Nomadic Tribes of Central Asia




Nomadic Tribes of Central Asia:

After the death of Alexander, the Satrapas appointed by him declared their independent status and they came to be known as Indo-Greek kings. During the declining period of Indo-Greek kings, nomadic tribes in Central Asia attacked Bactria. The tribes of Central Asia migrated to India in this period. These migrations proved to be important in the political scene in North India. In the latter half of the 2nd century B.C.E., the Pahalavas (Parthians) and Shakas (Scythians) attacked northwestern regions. The Yuezi tribes from China pushed the Shakas out from Central Asia. Yuezis were pastoralists. With the strength of their war skills, they vanquished the local kings, and there they established their own kingdoms.

The Yuezhi were an ancient people first described in chinese histories as nomadic pastoralists living in an arid grassland area in the western part of the modern Chinese province of Gansu during the 1st millennium BC. After a major defeat by the Xiongu in 176 BC, the Yuezhi split into two groups migrating in different directions: the Greater Yuezhi and Lesser Yuezhi.

The Greater Yuezhi initially migrated northwest into the Ili Valley, where they reportedly displaced elements of the Sakas. They were driven from the Ili Valley by the Wusun and migrated southward to Sogdia and later settled in Bactria. The Greater Yuezhi have consequently often been identified with peoples mentioned in classical During the 1st century BC, one of the five major Greater Yuezhi tribes in Bactria, the Kushanas, began to subsume the other tribes and neighbouring peoples. The subsequent Kushan Empire, at its peak in the 3rd century AD, stretched from Turfan in the Tarim Basin in the north to Pataliputra on the Gangetic Plain of India in the south. The Kushanas played an important role in the development of trade on the Silk Road and the introduction of Buddhism in China.


The rule of Shaka King Rudradaman proves to be noteworthy due to his conflict with the Satavahanas. The Junagarh inscription in Saurashtra is an important Sanskrit inscription. It is inscribed below the Ashokan edict. The Ashokan edict is in Prakrit while Rudradaman’s inscription is in Sanskrit. It seems that the Shaka kings had adopted the Sanskrit language. The Rudradaman inscription records repairs of Sudarshan lake that was built during the Mauryan era. It shows that the lake was used over a prolonged period. It mentions Rudradaman’s victory in the Narmada valley, expedition against the Satavahana kingdom, and praises him for his victory over Yaudheya Republics in Rajasthan.

Shakas were nomadic pastoralists. There are no architectural remains, which can be ascribed to Shakas. However, their characteristic tombs have been discovered. These tombs contain remains of an individual, who could be their chief, along with his personal belongings including remains of his horse and other objects. Horse was an important part of the culture of Shakas. Their skills in mounted archery enabled them to make swift attacks. Saddle, reins, composite bow and arrow made their war technique more effective.

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