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Alexander the Great entered
India in the spring 326 BC. He crossed the Indus, march to Taxila and then advanced to
Hydespes (Jhelum). After his death, when the far-flung territories that he had conquered
were divided amongst the powerful officers of his army; and a Greek kingdom was established
in Syria under Seleucus. The kingdom extended from Euphrates to the Oxus and the
Indus. During the reign of the Seleucid ruler Antiochos II,
in about 250 BC. Diodotos, the Satrap of Bactria, the
country north of the Hindukush, took advantage of the disturbacnes which followed
the death of Antiochos Theos and became independent. Diodotos was succeeded by his
son of the same name, who was supplanted in turn by one Euthydemos
. His son Demetrius extended his kingdom beyond
Bactria into Afghanistan and the Punjab. But he was confronted with a rival, Eucratides, who deprived him of his Bactrian dominion and extended
his kingdom into Gandhara. Demetrius was succeeded in Afghanistan and the Punjab by
Pantaleon and Agathocles. Then
their kingdom passed to Menander I Soter, Milinda
of the Indian tradition, recorded in the Milinda Panha
(Questions of Menander). Menander I was the most powerful
king amongst the Indo-Bactrians (Indo-Greek). He not only ruled over the kingdom that
extended into Gandhara and the Punjab, but is also credited with having led an expedition
deep into the Gangetic valley. He had perhaps appointed a few sub-king to assist him in
the administration of his kingdom. Polyxenus and Epander are particulary named amongst them. After the death of Eucratides and Menander I Soter, the history of
the Indo-Bactrian (Indo-Greek) rulers is confused.
Gold coins for the first time are heard of during this
period. They were issued by Diodotos, Eucratides and
Euthydemos; but they were confined to Bactria and were never issued in India. A few
gold coins were issued by Menander I Soter, they may be the eariest gold
coins issued on the soil of India. These, and all of the other ruler named before, issued
their coins mostly in silver and copper.
This was one of the earliest issues of Alexander the great struck in Egypt and it is the predecessor
of all subsequent Ptolemaic coinage. These early issues are well known because of their outstanding style.