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A square deal: Two new square Bactrian and Indo-Scythian bronzes


Parthicus
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I've worked up two more coins from my Whitman Baltimore haul and am ready to present my findings:

image.jpeg.954e309c60c4d50aa39a8a06e7a4a2ef.jpeg

Coin 1: Bactria. AE square obol (21 x 19 mm). Eukratides I (171-135 BC). Obverse: Helmeted bust right, 3-line Greek legend around "[Bas]ilews Megalou [Eukratidou] (Of the great king Eukratides). Reverse: The Dioskouroi on horseback, two-line Kharoshthi legend above and below "Maharajasa [Evukratidasa]" (Of the great king Eukratides). MACW 1730-1732, This coin: Purchased from Tamco Numismatics at the Baltimore Whitman Coin Expo, October 2022.

image.jpeg.b3b51b3a511f416b98a96e583cbfbf86.jpeg

Coin 2: Indo-Scythians. AE square trichalkon (22 x 22 mm). Taxila mint. Obverse: King on horseback right, 4-line Greek legend around "[Bas]ilews basileon megalou [Azilisou]" (of the great king of kings Azilises). Reverse: Herakles seated left holding club, Kharoshthi legend around. MACW 2286. This coin: Purchased from Tamco Numismatics at the Baltimore Whitman Coin Expo, October 2022.

(Some historical sections below recycled from earlier posts of mine.)

Bactria was a territory containing land in what is now Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. The area was conquered by Alexander the Great, and it devolved on his Seleucid successors before breaking away and calving its own line of secessionist Indo-Greek kingdoms. Eukratides I became king of Bactria in 171 BC by overthrowing his predecessor, Euthydemus I, although it is unclear if Eukratides was a disgruntled Bactrian army officer or if he was a relative of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV who headed to the Wild East to try and reclaim lost Seleucid territory. (The start date of Eukratides' reign is set at 171 BC because of a historical mention by Justin that Eukratides of Bactria took power at the same time as Mithradates I of Parthia. If you've read anything about the difficulties in our understanding of Parthian history, you realize how insane it sounds to use Parthian history as a fixed point for dating other events.) Eukratides would go on to have military success against his Indo-Greek neighbors, but he lost some of his western territory, including the city of Herat (in modern Afghanistan) to Mithradates I of Parthia. He is considered one of the most important Bactrian kings, and he issued a large amount of coinage. While the king's name is off the flan on both sides, the designs are sufficient to narrow down the identification.

The Indo-Scythians were originally a nomadic people who conquered a large region in the northern and north-western Indian subcontinent around the mid-2nd century BC. Unfortunately, the details of Indo-Scythian history are poorly understood, as very few historical sources survive; Indo-Scythian history makes Parthian history look complete and uncontroversial. Azilises appears to have co-reigned with Azes I, although some scholars hold that Azes I and Azes II were actually one long-lived king. It is known that shortly after the reign of Azes II, the nascent Kushan Empire conquered Taxila and surrounding territories, as they expanded at the expense of the Indo-Scythians. The city of Taxila, located in what is now Punjab province in Pakistan, was a major point of contact between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent for many centuries, from the around 1000 BC to the time of the Kushans, but it began to decline in importance until it was finally destroyed by the Huns and abandoned in the 5th century AD. While the king's name is missing on the Greek inscription, the Kharoshthi plainly reads "Ayilishasa" on the left side, making the ID secure.

I picked these coins from a $25 per coin "your pick" pile of mixed Bactrian, Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian etc. coins. (This is the same group that yielded the Indo-Parthian coin I recently posted.) Square bronze coins are an interesting feature of these series, and I picked out two examples that were well-preserved and had interesting designs (Dioskouroi on galloping horses and Herakles with a huge club), so that I could have fun identifying them later. Please post whatever related coins you have.

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Very nice pick ups!

The only Indo-Scythian I have is this one.

678A3603-Edit.jpg.44ed624ca306523f6d4301155468d940.jpg

Indo-Skythian Kings. Maues.
Circa 125-85 BCE
AE 29.31mm 10.13g
Obverse: Head of elephant right, with bell around neck
Reverse: BAΣIΛEΩΣ / MAVOY, caduceus, monogram in left field
Senior 5.1
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

 

For Baktrian, I also have

678A0153-Edit.jpg.ed132d3822767226f599baea3809cf7d.jpg

Greco-Baktrian Kingdom, Diodotos I Soter
AR Tetradrachm circa 255-235 BCE
15.32g, 29mm, 6h
In the name of Antiochos II of the Seleukid Empire. Mint A (near Aï Khanoum), Diademed head to right / Zeus Bremetes advancing to left, brandishing aegis and thunderbolt; ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ to right, ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ to left, monogram above eagle at inner left.
Kritt A6; Holt Series A, Group 6; Bopearachchi 2E; Mitchiner 64d; SNG ANS 77-8; SC 631.1a.
Ex Neil Collection
Ex Roma

 

While I don't have as many coins from Baktria, I have something far better. 🙂 I married a Baktrian - my wife grew up in Tajikistan. Here are some pictures of Baktria from when we visited.

Samarkand

IMG_4158.jpg.5d028b9362614bccaf789528a914e42a.jpg

 

Khiva

IMG_5329.jpg.0277a3056c988b1fad7e797e870d31b7.jpg

Car down the street from my wife's old house in Khojand, Tajikistan

IMG_5704-Edit.jpg.76381642dc90e1ddca376cce68d78687.jpg

 

These are the ruins of an ancient city we visited in Uzbekistan, though I've forgotten the name of the site. Locals told us the city was destroyed during the time of Alexander the Great. In one mound we could still see tiny bone fragments sticking out in places. I was the only one there.

IMG_3982.jpg.02636fc2d5fb82e6b6f4aa6a03db206b.jpg

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1 hour ago, Parthicus said:

I've worked up two more coins from my Whitman Baltimore haul and am ready to present my findings:

image.jpeg.954e309c60c4d50aa39a8a06e7a4a2ef.jpeg

Coin 1: Bactria. AE square obol (21 x 19 mm). Eukratides I (171-135 BC). Obverse: Helmeted bust right, 3-line Greek legend around "[Bas]ilews Megalou [Eukratidou] (Of the great king Eukratides). Reverse: The Dioskouroi on horseback, two-line Kharoshthi legend above and below "Maharajasa [Evukratidasa]" (Of the great king Eukratides). MACW 1730-1732, This coin: Purchased from Tamco Numismatics at the Baltimore Whitman Coin Expo, October 2022.

image.jpeg.b3b51b3a511f416b98a96e583cbfbf86.jpeg

Coin 2: Indo-Scythians. AE square trichalkon (22 x 22 mm). Taxila mint. Obverse: King on horseback right, 4-line Greek legend around "[Bas]ilews basileon megalou [Azilisou]" (of the great king of kings Azilises). Reverse: Herakles seated left holding club, Kharoshthi legend around. MACW 2286. This coin: Purchased from Tamco Numismatics at the Baltimore Whitman Coin Expo, October 2022.

(Some historical sections below recycled from earlier posts of mine.)

Bactria was a territory containing land in what is now Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. The area was conquered by Alexander the Great, and it devolved on his Seleucid successors before breaking away and calving its own line of secessionist Indo-Greek kingdoms. Eukratides I became king of Bactria in 171 BC by overthrowing his predecessor, Euthydemus I, although it is unclear if Eukratides was a disgruntled Bactrian army officer or if he was a relative of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV who headed to the Wild East to try and reclaim lost Seleucid territory. (The start date of Eukratides' reign is set at 171 BC because of a historical mention by Justin that Eukratides of Bactria took power at the same time as Mithradates I of Parthia. If you've read anything about the difficulties in our understanding of Parthian history, you realize how insane it sounds to use Parthian history as a fixed point for dating other events.) Eukratides would go on to have military success against his Indo-Greek neighbors, but he lost some of his western territory, including the city of Herat (in modern Afghanistan) to Mithradates I of Parthia. He is considered one of the most important Bactrian kings, and he issued a large amount of coinage. While the king's name is off the flan on both sides, the designs are sufficient to narrow down the identification.

The Indo-Scythians were originally a nomadic people who conquered a large region in the northern and north-western Indian subcontinent around the mid-2nd century BC. Unfortunately, the details of Indo-Scythian history are poorly understood, as very few historical sources survive; Indo-Scythian history makes Parthian history look complete and uncontroversial. Azilises appears to have co-reigned with Azes I, although some scholars hold that Azes I and Azes II were actually one long-lived king. It is known that shortly after the reign of Azes II, the nascent Kushan Empire conquered Taxila and surrounding territories, as they expanded at the expense of the Indo-Scythians. The city of Taxila, located in what is now Punjab province in Pakistan, was a major point of contact between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent for many centuries, from the around 1000 BC to the time of the Kushans, but it began to decline in importance until it was finally destroyed by the Huns and abandoned in the 5th century AD. While the king's name is missing on the Greek inscription, the Kharoshthi plainly reads "Ayilishasa" on the left side, making the ID secure.

I picked these coins from a $25 per coin "your pick" pile of mixed Bactrian, Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian etc. coins. (This is the same group that yielded the Indo-Parthian coin I recently posted.) Square bronze coins are an interesting feature of these series, and I picked out two examples that were well-preserved and had interesting designs (Dioskouroi on galloping horses and Herakles with a huge club), so that I could have fun identifying them later. Please post whatever related coins you have.

Looks like a posthumous Indo-Scythian Eukratides issue; those are much harder to find, I think, and this is a nice example.

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On 11/13/2022 at 1:22 PM, kirispupis said:

Very nice pick ups!

The only Indo-Scythian I have is this one.

678A3603-Edit.jpg.44ed624ca306523f6d4301155468d940.jpg

Indo-Skythian Kings. Maues.
Circa 125-85 BCE
AE 29.31mm 10.13g
Obverse: Head of elephant right, with bell around neck
Reverse: BAΣIΛEΩΣ / MAVOY, caduceus, monogram in left field
Senior 5.1
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

 

For Baktrian, I also have

678A0153-Edit.jpg.ed132d3822767226f599baea3809cf7d.jpg

Greco-Baktrian Kingdom, Diodotos I Soter
AR Tetradrachm circa 255-235 BCE
15.32g, 29mm, 6h
In the name of Antiochos II of the Seleukid Empire. Mint A (near Aï Khanoum), Diademed head to right / Zeus Bremetes advancing to left, brandishing aegis and thunderbolt; ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ to right, ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ to left, monogram above eagle at inner left.
Kritt A6; Holt Series A, Group 6; Bopearachchi 2E; Mitchiner 64d; SNG ANS 77-8; SC 631.1a.
Ex Neil Collection
Ex Roma

 

While I don't have as many coins from Baktria, I have something far better. 🙂 I married a Baktrian - my wife grew up in Tajikistan. Here are some pictures of Baktria from when we visited.

Samarkand

IMG_4158.jpg.5d028b9362614bccaf789528a914e42a.jpg

 

Khiva

IMG_5329.jpg.0277a3056c988b1fad7e797e870d31b7.jpg

Car down the street from my wife's old house in Khojand, Tajikistan

IMG_5704-Edit.jpg.76381642dc90e1ddca376cce68d78687.jpg

 

These are the ruins of an ancient city we visited in Uzbekistan, though I've forgotten the name of the site. Locals told us the city was destroyed during the time of Alexander the Great. In one mound we could still see tiny bone fragments sticking out in places. I was the only one there.

IMG_3982.jpg.02636fc2d5fb82e6b6f4aa6a03db206b.jpg

Wonderful coins and brilliant photos! 

I've always thought that Bactria was what is now modern Afghanistan, but your photos remined me that the ancient kingdom was much larger geographically, encompassing a good part of Central Asia.

Unfortunately I do not have any bronze Bactrian or Indo-Scythian bronzes.  

I do have this obol:

Bactria, Eucratides I, AR obol, .69 grams, MIG 181a, Bop 9C.

1631514534_D-CameraBactriaEucratidesIARobol.69gramsMIG181aBop9C12-29-20.jpg.0cc41b63e4abc71e81a449ff628ce39d.jpg

Edited by robinjojo
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Great coins @Parthicus! Bactrian coins are cool and there is something neat about coins that are not your typical disk shape.

Here is my Bactrian square.

BDD3F249-C12C-4188-8F0F-4899237A0A2B.jpeg.e2ce95cfc381097e4ee41083bd38e000.jpeg

Indo-Greek Kingdoms
Apollodotus I
AE Hemiobol, mint in northwest India, struck ca. 175-164 BC
Dim.: 22x22 mm
Wt.: 9.27 g
Obv.: BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΠOΛΛOΔOTOY ΣΩTHPOΣ; Apollo standing facing holding arrow in right hand and bow in left.
Rev.: Karoshthi legend; tripod and monogram surrounded by square of dots. 
Ref.: BMC 17, SG 7594
Ex Deacon Ray (Secret Saturnalia gift)

On 11/13/2022 at 3:22 PM, kirispupis said:

Very nice pick ups!

The only Indo-Scythian I have is this one.

678A3603-Edit.jpg.44ed624ca306523f6d4301155468d940.jpg

Indo-Skythian Kings. Maues.
Circa 125-85 BCE
AE 29.31mm 10.13g
Obverse: Head of elephant right, with bell around neck
Reverse: BAΣIΛEΩΣ / MAVOY, caduceus, monogram in left field
Senior 5.1
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

 

For Baktrian, I also have

678A0153-Edit.jpg.ed132d3822767226f599baea3809cf7d.jpg

Greco-Baktrian Kingdom, Diodotos I Soter
AR Tetradrachm circa 255-235 BCE
15.32g, 29mm, 6h
In the name of Antiochos II of the Seleukid Empire. Mint A (near Aï Khanoum), Diademed head to right / Zeus Bremetes advancing to left, brandishing aegis and thunderbolt; ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ to right, ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ to left, monogram above eagle at inner left.
Kritt A6; Holt Series A, Group 6; Bopearachchi 2E; Mitchiner 64d; SNG ANS 77-8; SC 631.1a.
Ex Neil Collection
Ex Roma

 

While I don't have as many coins from Baktria, I have something far better. 🙂 I married a Baktrian - my wife grew up in Tajikistan. Here are some pictures of Baktria from when we visited.

Samarkand

IMG_4158.jpg.5d028b9362614bccaf789528a914e42a.jpg

 

Khiva

IMG_5329.jpg.0277a3056c988b1fad7e797e870d31b7.jpg

Car down the street from my wife's old house in Khojand, Tajikistan

IMG_5704-Edit.jpg.76381642dc90e1ddca376cce68d78687.jpg

 

These are the ruins of an ancient city we visited in Uzbekistan, though I've forgotten the name of the site. Locals told us the city was destroyed during the time of Alexander the Great. In one mound we could still see tiny bone fragments sticking out in places. I was the only one there.

IMG_3982.jpg.02636fc2d5fb82e6b6f4aa6a03db206b.jpg

Wonderful photos @kirispupis! You have a very artistic eye and still manage to capture a sense of place. Looks like a fascinating place to visit.

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