AZILISES, Indo-Scythian king of the dynasty of Azes in the Indus valley about the beginning of the Christian era. Rare joint coins have the name of Azes as “great king of kings” in Greek or Kharoṣṭhī script and Azilises as “great king of kings” in the second legend (Whitehead, Punjab, p. 132). Herzfeld (AMI 4, 1931-32, pp. 97-98) makes these all references to one king, while Tarn (The Greeks in Bactria and India, Cambridge, 1951, p. 348) argued from this that Azes I associated Azilises with himself as co-ruler; but the supposed joint coinage is rare and may simply be the continued use of old dies at Azilises’ accession. The independent evidence of overstrikes and stratified finds establishes that Azes I was succeeded by Azilises and then by Azes II. Azilises struck coins with obverse legends in Greek and Kharoṣṭhī in the three mints that Azes I had used at Taxila, at Pushkalavati in Gandhara, and in the middle Indus; his copper coins have the same square denomination that Azes I had used. Silver tetradrachms of Azilises have been found in hoards with those of the Indo-Greek king Hippostratus in north Pakistan and Kashmir (Whitehead, NC, 1923, p. 338), and with silver coins of Azes I, Azes II, Hermaeus, and the Parthian king Orodes II (57-37 BCE) in the hoard from Mohmand, north of Shabkadar in Gandhara (G. K. Jenkins, JNSI, 1955, pp. 23-25). In stupa 4 at the Dharmarajika at Taxila, a silver drachm of Azilises was found in a votive deposit with a silver denarius of the Roman emperor Augustus, struck in Gaul between 2 BCE and CE 14 (J. H. Marshall, Taxila, Cambridge, 1951, pp. 277, 292). Azilises succeeded Azes I as king of kings in the Indus provinces towards the end of the first century BCE and continued to use his obverse coin type of the king as a horseman with a spear couched. He subsequently introduced a new obverse type of the king as a horseman holding a whip which was continued by his successor Azes II.
See also R. B. Whitehead, Catalogue of Coins in the Punjab Museum I, Oxford. 1914, pp. 132-41.
G. K. Jenkins, “Indo-Scythic Mints,” JNSI, 1955, pp. 1-26.
Camb. Hist. Iran III, pp. 196-97, 1030.
(D. W. MacDowall)
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 18, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 3, pp. 258-259
D. W. Mac Dowell, “AZILISES,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, III/3, pp. 258-259, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/azilises (accessed on 30 December 2012).