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Coin of the Bactrian king Menander I
Place of Origin: Afghanistan, ancient region of Bactria, or Pakistan; ancient region of Gahdhara
Date: approx. 155-130 BCE
Object Name: Coin
Materials: Silver
Dimensions: Diam. 5/8 in, Diam. 1.6 cm
Credit Line: Acquisition made possible in part by the Society for Asian Art
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Coins
Object Number: F1999.38.6
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 1

Description

Label:

Greek inscriptions, royal portraits, and images of Greek deities such as Athena were standard features on coins issued by the Indo-Greek rulers of Central Asia and northern Afghanistan during the centuries just before the Common Era. Many Indo-Greek coins contained translations of the Greek into a local script and language on their reverse sides, indicating the great cultural diversity in this area of the ancient world.

The combination on coins of royal portraiture and divine imagery-a powerful statement of divinely sanctioned rule-was used for many centuries in Central and South Asia. On coins of the Kushan dynasty, images of the Iranian goddess Ardoksho and the Indian god Shiva reflect the expansion of the Kushans into former Iranian realms as well as into northern India. The Gupta dynasty, which later ruled northern India, issued many coins depicting on one side the goddess Lakshmi, who is associated with royal fortune. The portrait sides of Gupta coins contain several innovations. An early example showing the dynasty's founder together with his queen proclaims the power and legitimacy he gained through a strategic marriage alliance.


Label:

Greek inscriptions, royal portraits, and images of Greek deities such as Athena were standard features on coins issued by the Indo-Greek rulers of Central Asia and northern Afghanistan during the centuries just before the Common Era. Many Indo-Greek coins contained translations of the Greek into a local script and language on their reverse sides, indicating the great cultural diversity in this area of the ancient world.

The combination on coins of royal portraiture and divine imagery-a powerful statement of divinely sanctioned rule-was used for many centuries in Central and South Asia. On coins of the Kushan dynasty, images of the Iranian goddess Ardoksho and the Indian god Shiva reflect the expansion of the Kushans into former Iranian realms as well as into northern India. The Gupta dynasty, which later ruled northern India, issued many coins depicting on one side the goddess Lakshmi, who is associated with royal fortune. The portrait sides of Gupta coins contain several innovations. An early example showing the dynasty's founder together with his queen proclaims the power and legitimacy he gained through a strategic marriage alliance.