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Silver tetradrachm of Azes I


Diameter: 26.000 mm
Weight: 9.400 g

Sir Alexander Cunningham Collection

CM 1894-5-6-570

Coins and Medals

    Silver tetradrachm of Azes I

    Scythian, about 57-10 BC
    Gandhara and Taxila, north-west Pakistan

    During the first century BC, a series of new rulers, called Scythians by the Greeks and Shakas by the Indians, took control of Gandhara and the Taxila region. Their most powerful king was Azes I. He initiated a new era to mark the beginning of his reign in 57 BC, which can be identified as the Vikrama era still used in India today.

    Appropriately for a ruler whose forebears were nomads from Central Asia, his most distinctive new coin image shows a king, with a standard and spear, mounted on horseback. Otherwise he continued the Indo-Greek tradition of a bilingual legend 'of the king of kings Azes the Great' in Greek on one side and Kharoshthi on the other. The reverse also copies the Indo-Greek design (first seen on the coins of Menander I) of the goddess Athena holding her shield and a thunderbolt.

    E. Errington and J. Cribb (eds), The Crossroads of Asia: transf (Cambridge, Ancient India and Iran Trust, 1992)

    J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


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