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Indo-Parthian AE of Abdagases


Parthicus
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I have some free time today, so I will start to research and ID my Baltimore haul. First: a coin that I (correctly) guessed was Indo-Parthian:

image.jpeg.b8aeabd2baf56dff51a53684abcf73d0.jpeg

Indo-Parthians, province of Arachosia. AE tetradrachm. Abdagases (c. 55-110 AD). Obverse: Bust of king right, legend in Greek clockwise around [Basile]ws swt[eros Abdagasou] (Of the King and Savior Abdagases). Reverse: Winged Nike standing right, holding a wreath, legend in Kharoshthi script counterclockwise around Maharaja[sa tratarasa Avadagasha]sa (Of the King and Savior Abdagases). Mitchiner "Ancient and Classical World" 2542-3. This coin: Purchased from Tamco Numismatics at the Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo, October 2022.

The Indo-Parthian dynasty was descended from Scythian tribesmen who settled in what is now Afghanistan and northern Pakistan in the late 2nd century BC. The Indo-Parthians proper begin with Gondophares, a prince of Sakastan (in western Afghanistan) and subject to the Parthians, declared his independence from his Parthian overlords in about 20 AD. Gondophares then conquered territory to his east from Indo-Scythians and remaining Indo-Greeks, but was unable to advance to the north due to the early Kushan empire. Here's a map of the Indo-Parthian territory during Gondophares' reign:

image.png.56837ed0906553af2348984ad112b886.png

(map is public domain, from Wikipedia)

Gondophares was succeeded by his nephew Abdagases (c.55-110 AD). During Abdagases' reign the Indo-Parthian kingdom began to decline, with the ascendant Kushan Empire taking much of their territory. While the Indo-Parthians never again became a major force, the last Indo-Parthian rulers survived until the end of the Parthian kingdom in the 220s AD, as the new Sasanian empire asserted its dominion in the region.

I bought this coin unattributed from a "your pick for $25" pile of Indo-Greek, Indo-Parthian, Indo-Scythian, etc. bronze coins. I guessed that it was Indo-Greek, based on the portrait style which seemed familiar. However, attributing this coin to Abdagases rather than Gondophares proved tricky. Their portrait style is identical, and the key portion of the inscription that names the king is off the flan for both the Greek and Kharoshthi script. Providentially, the surviving portion of the Greek inscription includes two clear omegas and two clear sigmas, and both the sigma and omega are written in later variant forms (omega as W and sigma as C). All the examples I could find with both variant Greek letters that could be attributed to a specific king were assigned to Abdagases. Therefore, I am fairly confident that this coin is of Abdagases. This coin was a good deal price-wise, and I enjoyed the intellectual puzzle of trying to attribute it with key portions of the legend missing. Please post your Indo-Parthian coins, or whatever else is related.

 

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35 minutes ago, Parthicus said:

I have some free time today, so I will start to research and ID my Baltimore haul. First: a coin that I (correctly) guessed was Indo-Parthian:

image.jpeg.b8aeabd2baf56dff51a53684abcf73d0.jpeg

Indo-Parthians, province of Arachosia. AE tetradrachm. Abdagases (c. 55-110 AD). Obverse: Bust of king right, legend in Greek clockwise around [Basile]ws swt[eros Abdagasou] (Of the King and Savior Abdagases). Reverse: Winged Nike standing right, holding a wreath, legend in Kharoshthi script counterclockwise around Maharaja[sa tratarasa Avadagasha]sa (Of the King and Savior Abdagases). Mitchiner "Ancient and Classical World" 2542-3. This coin: Purchased from Tamco Numismatics at the Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo, October 2022.

The Indo-Parthian dynasty was descended from Scythian tribesmen who settled in what is now Afghanistan and northern Pakistan in the late 2nd century BC. The Indo-Parthians proper begin with Gondophares, a prince of Sakastan (in western Afghanistan) and subject to the Parthians, declared his independence from his Parthian overlords in about 20 AD. Gondophares then conquered territory to his east from Indo-Scythians and remaining Indo-Greeks, but was unable to advance to the north due to the early Kushan empire. Here's a map of the Indo-Parthian territory during Gondophares' reign:

image.png.56837ed0906553af2348984ad112b886.png

(map is public domain, from Wikipedia)

Gondophares was succeeded by his nephew Abdagases (c.55-110 AD). During Abdagases' reign the Indo-Parthian kingdom began to decline, with the ascendant Kushan Empire taking much of their territory. While the Indo-Parthians never again became a major force, the last Indo-Parthian rulers survived until the end of the Parthian kingdom in the 220s AD, as the new Sasanian empire asserted its dominion in the region.

I bought this coin unattributed from a "your pick for $25" pile of Indo-Greek, Indo-Parthian, Indo-Scythian, etc. bronze coins. I guessed that it was Indo-Greek, based on the portrait style which seemed familiar. However, attributing this coin to Abdagases rather than Gondophares proved tricky. Their portrait style is identical, and the key portion of the inscription that names the king is off the flan for both the Greek and Kharoshthi script. Providentially, the surviving portion of the Greek inscription includes two clear omegas and two clear sigmas, and both the sigma and omega are written in later variant forms (omega as W and sigma as C). All the examples I could find with both variant Greek letters that could be attributed to a specific king were assigned to Abdagases. Therefore, I am fairly confident that this coin is of Abdagases. This coin was a good deal price-wise, and I enjoyed the intellectual puzzle of trying to attribute it with key portions of the legend missing. Please post your Indo-Parthian coins, or whatever else is related.

 

Curiously on these, the Kharosthi legend is actually "maharajasa avadagashasa tratarasa"; the "tra" in "tratarasa" appears to be visible on your example. I do think you're right about the round letter forms indicating that this is Abdagases, though it's a shame about the names being off the flan.

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Thanks @velarfricative for the correction on the Kharoshthi legend.  I was relying on Mitchiner for the word order in the missing section, and wasn't confident in my ability to read the weak traces of legend in the 1-3 o'clock section of the reverse.

@Spaniard: I've been busy again the last few days, but will try to write up more coins as soon as I have time.  Definitely an interesting haul, worthy of a few hours hunched over reference books...

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