeological excavations at Mathura show the gradual growth of a village into an important city during the Vedic age. The earliest period belonged to the Painted Grey Ware culture (1100–500 BCE), followed by the Northern Black Polished Ware culture (700–200 BCE). Mathura derived its importance as a center of trade due to its location where the northern trade route of the Indo-Gangetic Plain met with the routes to Malwa (central India) and the west coast.[13] Archaeologists have discovered a fragment of Mathura red sandstone from Rakhigarhi - a site of Indus Valley civilization dated to 3rd millennium BCE - which was used as a grindstone; red sandstone was also a popular material for historic period sculptures.[14]

By the 6th century BCE Mathura became the capital of the Surasena Kingdom.[15] The city was later ruled by the Maurya empire (4th to 2nd centuries BCE). Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BCE, mentions Mathura as a great city under the name Μέθορα (Méthora).[16] It seems it never was under the direct control of the following Shunga dynasty (2nd century BCE) as not a single archaeological remain of a Shunga presence were ever found in Mathura.[17]

The Indo-Greeks may have taken control, direct or indirect, of Mathura some time between 180 BCE and 100 BCE, and remained so as late as 70 BCE according to the Yavanarajya inscription,[17] which was found in Maghera, a town 17 kilometres (11 mi) from Mathura.[18] The opening of the 3 line text of this inscription in Brahmi script translates as: "In the 116th year of the Yavana kingdom..."[19][20] or '"In the 116th year of Yavana hegemony" ("Yavanarajya")[17] However, this also corresponds to the presence of the native Mitra dynasty of local rulers in Mathura, in approximately the same time frame (150 BCE—50 BCE), possibly pointing to a vassalage relationship with the Indo-Greeks.[17]

Indo-Scythians

After a period of local rule, Mathura was conquered by the Indo-Scythians during the 1st century BCE. The Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura are sometimes called the "Northern Satraps", as opposed to the "Western Satraps" ruling in Gujarat and Malwa. However, Indo-Scythian control proved to be short lived, following the reign of the Indo-Scythian Mahakshatrapa ("Great Satrap") Rajuvula, c. 10–25 CE. The Mora Well inscription of Mahakshatrapa Rajuvula, of the early decades of the first century CE, found in a village seven miles from Mathura, stated that images pratima(h) of the blessed (bhagavatam) five Vrishni heroes, were installed in a stone shrine of a person called Tosa.[21] The heroes were identified from a passage in the Vayu Purana as Samkarsana, Vasudev, Pradyumna, Samba, and Aniruddha.[22] The English translation of the inscription read:-

. . . of the son of mahakṣatrapa Rāṃjūvula, svāmi . . . The images of the holy paṃcavīras of the Vṛṣṇis is... the stone shrine... whom the magnificent matchless stone house of Toṣā was erected and maintained... five objects of adoration made of stone, radiant, as it were with highest beauty...[23]


The Mathura inscription of the time of Mahakshatrapa Rajuvula's son, Mahakshatrapa Sodasa recorded erection of a torana (gateway), vedika (terrace) and chatuhsala (quadrangle) at the Mahasthana (great place) of Bhagavat Vasudeva.[24] Several male torsos representing the Vrisni heroes were also found in a shrine in Mora dating to the time of Mahakshatrapa Sodasa.[21]

Kushan Empire

During the rule of the great Kushanas, art and culture flourished in the region and reached new heights and is now famously known as the Mathura School of Art. The Kushans took control of Mathura some time after Mahakshatrapa Sodasa, although several of his successors ruled as Kushans vassals, such as the Indo-Scythian "Great Satrap" Kharapallana and the "Satrap" Vanaspara, both of whom paid allegiance to the Kushans in an inscription at Sarnath, dating to the 3rd year of the reign of the Kushan emperor Kanishka the Great c. 130 CE.[25] Mathuran art and culture reached its zenith under the Kushan dynasty which had Mathura as one of its capitals.[26] The preceding capitals of the Kushans included Kapisa (modern Bagram, Afghanistan), Purushapura (modern Peshawar, Pakistan) and Takshasila/Sirsukh/ (modern Taxila, Pakistan). Mathura ateliers were most active during the epoch of the great Kushan emperors Kanishka, Huvishka, Vasudeva whose reign represents the Golden Age of Mathura sculpture.[27] During 3rd century Nagas ruled Mathura after decline of Kushan Empire.[28]

Gupta Empire

In the reign of Chandragupta Vikramaditya, a magnificent temple of Vishnu was built at the site of Katra Keshavadeva.[27] Kalidasa, hailed as the greatest poet and dramatist in Sanskrit, in the fourth-fifth century CE mentioned the groves of Vrindavan and Govardhan hill as:

"...the king of Mathura, whose fame was acknowledged in song even by the devatas... At that moment, though still in Mathura, it appears as if Ganga has merged with Yamuna at the Sangam... In a Vrindavan garden which is superior even to Kubera's garden, known as Chaitra-ratha... You can, as well, during rains, look at the dancing peacocks, while sitting in a pleasant cave of the Goverdhan Mountain"[29]


Chinese Buddhist Monk Faxian mentions the city as a centre of Buddhism about 400 CE. He found the people were very well off, there were no taxes other than for those on farmers who tilled the royal land. He found that people did not kill animals, no one consumed wine, and did not eat onion or garlic. He found that engraved title deeds were issued to land owners. Visiting priests were provided with accommodation, beds, mats, food, drinks and clothes to perform scholarly works.[30][page needed]

Harsha Empire

Xuanzang, who visited the city in 634 CE, mentions it as Mot'ulo, recording that it contained twenty Buddhist monasteries and five Hindu temples.[31] Later, he went east to Thanesar, Jalandhar in the eastern Punjab, before climbing up to visit predominantly Theravada monasteries in the Kulu valley and turning southward again to Bairat and then Mathura, on the Yamuna river.[32]

Medieval History and Islamic Invasions

Early Middle Ages


The famous female Alvar saint, Andal visualized going to a pilgrimage which began at Mathura, then proceeded to Gokul, the Yamuna, the pool of Kaliya, Vrindavan, Govardhan, and finished at Dwarka.[33] The eleventh century Kashmiri poet, Bilhana visited Mathura and Vrindavan after leaving Kashmir en route to Karnataka.[34]

High Middle Ages

The city was sacked and many of its temples destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1018 CE.[31] The capture of Mathura by Maḥmūd Ibn Sebüktegīn is described by the historian al-Utbi (Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad al Jabbaru-l 'Utbi) in his work Tarikh Yamini as follows:

The wall of the city was constructed of hard stone, and two gates opened upon the river flowing under the city, which were erected upon strong and lofty foundations, to protect them against the floods of the river and rains. On both sides of the city there were a thousand houses, to which idol temples were attached, all strengthened from top to bottom by rivets of iron, and all made of masonry work; and opposite to them were other buildings, supported on broad wooden pillars, to give them strength.

In the middle of the city there was a temple larger and firmer than the rest, which can neither be described nor painted. The Sultan thus wrote respecting it :— “ If any should wish to construct a building equal to this, he would not be able to do it without expending an hundred thousand thousand red dinars, and it would occupy two hundred years, even though the most experienced and able workmen were employed.” Among the idols there were five made of red gold, each five yards high, fixed in the air without support. In the eyes of one of these idols there were two rubies, of such value, that if any one were to sell such as are like them, he would obtain fifty thousand dinars. On another, there was a sapphire purer than water, and more sparkling than crystal; the weight was four hundred and fifty miskals. The two feet of another idol weighed four thousand four hundred miskals, and the entire quantity of gold yielded by the bodies of these idols, was ninety-eight thousand three hundred miskals. The idols of silver amounted to two hundred, but they could not be weighed without breaking them to pieces and putting them into scales. The Sultan gave orders that all the temples should be burnt with naphtha and fire, and levelled with the ground.[35]


The temple at Katra was sacked by Maḥmūd Ibn Sebüktegīn. A temple was built to replace it in 1150 CE. The Mathura prasasti (Eulogistic Inscription) dated Samvat (V.S.) 1207 (1150 CE), said to have been found in 1889 CE at the Keshava mound by Anton Fuhrer, German Indologist who worked with the Archaeological Survey of India, recorded the foundations of a temple dedicated to Vishnu at the Katra site:

Jajja, who carried the burden of the varga, together with a committee of trustees (goshtijana), built a large temple of Vishnu, brilliantly white and touching the clouds.


Jajja was a vassal of the Gahadavalas in charge of Mathura, and the committee mentioned in the prasasti could have been of an earlier Vaishnava temple.[36] The temple built by Jajja at Katra was destroyed by the forces of Qutubuddin Aibak, though Feroz Tughlaq (r. 1351–88 CE) was also said to have attacked it.[37] It was repaired and survived till the reign of Sikandar Lodi (r. 1489–1517 CE).

In the twelfth century, Bhatta Lakshmidhara, chief minister of the Gahadavala king Govindachandra (r. 1114–1155 CE), wrote the earliest surviving collection of verses in praise of the sacred sites of Mathura in his work Krtyakalpataru, which has been described as "the first re-statement of the theory of Tirtha-yatra (pilgrimage)".[38] In his Krtyakalpataru, Bhatta Lakshmidhara devoted an entire section (9) to Mathura.[39]

Later on the city was sacked again by Sikandar Lodi, who ruled the Sultanate of Delhi from 1489 to 1517 CE.[40][41] Sikandar Lodi earned the epithet of 'Butt Shikan', the 'Destroyer of Idols'. Ferishta recorded that Sikandar Lodi was a staunch Muslim, with a passion for vandalizing heathen temples:

He was firmly attached to the Mahomedan religion, and made a point of destroying all Hindu temples. In the city of Mathura he caused masjids and bazaars to be built opposite the bathing-stairs leading to the river, and ordered that no Hindus should be allowed to bathe there. He forbade the barbers to shave the beards and heads of the inhabitants, in order to prevent the Hindus following their usual practices at such pilgrimages.[42]


In Tarikh-i Daudi, of 'Abdu-lla (written during the time of Jahangir) said of Sikandar Lodi:

He was so zealous a Musulman that he utterly destroyed divers places of worship of the infidels, and left not a vestige remaining of them. He entirely ruined the shrines of Mathura, the mine of heathenism, and turned their principal Hindu places of worship into caravanserais and colleges. Their stone images were given to the butchers to serve them as meat-weights, and all the Hindus in Mathura were strictly prohibited from shaving their heads and beards, and performing their ablutions. He thus put an end to all the idolatrous rites of the infidels there; and no Hindu, if he wished to have his head or beard shaved, could get a barber to do it. Every city thus conformed as he desired to the customs of Islam.[43]


Vallabhacharya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu arrived in the Braj region, in search of sacred places that had been destroyed or lost. In Shrikrsnashrayah, that make up the Sodashagrantha, Vallabha said of his age:

The Malechchhas (non-Hindus in this context) have surrounded all the holy places with the result that they have become infected with evil. Besides, the holy people are full of sorrow. At such a time Krishna alone is my way.[44]


Late Middle Ages

The Portuguese, Father Antonio Monserrate (1536 CE-1600 CE), who was on a Jesuit mission at the Mughal Court during the times of Akbar, visited Mathura in 1580–82, and noted that all temples built at sites associated with the deeds of Krishna were in ruins:-

It (Mathura) used to be a great and well populated city, with splendid buildings and a great circuit of walls. The ruins plainly indicate how imposing its buildings were. For out of these forgotten ruins are dug up columns and very ancient statues, of skilful and cunning workmanship. Only one Hindu temple is left out of many; for the Musalmans have completely destroyed all except the pyramids. Huge crowds of pilgrims come from all over India to this temple, which is situated on the high bank of the Jomanis (Yamuna)...[45]


The Keshavadeva temple was rebuilt by the Bundela Rajah Vir Singh Deo at a cost of thirty-three lakh rupees when the gold was priced at around ₹ 10/- per tola.[46] And the grand structure of the temple in Mathura was regarded a "wonder of the age".[47]

The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, built the Shahi-Eidgah Mosque during his rule, which is adjacent to Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi believed to be over a Hindu temple.[48] He also changed the city's name to Islamabad.[49] In 1669, Aurangzeb issued a general order for the demolition of Hindu schools and temples, in 1670, specifically ordered the destruction of the Keshavadeva temple. Saqi Mustaid Khan recorded:

On Thursday, 27th January/15 Ramzan (27 January 1670)... the Emperor as the promoter of justice and overthrower of mischief, as a knower of truth and destroyer of oppression as the zephyr of the garden of victory and the reviver of the faith of the Prophet, issued orders for the demolition of the temple situated in Mathura, famous as the Dehra of Kesho Rai. In a short time by the great exertions of his officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built by the expenditure of a large sum... Praised be the august God of the faith of Islam, that in the auspicious reign of this destroyer of infidelity and turbulence, such a wonderful and seemingly impossible work was successfully accomplished.

On seeing this instance of the strength of the emperor's faith and the grandeur of his devotion to God, the proud Rajas were stifled, and in amazement they stood like images facing the wall. The idols, large and small, set with costly jewels, which had been set up in the temple, were brought to Agra, and buried under the step of the mosque of the Begum Shahib in order to be continuously trodden upon. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad.[50]


The Muslim conquest resulted in the destruction of all Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu temples and monuments in and around Mathura. Buddhism, already in decline, never revived, and for the next four hundred years the Jains and Hindus were unable to erect any temples that were not sooner or later demolished.[51] Many of the sites that had been places of religious importance were abandoned and gradually sank beneath the earth. But some of them were not forgotten, owing to the persistence of oral tradition, the refashioning of a temple into a mosque, or the presence of humble shrines, some of which housed sculptural fragments of earlier buildings. Several of them have survived as places of significance in the modern pilgrimage circuit.[51]

The rebellion in Mathurá district seems to have gained ground. “ On the 14th Rajab, 1080, [28th November, 1669], his Majesty left Dihlí for Akbarábád, and almost daily enjoyed the pleasures of the chase. On the 21st Rajab, whilst hunting, he received the report of a rebellion having broken out at Mauza' Rewarah, Chandarkah, and Surkhrú. Hasan 'Ali Khán was ordered to attack the rebels at night, which he did, and the firing lasted till 12 o'clock the next day. The rebels, unable longer to withstand, thinking of the honour of their families, now fought with short arms, and many imperial soldiers and companions of Hasan ’Alí were killed. Three hundred rebels were sent to perdition, and two hundred and fifty, men and women, caught. Hasan ’Alí, in the afternoon, reported personally the result of the fight, and was ordered to leave the prisoners and the cattle in charge of Sayyid Zain ul-'Abidin, the jágirdár of the place. Çaf Shikan Khán also (who after ’Abdunnabí's death had been appointed Faujdár of Mathura) waited on the emperor, and was ordered to tell off two hundred troopers to guard the fields attached to the villages, and prevent soldiers from plundering and kidnapping children. Námdár Khán, Faujdár of Murádábád, also came to pay his respects. Çafshikan Khán was removed from his office, and Hasan 'Ali Khán was appointed Faujdár of Mathura, with a command of Three Thousand and Five Hundred, 2000 troopers, and received a dress of honour, a sword, and a horse. * * * On the 18th Sha'bán [1st January, 1670), his Majesty entered Agrah. Kokilá Ját, the wicked ringleader of the rebels of District*......, who had been the cause of ’Abdunnabí's death and who had plundered Parganah Sa'dábád, was at last caught by Hasan ’Alí Khán and his zealous peshkár, Shaikh Razíuddin, and he was now sent with the Shaikh to Agrah, where by order of his Majesty he was executed. Kokila's son and daughter were given to Jawahir Khán Nazir [a eunuch]. The girl was later married to Shah Quli, the well-known Chelah; and his son, who was called Fázil, became in time so excellent a Hafiz [one who knows the Qorán by heart], that his Majesty preferred him to all others and even chaunted passages to him. Shaikh Razíuddin, who had captured Kokila, belonged to a respectable family in Bhagalpur, Bihár, and was an excellent soldier, administrator, and companion; he was at the same time so learned, that he was ordered to assist in the compilation of the Fatáwá i 'Alamgiri [the great code of Muhammadan laws]. He received a daily allowance of three rupees.”+ (Haásir i ’Alamgiri, pp. 92 to 91.) Hasan ’Alí Khán retained his office from 1080 to Sha'bán 1087 (October, 1676), when Sulțán Qulí Khán was appointed Faujdír of Mathurá., Asiatic Society of Bengal, Proceedings[52]

Early Modern History

According the biographer of Raja Jai Singh, Atmaram, when Jai Singh was campaigning against the Jat Raja Churaman Singh, he bathed at Radha kund on the full moon of Kartik, went to Mathura in the month of Shravan in 1724, and performed the marriage of his daughter on Janmashtami. He then undertook a tour of the sacred forests of Braj, and, on his return to Mathura, founded religious establishments and celebrated Holi.[53]

Pilgrimage by the Family of Peshwa of Maratha Empire

During the period of the expansion of Maratha Empire, pilgrimage to the holy places in the north became quite frequent. Pilgrims required protection on the way and took advantage of the constant movement of troops that journeyed to and back from their homeland for military purposes. That is how the practice arose of ladies accompanying military expeditions. The mother of Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao, Kashitai performed her famous pilgrimage for four years in the north, visiting Mathura, Prayag, Ayodhya, Banaras, and other holy places.[54]

Religious heritage

Mathura is a holy city for Hinduism and is considered the heart of Brij Bhoomi, the land of Krishna.[55][56] The twin-city to Mathura is Vrindavan.

There are many places of historic and religious importance in Mathura and its neighbouring towns.[8]

Krishna Janmasthan Temple Complex is an important group of temples built around what is considered to be the birthplace of Krishna.[57][58] The temple complex contains Keshav Deva temple, Garbha Griha shrine, Bhagavata Bhavan and the Rangabhoomi where the final battle between Krishna and Kans took place.[59][7][9][57]

The Dwarkadheesh Temple is one of the largest temples in Mathura.[7] Vishram Ghat at the bank of river Yamuna is said to be the place were Krishna had rested after killing Kans.[7]

Other notable Hindu religious sites and heritage locations includes the Gita Mandir,[60] Govind Dev temple,[60] ISKCON temple,[7] Kusum Sarovar,[60] Naam yog Sadhna Mandir, Peepleshwar Mahadeo Temple[61][62] and Yum Yamuna Temple[61]

Kankali Tila brought forth many treasures of Jain art. The archaeological findings testifies the existence of two Jain temples and stupas. Numerous Jain sculptures, Ayagapattas (tablet of homage),[63] pillars, crossbeams and lintels were found during archaeological excavations. Some of the sculptures are provided with inscriptions that report on the contemporary society and organization of the Jain community.

Most sculptures could be dated from the 2nd century BC to the 12th century CE, thus representing a continuous period of about 14 centuries during which Jainism flourished at Mathura. These sculptures are now housed in the Lucknow State Museum and in the Mathura Museum.

Jama Mosque, Mathura is a notable site for Islam. It was completed by Abd-un-Nabi, governor of Aurangzeb in 1662.

The Mathura Museum is notable for archaeological artefacts, especially those from the Kushan and Gupta empires. It has sculptures associated with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[9][64]

...

See also

• Brij Bhoomi
• Gokul
• Kankali Tila
• Nandgaon
• Goverdhan
• Sonkh

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External links

• Entry on Mathura in the Dictionary on Pali Proper Names
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Chapter 3: Ashoka, Excerpt from India Discovered
by John Keay
Text copyright © John Keay 1981
Photographs copyright © Colour Library International Ltd. 1981

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Jehangir's palace in the Red Fort at Agra.

The trappings of government set up in Calcutta to cope with the sudden acquisition of Bengal included not only a judiciary but also a mint. It was as Assistant Assay-Master at this mint that James Prinsep arrived in India in 1819. The post was an undistinguished one; Prinsep, far from being a celebrity like Jones, could expect nothing better. He was barely 20 and, according to his obituarist, "wanting, perhaps, in the finish of classical scholarship which is conferred at the public schools and universities of England''. As a child, the last in a family of seven sons, his passion had been constructing highly intricate working models; "habits of exactness and minute attention to detail'' would remain his outstanding traits. He studied architecture under Pugin, transferred to the Royal Mint when his eyesight became strained, and thence to Calcutta. ''Well grounded in chemistry, mechanics and the useful sciences", he was not an obvious candidate for the mantle of Jones and the distinction of being India's most successful scholar.

In the quarter century. between Jones' death and Prinsep's arrival the British position in India had changed radically. The defeats of Tippu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, of the Marathas, and of the Gurkhas had left the British undisputed masters of as much of India as they cared to digest. Indeed the British raj had begun. The sovereignty of the East India Company was almost as much a political fiction as that of their nominal but now helpless overlord, the Moghul emperor. Both, though they lingered on for another 30 years, had become anachronisms.

From Calcutta a long arm of British territory now reached up the Ganges and the Jumna to Agra, Delhi and beyond. A thumb prodded the Himalayas between Nepal and Kashmir, while several stubby fingers probed into Punjab, Rajasthan and central India. In the west, Bombay had been expanding into the Maratha homeland; Broach and Baroda were under Britfsh control, and Poona, a centre of Hindu orthodoxy and the Maratha capital, was being transformned into the legendary watering place for Anglo-Indian bores. In the south, all that was not British territory was held by friendly feudatories; the French had been obliterated, Mysore settled, and the limits of territorial expansion already reached.

Visitors in search of the real India no longer had to hop around the coastline; they could now march boldly, and safely, across the middle. Bishop Heber of Calcutta (the appointment itself was a sign of the times; in Jones's day there had not been even a church in Calcutta) toured his diocese in the 1820s. The diocese was a big one -- the whole of India -- and ''Reginald Calcutta", as he signed himself, travelled the length of the Ganges to Dehra Dun in the Himalayas, then down through Delhi and Agra into Rajasthan, still largely independent, and came out at Poona and thence down to Bombay.

The acquisition of all this new territory brought the British into contact with the country's architectural heritage. Two centuries earlier Elizabethan envoys had marvelled at the cities of Moghul India ''of which the like is not to be found in all Christendom". The famous buildings of Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Delhi, ''either of them much greater than London and more populous", they had described in detail. When, therefore, the first generation of British administrators arrived in upper India they showed genuine reverence for the architectural relics of Moghul power. Instead of the landscapes of Hodges and the Daniells their souvenirs of India would be detailed drawings of the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. Their curiosity also extended to buildings sacred to the non-Mohammedan population; Khajuraho, Abu and many other sites were discovered between 1810 and 1830. The raw materials for a new investigation of India's past were accumulating. But it was another class of monuments, predating the Mohammedan invasions and with unmistakable signs of extreme antiquity, which would become Prinsep's speciality.

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The soaring temples of Khajuraho, then hidden in dense jungle, were among the many architectural wonders to be discovered in the early nineteenth century.

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Agra, too, only became familiar to the British following its capture in 1803. The marble lattice-work in the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti at Fatehpur Sikri was admired as much as that of the famous screens in the Taj Mahal.
 
The first of these monuments -- one could scarcely call them buildings -- to attract European attention were the cave temples in the vicinity of Bombay. The island of Elephanta in Bombay harbour had been known to the Portuguese and became the subject of one of the earliest archaeological reports received by Jones's new Asiatic Society.
The cave is about three-quarters of a mile from the beach; the path leading to it lies through a valley; the hills on either side beautifully clothed and, except when interrupted by the dove calling to her absent mate, a solemn stillness prevails; the mind is fitted for contemplating the approaching scene.

The approaching scene was not of some natural cave with a few prehistoric scratchings, but of a spacious pillared hall, with delicate sculptural details and colossal stone figures -- an architectural creation in all but name; for the whole thing was hacked, hewn, carved and sculpted out of solid rock.

North of Bombay, the island of Salsette boasted more groups of such caves. In 1806 Lord Valentia, a young Englishman whose greatest claim to fame must be the sheer weight of his travelogue (four quarto volumes of just on half a hundredweight), set out to explore them. He took with him Henry Salt, his companion and artist, to help clear a path through the jungle that surrounded the caves. Outside the Jogeshwar caves they hesitated before the fresh pug marks of a tiger; according to the villagers, tigers actually lived in the caves for part of the year.

Salt found that the other Salsette caves at Kanheri and Montpezir had also been recently occupied. To the Portuguese, the pillared nave and the trahsepts had spelt basilica; there was even a hole in the facade for a rose window. They had just smothered the fine, but pagan, carving in stucco and consecrated the place. Salt chipped away at the stucco and observed how well it had preserved the sculpture.

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'Few remains of antiquity have excited greater curiosity.' Some scholars thought these cave temples were Greek, others Egyptian. The mistake is partly explained by the fact their excavation extended over 800 years and their inspiration was both Jain, Hindu (as at cave 29, Ellora ...

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... and Buddhist (cave 3 at Kanheri.)

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As a progression from the nearby cave temples, the Kailasa temple at Ellora is also cut from solid rock but as a free-standing monument. It is estimated that 20,000 tons of rock had to be excavated. The sculptures clear revealed its inspiration as Hindu, but 'their size, air and general management give an expression of grandeur' which early visitors could only explain by attributing them to some far-flung colony of Greek settlers.

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Though these figures are by no means well proportioned, yet their air, size and general management give an expression of grandeur that the best sculptors have often failed in attaining; the laziness of attitude, the simplicity of drapery, the suitableness of their situation and the plainness of style in which they are executed . . . all contribute towards producing this effect.

He was getting quite a feeling for ancient art treasures. In Lord Valentia's train he would move on to Egypt, stay on there as British consul, and become so successful at appropriating and selling the art treasures of the Pharoahs that he rivalled the great tomb-robber Belzoni.

Meanwhile in India more rock-cut temples had come to light. The free-standing Kailasa temple at Ellora, cut into the rock from above like a gigantic intaglio, was discovered in the late 18th century. It was followed by the famous caves at Ajanta and Bagh. "Few remains of antiquity," wrote William Erskine in 1813, "have excited greater curiosity. History does not record any fact that can guide us in fixing the period of their execution, and many opposite opinions have been formed regarding the religion of the people by whom they were made." From the statuary at Elephanta and Ellora, particularly the figures with several heads and many arms, it was clear that these at least were Hindu.[???] But why were they in such remote locations and why had they been so long neglected? What, too, of the plainer caves like Kanheri and the largest of all, Karli in the Western Ghats? Lord Valentia was pretty sure that the sitting figure, surrounded by devotees, at Karli was ''the Boddh''; he had just come from Ceylon where Buddhism was still a living religion, though it appeared to be almost unknown in India.

Other critics who looked to the west for an explanation of anything they found admirable in Indian art, insisted that the excellence of the sculpture indicated the presence of a Greek, Phoenician or even Jewish colony in western India. Yet others looked to Africa: who but the builders of the pyramids could have achieved such monolithic wonders? These theories, were based on the idea that such monuments were exclusive to western India, which had a long history of maritime contacts with the West. They became less credible with the discovery of the so-called Seven Pagodas at Mahabalipuram near Madras. Here, a thousand miles away and on the other side of the Indian peninsula, were a group of temples cut not out of solid rock, but sculpted out of boulders. At first glance they looked like true buildings, a little rounded like old stone cottages, but well proportioned -- up to 55 feet long and 35 feet high -- with porches, pillars and statuary. It was only on closer inspection that one realised that each was a single gigantic stone sculpted into architecture. "Stupendous," declared William Chambers who twice visited the place in the 1770s (though his report had to wait for the Asiatic Society's first publication in 1789), ''of a style no longer in use, indeed closer to that of Egypt''.

Five years later, a further account of the boulder temples, or raths, was submitted by a man who had also seen Elephanta. To his mind there was no question that in style and technique the two were closely related. Had he also seen the intaglio temple of Ellora he might have been tempted to postulate some theory of architectural development; first the cave temple, then the free-standing excavation, and finally the boulder style, freed at last from solid rock. It was as if India's architecture had somehow evolved out of the earth's crust. Elsewhere, stone buildings have always evolved from wooden ones; but in India it was as if architecture was a development of sculpture. The distinctive characteristic of all truly Indian buildings is their sculptural quality. The great Hindu temples look like mountainous accumulations of figures and friezes; even the Taj Mahal, for all its purity of line, stays in the mind as a masterpiece of sculpture rather than of construction.

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The Seven Pagadoas of Mahabalipuram near Madras, when painted by Thomas Daniell in the late eighteenth century, were as much a curiosity as the cave temples. Each was cut from a single gigantic boulder. But when, and by whom? 'Of a style no longer in use, indeed closer to that of Egypt,' thought William Chambers in 1770.

There was yet one other type of ancient monument which had intrigued early visitors. Thomas Coryat, an English eccentric who turned up in Delhi in 1616, was probably the first to take notice of it. South of the Moghul city of Delhi (now Old Delhi) lay the abandoned tombs and forts of half a dozen earlier Delhis (now, confusingly, the site of New Delhi). The ruins stretched for ten miles, overgrown, inhabited by bats and monkeys. But in the middle of this jungle of crumbling masonry Coryat saw something that made him stop; it did not belong. A plain circular pillar, 40 feet high, stuck up through the remains of some dying palace and, in the evening light so proper to ruins, it shone. At a distance he took it for brass, closer up for marble; it is in fact polished sandstone. Of a weight later estimated at 27 tons, it is a single, finely tapered stone, another example of highly developed monolithic craftsmanship. But what intrigued Coryat was the discovery that it was inscribed. Of the two principal inscriptions one was in a script consisting of simple erect letters, a bit like pin-men, which Coryat was sure were Greek. The pillar must then, he thought, have been erected by Alexander the Great, probably "in token of his victorie" over the Indian king Porus in 326 BC.

Fifty years later another such pillar was discovered by John Marshall, an East India Company factor who has been called "the first Englishman who really studied Indian antiquities". He was certainly less inclined to jump to wild conclusions. His pillar was "nine yards nine inches high" [27' 9"] and boasted a remarkable capital: ''at the top of this pillar ... is placed a tyger engraven, the neatliest that I have seene in India''.
It was actually a lion. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this pillar was that it was in Bihar, a thousand miles from Delhi and many more from the rock-cut monuments around Bombay and Madras.

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Of all the country's monolithic monuments, none were more intriguing than the great pillars of northern India. John Marshall thought the lion capital of the pillar at Lauriya Nandangarh, Bihar, 'the neatliest that I have seene.' Other travellers were more interested in the inscriptions....

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They rightly believed that only the deciphering of the unknown script, first noticed on the Delhi pillar, would reveal their origin and purpose.

Writing similar to that found on the Delhi pillar was also found on some of the cave temples; and at Karli there was actually a small pillar outside the cave. Clearly all these monuments were somehow connected. But it was doubtful whether Alexander had ever reached Delhi, let alone Bihar. The existence of a similar pillar there put paid to Coryat's idea of their commemorating Alexander's victories, although the possibility that the letters were some corrupt form of Greek would linger on for many years.

With the foundation of the Asiatic Society there was at last a forum in which a concerted investigation into all these monuments could take place. Reports of more pillars and caves were soon trickling in. Jones himself was rightly convinced that the mystery of who created them, when and why, could be solved only if the inscriptions could be translated. Some ancient civilisation, some foreign conqueror perhaps, or some master craftsman, seemed to be crying out for recognition. Another breakthrough seemed imminent; and with it another chunk of India's lost history might be restored.

Thanks to Charles Wilkins, the man who preceded Jones as a Sanskritist, progress was at first encouraging. At one of the earliest meetings of the Society he reported on a new pillar, also in Bihar.
Sometime, in the month of November in the year 1780 I discovered in the vicinity of the Town of Buddal, near which the Company has a factory, and which at that time was under my charge, a decapitated monumental pillar which at a little distance had very much the appearance of the trunk of a coconut tree broken off in the middle. It stands in a swamp overgrown with weeds near a small temple .... Upon my getting close enough to the monument to examine it, I took its dimensions and made a drawing of it. ... At a few feet above the ground is an inscription, engrained in the stone, from which I took two reversed impressions with printer's ink. I have lately been so fortunate as to decipher the character.

Though very different from Devanagari, the modern script used for Sanskrit, it was clearly related to it and Wilkins was not surprised to discover that the language was in fact Sanskrit. To historians the translation was a disappointment; the Buddal pillar told them nothing of interest. But the deciphering was an important development. Nowadays it is recognised that the modern Devanagari script has passed through three distinct stages; first the pin-men script that Coryat thought was Greek (Ashoka Brahmi); second a more ornate, chunky script (Gupta Brahmi); and third, a more curved and rounded script (Kutila) from which springs the washing-on-the-line script of Devanagari. The Buddal pillar was Kutila, and once Wilkins had established that it had some connection with Devanagari, the possibility of working backwards to the earlier scripts was dimly perceived.[???!!!]
Brahmi Parent systems: Proto-Sinaitic script?; Phoenician alphabet?; Aramaic alphabet?...

Among the inscriptions of Ashoka c. 3rd-century BCE written in the Brahmi script a few numerals were found, which have come to be called the Brahmi numerals. The numerals are additive and multiplicative and, therefore, not place value; it is not known if their underlying system of numeration has a connection to the Brahmi script. But in the second half of the first millennium CE, some inscriptions in India and Southeast Asia written in scripts derived from the Brahmi did include numerals that are decimal place value, and constitute the earliest existing material examples of the Hindu–Arabic numeral system, now in use throughout the world. The underlying system of numeration, however, was older, as the earliest attested orally transmitted example dates to the middle of the 3rd century CE in a Sanskrit prose adaptation of a lost Greek work on astrology....

A list of eighteen ancient scripts is found in the texts of Jainism, such as the Pannavana Sutra (2nd century BCE) and the Samavayanga Sutra (3rd century BCE).[35][36] These Jaina script lists include Brahmi at number 1 and Kharoṣṭhi at number 4 but also Javanaliya (probably Greek)...

Most scholars believe that Brahmi was likely derived from or influenced by a Semitic script model, with Aramaic being a leading candidate. However, the issue is not settled due to the lack of direct evidence and unexplained differences between Aramaic, Kharoṣṭhī, and Brahmi. Though Brahmi and the Kharoṣṭhī script share some general features, the differences between the Kharosthi and Brahmi scripts are "much greater than their similarities," and "the overall differences between the two render a direct linear development connection unlikely", states Richard Salomon...

According to Salomon, the evidence of Kharosthi script's use is found primarily in Buddhist records and those of Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian, Indo-Parthian and Kushana dynasty era....

Falk sees the basic writing system of Brahmi as being derived from the Kharoṣṭhī script, itself a derivative of Aramaic.... Falk [sees] Greek as ... a significant source for Brahmi... Falk also dated the origin of Kharoṣṭhī to no earlier than 325 BCE, based on a proposed connection to the Greek conquest....we have no specimen of the script before the time of Ashoka, nor any direct evidence of intermediate stages in its development...

As of 2018, Harry Falk refined his view by affirming that Brahmi was developed from scratch in a rational way at the time of Ashoka, by consciously combining the advantages of the pre-existing Greek script and northern Kharosthi script. Greek-style letter types were selected for their "broad, upright and symmetrical form", and writing from left to right was also adopted for its convenience. On the other hand, the Kharosthi treatment of vowels was retained, with its inherent vowel "a", derived from Aramaic, and stroke additions to represent other vowel signs. In addition, a new system of combining consonants vertically to represent complex sounds was also developed.

-- Brahmi script, by Wikipedia

The Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription, (also Kandahar Edict of Ashoka, sometimes "Chehel Zina Edict"), is a famous bilingual edict in Greek and Aramaic, proclaimed and carved in stone by the Indian Maurya Empire ruler Ashoka (r.269-233 BCE) around 260 BCE. It is the very first known inscription of Ashoka, written in year 10 of his reign (260 BCE), preceding all other inscriptions, including his early Minor Rock Edicts, his Barabar caves inscriptions or his Major Rock Edicts. This first inscription was written in Classical Greek and Aramaic exclusively. It was discovered in 1958, during some excavation works below a 1m high layer of rubble, and is known as KAI 279.

-- Aramaic Inscription of Laghman [Ashokan Inscriptions], by Wikipedia

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The boulder-cut temples, or raths, of Mahabalipuram would remain a mystery until their inscriptions could be read. But their varying styles were soon seen as a clue to later architectural forms....

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The nearby Shore Temple was clearly a development from ...

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... the Dharmaraja rath.

As if to illustrate this, Wilkins next surprised his colleagues by teasing some sense out of an inscription written in Gupta Brahmi. It came from a cave near Gaya which had been known for some time though never visited; a Mr Hodgekis, who tried, "was assassinated on his way to it''. Encouraged by Warren Hastings, John Harrington, the secretary of the Asiatic Society, was more successful and found the cave hidden behind a tree near the top of a hill. The character of the inscription, according to Wilkins, was ''undoubtedly the most ancient of any that have hitherto come under my inspection. But though the writing is not modern, the language is pure Sanskrit.'' Wilkins, tantalising as ever about how he made his breakthrough, apparently divined that the inscription was in verse. It was the discovery of the metre that somehow helped him to the successful decipherment. But again, there was little in this new translation to satisfy the historian's thirst for facts.

A far more promising approach to the problem, indeed a short cut, seemed to be heralded in a letter to Jones from Lieutenant Francis Wilford, a surveyor and an enthusiastic student of all things oriental, who was based at Benares. Jones had been sent copies of inscriptions found at Ellora and written in Ashoka Brahmi, the still undeciphered pin-men. He had probably sent them to Wilford because Benares, the holy city of the hindus, was the most likely place to find a Brahmin who might be able to read them. In 1793 Wilford announced that he had found just such a man.

I have the honour to return to you the facsimile of several inscriptions with an explanation of them. I despaired at first of ever being able to decipher them ... However, after many fruitless attempts on our part, we were so fortunate as to find at last an ancient sage, who gave us the key, and produced a book in Sanskrit, containing a great many ancient alphabets formerly in use in different parts of India. This was really a fortunate discovery, which hereafter may be of great service to us.

According to the ancient sage, most of Wilford's inscriptions related to the wanderings of the five heroic Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata. At the unspecified time in question they were under an obligation not to converse with the rest of mankind; so their friends devised a method of communicating with them by writing short and obscure sentences on rocks and stones in the wilderness and in characters previously agreed upon betwixt them". The sage happened to have the key to these characters in his code book; obligingly he transcribed them into Devanagari Sanskrit and then translated them.

To be fair to Wilford, he was a bit suspicious about this ingenious explanation of how the inscriptions got there. But he had no doubts that the deciphering and translation were genuine. ''Our having been able to decipher them is a great point in my opinion, as it may hereafter lead to further discoveries, that may ultimately crown our labours with success.'' Above all, he had now located the code book, ''a most fortunate circumstance''.

Poor Wilford was the laughing stock of the Benares Brahmins for a whole decade. They had already fobbed him off with Sanskrit texts, later proved spurious, on the source of the Nile and the origin of Mecca. After the code book there was a geographical treatise on The Sacred Isles of the West, which included early Hindu reference to the British Isles. The Brahmins, to whom Sanskrit had so long remained a sacred prerogative, were getting their own back. One wonders how much Wilford paid his "ancient sage".

Jones was already a little suspicious of Wilford's sources, but on the code book, which was as much a fabrication as the translations supposedly based on it, he reserved judgement until he might see it. He never did. In fact it was never heard of again. But in spite of these disappointments Jones continued to believe that in time this oldest script would be deciphered. He had been sent a copy of the writings on the Delhi pillar and told a correspondent that they ''drive me to despair; you are right, I doubt not, in thinking them foreign; I believe them to be Ethiopian and to have been imported a thousand years before Christ". It was not one of his more inspired guesses and at the time of his death the mystery of the inscriptions and of the monoliths was as dark as ever.


And so it remained until the labours of James Prinsep. Jones had given oriental studies a strongly literary bias and his successors continued to concentrate on Sanskrit manuscripts. Archaeological studies were ignored in consequence, and so were inscriptions. Wilkins' few translations had led nowhere and the most intriguing of the scripts remained undeciphered. Indeed even the translation of the Gupta Brahmi script from the cave at Gaya was forgotten in the general waning of interest; it would have to be deciphered all over again.

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The burning ghats of Benares.

During his first twelve years in India Prinsep confined his attention to scientific matters. He was sent to Benares to set up a second mint and while there redesigned the city's sewers. He also contributed a few articles to the Asiatic Society's journal (''Descriptions of a Pluviometer and Evaporameter", ''Note on the Magic Mirrors of Japan", etc).

But in 1830 he was recalled to Calcutta as assistant to the Assay-Master, Horace Hayman Wilson, who was also secretary of the Asiatic Society and an eminent Sanskrit scholar. At the time Wilson was puzzling over the significance of various ancient coins that had recently been found in Rajasthan and the Punjab. Prinsep helped to catalogue and describe them, and it was in attempting to decipher their legends that his interest in the whole question of ancient inscriptions was aroused. Although his ignorance of Sanskrit was undoubtedly a handicap, here, in the deciphering of scripts, was a field in which his quite exceptional talent for minute and methodical study could be deployed to brilliant advantage.

Since Jones' day another pillar like that at Delhi had been found at Allahabad; in addition to a Persian inscription of the Moghul period, it displayed a long inscription in each of the two older scripts (Ashoka Brahmi and Gupta Brahmi). A report had also been received of a rock in Orissa covered with the same two scripts. In 1833 Prinsep prevailed on a Lieutenant Burt, one of several enthusiastic engineers and surveyors, to take an exact impression of the Allahabad pillar inscription.

The facsimiles reached Prinsep in early 1834. With an eminent Sanskritist, the Rev W. H. Mill, he soon resolved the problem of the Gupta Brahmi. This was the script that Wilkins had deciphered nearly 50 years before, though his achievement had since been forgotten. The same thing was not likely to happen again; for this time the inscription had something to tell. Evidently it had been engraved on the instructions of a king called Samudragupta. It recorded his extensive conquests and it mentioned that he was the son of Chandragupta. The temptation to assume that this Chandragupta was the same as Jones' Chandragupta, the Sandracottus of the Greeks, was almost irresistible. But not quite. For one thing Jones' Chandragupta had not, according to the Sanskrit king lists, been succeeded by a Samudragupta; they did, however, mention several other Chandraguptas. But if Prinsep and Mill were disappointed at having to deny themselves the simplest and most satisfying of identifications, there would be compensation. They had raised the veil on a dynasty now known as the Imperial Guptas. According to the Allahabad inscriptions Samudragupta had ''violently uprooted'' nine kings and annexed their kingdoms. His rule stretched right across northern India and deep into the Deccan. Politically, here was an empire to rival that of Jones' Chandragupta. But, more important, the Gupta period, about AD 320-460, would soon come to be recognised as the golden age of classical Indian culture. To this period belong many of the frescoes of Ajanta, the finest of the Sarnath and Mathura sculptures, and the plays and poems of Kalidasa, ''the Indian Shakespeare".


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The wall paintings in the cave temples at Ajanta vividly evoke the sophisticated courtly life of India under the Guptas. Dating mainly from the fifth and sixth-centuries AD they constitute one of the greatest picture galleries to survive from the ancient world.

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But at the time Prinsep and Mill knew no more about these Guptas than what the pillar told them -- and much of that they were inclined to regard as royal hyperbole and therefore unreliable. Prinsep, anyway, was more interested in the scripts than in their historical interpretation. Unlike Jones, he did not indulge in grand theories. He was not a classical scholar, not even a Sanskritist, but a pragmatic, dedicated scientist.

In between experimenting with rust-proof treatments for the new steamboats to be employed on the Ganges, he wrestled next with the Ashoka Brahmi pin-men on the Allahabad column. Coryat's idea that it was some kind of Greek was back in fashion. One scholar claimed to have identified no less than seven letters of the Greek alphabet and another had actually read a Greek name written in this script on an ancient coin. Prinsep was sceptical. The Greek name was only Greek if read upside down. [???!!!] Turn it round and the pinmen letters were just like those on the pillars.

But as yet he had no solution of his own. ''It would require an accurate acquaintance with many of the languages of the East, as well as perfect leisure and abstraction from other pursuits to engage upon the recovery of this lost language.'' He guessed that it must be Sanskrit and thought the script looked simpler than the Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was still beyond him, though, and he could only hope that someone else in India would take up the challenge ''before the indefatigable students of Bonn and Berlin''.

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Thomas Coryat in 1616 had surmised that the characters on the monolithic pillar at Delhi were Greek and that it must therefore be a victory column erected by Alexander the Great. This Greek theory survived until the 1830s when James Prinsep at last set about their decipherment.

No one reacted directly to this appeal, but in far away Kathmandu the solitary British resident at the Court of Nepal, Brian Houghton Hodgson, read his copy of the Society's journal and immediately dashed off a pained note. No man made more contributions to the discovery of India than Hodgson, or researched in so many different fields. From his outpost in the Himalayas he deluged the Asiatic Society with so many reports that it is hardly surprising some were mislaid. This was a case in point. "Eight or ten years ago" (so some time in the mid 1820s), he had sent in details of two more inscribed pillars. Prinsep could not find them. But Hodgson also disclosed that he had now found yet a third. It was at Bettiah (Lauriya Nandangarh) in northern Bihar and, like the others, very close to the Nepalese frontier. Could they then have been erected as boundary markers?

More intriguing was the facsimile of the inscription on this pillar which Hodgson thoughtfully enclosed. It was Ashoka Brahmi and Prinsep placed it alongside his copies of the Delhi and Allahabad inscriptions. Again he started to look for clues, concentrating this time on separating the shapes of the individual consonants from the vowels which were in the form of little marks festooning them. Darting from one facsimile to the other to verify these, he suddenly experienced that shiver down the spine that comes with the unexpected revelation. "Upon carefully comparing them, [the three inscriptions] with a view to finding any other words that might be common to them ... I was led to a most important discovery; namely that all three inscriptions were identically the same.''

Any surprise that he had not noticed this before must be tempered by the fact that the inscriptions, all of 2,000 years old, were far from perfect. Many letters had been worn away and in one case much of the original inscription had been obliterated by a later one written on top of it. The copies from which Prinsep worked also left much to be desired. Apart from the errors inevitable when someone tried to copy a considerable chunk of writing in totally unfamiliar characters, one copyist working his way round the pillar had managed to transpose the first and second halves of every line.

By correlating all three versions it was now possible to obtain a near perfect fair copy.
At the same time even the cautious Prinsep could not resist offering a few conjectures ''on the origin and nature of these singular columns, erected at places so distant from each other and all bearing the same inscription''.
Whether they mark the conquests of some victorious raja; -- whether they are, as it were, the boundary pillars of his dominions; -- or whether they are of a religious nature ... can only be satisfactorily solved by the discovery of the language.

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It was Prinsep's discovery that the inscription on the Lauriya Nandangarh (Bihar) pillar was identical to those on the Delhi and Allahabad pillars which sparked such excitement. Suddenly the possibility that they were all the work of some forgotten but mighty sovereign became a probability.

Clearly this people, this kingdom, this religion, was of significance to the whole of north India. It was altogether too big a subject to be left to chance. Prinsep, well placed now as Secretary of the Asiatic Society to assess the various materials (Wilson had retired to England), resolved to undertake the translation himself. In 1834 he tried the obvious line of relating this script to that of the Gupta Brahmi which he had just deciphered. For each, he drew up a table showing the frequency with which individual letters occurred, the idea being that those which occurred approximately the same number of times in each script might be the same letters.[???!!!] It was worth a try, but obviously would work only if both were in the same language and dealt with the same sort of subject. They did not, in fact they were not even in the same language, and Prinsep soon gave up this approach.[???!!!]

Next he tried relating the individual letters from each of the two scripts which had a similar conformation. This was more encouraging. He tentatively identified a handful of consonants and heard from a correspondent in Bombay, who was working on the cave temple inscriptions, that he too had identified these and five others. Armed with these few identifications, he attempted a translation, hoping that the sense might reveal the rest. But some of his letters were wrongly identified, and anyway he was still barking up the wrong tree in imagining that the language was pure Sanskrit. The attempt was a dismal failure. Discouraged, but far from defeated, Prinsep returned to the drawing board.

For the next four years he pushed himself physically and mentally towards the brink. Outside his office Calcutta was changing. The Governor-General had a new residence modelled on Kedleston Hall, but considerably grander: the dining-room could seat 200 and over 500 sometimes attended the Government House balls. Society was less boorish than in Jones' day. The hookah had gone out and so had most of the ''sooty bibis''; the memsahibs were taking over. But the only innovation Prinsep would have been aware of was the flapping punkah, or fan, above his desk. Now the Assay-Master, he spent all day at the mint and all evening with his coins and inscriptions or conferring with his pandits. By seven in the morning he was back at his desk. There is no record, as with Jones, of an early morning walk or ride, no mention of leisure. Instead he lived vicariously, through the endeavours and successes of his correspondents.

Jones, as president and founder of the Asiatic Society, and the most respected scholar of his age, had both inspired and dominated his fellows. Prinsep was just the opposite. He was the secretary of the Society, not the President, a plain Mr with few pretensions other than his total dedication. But this in itself was enough. His enthusiasm communicated itself to others and was irresistible. When he asked for coins and inscriptions they came flooding in from every corner of India. Painstakingly he acknowledged, translated and commented upon them. By 1837 he had an army of enthusiasts -- officers, engineers, explorers, political agents and administrators -- informally collecting for him. Colonel Stacy at Chitor, Udaipur and Delhi, Lieutenant A. Connolly at Jaipur, Captain Wade at Ludhiana, Captain Cautley at Sahranpur, Lieutenant Cunningham at Benares, Colonel Smith at Patna, Mr Tregear at Jaunpur, Dr Swiney in Upper India .... the list was long.

It was from one of these correspondents, Captain Edward Smith, an engineer at Allahabad, that in 1837 there came the vital clue to the mysterious script. On Prinsep's suggestion, Smith had made the long journey into Central India to visit an archaeological site of exceptional interest at Sanchi near Bhopal. Prinsep wanted accurate drawings of its sculptural wonders and facsimiles of an inscription in Gupta Brahmi which had not yet been translated. Smith obliged with both of these and, noticing some further very short inscriptions on the stone railings round the main shrine, took copies of them just for good measure.
These apparently trivial fragments of rude writing [wrote Prinsep] have led to even more important results than the other inscriptions. They have instructed us in the alphabet and language of these ancient pillars and rock inscriptions which have been the wonder of the learned since the days of Sir William Jones, and I am already nearly prepared to render the Society an account of the writing on the lat [pillar] at Delhi. With no little satisfaction that, as I was the first to analyse these unknown symbols ... so I should now be rewarded with the completion of a discovery I then despaired of accomplishing for want of a competent knowledge of the Sanskrit language.

Typically, Prinsep then launched into a long discussion of the sculpture and other inscriptions, keeping his audience and readers on tenterhooks for another 10 pages. But to Lieutenant Alexander Cunningham, his protege in Benares, he had already announced the discovery in a letter.
23 May 1837.

My dear Cunningham, Hors de department de mes etudes! [Out of my department studies!] [a reference to a Mohammedan coin that Cunningham had sent him]. No, but I can read the Delhi No. 1 which is of more importance; the Sanchi inscriptions have enlightened me. Each line is engraved on a separate pillar or railing. Then thought I, they must be the gifts of private individuals where names will be recorded. All end in danam [in the original characters] -- that must mean 'gift' or 'given'.[???!!!] Let's see ...

Table 1. John Marshall's phasing at Sanchi.
Phase / Date range / Monuments / Inscriptions / Sculptures

I / 3rd century BC / Stupa 1: brick core; Pillar 10; Temple 40 (apsidal); Temple 18 (apsidal) / Ashokan inscription (c. 269-232 BC) / Elephant capital from Temple 40 (?)

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Sanchi Pillar 10

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Sanchi Temple 40

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Sanchi Temple 18

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Elephant capital from East Gate of Stupa 1

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Elephant capital from Sankissa, one of the Pillars of Ashoka, 3rd century BCE

II / 2nd-1st century BC / Stupas 2, 3, 4; Stupa 1: casing and railings; Temples 18 and 40 (enlargements); Building 8 (platformed monastery) / Donative inscriptions on Stupa 1, 2, and 3 railings; reliquary inscriptions from Stupas 2 and 3. / Pillar by Stupa 2; Pillar 25.

III / 1st-3rd century AD / Stupa 1: gateway carvings. / Southern gateway inscription of Shatakarni (c. AD 25)

IV / 4th-6th century AD / Temples 17 and 19; Stupas 28 and 29. / Inscription of Chandragupta II (Gupta year 131, or AD 450-1) / Stupa 1 pradaksinapatha Buddha images; Pillar 25 and crowning Vajrapani image; two Padmapani to the north Stupa 1; Naga, Nagini, and yaksa sculptures. Various others now in the SAM.  

V / 7th-8th century AD / Stupas 4, 5, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16. Temples 18 and 40 (additions); Temples 20, 22 and 31. Monastery complex beneath Building 43; Monasteries 36, 37 and 38, and other newly excavated structures in the southern area; Monastery 51 (?); / -- / --

VI / 9th-12th century AD / Eastern platform, surmounting monasteries (46 and 47), and temple (45), and boundary wall; Building 43. / Building 43 inscription (mid' to late 9th century AD). / Buddha and Bodhisattva images from Temple 45. Numerous other images in SAM.

-- Sanchi as an archaeological area, by Julia Shaw, 2013

He proved his point by immediately translating four such lines, and then turned to the first line of the famous pillar inscriptions: Devam piya piyadasi raja hevam aha, "the most-particularly-loved-of-the-gods raja declareth thus". He was not quite right; the r should have been l, laja not raja. But he was near enough. Danam giving him the d, the n and the m, all very common and hitherto unidentified, had been just enough to tip the balance.
Progress resumed in 1834 with the publication of proper facsimiles of the inscriptions on the Allahabad pillar of Ashoka, notably containing Edicts of Ashoka as well as inscriptions by the Gupta Empire ruler Samudragupta.

James Prinsep, an archaeologist, philologist, and official of the East India Company, started to analyse the inscriptions and made deductions on the general characteristics of the early Brahmi script essentially relying on statistical methods.[136] This method, published in March 1834, allowed him to classify the characters found in inscriptions, and to clarify the structure of Brahmi as being composed of consonantal characters with vocalic "inflections". He was able to correctly guess four out of five vocalic inflections, but the value of consonants remained unknown. Although this statistical method was modern and innovative, the actual decipherment of the script would have to wait until after the discovery of bilingual inscriptions, a few years later.

The same year, in 1834, some attempts by Rev. J. Stevenson were made to identify intermediate early Brahmi characters from the Karla Caves (circa 1st century CE) based on their similarities with the Gupta script of the Samudragupta inscription of the Allahabad pillar (4th century CE) which had just been published, but this led to a mix of good (about 1/3) and bad guesses, which did not permit proper decipherment of the Brahmi.

The next major step towards deciphering the ancient Brahmi script of the 3rd-2nd centuries BCE was made in 1836 by Norwegian scholar Christian Lassen, who used a bilingual Greek-Brahmi coin of Indo-Greek king Agathocles and similarities with the Pali script to correctly and securely identify several Brahmi letters. The matching legends on the bilingual coins of Agathocles were:
Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ / ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ (Basileōs Agathokleous, "of King Agathocles") Brahmi legend:[x] (Rajane Agathukleyesa, "King Agathocles").

James Prinsep was then able to complete the decipherment of the Brahmi script. After acknowledging Lassen's first decipherment, Prinsep used a bilingual coin of Indo-Greek king Pantaleon to decipher a few more letters. James Prinsep then analysed a large number of donatory inscriptions on the reliefs in Sanchi, and noted that most of them ended with the same two Brahmi characters: "[x]". Prinsep guessed correctly that they stood for "danam", the Sanskrit word for "gift" or "donation", which permitted to further increase the number of known letters. With the help of Ratna Pâla, a Singhalese Pali scholar and linguist, Prinsep then completed the full decipherment of the Brahmi script. In a series of results that he published in March 1838 Prinsep was able to translate the inscriptions on a large number of rock edicts found around India, and provide, according to Richard Salomon, a "virtually perfect" rendering of the full Brahmi alphabet.

-- Brahmi script, by Wikipedia

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The chance discovery of some short inscriptions on the stone railings at Sanchi provided Prinsep with the vital clues that led to the deciphering of the pillar inscriptions. These in turn revealed the existence of India's first classical era, the importance of Buddhism, and the towering personality of Ashoka (c.273-232 BC).

With the help of a distinguished pandit he immediately set about the long pillar inscriptions. It was June, the most unbearable month of the Calcutta year; to concentrate the mind even for a minute is a major achievement. By now the Governor-General and the rest of Calcutta society were in the habit of taking themselves off to the cool heights of Simla at such a time. Prinsep stayed at his desk. The deciphering was going well but he had at last acknowledged the unexpected difficulty of the language not being Sanskrit.[???] As Hodgson had suggested, it was closer to Pali, the sacred language of Tibet, or in other words it was one of the Prakrit languages, vernacular derivations of the classical Sanskrit. This made it difficult to pin down the precise meaning of many phrases. Prinsep also had, himself, to engrave all the plates for the script that would illustrate his account. Nevertheless, in the incredibly short space of six weeks, his translation was ready and he announced it to the Society. As usual he treated them to a long preamble on the discoveries that had led up to it and on the difficulties it still presented. But, unlike other inscriptions, these had one remarkable feature in their favour. There was an almost un-Indian frankness about the language, no exaggeration, no hyperbole, no long lists of royal qualities. Instead there was a bold and disarming directness:[???!!!]
Thus spake King Devanampiya Piyadasi. In the twenty-seventh year of my annointment I have caused this religious edict to be published in writing. I acknowledge and confess the faults that have been cherished in my heart ...

The king had obviously undergone a religious conversion and, from the nature of the sentiments expressed, it was clearly Buddhism that he had adopted. The purpose of his edicts was to promote this new religion, to encourage right thinking and right behaviour, to discourage killing, to protect animals and birds, and to ordain certain days as holy days and certain men as religious administrators. The inscriptions ended in the same style as they had begun.
In the twenty-seventh year of my reign I have caused this edict to be written; so sayeth Devanampiya; ''Let stone pillars be prepared and let this edict of religion be engraven thereon, that it may endure into the remotest ages."

Something about both the language and the contents was immediately familiar: it was Old Testament. Even Prinsep could not resist the obvious analogy -- "we might easily cite a more ancient and venerable example of thus fixing the law on tablets of stone". Perhaps it was just out of reverence that he called them edicts rather than commandments. But the message was clear enough. Here was an Indian king uncannily imitating Moses[???!!!], indeed going one better; as well as using tablets of stone, he had created these magnificent pillars to bear his message through the ages.

But who was this king? "Devanampiya Piyadasi" could be a proper name but it was not one that appeared in any of the Sanskrit king lists. Equally it could be a royal epithet, "Beloved of the Gods and of gracious mien''. At first Prinsep thought the former. In Ceylon a Mr George Turnour had been working on the Buddhist histories preserved there and ad just sent in a translation that mentioned a king Piyadasi who was the first Ceylon king to adopt Buddhism. This fitted well; but what was a king of Ceylon doing scattering inscriptions all over northern India? One of the edicts actually claimed that the king had planted trees along the highways, dug wells, erected traveller's rest houses etc. How could a Sinhalese king be planting trees along the Ganges?

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After Prinsep's discoveries other Ashoka columns came to light. This one at Sanchi had been broken up for use as rollers in a gigantic sugar-cane press. Another was apparently used as a road roller.

A few weeks later Turnour himself came up with the answer. Studying another Buddhist work he discovered that Piyadasi was also the normal epithet of a great Indian sovereign, a contemporary of the Ceylon Piyadasi, and that this king was otherwise known as Ashoka. It was further stated that Ashoka was the grandson of Chandragupta and that he was consecrated 218 years after the Buddha's enlightenment.


Suddenly it all began to make sense. Ashoka was already known from the Sanskrit king lists as a descendant of Chandragupta Maurya (Sandracottus) and, from Himalayan Buddhist sources, as a legendary patron of early Buddhism. Now his historicity was dramatically established. Thanks to the inscriptions, from being just a doubtful name, more was suddenly known about Ashoka than about any other Indian sovereign before AD 1100. As heir to Chandragupta it was not surprising that his pillars and inscriptions were so widely scattered. The Mauryan empire was clearly one of the greatest ever known in India, and here was its noblest scion speaking of his life and work through the mists of 2,000 years. It was one of the most exciting moments in the whole story of archaeological discovery.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Dec 29, 2021 10:18 am

Chapter 4: Black and Time-Stained Rocks
by John Keay
Text copyright © John Keay 1981
Photographs copyright © Colour Library International Ltd. 1981

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