ART FROM ANCIENT LANDS

Bactrian Gold Stater of King Diodotus I in the Name of Antiochos II - C.4109
Origin: Afghanistan
Circa: 250 BC to 230 BC

Collection: Numismatics
Style: Bactrian
Medium: Gold


Obverse: Diademed Bust of the King Facing Right
Reverse: Zeus Striding Left, Holding Thunderbolt and Aegis


In the history of the ancient world, Bactria is somewhat of an anomaly: a Greek kingdom in what is now Afghanistan. That Greek civilization penetrated so far into Central Asia is quite astounding in itself. When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire he acquired all its outlying provinces including Bactria. Greek forces then established control in Bactria and maintained it after the collapse of the empire of Alexander. Bactria was at first part of the eastern section of Alexander's empire, which was ruled by the Seleucids. There was extensive immigration of Greeks and the creation of Greek cities. These cities were built on the Greek model and included such pillars of Greek culture as gymnasiums and amphitheatres. Later Bactria asserted its independence and expanded its holdings to the upper reaches of the Indus River Valley. The Greek State in Bactria lasted for another two centuries, until it was finally overwhelmed by the nomadic tribesmen of the area and was eventually absorbed into the Kushan Empire.


How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of long forgotten empires. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This coin marks the emergence of the Bactrian Kingdom. It is believed that Diodotos was governor of the region, ruling under the name of the Seleucid King Antiochos II. After declaring Bactrian independence, Diodotos placed his own bust on coins. The name of Antiochos remained on the reverse until it was eventually replaced as well by Diodotus’ own name. This gold stater is a memorial to an ancient king and his empire passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck. - (C.4109)

 

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