Kushan Empire - Introduction

  By Jay., October 2006; Revised
Descendents of the Yüeh-Chih who had destroyed the Kingdom of Graeco-Bactria centuries earlier, the Kushans had developped a vibrant, wealthy, and diverse civilization. Control of important trade routes lead to the influences of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and other religious strains.

Notable Kings

The main Kushan rulers were the following:
· Heraios ,who was probably the first of the Kushan kings. He may have been an ally of the Greeks, and he shared the same style of coinage.
· Kujula Kadphises who set himself up as king of a kingdom called Guishuang. He invaded Anxi (Parthia) and took the Gaofu (modern day Kabul)
· Vima Kadphises was the son of Vima Taktu (Ruler of Kushan in 80-105) and the father of Kanishka I. He issued an extensive series of coins and inscriptions.
· The rule of Kanishka I, the second great Kushan emperor, fifth Kushan king, who flourished for at least 28 years from c. 127,
The Kushan Empire saw rising success, especially when having contacts with Rome, during the 2nd century, and with China during the 1st and 2nd century.


Under recent pressure from the steppes, the ruling dynasty passed to the "Chionite" Kidarites, while maintaining their culture. New arrivals, the Hephthalites, are a more serious threat to their way of life, and migration into South Asia looks promising.

Nevertheless, from the 3rd century the Kushan empire began to fragment. Vasudeva I had perished around 225 and the Kushan empire was divided into western and eastern halves. Around 270, the Kushans lost their territories on the Gangetic plain, where the Gupta Empire was established around 320. The Kushan empire were ultimately wiped out in the 5th century by the invasions of the White Huns and later the expansion of Islam. The end of the Kushans could be considered the end of Hellenism in South Asia and on the Hindustani peninsula.