Nicholas Sims-Williams, The Bactrian Inscription of Rabatak: A New Reading


The Rabatak inscription.

The Bactrian inscription of Rabatak in northern Afghanistan, discovered in 1993 and first published in 1996, has been hailed as "the most important discovery for Kushan history since the excavation of Surkh Kotal." It describes events in the first years of the reign of the Kushan ruler Kanishka I, including the extension of his power across northern India and his foundation of a temple at Rabatak, naming the gods worshipped there as well as Kanishka's ancestors back to his great grandfather Kujula Kadphises. The present article contains a revised edition of the text, the first to be based on autopsy of the original text (now preserved at the National Museum in Kabul), accompanied by a translation, a commentary on the new readings, and a comprehensive set of photographs.