The Shunga Empire ( IAST : Śuṅga ) was an ancient Indian dynasty from Magadha that controlled areas of the central and eastern Indian subcontinent from around 187 to 78 BCE. The dynasty was established by Pushyamitra Shunga , after the fall of the Maurya Empire . Its capital was Pataliputra , but later emperors such as Bhagabhadra also held court at Besnagar (modern Vidisha ) in eastern Malwa . [1]

Pushyamitra Shunga ruled for 36 years and was succeeded by his son Agnimitra . There were ten Shunga rulers. However, after the death of Agnimitra, the second king of the dynasty, the empire rapidly disintegrated [2] : inscriptions and coins indicate that much of northern and central India consisted of small kingdoms and city-states that were independent of any Shunga hegemony. [3] The dynasty is noted for its numerous wars with both foreign and indigenous powers. They fought the Kalinga , the Satavahana dynasty , the Indo-Greek Kingdom and possibly the Panchalas and Mathuras .

Art, education, philosophy, and other forms of learning flowered during this period including small terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and architectural monuments such as the stupa at Bharhut , and the renowned Great Stupa at Sanchi . Shunga rulers helped to establish the tradition of royal sponsorship of learning and art. The script used by the empire was a variant of Brahmi script and was used to write Sanskrit .

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