Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Peoples of the empire: The Parthians

After the Lydians come a long string of peoples whose histories and cultures in Achaemenid times are too poorly-documented to put together a good article.  Skipping through more than a dozen such names finally brings us to the Parthians.

Geographical definition
Parthia (O.P. Parthava) lay on the southwest corner of the Caspian, west of Hyrcania, south of the Kopet Dag mountains that separate modern Iran and Turmenistan, and north of the deserts of central Iran.

Parthia may have been subject to the Medes and acknowledged Persian suzerainty after Cyrus conquered Media.  The country first appears in the Behistun inscription, where its satrap is Darius the Great's father, Hystaspes.  After Darius seized the throne, the Parthians joined Phraortes' revolt and besieged Hystaspes in the Parthian city of Vishpauzâtish, but he defeated them on March 8, 521 and again at Patigrabana on July 11.

With the Arians, Chorasmians and Sogdians, the Parthians made up the 16th tax district, paying 300 talents yearly.  At times Parthia formed a joint satrapy with Hyrcania.  At the Apadana, they are illustrated bringing bowls and a Bactrian camel.  Parthians took part in the 480 invasion of Greece as infantry, marching with the Chorasmians under Artabazus son of Pharnaces.  They are not mentioned at the major battles.

Parthia drops off the radar for a century and a half following Xerxes' invasion.  We next hear of them at Gaugamela in 331, where together with the Hyrcanians, they fought as cavalry under the joint satrap Phrataphernes in the Persian left wing (commanded overall by Mazaeus).  Phrataphernes remained with Darius on his final flight toward Parthia, but after the Persian king was murdered, Phrataphernes submitted peacefully to Alexander and thus retained his office.

Diodorus has Phratapernes still holding this office at the Partition of Babylon, but at Triparadiscus it was reassigned to Philip, formerly of Sogdiana.  Philip was deposed and killed in 318 by Peithon, who made his brother Eudamus governor, but the following year the other eastern satraps expelled them and in 316 Seleucus gave Parthia to a satrap of his choosing, Stasander.

The Seleucids maintained nominal control over Parthia until 247, when a political crisis in Antioch motivated the satrap Andragoras to declare Parthia an independent state.  Just nine years later, however, a tribe of Eastern Iranian nomads known as the Parni invaded from the north and conquered Parthia.  This was the beginning of the Arsacid dynasty, which in the second century BC came to rule most of Greater Iran.

The Arsacids were deposed early in the third century AD by a resurgent Persia under the Sassanids.  The Sassanids dissolved Parthia as an administrative unit and made it part of a larger province, Khorasan.  While the Parthian language continued to be used (judging from bilingual inscriptions) early in the Sassanid period, the region seems to have become Persianized at least by the time of Ferdowsi in the 10th century.  Today the area is divided among several Iranian provinces and is home mostly to native Persian-speakers with Kurds and Turkmens in the north.

By the Arsacid period, the name Parthava had been worn down into Pahlav or Pahlaw, which (as the adjective Pahlavi) survived as a designation of things originating in northeastern Iran.

Parthian was a Western Iranian language and thus more closely related to Persian than Avestan or other Eastern languages, but belonged to the Northwestern sub-branch, whereas Persian belongs to the Southwestern.  Parthian is attested in Pahlavi (a script derived from Aramaic) from the Arsacid and early Sassanid dynasties, and was probably different in the Achaemenid period, perhaps resembling Old Persian a little more.

I can find nothing on Parthian religion under the Achaemenids, but a reasonable guess would be something similar to the Persians, in a transitional state between ancient Iranian polytheism and early Mazdaism.

Parthians in royal art wear pullover tunics, loose-fitting trousers and mid-calf pull-on boots.  The Apadana delegation wear what look like tiaras that are very full and made of soft woven fabric, though they could instead be a complex kind of turban wrap.  The one at Naqs-e Rostam wears a more standard cut of tiara.

Herodotus has the Parthians armed like Bactrians, who carry "reed bows" and spears.  I think you would be safe using trilobate bronze arrowheads, which were common in both western Iran and Scythia.  In Arsacid times the Parthians were known for their cavalry, but they probably took heavy influence from the Arsacids' nomadic ancestors.  The Parthian at Naqs-e Rostam wears a Medo-Persian akinakes.  It is probable that the Parthian akinakes was more like the Scythian in style.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Another spearhead from the British Museum

Spearhead from Karabakh, Azerbaijan

This one is very interesting; larger than the one from Deve Huyuk, it's also considerably lighter, and has only a partial mid-rib.  I'm not sure how representative of Achaemenid spearheads it can be.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Peoples of the empire: The Lydians

Geographical definition
Lydia (Lydian Śfard, O.P. Sparda) lay in the middle of western Anatolia, north of Caria, south of Mysia on the northern coast, and east of Ionia and Aeolia on the western coast.  Its capital Sardis is today the village of Sart.  The name Lydia derives from the Assyrian name for the region, Luddu.

Politically, Lydia postdates the Bronze Age collapse, but it occupied the area of a Luwian-speaking kindom called Mirâ and Lendering suggests that "there is considerable continuity between Mirâ and Lydia".  While agriculturally productive, Lydia contained few large cities and most people lived in smaller towns.

Much of Lydia's wealth and power was founded on gold mined from the river Pactolus (the modern Sart Çayı), which flows through Sardis and where King Midas was said in Greek mythology to have washed away his power of turning things into gold.  According to Herodotus, the Lydians invented gold and silver coins.

The late Lydian kings belonged to the Mermnad or Gygian dynasty, founded by the usurper Gyges, whom Herodotus says was obliged by the queen to murder her husband, King Candaules, after some funny business.  Others say otherwise, as others are wont to do.

In any event, the Mermnad dynasty expanded Lydian power considerably, so that by the end it was a sizable empire that ruled most of western Anatolia, including the Greek cities of Ionia.  Lydia was accidentally ended by King Croesus, who decided to attack Cyrus after the Persian prince overthrew Astyages, possibly wishing to reinstate Astyages (with whom Lydia had a treaty), or seize land for himself.  He did this, the historian says, after the Oracle of Delphi promised him that if he did, a great empire would fall.  Now, you and I could guess how that ends, but Croesus was, as Jamie Rieger put it, a "first time customer."

Together with the Egyptians, Babylonians and Spartans, the Lydians launched an invasion of formerly Median territory across the Halys River (modern Kızılırmak) in central Anatolia.  Traditionally, this event is said to have happened in 547 BC, but that's based on a misreading of a damaged part of the Nabonidus Chronicle which is actually more likely referring to Urartu, not Luddu.

In any case, the two kings fought inconclusively at the Battle of Pteria in Cappadocia, and with winter drawing on, Croesus dismissed his allies and returned to his capital, only to notice too late that Cyrus was standing right behind him.  According to the Greek poet Bacchylides, Croesus tried to immolate himself as his capital fell, but Apollo spirited him away.  Herodotus rewrites the story a bit and has Cyrus decide to burn Croesus alive because hey, you only king of the world once.  Then he thought better of it, but at that point the pyre was already raging and Croesus nearly died before Apollo sent a storm to extinguish it.

Per Herodotus, Cyrus appointed two officials to rule Lydia, a native named Pactyes as civil administrator and a Persian named Tabalus as satrap.  Upon Cyrus' departure, Pactyes rebelled.  Cyrus prepared to level Sardis, but Croesus entreated him to punish only those who had rebelled and to pacify Lydia by reordering the economy so that the Lydians became hedonistic girlymen (really).  Lydia, and particularly Sardis, was and remained a center of craftsmanship, famous for ceramics and goldwork.  Darius would later employ Lydian ivory carvers at Susa.  Lydians at the Persepolis apadana bear ornate beakers, bowls and small horses or donkeys in fancy harness drawing a chariot.

As for Pactyes, he fled to Aeolia and bounced around for a while before being captured on Chios just off the Aeolian coast.  Nothing is said of his death, but I think it's safe to assume that it was swift and squicky.

Lydia became a satrapy with its capital remaining at Sardis.  Around 530, Oroetus became its satrap, and in 522 murdered the Greek conqueror Polycrates of Samos.  Oroetus himself met a bad end because of Darius' distrust of him.  Bagaeus may have succeeded him; afterward came Otanes, one of Darius' six companions, who conquered Samos outright, and finally the great king's brother, Artaphernes.  Under his rule, Lydia was the site of intense fighting during the Ionian Revolt.  Much of Sardis was burned by the rebels, but Artaphernes held the citadel and led the Persian counterattack.

Artaphernes was apparently relieved of his post in 492 by his son, also called Artaphernes, who co-led the first invasion of Greece along with Datis in 492-490, and commanded the Lydians as infantry in Xerxes' 480 invasion.

During the fifth century, Lydia was settled by many foreigners, Persian and Ionian estate owners and foreign garrisons like the Hyrcanians on the rivers Caicus and Hermus (modern Bakırçay and Gediz).  Religion began to show Iranian influences; deities like Anahita were adopted, and the god Pldans was associated (according to Lendering) with Ahura Mazda.

The Greeks who are our main sources lose interest in Lydia after 480.  The next known news is the 440 attempt of the satrap Pissuthnes to take Samos after it revolted against the Athenian empire.  During the first decade of the Peloponnesian War, Pissuthnes backed Athens' rebellious holdings.

In 420, he himself rebelled against Darius II, but was arrested and executed by Tissaphernes, who was then given the satrapy around 415.  Tissaphernes had to continue fighting Pissuthnes' son Amorges, who lived in Iasus in Caria and had Athenian support.  Tissaphernes countered him by backing the Spartans, so the two Persians had become players in the Peloponnesian War.  As part of the treaty, the Spartans sailed to Iasus and arrested Amorges in the winter of 412-411.  The continued Persian support of Sparta probably hastened the defeat of Athens.

Having run out of common enemies, Persia and Sparta once again had to fight.  In 399, the Spartan Thibron or Thimbron invaded Asia Minor and captured some cities, but his siege of Larissa failed in its aim of gaining concessions from Tissaphernes.  Agesilaus II had considerably more success and raided as far as Sardis itself.  Tissaphernes was then (394) killed by a Persian courtier, Tithraustes, who may have acted on behalf of Parysatis for Tissaphernes' role in the defeat and death of her son Cyrus the Younger.

Tithraustes briefly replaced Tissaphernes and persuaded Agesilaus to attack Phrygia.  In 393, Tithraustes was replaced by Tiribazus, who began to funnel money to Sparta to counter Athens' growing power in the Corinthian War.  Artaxerxes II disagreed with this course and replaced Tiribazus in 392 with Struthas, who attacked the Spartans.  The Spartans in return began raiding Lydia once again.  In or before 387, Tiribazus returned to Lydia and renewed his cooperation with Sparta, bringing the Corinthian War to an end.

The next known satrap of Lydia was Autophradates, who fought for years in the Revolt of the Satraps, mainly on the king's side but at one point (362) defecting to the rebels.  Autophradates may have been the same commander who, together with Pharnabazus, commanded Persian operations in the Aegean after the death of Memnon of Rhodes.  He appears to have left his post before 334, by which time we hear of the Lydian satrap Spithridates fighting and dying against Alexander the Great at the Granicus.

With the satraps' failure to stop Alexander there, western Anatolia fell.  Sardis surrendered in the summer of 334.  It was given to Alexander's general Menander at the Partition of Babylon (323), then to Cleitus the White at the Partition of Triparadisus (321)   The satrapy was initially under the control of the empire of Antigonus, then Lysimachus, one of Alexander's bodyguards, from 301-281, and finally, when he was killed, Lydia passed to the Seleucids for 91 years until falling into the Roman sphere of influence.

Throughout the Hellenistic period, Lydia was settled by Greeks and became Hellenized.  In the first century BC, Strabo wrote that the Lydian language had become extinct in Lydia itself though still spoken in Kibyra to the south.  From this time, the country could perhaps be regarded as only a traditional placename.

Lydian was an Anatolian language, but differed in certain ways from its closest known relatives so that its exact line of descent is unknown.  While attested from the seventh to third centuries, the majority of the Lydian corpus dates to the Achaemenid period.  The Lydian alphabet was derived from or related to Greek.

Lydians were polytheists, but beyond the names of their gods, not much is known about their religious practices.  It appears that native Lydian altars were (or included) open-air structures.  Greek-style temples are known from Sardis, and the patronage described by Herodotus of Gyges, Alyattes and Croesus to the Oracle of Delphi may imply religious links with the Greeks.

The Lydian gods included Levs, a weather god who may or may not have been head of the pantheon (FWIW the Greeks interpreted him as Zeus), Baki (Dionysus) for whom they put on song and dance numbers, and Kuvava (Cybele) who had a temple at Sardis, but the most important goddess in Sardis was Artemis.  Many of their deities, including Kuvava, the vegetation goddess Kore (Greek for "young woman," perhaps implying an identification with Persephone), Santas (regarded by the Greeks as Heracles), and the moon god Pldans or Qldans, are or may be derived from much older Anatolian deities, particularly Hittite.

Candaules, whose name is thought to mean "dog throttler," may be connected with the discovery of dog bones in cooking pots at Sardis, which were perhaps cooked and buried as sacrifices to him.  The Greeks also documented temple prostitution in Lydia, as in other parts of the Mediterranean, though no fertility goddess of the sort usually connected with this practice is known here.

Lydians at the Persepolis apadana wear long, seemingly un-belted tunics with fine verical pleats and short, horizontally-pleated sleeves.  The texture reminds me of a linen tunic that a reenactor at Marathon wore; he said that it was produced by twisting the tunic up tightly while it was wet and allowing it to dry so the pleats were set, but I may be completely off-base in thinking that the effects are one and the same.  The Persepolis Lydians also wear pull-on boots that rise to just above the ankle, rounded conical hats with several broad horizontal pleats or seams, long cords with bead-like finials hanging from the head just behind the ears (these look like part of the hat but are also seen on those with no hats), and a flowing cloak pinned over the left shoulder and passing under the right arm.

Herodotus says simply that "Lydian armor was most similar to the Greek" (tr. Godley).  I have never seen depictions of Lydian weapons other than the figure at Naqs-e Rostam who wears a longsword on a sling, an image I am beginning to suspect is too consistent across the many nations on this table to be realistic.  Assuming Herodotus to be correct, an Argive shield and spear with a sauroter would probably be safe choices.  The famous Spangenhelm-like helmet found at Sardis may be either Lydian or Persian.

Note:  Much of the above information, particularly on religion, is culled from the long and detailed report by Annick Peyne to be found here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Peoples of the empire: The Lycians

By rights, this week's update should be about the Libyans.  However, I've run into the usual issue of the area being at the edge of the literate world in ancient times meaning that there is not sufficient information for anything like a comprehensive summary.  Onward to better-documented lands.

Geographical definition
Lycia (Luwian Lukka via Greek Lykia) was centered around the Teke Peninsula, a rounded landmass on the southwestern coast of modern Turkey.  It lay southeast of Caria.  It was a poor hill country with little urbanization; the people were known mainly as herders and (in the Bronze Age) pirates.

Lycia first appears in Hittite records as a member of the Assuwa League in the late Bronze Age.  With the Bronze Age collapse, the "Lukka lands" disappear for a time, but evidently survived as a traditional name and reappear with the Greek histories.  While the natives continued to live mostly as shepherds, Rhodian Greeks colonized the coast, founding Phaselis in the east.

According to Herodotus, Cyrus sent Harpagus to reduce western Anatolia after conquering the Lydian empire.  This happened after 547 BC.  The failed defense of Xanthus in southern Lycia is famous; the men there were driven back, put all their families and property in the citadel, burned it down and then returned to the field where they fought to the death.  Other conquests within Lycia are not mentioned and were probably less tenacious or even peaceful.

The new rulers (khñtawati) of Xanthus became the most important in Lycia; Lendering suggests that "the great king had appointed the Xanthian prince as representative of all Lycians, responsible for the payment of tribute."  A stele discovered there in 1838 was apparently a monument to a son of Arppakhu and this led to the theory, widespread for a while but no longer accepted, that Harpagus was awarded the satrapy of Lycia and founded a "Harpagid dynasty."

In truth Lycia did not have its own satrap.  It was grouped in the empire's first tax district, with Ionia, Magnesia, Aeolia, Caria, Milya and Pamphylia, paying 400 talents total.  During this time, Persian influence began to appear in Lycian architecture, particularly elite tombs.

It is possible that fighting continued after the conquest.  A Persepolis Fortification tablet from 509 mentions prisoners of war called Turmirla, which may be a rendering of the Lycian endonym Trm̃mili.

Nonetheless, Herodotus says that Lycia sent 50 ships to Xerxes' invasion in 480.  He gives their endonym as Termilai (Lat. Termilae) and incorrectly believes them to be of Cretan descent.  Among the officers to whom he attaches importance was a Cyberniscus, son of Sicas, who has often been interpreted as the commander of the Lycian contingent.  We are not told what role they played in the war, but as sailors they would have been important and probably took part in both Artemisium and Salamis.

A further note on Cyberniscus:  The phrase in Greek is Kuberniskos Sika, which Anthony Keen has proposed is a misreading of Kubernis Kossika, possibly a Greek rendering of the Lycian names Kuprili and Kheziga.  The Lycian monarchy has been rather sketchily reconstructed for most of the Persian period.

At some point after the Peloponnesian phase of the wars, control of Lycia switched to the Delian League.  The circumstances under which the empire lost Lycia are unknown.  During the latter half of the fifth century, Greek cultural influence in Lycia became stronger:  Cities grew, Lycians began to build Greek-style rock tombs and create bilingual inscriptions.

Lycia defected from the League during the Peloponnesian War.  In 429, Athens sent General Melasander to reconquer Lycia, but Gergis (Lyc. Kheriga) of Xanthus defeated him.  Soon, Lycia reverted to Persian influence, and Xanthus was able to conquer Telmessus, Lycia's westernmost major city.

During the Revolt of the Satraps, Pericles, a king of the southeastern Limyra, declared himself king of Lycia and drove out the Xanthian ruler Arttum̃para.  Pericles is regarded as the last king of Lycia.  After the revolt failed, the land once again reverted to the empire.

Alexander the Great marched through Lycia in the winter of 334-333 in his campaign to capture coastal cities, which were of strategic importance during the Persian-Macedonian war.  He appointed his general Nearchus as rule of Lycia and Pamphylia.  Telmessus, Lycia's westernmost city, revolted in 333 but Nearchus quelled it easily enough.

In 329, Nearchus was temporarily relieved of his post to join Alexander's eastern campaign.  What followed at the Partition of Babylon after Alexander's death is somewhat unclear:  Diodorus and Arrian say that Lycia and Pamphylia were given to Antigonus, but Justin says that they were given to Nearchus.  From the Partition of Triparadiscus onward they were definitely with Antigonus.

Lycia changed hands several times during the Wars of the Diadochi.  It spent its longest period under the Ptolemies, from 275-197, when it was briefly taken by the Seleucids, and finally came under the Roman sphere of influence as a result of the Syrian War, 192-188.

I can find no clear indication of what became of native Lycian culture, but it is reasonable to suppose that it faded under Greek influence over the Hellenistic period.  Thereafter the nation would only be a traditional and administrative name.

Lycian belonged to the Luwian subgroup of Anatolian, a major Indo-European branch.  It was distinct from the Luwian language and first appears in inscriptions during the Achaemenid period.  Two dialects are known, standard Lycian or Lycian A, and Milyan.  It was written in the Lycian alphabet, derived from Greek but with additional letters for its unique sounds.  The last inscription in Lycian dates to about 300 BC.

Naturally, Greek was also spoken in the coastal cities and gradually replaced Lycian throughout the country.

According to Annick Payne, Lycian religion is known mainly from epitaphs referring to various deities.  The most well-known is the "mother of the gods" (˜eni mahanahi), whom the Greeks identified with Leto (called L˜at˜ai in Lycian).  The major sanctuary near Xanthus known as the Letoon, dating from the sixth century, may have originally belonged to the Lycian deity before she was conflated with Leto.

Likewise, most written sources identify native deities with Greek ones:  Trqqas with Zeus and Maliya with Athena.  The names of Padrita (Aphrodite) and Ertemi (Artemis, of whom the theophoric name Erttimeli was borne by a governor of Xanthus) appear to indicate adoption of the Greek goddesses by the Lycians rather than conflation.  In the fourth century, Lycians began to worship Apollo as part and parcel with Leto and Artemis; he may have absorbed a minor god named Natri.

Due to the nature of the texts, not much is known about Lycian religious practice, but they appear to have favored altars cut into living rock rather than constructed ones.

Unfortunately, native clothing appears is not well-attested in Lycian art; most anthropomorphic art comes from Greek-dominated areas and thus reflects Greek clothing styles.  The chiton and himation appear frequently in royal tombs.  Certain Persian elements are seen here and there, like the kidaris.  The so-called Harpy Tomb from Xanthus, dating approximately to Xerxes' invasion, shows women's dress as being very finely draped with voluminous sleeves or caped uppers and plain, stiff-looking circlets.

Herodotus says that the Lycians "wore cuirasses and greaves, and carried cornel-wood bows and unfeathered arrows and javelins; goat-skins hung from their shoulders, and they wore on their heads caps crowned with feathers; they also had daggers and scimitars (drepana)" (VII.92).  I know this isn't good historical practice, but offhand I find it extremely difficult to believe that anyone used arrows that were not fletched.

Graeco-Lycian art shows military equipment that is pretty much Greek in appearance.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Peoples of the empire: The Indians

Geographical definition
Ancient India (Greek "land of the Indos") was regarded as beginning at the Indus Valley, which lies mostly in modern Pakistan.  English Indus derives via Latin from Greek Indos, in turn from Old Persian Hinduš and ultimately Sanskrit Sindhu, meaning simply "river."  Presumably it was regarded as the greatest river in the region.  Most of the valley today forms Pakistan's Sindh and Punjab provinces.

While the Indus Valley had been home to an urban Bronze Age civilization, the India of Classical times began to take shape in the late Vedic period (c. 1000 BC) as Indo-Aryan culture expanded over the Gangetic Plain.

The Achaemenid dynasty corresponds loosely to the Mahājanapada period in Indian tradition, when the north of the country was divided among competing mahā ("major") janapada ("tribal footholds").  Historians consider these traditions to reflect the transformation from Vedic semi-nomadic tribal culture to a settled, farming culture.

The western regions, where the Achaemenids held sway, are not generally counted among the Mahājanapadas.  The Mahābhārata mentions several western kingdoms which are believed to have lain in the Indus Valley prior to Achaemenid times:  Madra in the northeast, Kekeya, Sivi, and Sauvira in the southwest.

Into this situation, Darius the Great invaded in the late 500s BC.  Because Gandhara is mentioned at Behistun, and Hinduš only in his later inscriptions, it is believed that he conquered southward into the subcontinent after 520 when the Behistun inscription was created.  Herodotus says that Darius hired the Carian navigator Scylax of Caryanda to explore the region as a preparation for his invasion.  The events that followed are unknown, but it appears that Darius was at least successful in establishing suzerainty.  Lendering holds this to have occurred in 515.

Herodotus says that India formed the 20th, most populous and wealthiest satrapy in the empire, paying 360 talents of gold dust annually, equivalent to 4,680 talents of silver or nearly a third of the revenues collected from all satrapies.  At the Persepolis apadana, Indians are shown bearing scales (perhaps containing gold dust), a horse and things that resemble double-headed wood axes.  Darius states in his Susa inscription that India was the source for some of the ivory used in the palace's construction.

Though his testimony might lead to a presumption that such a rich land would be an important holding, the literary and archaeological records shows very little evidence of the Achaemenids' presence.  Presumably imperial rule was remote, which implies a high degree of autonomy.

In describing events at the edge of the world known to the Greeks, Herodotus' narrative often becomes strange.  He describes Indians who wear woven bulrushes for clothing, who kill and eat their sick, or others who eat only wild grain.  In one famous passage (III.102) he speaks of ants the size of foxes, who gather gold dust which the Indians in the far north (possibly in modern Afghanistan) were wont to steal, entering the giant anthills furtively and riding away on camelback as soon as the ants smelled them and gave chase.

Hopefully he is more trustworthy on matters closer to home.  He says that Indians fought in the 480 invasion of Greece both as infantry and cavalry under Pharnazathres son of Artabates.  Mardonius selected the entire Indian contingent as part of his residual army.  At Plataea he stationed them to face the Greeks of Hermione, Eretria, Styra and Chalcis.

Much like other eastern parts of the empire, India fades from Western history in the later fifth and fourth centuries.  To what extent the Indus Valley remained in the empire's grasp is unclear.  In the late fifth century the eastern Mahājanapada Maghadha under King Mahapadma Nanda began to conquer and consolidate northern India into the Nanda empire, and by the time of Alexander the Great, had advanced nearly to the edges of the Persian empire.

Indians fought at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331, bringing 15 elephants and a number of chariots, as well as cavalry, who are said to have broken through the Macedonian line late in the battle.

After the Persian empire fell, India became the last frontier of the Alexandrian empire.  Conquering south through Gandhara in 326, he eventually came to the Hydaspes River (modern Jhelum), where Porus (Puru) of Paurava refused to acknowledge Alexander's overlordship.  The two fought a bloody battle in May at the river wherein Porus' army was practically destroyed.  Alexander wanted to keep marching and attack the Nanda empire, but the Macedonian army, now on the very edge of the world known to them, refused to go any farther.

Upon surrendering, Porus was appointed satrap of his former kingdom.  He still held that position at the first partition of Alexander's empire after the conqueror's death in 323.  However, in 317 the Macedonian commander in Taxila, Eudamus, murdered Porus and commandeered his war elephants against the great diadoch Antigonus.  Eudamus lost and was executed, but Antigonus aroused the enmity of the other diadochi, leading to the Third War of the Diadochi.  In the course of this conflict, the eastern part of the empire, including the Indus Valley, was taken by Seleucus.

In the meantime, an aspiring young kshatriya, Chandragupta Maurya, raised an army in the northwest and invaded the Nanda empire, seizing the throne of Magadha in 321.  His new country, the Maurya empire, then began to invade the eastern Alexandrian satrapies.  These attacks culminated in the Seleucid-Mauryan War of 305-303, at the end of which Seleucus ceded his easternmost territories to Chandragupta in exchange for peace so he could focus his attention on the ongoing diadochian conflict.

The ensuing history of the area is far too complex to cover here.  The valley remained culturally and linguistically Indian, although gradually Islamicized, beginning with the invasion of the Ummayad caliphate in the eighth century AD.  The area thereafter became the frontier of the South Asian and Middle Eastern-Islamic worlds under Iranian and Turco-Mongol dynasties like the Mughals, culminating in the partition of the subcontinent into and the formation of a new northwestern state, Pakistan, in 1947.

In the northwest within the Persian sphere of influence the dominant Indian languages were various Middle Indo-Aryan languages, called the prakrits ("natural" or "usual," as contrasted with Sanskrit, "refined" or "composed").  These were not necessarily derived from Sanskrit, but sometimes from closely-related Old Indo-Aryan languages.

The prakrits differed from each other enough that Herodotus described the Indian nations as "none speaking the same language."

Indians in this period followed early Vedic religious traditions that were the precursors of modern Hinduism, though it must be understood that the relationship between ancient and modern Indian religion is very complicated.  The Mahābharata holds that Vedic practices were less strictly adhered to in Madra; rites were less widely held, beef was eaten and the caste system was less rigid.  I would speculate that the same was true in some other areas of the northwest.

In Achaemenid royal art, Indian men are represented iconically in dhotis wrapped in a simple manner, closing in the front and slightly to one side, and belted, along with headbands and thong sandals like those of the Gandharans.  The use of cotton is well-attested.

Herodotus has the Indians entirely as archers, both infantry and cavalry.  They carried "reed bows and iron-tipped reed arrows."  Arrian claims that Indian bows were as tall as the archer and the arrows nearly three cubits (54 inches/137cm) long, and powerful enough to pierce any shield or armor, but I know of no reason to suppose that such equipment was identical to that used centuries earlier.  The Indian at Naqš-e Rostam wears a long sword on a sling, with a mushroom-shaped pommel.