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It's hip to be square: A square drachm of Apollodotos I


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Indo-Greek Kingdoms. AR square drachm. Apollodotos I (c. 160-150 BCE according to Mitchiner, or maybe a bit earlier according to Bopearachchi). Obverse: Elephant walking right, Greek legend on three sides "Basileos Apollodotou Soteros" (Of King Apollodotos, Savior), mint monogram kappa-rho beneath. Reverse: Humped bull (zebu) right, inscription in Kharoshthi script "Maharajasa Apaladatasa tratarasa" (same meaning as Greek inscription), mint symbol omega (alternate form) below. MACW 1750-1752v. This coin: Stephen Album Internet-only Auction 19, lot 30 (part of group lot) (March 20, 2023).

The Indo-Greek kingdom is an offshoot of the Bactrian kingdom, a Hellenistic kingdom established by Diodotus I, Seleucid satrap of Bactria, c.250 BCE. The Indo-Greeks moved south of Bactria into northern India/Pakistan and became independent of their Bactrian predecessors. Indo-Greek history, unfortunately, is poorly understood, as there are very few surviving written records, and there often seem to be multiple rulers simultaneously, each ruling only a portion of the Indo-Greek realm. Even the dates of the kings are highly uncertain, with different sources giving different ranges. Apollodotos seems to be the first Hellenistic king to have ruled only territory in India/Pakistan and not Bactria, so can be considered the first Indo-Greek king. Apollodotos' coins are noteworthy for being bilingual, including both Greek and Kharoshthi script (used to write various Indian languages). He struck several different coin types, but this design, featuring an elephant and a humped bull (zebu) seems to be the most common. The bull is likely meant to represent the Hindu deity Shiva. The elephant's symbolism is less clear; it might be a reference to Buddhism. There is also a theory that the elephant represents the important city of Taxila. Unfortunately I don't have any dedicated reference for this series, just Mitchiner's overview in his mammoth "Ancient and Classical World" which by now is rather out-of-date. If anyone knows more recent interpretations of this coin (including the mint symbols), I'd welcome them. Even with not much information available to me, I find this an attractive and interesting coin, and am glad to have acquired it. Please post whatever coins you have that are relevant.


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I have often admired this series but only have a few of the square Baktrian versions.

Baktria. Indo-Greek Kingdom. Hermaios Soter. Circa 105-90 BC. Æ Unit (18mm, 9.08 g, 12h). Indian Module Denomination B. Uncertain mint in the Paropamisadai. Obv: Radiate and draped bust of Zeus-Mithra right wearing Phrygian cap. Rev: Horse prancing right, with foreleg raised; Monogram below. Ref: Mitchiner MIG 46; Bopearachchi 9A; SNG ANS 1347-8; Hoover HGC 12, 297


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Love the new addition @Parthicus!

Here is my square Apollodotus I


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)

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