Gandhara (Scope note)

Gandhara is a historical region that encompassed areas of present-day north-western Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, broadly corresponding to the Vale of Peshawar and extending further into the lower valleys of the Kabul and Swat Rivers. Gandhara was the easternmost province of the Achaemenid Empire until the region was conquered by Alexander the Great in ca. 327 BC. In ca. 305 BC, Seleucus I Nicator (a general of Alexander and the founder of the Seleucid Empire) handed down Gandhara to Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya Empire that controlled most of the Indian subcontinent until ca. 185 BC. The region was then ruled by the Indo-Greeks who descended from Bactria in the 2nd C BC, by the Sakas (a nomadic tribe of Central Asian origins) in the 1stC BC, and eventually by the Indo-Parthians in the 1stC AD. Gandhara then became part of the Kushan Empire. Under the Kushan ruler Kanishka (late 1st C - early 2ndC AD), Gandhara was the centre of a very large empire, extending from Central Asia to North India, that had diplomatic ties with the Romanised Mediterranean and China. In mid-3rd C, the Sasanians, rulers of Iran, invaded Gandhara that was then captured by the Kidarites at the end of the 4thC and then by the Ephtalites at the end of the 5thC, when the Huns conquest of northern India started. Before the Islamic rule was established in Gandhara in the 11thC, the two Shahi dynasties, one of Turkic origin and one of Hindu origin, reigned over the region.