Indo-Skythian and Indo-Parthian 110 BC - 75 AD

Dry. Ag 2. Rv, H(S), H(G), O, E, Rgo, Rd, BUA.
Nominal list scale: 1 element equals 256 men (normal scale)

C-in-C - as catafracts, Irr Kn (F) @ 19 AP 1
Sub-general - as above 0-2
Catafracts - Irr Kn (F) @ 9 AP 5-20
Horse archers - Irr LH (F) @ 4 AP 20-100
Mountain spearmen - Irr Ax (X) @ 3 AP 4*-8
Mountain archers - Irr Ps (O) @ 2 AP 2*-6
Mountain cavalry - Irr LH (O) @ 5 AP 0*-6

Only Indo-Skythian from 90 BC to 5 AD:
Downgrade sub-general to ally-general - Irr Kn (F) @ 14 AP 0-1
Indian levies - Irr Hd (O) @ 1 AP 4**-12
Elephants - Irr El (O) @ 16 AP 1**-4
Indo-Greek allies - List: Graeco-Bactrian and Graeco-Indian (Bk 2)

Only Indo-Parthian after 88 BC:
Upgrade catafracts to Irr Kn (X) @ 21 AP if general, @ 11 AP otherwise All/none
Indian levies - Irr Hd (O) @ 1 AP 0**-6
Elephants - Irr El (O) @ 16 AP 0**-2
Indo-Saka allies - List: Indo-Skythian and Indo-Parthian

The Skythians that had moved south after overrunning Bactria with the Yueh-chi first attacked Parthia, inflicting a number of defeats before consolidating their position in the Hindu Kush region which marks the start of this list. They soon obtained a foothold in the Indus basin, causing the demise of the Graeco-Indian states and founding a large empire that broke up before being adsorbed by the Indo-Parthians and the Kushans. The Indo-Parthians were very similar, and emerged as an independent satrapy in the anarchy following the death of the Parthian King Mithradates II. Gondophares proclaimed himself king some time around 1 AD; the kingdom was conquered by the Kushans. Minima marked * only apply if any items so marked are used. Minima marked ** only apply if any items so marked are used. Catafracts that dismount do so as Bw.


It has been suggested that the Indo-Skythians and Indo-Parthians are one and the same, given the simlarity of their coinage and the names on the coins, although I am not convinced by this thesis. In any event, if they are the same people, this list, by giving the two almost identical army lists, should not err too greatly from the truth.

List dates: All the dates in this list are rather speculative, as many of them are based purely on evidence derived from coins. The lists starts with the Indo-Skythians having consolidated their position in what is now Afghanistan, which seems too have been around 110 BC (since they were by then issuing coins) and ends when the independent kingdom of the Indo-Parthians seems to have terminated. Minor Indo-parthian satraps may have continued in existance well beyond this date, as indeed can be demonstrably by coinage issues of Indo-Skythian satraps after their kingdom terminated at the start opf the first century AD.

Agression: 2 seems suitable given the conquest of the Indo-Greeks etc and their own conquest by the Kushans; too little evidence is avaiable to warrent a breakdown into seprate agression scores for early and late periods.

Climate: Dry is natural given the geopgraphy of the area; Cold could perhaps be an option for the Indo-Skythians before they moved into the Indus basin ca. 90 BC, but even Afghanistan around Khabul can easily be classified as Dry.

Terrain: I have disallowed WW since although their power extended to the Indus, it was somewhat peripeheral to both state's heartlands, which remained more to the west. The current Indo-Parthian options for the Parthian list do not get their own separate terrain, and thus have no access to H(S); a striking omission given the mountainous nature of the area.

List scale: There is essentially no evidence for army sizes available, other than by way of comparison with other Parthian or Skythian or Indo-Greek armies. These would indicate the standard scale of 1 elemnt equals 256 men is suitable. The exact number of elements allowed is thus somewhat arbitrary, and the list is esentially geared around proportions.

Generals: Coinage depicts kings on horseback, naturally enough for peoples with such a strong nomadic tradition. Indo-Skythian rulers are shown heavily armoured but riding unarmoured horses, and carrying a long heavy lance, the kontos. Indo-Parthian rulers are also shown on unarmoured horses, although depicted bearing a symbol of some sort, possibly a whip, rather than a lance. They were probably equipped in a similar manner, although there is the very distinct possibility that in battle they rode armoured horses like other Parthians, hence the option for Kn (X). The option for an Indo-Sythian ally general is because two co-reigning leaders are known at one point, with the names of both appearing on coins. It is likely that each ruled a separate (and rival) 'state' rather than being genuine co-rulers in the sense of say Spartan kings. Despite the Indo-Scythians having taken over facets of the Indo-Greek military organisation, keeping such titles as 'strategos' (ie. general) intact, I do not believe this can justify any upgrading to regular status.

Catafracts: Although bowcases do not seem to figure on the coins of kings, but the details are blurred and in any case depict horses on one side only so that they may be hidden. Bows are likely to have been carried because most central-Asian heavy cavalry that did not have horse armour carried bows, such as Sarmatians and Alans; coins showing kings sitting on thrones also show them holding a bow as a symbol of their military power. It is true that an earlier Skythian horsemen is depicted ca. 300 BC riding an armoured horse and wielding a kontos which may justify categorization as Kn (X), however it is not clear if the armour is quite comprehensive enough to justify being Kn (X); and in any case, Alans on armoured horses are still Kn (F) because they are described as charging rapidly. Since the Indo-Skythian kings are shown with their lance, it should be assumed they are in martial garb, and that the ommission of horse armour is significant. I have left the numbers of catafracts quite variable as we simply do not know what proportion of the army was catafracts and what was horse archers.

Horse archers: I can see no reason to grade these as anything other than LH (F); although the Skythians on the steppes seemed to have usually fielded subtantial numbers of infantry, presumably mostly archers, this does not seem to have been the case with those in India: the Indian epic the Mahabbarata seems to say the warriors of the Shaka (ie. Saka, or Skythians) were entirely horse-borne.

Mountain troops: the numbers of infantry allowed in the current Indo-Parthian list seems altogether too few to my mind - especially given the ratio of foot to horse allowed. The current list also makes them compulsory which I believe is a mistake; Skythian and Parthian forces should be allowed to field entirely mounted forces, even in India, given the Mahabbarata description noted above.

Indian levies: I allow more for the Indo-Skythians whose rule was geographically much more based in India than that of the Indian-Parthians, the same applies to Elephants.

Elephants: These are somewhat speculative, but this is most likely only because the evidence is so limited. Caertainly all other armies from this region used them; most pertinently the states these people conquered - Indo-Bactrians and Indo-Greeks, and those that conquered them - the Kushans.

This page last modified 18 July, 2002.

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