Coin of Azes I.
Obv: Azes I in military dress, on a horse, with couched spear. Greek legend: BASILEOS BASILEON MEGALOU AZOU "of the Great King of Kings Azes". British Museum.
|Reign||c. 48–46 – 25 BCE|
Although Maues and his successors had conquered the areas of Gandhara, as well as the area of Mathura from 85 BCE, they were unsuccessful against the Indo-Greek kings remaining behind the Jhelum River in eastern Punjab.
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. It is now corroborated that the Azes era started in fact in 58/57 BCE. Both dates give not only against Falk who arbitrarily interpreted the exact dates of the inscription presented by him as well as the date of one other well-known since long time ago. Both dates inform us not only about year and day (tithi of the bright or dark half) of a month, but also in which nakṣatra or asterism the moon was at that very moment. The first one is a donor inscription of a certain Ramaka from a village named Kudi in the Gandhāra area, dated 3rd Aśvayuj 74 of the Azēs era, nakṣatra Aśvayuj (Fussman1980, 5-16).This date can only be verified by using the conventional starting year 57 BCE. As the given nakṣatra Aśvayuj ("Aśvinī") covers 0°0’ to 13°20’ on theecliptic, this corresponds with the calculated 4°49’ on 28 August 17 AD, interpreting the 3rd Aśvayuj as the 3rd tithi of the dark half of that month according to the pūrṇimānta system. However, Falk (2010, 24) has some doubt about the interpretation of the reading of the nakṣatra – in the original aśpaü- which he interpreted as Bhādrapadā, a reading which is to my opinion very difficult to explain because there is no nakṣatra with the pure name Bhādrapadā, but only the nakṣatras Pūrva- (earlier) and Uttara- (later) Bhādrapadā. His argumentsagainst the presented calculation („If this identification [the reading „Aśvayuj"] were correct, the full moon would be in the nakṣatra āśvina at the beginning of the month and the progressing moon would three days later still occupy the same nakṣatra. Somehow, this unlikely.") does not stand a proof. In fact, on the full-moon day of the month Āśvina, e.g. on 25 August 17 AD, the moon was in the nakṣatra Pūrvabhādrapadā. Even if we follow his new interpretation, calculating the date by using his starting year 47/46 BC , the result would be 9 August 27 AD according to the pūrṇimānta system, but the moon was at that time in the nakṣatra Revatī. Even in a current year which corresponds to 18 August 26 AD, the nakṣatra again is Revatī. In his article Falk presented another date of the Azēs era bearing a nakṣatra (2010,17-19): „Year121 of the Azēs era, on the 13th day of the month Gorpiaios, in the Nakṣatra Uttaraproṣṭhapadā.".His comment and interpretation to this date unmask his lack of understanding, as a full coincidence with all given informations is required: „This corresponds to a day in the latter half of August, AD 74. Most welcome is the precise definition of the nakṣatra, given as uttaraproṣṭhapada. This constellation is adjoining pisces. In AD 74, the full moon was on 25 August, standing precisely in pisces. If day 13 finds the moon close to the place where the full moon takes place, then the month must have started with the new moon."Both statements are true, the latter one showing that here the āmānta system was used what is necessary in order that the moon is standing or at least is coming "close" to the given nakṣatra, but this is true for every year.On this full-moon day the moon was in the Nakṣatra Pūrvaproṣṭhapadā (320°00ʼ-333°20ʼ). Therefore, the 13th Gorpiaios corresponds to 23 August 74 AD., but on this day the moon was in the Nakṣatra Dhaniṣṭhā (293°20ʼ-306°40ʼ) which is indeed close to Uttaraproṣṭhapadā (333°20ʼ-346°40ʼ), but we are looking for a date, at which the moon was precisely in the given moon-house and not close to it. Taking again into consideration that the year 57 BCE was the starting point of the Azēs era, we have the two possibilities of an elapsed and a current year. The calculation for an elapsed year has as result 12 September 64 AD, but the moon was on this day in the Nakṣatra Pūrvaproṣṭhapadā (ca.328°07ʼ), which is very much closer to the required moon-house than the date of Falk, but nevertheless also wrong. Only the calculation for a current year is satisfying: Its result is 24 September 63 AD, when the moon was really in Uttaraproṣṭhapadā (ca. 339°50ʼ). I think, it is not necessary to go into further detail (Golzio 2012, 211-212). So it is clear that the Azēs era is the same as the later era known as the Malwa or Vikrama era.
(In Arachosia and Gandhara)
(In the western Punjab)
- Falk and Bennett (2009), pp. 197-215.
- For discussions refer to Bracey, R. (2005) 'The Azes Era' (http://www.kushan.org/essays/chronology/azesvikrama.htm), 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
- Harry Falk and Chris Bennett (2009). "Macedonian Intercalary Months and the Era of Azes." Acta Orientalia 70, pp. 197-215.
- Harry Falk (2010). „Signature Phrases, Azes dates, Nakṣatras and Some New Reliquary Inscriptions from Gandhara"; in: 創価大学国際仏教学高等研究所 年報 [Sōka Daigaku kokusai bukkyōgaku kōtō kenkyūsho nenpō].Annual Report of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University for the Academic Year 2009, Vol. XIII (2010), 15-33.Fussman1980
- Gérard Fussman (1980). „Nouvelles inscriptions śaka: ère d’Eucratide, ère d’Azes, ère Vikrama, ère de Kaniṣka", BEFEO LXVII, 1-43.
- Karl-Heinz Golzio (2012), "The Calendar Systems of Ancient India and Their spread to Southeast Asia." Figurations of Time in Asia, ed. by Dietrich Boschung and Corinna Wessels-Mevissen, München: Wilhelm Fink
- "The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies" by Thomas McEvilley (Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts, 2002) ISBN 1-58115-203-5
- "The Greeks in Bactria and India", W.W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.