The Indo-Greek Coins

South Asia, and more precisely the modern state of India has experienced the incursion of several tribes throughout its history. Many of the famous military generals of the world had made their mark in the territories of South Asia. The Greek military genius Alexander also attacked north western India albeit without much success. The invasion of Alexander took place in the year of 326 BCE. However, he succeeded in establishing several Greek colonies. He left some of his military generals and soldiers to occupy and rule his Indian and Central Asian conquests. These Greek generals came to be known as Indo-Greeks in the history. They ruled roughly during the period between mid-3rd century BCE when Diodotus I established an independent kingdom to early 1st century BCE when they were overwhelmed by the Parthians and the Shakas.

Their rule extended over a vast part of central Asia and north western South Asia. It included the modern areas of Afghanistan, north western part of Pakistan, the Indian provinces of Kashmir and Punjab. There were several dynasties and over 40 rulers of the Indo-Greek lineage who ruled over this extended time period. And surprisingly the main sources of information about the rule of these numerous kings are the numismatic evidences.

The Indo-Greek coins inaugurated a new phase in the history of South Asian coinage. These coins carried elaborate details about their issuing authority. The name, the issuing year of the coin and a portrait of the reigning monarch was die-struck very precisely on the metal pieces.

We can identify elaborate measures of coin circulation in the Indo-Greek territory. The coins circulated in the north of the Hindu Kush Mountains were mainly made of gold, silver, copper and nickel. They were struck according to Attic weight standard. The obverse of the coins carried the portrait of the issuing monarch. The reverse of the coin was marked by the depiction of Greek gods and goddesses. The name of the monarch and his royal titles were also mentioned in the reverse in Greek.

The coins which were circulated in the south of the Hindu Kush bear more Indian touch. They were mostly made of silver and copper. Most of these coins are of round shape, while some of them are square. These coins were struck according to Indian weight standard. They bear the royal portrait on the obverse. But their reverse was marked by Indian religious symbols rather than Greek. These type of coins also carried bilingual and bi-script inscriptions using the Greek and Prakrit languages; and Greek and Kharosthi or Brahmi scripts.

The Indo-Greek coins have been found in large numbers in the modern Afghanistan. The largest number of coins was discovered from Gardez. This hoard is known as the Mir Zakah hoard. It yielded 13,083 coins. Among these large number of coins 2,757 were Indo-Greek coins. Other major finds are the hoard found at Khisht Tepe near Qunduz and the coins found during excavations at the city of Ai-Khanoum.

The Indo-Greek coins are very important source of ancient Indian history. Out of 42 Indo-Greek kings who ruled, about 34 kings are known only through their coins. Coins of such kings as Menander depicted them slowly progressing from their teenage to old age, which also indicated their long reigns. The high standard of coinage set by the Indo-Greeks worked as a model for several other Indian dynasties for a very long period of time. The representation of Indian religious figures and symbols in the Indo-Greek coins has a greater significance for the cultural history of South Asia. This illustrated the syncretism of the Indo-Greek rulers. A sort of cultural and religious fusion between India and Greece can be traced from these coins.

Interesting facts & discoveries about coins

Finally found: the ancient Heraklion
«Lights of history», that’s how Johann Jakob Scheuchzer, a universal savant from Zurich in the 18th century, called coins. What fingerprints are for criminal investigations, that’s what coins are for historians: a medium for identification, a way to light up unknown and clandestine things.
The information on coins is currently pivotal in a spectacular case. According to recent reports, French aquanaut Frank Goddio has found a sensational trove: the ancient Heraklion. He found this immersed town not off shore from Crete, but more in the south of the Mediterranean, near the Egypt town of Alexandria. Besides a well-preserved and lettered stele, which provides information about its habitat, there have been three broken statues. Two of them can now be identified due to comparisons with coins from the 1st millennium BC.

The Euro – just a holiday love affair?
«Nordic Gold», that’s the name of the alloy the Euro-coins are made of. A cool name for an object heating presently so many minds.
Thus, will the new money ever be loved? Scarcely in this year, as Hans Eichel – at the time Federal Chancellor of the Exchequer of Germany – said. But next year, so he continued, this will change. Then the people will hold the new bills and coins in the hand – and then the people will realize that there is no more need for changing money for a holiday in Europe.
Well, the Chancellor of Exchequer will be right on both accounts. But he forgot that it will also be possible to compare all prices throughout Europe. And then, the holiday love affair may break off in the one or the other case. As it happens so often …

It is always springtime for counterfeiters
Should you plan to travel to one of the Euro-land countries in the months ahead, make sure you take a careful look at all bills and coins you get there. First, those currencies will be redeemed shortly, and secondly, they might be counterfeits!
In fact, counterfeiters don’t need any spring. Their «flowers» always blossom. Especially now, at the time of the biggest exchange of currencies in European history! That will mean that previous counterfeits will become worthless shortly – a good reason for counterfeiters to bring their counterfeits into circulation, especially among the tourists. Which tourist knows exactly how the real bill looks like? But it’s well worth looking carefully.
A currency union is a good way to make life miserable for counterfeiters. But not even the EURO is safe from them. The individual member states are free to design the front side of any euro coin themselves. That guarantees diversity, but also cracks in the security system.
Spectacular findings on the Atlantis-myth
Atlantis was a mythical and lost city even at the times of Plato in ancient Greece. That hasn’t changed up to our days. However, the riddle seems to be solved as a result of the new, spectacular exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany. The thesis worked out by Zurich-based archaeologist Eberhard Zangger: Atlantis is nothing else than Troja at the northern border of today’s Turkey. The probably oldest city tale appears to be lifted, finally.
But is it really? Read more about it in the article «The Battle for Troja» (so far in German only) and Zangger’s home-page – it is a fight among the titans of archaeology on a subject which is thousands of years old.

Garbage money
On the first of January 2002 Euro banknotes and coins will be put into circulation. Until that time 14.5 billion Euro banknotes must be manufactured at a staggering cost of 600 billion Deutsch marks. Ten billion bills need to be exchanged for the old national banknotes.
Starting in 2002 Europeans will finally get their hands on the Euro. One years grace is given to say goodbye to old Deutsch mark and carry it to the grave. But are they really simply going to be buried in the garden? According to plan the Landeszentralbank (State Central Bank) of Munich will not just destroy of 2.8 billion notes. After all, if the notes were laid one on top of the other it would create a tower 323 kilometers high weighing 700,000 tons.
Yet, even though coins can simply be melted and the metal separated, the cotton fibers in paper money make it much more complicated to recycle.