After the reign of Vasudeva internal sources for the Kushan Empire dry up. Instead historians must depend on external sources which reveal details only when the events of North-West India impact upon them. What makes the picture more complex is that historians must now deal with more than one kingdom. In the south-east of the former Kushan Empire the dynasty of Kajula continues to rule. In the north the Kushanshahs begin to rule under the control of the Sasanids. The region is only reunited under the Kidarites.
Al-Tabari did not write his history until hundred of years had passed. The history was probably based on official histories of the later Sasanian dynasty so Tabari can be relied upon as a well informed source. This does not exclude the distortions of time, space and personal propoganda that were present in his sources. This passage can be read to mean that Ardashir conquered the Kushan Empire or it can be taken as a piece of Ardashir's propoganda and quite meaningless.
On that day he [Ardashir] acquired the title Sahansah. Thereupon he marched to Hamadhan and took it by force, and likewise the remaining highlands, Adharbaigan, Armenia and (the district of) Mosul. Then he marched from Mosul to Suristan, i.e. the Sawad, took possession of it and built another town, which he called Beh-Ardasir, on the west bank of the Tigris opposite the town of Ctesiphon... Then he marched back from the Sawad to Istakhr, from there first to Sagistan, then to Gurgan, then to Abrasahr, Merv, Balkh and Khwarizm to the farthest boundaries of the provinces of Kohrasan, whereupon he returned to Merv. After he had killed many people and sent their heads to the Fire temple of Abrasahr he returned from Merv to Pars and settled in Gor. Then envoys of the king of the Kusan, of the kings of Turan and Mokran came to him with declarations of their submission.
On this monument is an inscription giving the provinces controlled by Shapur, the second king of the Sasanid Empire. It appears to include, at least the northern half of the Kushan Empire. Some scholars think this a gross exageration of what is only a nominal control and others think it a demonstration of a conquest early in Shapurs reign, c.248 AD.
The state of Shapur I, 'shahanshah of Iran and non-Iran', included Varkan, Merv, Harev, the whole of Abarshar, Kerman, Segistan, Turan, Makuran, Paradan, Hindustan (The Indus Region), Kusansahr up to Puskabur (Peshawar) and up to the boundaries of Kas, Sughd (Sogdia) and Sas (In other words all of Bactria and Gandhara).
This is part of a long digression in Ammianus listing all the provinces of Persia and the names and habits of the peoples who lived there. Tochari is the name that in earlier times Roman writers gave to the Yu-chi. It is clear that Ammianus source for this section did not know of a powerful Kidarite invasion or of a strong and semi-independant Kushanshah.
55. The lands next to these the Bactriani possess, a nation formerly warlike and very poowerful, and always at odds with the Persians, until they reduced all the peoples about them to submission and incorporated them under their own name. In ancient times they were ruled by kings who were formidable to Arsaces. 56. Many parts of this land, like Margiana, are widely seperated from the coast, but rich in vegetation; and the herds which graze on their planes and mountains are thick set, with strong limbs, as appears from the camels brought from there by Mithridates and seen for the first time by the Romans at the siege of Cyzicus. 57. Several peoples are subject to these same Bactrians, notably the Tochari, and like Italy the country is watered by many rivers.
Contents Page and Index
Chronology of Kushan History
Military History of the Kushans
Contacting the Author
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