Master horsemen and horse traders, Kambojas never leave an opportunity to plunder using their light horse troops. Living on both sides of the Khyber Pass, they were a part of the "Arya" races which stormed and conquered India, some 1500 years before. Their own name was a mistaken identity by the Helllenes of Alexandros who called them "Assakenoi" whereas they were "Asvaka" or "horsemen" in Sanskrit. Losing badly to Alexander, they befriended his descendants, their Greco-Baktrian overlords and along with them they invaded India reaching as far as present day Bangladesh. They repeated this feat, but with their new Lords, the Sakae who overran Greek Baktria in the end of 1st centrury BCE. Their helmet is an evolved Boiotian one, and their primary cuirass is a quilted silk one. Untreated (so called "dirty") silk had very good anti-missile qualities, which Kambojas facing Indian foot archers and Steppen Horse archers would deffinitely appreciate. They wear Iranian dotted pantaloons and have pteryges to cover their genitals. Their weapons are clearly Hellenic: round "Aspis" shield, a short kontos spear that could be held underarm in a stance reminding that of the knights, and a sturdy kopis for the time when the spear gave way. It is safe to assume that they would show the same faith to all their overlords, whoever they might be.
Historically, Kamboja, were among the westernmost of the 16 or so nations (mahajanapadas) which comprised the Archaic (Vedic) Indian world. IndoIranians to the utmost, they presumably took the name from river Kabul (then named Kaboj) or from Kam(region)-used mostly in those areas to this date- and Bhoja(owner). They must have a major impact on the Achaimenid Persians who conquered them, as Cyrus the great (Kurush) named his son Kambyses (Kambujiya) the 3rd, presumably after a Mythical hero, Kambujiya (Kamboja of Shantiparava),who led the Iranians against a Vedic king Kuvalashava, defeating him in the battle and wresting a prized sword from his lineage. Thus, it can be easily understood that common language and mythical bonds made Achaimenids and Kambojas friendly to one another.
This good relation with their overlords would change later, as the Kamboja clans–the Aspasioi of Kunar/Alishang valleys, the Guraeans of the Guraeus (Panjkora) valley and the Assakenoi of the Swat and Buner valleys fought the Makedones to a man. When worse came to worst, even the Assakenoi(Ashvakayanas) Kamboj women had taken up arms and fought the invaders side by side with their husbands, thus preferring "a glorious death to a life of dishonor". In fact Alexander spent a couple of years at present day Afghanistan and NW Pakistan fighting Kamboja clans. These highlanders, designated as "parvatiya Ayudhajivinah" in Panini's Astadhyayi were rebellious, fiercely independent and freedom-loving clans who never easily yielded to any overlord. Modern historians have this to say on them ...."It was indeed a hard work for Alexander to take their strongholds, of which Massaga and Aornus need special mention (A. K. Narain, 'Alexander the Great') and "A tribute must be made to the vision and sagacity of Alexander because he realised that without reducing these highlanders, his march into India would neither be secure nor effective."(History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 225, Dr Buddha Prakash). This was the wonder and the tragedy of those people. That they controled the way to India, thus they had to be either conquered or destroyed.
Survivors were a lot less willing to fight off superior forces than their ancestors. Instead they played along with the plans of their overlords and managed to survive and prosper. They must have been hellenized to a degree, as is evident by the following excrept of Assalaya Sutta of Majjhima Nikaya, the second book of the Sutta Pitaka (written probably around the end of first century BCE or 2nd centruy AD)- Buddha says:"Have you heard that in the countries of Yona(yonaratthan) [greek territory] and Kamboja (kambojaratthan) and other adjacent districts there are only two castes, master and slave? And having been a master one becomes a slave? Having been a slave, one becomes a Master? - Yes, I have heard this, Sir, in Yona and Kamboja...having been a slave, one becomes a master." If we compare this to the Asoka's 13th edict where the country of the Yonas is mentioned as the only place where the caste system doesn't exist. Of course it was written more than 100 years earlier than that Buddhist script. Kambojas took part willingly in the Baktrian invasion of India which must have led to the creation of the separate Indo-Greek state by 186 BCE (time when the Indo-Greek calendar begins) and as a spoil of war, they were allowed to settle along their Indo-Greek Overlords in India, both all along the Indus river and in the center of India Mathura and eastern on.
Indians wrote the following, according to Majjhima Nikaya 43.1.3. ; Ganapatha II.1.72; Harivamsa 14.16. "Both people are attested to follow common culture, social customs and manners like supporting short cropped hair, non-entertainment of Brahmanas in their countries and observing two varna=caste/class (Arya and Dasa=master and slave) social system instead of chatur-varna observed by the Indo-Aryans ". Greco-Baktrians managed to control western and Central India in a few decades. That wouldn't have been possible without the help of Buddhist local population (who were persecuted by the Hindu majority), and their vassals, Bahlikas (Baktrioi Hippeis) and Kamboja Asvaka Ksatriyas, excellent horsemen, to compliment their own cavalry, chosen Phallanxes, Hypaspistai and Agemata.
Manusmriti (X/43-44) lists the Yavanas with the Kambojas, Sakas, Pahlavas, Paradas etc and regards them as degraded Kshatriyas (members of the warrior caste). Hence the "Ksatriya" in its name.
The "Yonakambojesu" expression (Yonas and Kambojas alike) in Ashoka's Thirteen Rock Edict as well as in the Majjhima Nikaya powerfully attest very close relations of the Kambojas with the Yavanas. Mahabharata contains references to Yavanas and Kambojas having conquered Mathura. Kambojas had also entered India and spread into whole of North India, especially in (present day) Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. According to Agni Purana (A hindu holy text), it locates two Kamboja settlements in India itself. Kambhoja in south-west India and Kamboja in southern parts of India, even if it can be debated that this account was much later than our timeline.
When the Saka-Rauka conquered the Baktrian state, and were preparing to move into India to fight the Indo-Greeks. Along with 4 other tribes (Bahlikas, Parama Kambojas, Rishikas, Paradas) they were among the armies of the Saka-Rauka who invaded and occupied India.
Illustrious traders that they were, they reached even unto Taprobane, present day Sri Lanka. Cave inscriptions found in Anuradhapura which strongly attest the existence of one Kamboja Sangha (Goshatha) and Grand Kamboja Guilds in ancient Sinhala. These inscriptions are believed to belong to second century BCE (Dr S. Paranavitana). Later on, centuries later a Kamboja trader is said to have reached into a country in Indochina, whose reign he acquired, giving it the name of his people. Presently it is known as Cambodia.
Throughout the Indian literature, the Kambojas are honoured for their horses. All major Indian religions have a lot to say about them. Jain Canon Uttaradhyana-Sutra informs us that a trained Kamboja horse exceeded all other horses in speed and no noise could ever frighten it. The epics, Puranas and numerous other ancient Sanskrit texts all agree that the horses of the Kamboja, Bahlika and Sindhu regions were the finest breed.Sauptikaparva of Mahabharata ranks the horses from Kamboja as of the finest breed. Bhishamaparva of Mahabharata refers to the quality war horses from various lands and puts the steeds from the Kamboja at the head of the list specifically styling them as the leaders (Mukhyanam) among the best breed of horses.