Azes I
Indo-Scythian king
Coin of Azes I.jpg
Coin of Azes I.
Obv: Azes I in military dress, on a horse, with couched spear. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΖΟΥ "of the Great King of Kings Azes". British Museum.
Reignc. 48/47 – 25 BCE

Azes I (Greek: Ἄζης Azēs, epigraphically ΑΖΟΥ Azou; Kharosthi: 𐨀𐨩 A-ya, Aya[1]) was an Indo-Scythian ruler who ruled around c. 48/47 BCE – 25 BCE[2] with a dynastic empire based in the Punjab and Indus Valley,[3] completed the domination of the Scythians in the northwestern Indian subcontinent.


Azes's name is attested on his coins in the Greek form Azēs (Ἄζης) and the Kharosthi form Aya (𐨀𐨩),[1] which are both derived from the Saka name *Aza, meaning "leader".[4]


Coin of Azes with Demeter and Hermes.
Coin of Azes with Demeter and Hermes.

Maues and his successors had conquered the areas of Gandhara, as well as the area of Mathura from 85 BCE forming the Northern Satraps.[citation needed]

The Azes Era

Azes's most lasting legacy was the foundation of the Azes era. It was widely believed that the era was begun by Azes's successors by simply continuing the counting of his regnal years. However, Prof. Harry Falk has recently presented an inscription at several conferences which dates to Azes's reign, and suggests that the era may have been begun by Azes himself. Most popular historians date the start of the Azes era to 58 BC and believe it is the same as the later era known as the Malwa or Vikrama era.[5]

However, a recently discovered inscription, the Bajaur reliquary inscription, dated in both the Azes and the Greek era suggests that actually this is not the case. The inscription gives the relationship Azes = Greek + 128. It is believed that the Greek era may have begun in 173 BCE, exactly 300 years before the first year of the Era of Kanishka. If that is the case then the Azes era would begin in about 45 BC.[6]

Azes I and Azes II identical?

According to Senior, Azes I may have been identical with Azes II, due to the discovery of an overstrike of the former over the latter.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b Gardner, Percy (1929). The Coins of the Greek and Scythic Kings of Bactria and India in the British Museum. London: Gilbert & Rivington Ltd. pp. 73-92. ISBN 978-0-900-83452-3.
  2. ^ Falk and Bennett (2009), pp. 197–215.
  3. ^ Mac Dowell, D. W. (30 December 2012). "D. W. Mac Dowell, "AZES," Encyclopaedia Iranica, III/3, p. 257".
  4. ^ Harmatta, János (1999). "Languages and scripts in Graeco-Bactria and the Saka Kingdoms". In Harmatta, János; Puri, B. N.; Etemadi, G. F. (eds.). History of civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. 2. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House. p. 409. ISBN 978-8-120-81408-0.
  5. ^ Richard Salomon (1998). Indian Epigraphy: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the Other Indo-Aryan Languages. Oxford University Press. pp. 182–183, 194–195. ISBN 978-0-19-509984-3.
  6. ^ For discussions refer to Bracey, R. (2005) 'The Azes Era' (, Cribb, J (2005) 'The Greek Kingdom of Bactria, its coinage and collapse' in Afghanistan, Ancien Carrefour entre l'est et l'ouest (ed. Bopearachichi O & Boussac, M-F), Turnhout: 207–225, Falk, H. & C. J. Bennett 'Macedonian Intercalary Months and the Era of Azes' Acta Orientalia 70 (2009) 197–216
  7. ^ Coin India


Preceded bySpalirises(Indo-Scythian king) Indo-Scythian Ruler 57 – 35 BCE Succeeded byAzilises Preceded byTelephos(Indo-Greek king inArachosia and Gandhara) Preceded byHippostratos(Indo-Greek king inWestern Punjab)