The Indo-Bactrian and Kushan coinage

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Euthydemos II, circa 190 to 171 BC,
nickel di-chalkon

This coin is a puzzling mystery! It is the very first one to have ever been made in nickel. This metal, used by three Bactrian rulers only in a short period of time (Euthydemos II, Agathocles and Pantaleon, between 190 and 160 BC), was never minted again until the 20th century AD. For a good reason: nickel is usually associated in small quantities with copper and very difficult to separate from it. The only occurence of nickel in great proportion being in meteorites, it has been suggested that this could be the origin of the metal of these rare coins. But in meteorites, nickel is associated with iron while these coins have an important content of copper... So, the most probable explanation seems to be that for a short period of time the Bactrian minters used an exceptionally nickeliferous copper ore of unknown origin.


Apollodotos I, circa 160 to 150 BC,
rectangular bilingual (Greek and Karoshti) silver drachm


Eukratides, circa 171 to 135 BC,
bronze rectangular bilingual hemi-obol struck at Pushkalavati


Antimachos II, circa 160 to 155 BC,
bilingual silver drachm


Menander, circa 160 to 145 BC,
bilingual silver drachm


Antialcidias, circa 145 to 135 BC,
bilingual silver drachm


Lysias, circa 120 to 110 BC,
bilingual silver drachm


Apollodotos II, circa 110 to 180 BC,
bilingual silver drachm struck in Taxila


Amyntas, circa 60 to 40 BC,
bilingual silver drachm struck in Demetrias in Arachosia (Ghazni?)


During the first century BC, Scythian tribes from Central Asia started moving South. Some of them invaded the Indo-Greek territory and created new kingdoms there. Their coinage was strongly influenced by the Indo-Greek one.

Indo-Scythians, Vonones, circa 75 to 65 BC,
bronze rectangular bilingual hemi-obol


As more tribes headed for their territory, the days of the last remnant of the Empire of Alexander the Great were counted...

Hermaeus, circa 40 to 0 BC,
debased bilingual billon tetradrachm, late period


The more and more debased coins struck by Hermaeus while the last Indo-Greek king was loosing control on the silver mines in the Hindu-Kush were imitated by the first Kushan rulers when they achieved their conquest of his realm.


Kujula Khadphises, circa 1 to 40 AD,
bronze tetradrachm
with pseudo-greek caracters on one side and Karoshti writing on the other


Kujula Khadphises, circa 1 to 40 AD,
bronze tetradrachm
with the name of the ruler in Greek under a portrait which apparently is still Hermaios' one.


Kujula Khadphises, circa 1 to 40 AD,
bronze drachm
clearly inspired by a Roman coin, possibly the denarius of the "seated Lydia" type of Tiberius which has been found in many hoards in Southern India... There was some trade, by sea, between the Roman Empire and the South of India, and a lot of Roman coins reached the region at the time. Other, in bronze, reached the same region during the 4th century AD and were imitated in Ceylon during the next centuries.


The Kushans embarked on a new phase of expansion to the South and West under a ruler who is only called "Soter Megas" on his coins, the Great Saviour.


Kushans, "Soter Megas", around 60 AD,
copper


Soter Megas was succeeded by Wima Kadphises who established firmly the Kushan Empire.


Kushans, Wima Kadphizes, 1st century AD,
copper


Kushans, Huvishka, 2nd century AD,
copper


During the third century AD, the Kushan empire split in two, probably along the line of the Indus river. The eastern part remained independent but finally paid tribute to the raising Gupta power, while the western part became a vasaldom of the Sassanian Empire. This division is clearly apparent in the evolution of the coins: although they all retain a Kushan design, their respective shape is also strongly influenced by the coinage of their new masters.

Late Kushans, Kipadana, circa 330 - 360 AD,
gold dinara
on the obverse, below the left arm of the king standing, "BhaDra", and further right, "KiPaNaDa" in Brahmi characters


Kushanshas, Varahran I (also called Wahram I), circa 375 - 385 AD,
gold
This extraordinary scyphate coin has nearly the same weight (7,78 gr) as the previous one (7,68 gr) but is far more impressive... It also shows a strong Sassanian influence.



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