Writing about the Indo-Egyptian trade, he says: “India supplied Egypt with ivory, tortoise-shell, pearls, pigments and dyes (especially indigo), rice, and various spices, e.g., pepper, nard, costus, mala-bath room, some rare woods, various medicinal substances, and cotton and silk.

The routes of immemorial antiquity which connected India with Babylonia were, for the most part, far more frequented, more important and better developed (than the more northerly route).

They converged on Seleucia on the Tigris, the great political and commercial city of Seleucus I, the eastern capital of that king and his successors, the inheritor of Babylon’s pre­eminence. A channel of Indian trade not less important than that by the Persian Gulf was provided by the ancient roads across the Iranian plateau to Seleucia.

Transport by these routes, long and difficult as it was, was nevertheless safer and perhaps cheaper than by the Persian Gulf, since their whole course lay in Seleucid territory. It was probably to secure the safety of these routes that Seleucus gave up his claims to part of India and preferred peaceful traffic with Chandragupta and his empire of Magadha to continuous and ruinous war.


Through cordial relations and repeated embassies (such as 4hose of Megas- thenes and later of Daimachus) the Seleucids en­sured a steady supply of war elephants and of Indian wares. When communications with India were endangered by the secession of Bactria and Parthia, Antiochus III launched his famous ex­pedition, which led to an entente cordiale with Bactria and a temporary withdrawal of the Parthian, and re-established for some time the supremacy of the Seleucids along the routes in question.

In order to facilitate Bactrian trade with India, Antiochus I at the time of his joint rule with Seleucus (285-280 B.C.) made a special issue of coins of the Indian instead of the Attic stand­ard.” The existence of a brisk commercial inter­course with foreign lands along various routes doubtless had a large part in suggesting to Asoka the great idea of sending his missions to these lands to spread the gospel of Buddhism.