CHAPTER-16 : Iranian and Macedonian Invasions

Ancient History of India
Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Iranian Invasion of India

  • Conqueror:Darius, Achaemenian ruler of Iran (516 BCE)
  • Extent of Conquest:Punjab (west of Indus) and Sindh
  • Impact:
    • Increased Indo-Iranian trade
    • Introduction of Kharoshthi script (right-to-left writing)
    • Use of Iranian coins in northwest India
    • Architectural influence on Ashoka’s pillars
    • Potential influence on Ashoka’s edicts (terms and preamble)

Alexander’s Invasion of India


  • Led by Alexander the Great in 4th century BCE after defeating the Achaemenid Empire.

Favorable Conditions for Alexander:

  • Northwest India was divided into small, independent states.
  • Two key rulers: Ambhi (Taxila) and Porus (Jhelum-Chenab kingdom).

Invasion and Outcome:

  • Crossed Khyber Pass in 326 BCE.
  • Faced strongest resistance from Porus, who was ultimately defeated.


  • Encouraged political unification under the Mauryas.
  • Ended the system of small independent states.
  • Established direct contact between India and Greece.
  • Increased trade routes between India and West Asia.
  • Alexander’s authority was short-lived due to the Mauryan expansion

Political Conditions on the Eve of Alexander’s Invasion

  • Fragmentation:Numerous small kingdoms existed in northwest India.
    • Key rulers: Ambhi (Taxila), Abhisara, Porus (Jhelum-Chenab).
    • Republics like Nysa existed.
  • Disunity:Constant conflicts between these northwestern states.
    • Failure to form a common front against external threats.

Causes of Alexander’s Invasion

  • Expansionist Aims:Succeeding his father Philip in 334 BCE, Alexander conquered Persia.
    • Sought further conquests eastward and to reclaim the lost Persian Satrapy of India.
  • Allure of Wealth: Greek writings like Herodotus fueled his desire for India’s riches.
  • Scientific Curiosity:Interested in geographical exploration and natural history.
  • Misconceptions:Believed the eastern sea bordered India, marking the world’s edge.

The Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum)

  • 327 BCE:Alexander crossed the Hindu Kush Mountains, battling tribes for nearly a year.
  • February 326 BCE:Crossed the Indus River with a bridge of boats.
  • Taxila’s Support:Received a warm welcome from Ambhi, ruler of Taxila.
  • Porus’ Defiance:Refused to surrender to Alexander, leading to a clash.
  • Outcome:Despite a strong army, Porus was defeated. Alexander, impressed by his bravery, reinstated him.

Alexander’s Retreat

  • Advance to Beas River:Faced resistance from local tribes.
  • Soldier Fatigue:Troops refused to fight further, yearning for home.
  • Return and Legacy:
    • Alexander made arrangements for conquered territories.
    • Divided the Indus-Beas region into three provinces with governors.
    • Experienced attacks from republican tribes during retreat.
    • Fell ill and died in Babylon (323 BCE).
    • His authority in India was short-lived due to the rise of the Mauryas.

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