The Achaemenid Expansion to the Indus and Alexander’s Invasion of North-West South Asia

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK

2 Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania


There is a range of evidence that informs us about the organisation of the Achaemenid Empire, but our understanding of
the eastern-most reaches of the empire, which lie within the bounds of modern-day Pakistan is relatively limited. While
there is evidence for the eastern provinces in imperial art and references to them in Achaemenid Royal inscriptions, the
archaeological record in the subcontinent is far more ephemeral and less straightforward to interpret. Some of the clearest
information about these eastern regions comes from the historians who wrote about the conquest of Alexander at the
end of the 4th century BC. The evidence for the Achaemenid period in the east is also informed by an understanding of
the archaeological evidence from the preceding periods, which implies that the Achaemenid Empire annexed existing
regional entities during the 6th century BC, and employed a layered administrative system in the east that saw differing
degrees of control exerted in different regions.