Bactrian Silver Tetradrachm of King Agathokles - C.2031
Circa: 190 BC to 180 BC
Obverse: Head of Alexander the Great in the Guise of Herakles
Reverse: Zeus Enthroned, Holding Eagle and Scepter
In the history of the ancient world, Bactria is somewhat of an anamoly: 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 the 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.
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 is a memorial an ancient king and his kingdom 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.2031)