Alchon Huns

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Alchon Huns

Tamga of the Alchon Huns

Alchon territories prior to 500 CE.
Capital Kapisa
Languages Brahmi and Bactrian (written)
Religion Buddhism, Hinduism
Government Nomadic empire
 •  430 – 461 Khingila
 •  461-493 Mehama
 •  493 – 515 Toramana
 •  515–540 Mihirakula
 •  540-570 Toramana II
Historical era Late Antiquity
 •  Established 380
 •  Disestablished 560
Currency Hunnic Drachm
Preceded by
Succeeded by
[[Sassanian Empire]]
[[Gupta Empire]]
[[Nezak Huns]]
[[Turk shahi]]
Today part of  Afghanistan

The Alchon Huns were the second of the four groups of huna people that established states in central and southern Asia. The Alchons appeared in the area of the Hindukush and later expanded to the Punjab. We know of the names of the Alchon kings from their extensive coinage and from inscriptions in buddhist stupas.


Portraits of Alchon Tegins
Silver drachm of Khingila
Silver drachm of Mehama
Mihirakula Coin.jpg
Silver drachm of Mihirakula
Bronze coin of Toramana II
Pillar of Yashodharman at Sondani, Mandsaur claiming victory over Mihirakula of the Alchons in 528.

The Alchon Huns emerge in Kapisa around 380, taking over Kabulistan from the Sassanian Persians, at the same time the Kidarites (Red Huns) ruled in Bactria and Ghandara. Around 430 king Khingila, the most notable Alchon ruler, emerges and takes control of Ghandhara from the Kidarites. The rest of the 5th century marks a period of territorial expansion and eponymous kings (Tegins), several of which appear to have overlapped and ruled jointly. In 460, the Alchons conquered Taxila. They reached their maximum territorial extent around 500 CE, with king Toramana pushing deep into Indian territory, reaching Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and ultimately contributing to the downfall of the Gupta Empire.[1]

The Alchons in India declined rapidly around the same time that the Hephthalites, another hunnic group to the North, were defeated by an alliance between the Sassanians and the Western Turkic Kaghanate. The Alchon king Mihirakula was defeated in 528 by an alliance of Indian principalities led by Yasodharman, the Aulikara king of Malwa, in the battle of Sondani, which resulted in the loss of Alchon possessions in the Punjab and north India by 542. The Alchons withdraw to [[Kashmir and back west across the Khyber pass, where coinage suggests that they merge with the Nezak Huns. Eventually the Nezak-Alchons are replaced by the Turk shahi dynasty.[2]


Ancient sources refer to the Alchons and associated groups ambiguously with various names, such as huna in Indian texts, and Xionites in Greek texts. Xuanzang chronicled with more detail some of the later history of the Alchons. Modern archeology has provided valuable insight into reconstructing the history of the Alchons. The most significant cataloguing of the Alchon dynasty came in 1967 by Robert Göbl's analysis of the coinage of the "Iranian Huns"[3] This work documented the names of partial chronology of Alchon kings, beginning with Khingila. The next significant contribution to our understanding of Alchon history came in 2006 when Gudrun Melzer and Lore Sander published their finding of a copper scroll dated to 492/3 that mentions the four Alchon kings Khingila, Toramana, Javukha, and Mehama (who was reigning at the time) as donors to a Buddhist reliquary stupa.[4] In 2012, the Kunsthistorisches Museum completed a reanalysis of previous finds together with a large number of new coins that appeared on the antiquities market during the Second Afghan Civil War.[2] This work redefines the timeline and narrative of the Alchons and related peoples, and is the current authoritative work on the Iranian Huns.

Alchon Tegins[edit]

The rulers of the Alchons practiced skull deformation, as evidenced from their coins, a practice shared with the Huns that migrated into Europe. The names of the first Alchon rulers do not survive. Starting from 430 CE, names of Alchon kings, assuming the title "Tegin", survive on coins[3] and religious inscriptions:[4]

  • Khingila (c.430 - 490 CE)
  • Javukha/Zabocho (c. mid 5th - early 6th CE)
  • Mehama (461 - 493 CE)
  • Lakhana Udayaditya (c. 490's CE)
  • Aduman
  • Toramana (c.490 - 515 CE)
  • Mihirakula (c.515 - 540 CE)
  • Toramana II (c.530 - 570 CE)
  • Narana/Narendra (c.570 - 600 CE)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jason Neelis (19 November 2010). Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks: Mobility and Exchange Within and Beyond the Northwestern Borderlands of South Asia. BRILL. pp. 162–. ISBN 90-04-18159-8. 
  2. ^ a b Klaus Vondrovec (2014). Coinage of the Iranian Huns and Their Successors from Bactria to Gandhara (4th to 8th Century CE). ISBN 978-3-7001-7695-4. 
  3. ^ a b Robert Göbl (1967). Dokumente zur Geschichte der iranischen Hunnen in Baktrien und Indien. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. GGKEY:4TALPN86ZJB. 
  4. ^ a b Gudrun Melzer; Lore Sander (2006). Jens Braarvig, ed. A Copper Scroll Inscription from the Time of the Alchon Huns. Buddhist manuscripts. 3. Hermes Pub. pp. 251–278. together with the great Íahi Khiãgila, together with the god-king Toramana, together with the mistress of a great monastery Sasa, together with the great sahi Mehama, together with Sadavikha, together with the great king Javukha, the son of Sadavikha, during the reign of Mehama. 

External links[edit]