Indo-Scythians

The 1st century AD Periplus of the Erythraean Sea describes the Scythian territories there:

The presence of the Scythians in modern day Pakistan and north-western India during the 1st century BC was contemporary with that of the Indo-Greek Kingdoms there, and it seems they initially recognized the power of the local Greek rulers.

A bronze coin of the Indo-Scythian King Azes. Obverse: BASILEWS BASILEWN MEGALOU AZOU, Humped Brahman bull (zebu) walking right, Whitehead symbol 15 (Z in square) above; Reverse: Kharosthi "jha" to right / Kharosthi legend, Lion or leopard standing right, Whitehead symbol 26 above; Reference: Whitehead 259; BMC p. 86, 141.

Several of them are toilet trays (also called Stone palettes) roughly imitative of earlier, and finer, Hellenistic ones found in the earlier layers. Marshall comments that "we have a praiseworthy effort to copy a Hellenistic original but obviously without the appreciation of form and skill which were necessary for the task". From the same layer, several statuettes in the round are also known, in very rigid and frontal style.

The coinage of the period, such as that of Rajuvula, tends to become very crude and barbarized in style. It is also very much debased, the silver content becoming lower and lower, in exchange for a higher proportion of bronze, an alloying technique (billon) suggesting less than wealthy finances.

Indo-Scythian coinage is generally quite realistic, artistically somewhere between Indo-Greek and Kushan coinage. It is often suggested Indo-Scythian coinage benefited from the help of Greek celators (Boppearachchi).

Indo-Scythian coins essentially continue the Indo-Greek tradition, by using the Greek language on the obverse and the Kharoshthi language on the reverse. The portrait of the king is never shown however, and is replaced by depictions of the king on horse (and sometimes on camel), or sometimes sitting cross-legged on a cushion. The reverse of their coins typically show Greek divinities.

Another relief is known where the same type of soldiers are playing musical instruments and dancing, activities which are widely represented elsewhere in Gandharan art: Indo-Scythians are typically shown as reveling devotees.

The Indo-Scythians seem to have been followers of Buddhism, and many of their practices apparently continued those of the Indo-Greeks.

Several Indo-Scythian kings after Azes are known for making Buddhist dedications in their name, on plaques or reliquaries:

The Indo-Scythians were named "Shaka" in India, an extension on the name Saka used by the Persians to designate Scythians. Shakas receive numerous mentions in texts like the Puranas, the Manusmriti, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Mahabhasiya of Patanjali, the Brhat Samhita of Vraha Mihira, the Kavyamimamsa, the Brihat-Katha-Manjari, the Katha-Saritsagara and several other old texts. They are described as part of an amalgam of other war-like tribes from the northwest.

As with many traditional epics, the two Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, which comprise the Itihasa, have gone through multiple interpolations and redactions since its conception, rendering it impossible to accurately date. It is highly likely that these additions were made with changing political factors and the introduction of new people into society.