ancient indian history


DIODOTUS I, King of Bactria. (250 to 230 B.C.) Attic Tetradrachm. B.M.
References: A.K. Narayan, Indo-Greeks, Pl.I.1.7 M. V.D. Mohan, Indo-Greek Coins, p. 181, and Pl.I, 1.
Obverse: In dotted circle, head of Diodotus I, r, diadamed with one end floating freely behind and the other hanging stiffly down.
Reverse: Zeus 1. with aegis, hurling thunderbolt. To 1. wreath and eagle. R. Field B.
Footnote 1.
1. In the second century B.C. numerous princes of Greek origin ruled over small principalities in the extreme north-west of the Indian sub-continent. Literature is silent about most them. The ancient greek writers took notice of only four of them, namely. Demetrius, Apollodotus, Menander and Eucratides, while the ancient Indian literature knew only the first three. One more Greek prince, e.g. Antialkidas of Texila is known from the Garuda Pillar Inscription at Besnagar (Ancient Vidisha) near Gwalior of his ambassador Heliodorus. We have however discovered during last hundred years vast hoards of coins,
issued by the indo Greek princes.
They revealed to us the existence of thirty-six rulers including two queens Agathocleia and Calliopa.
It is evident that many of them ruled contemporaneously over different regions.
2. Locations and dates are based on the conclusions arrived at North West India of Second Century BC.

Diodotus became governor of Bactria during Antiochus II’s reign. The Babylonian Astronomical Diaries record that an unnamed Bactrian satrap sent a herd of twenty war elephants to Babylon at the beginning of 273 BC to join the Seleucid forces fighting against Ptolemaic Egypt in the First Syrian War. This satrap may have been Diodotus, or a predecessor.. Archaeological evidence for the period comes largely from excavations of the city of Ai-Khanoum, where this period saw the expansion of irrigation networks, the construction and expansion of civic buildings, and some military activity, probably raiding by nomads from the Central Asian steppe. As satrap, Diodotus was probably involved in these matters, though the specifics are not recoverable. Before Diodotus came to power, there was already a mint in Bactria based at Ai-Khanoum or at Bactra, which minted royal coinage in the name of the Seleucid sovereign, with the reigning Seleucid king’s portrait on the obverse and an image of Apollo, the Seleucid patron deity, sitting on an omphalus. As satrap, Diodotus continued to issue these coins, in the name of Antiochus II. This included gold staters, silver tetradrachms, drachms, and hemidrachms, and some bronze coins. Diodotus introduced a new coinage also while still satrap, which consisted of a large number of silver tetradrachms and, later, a small number of gold staters. These coins have the head of a male figure on the obverse, presumably Diodotus himself, shown wearing the diadem—a band of cloth wrapped around the head, with two strips hanging down the back, which had been the standard symbol of Hellenistic kingship since the time of Alexander the Great. The image seems to gradually age over time, suggesting that it was intended as a realistic portrait of Diodotus. The reverse of these coins abandoned the Seleucid God Apollo in favour of a depiction of Zeus preparing to throw his thunderbolt. The choice of Zeus may have been intended as a reference to Diodotus himself whose name meant ‘Gift of Zeus’ in Greek. Towards the end of this series, a small wreath appears on the reverse to the left of Zeus. The wreath was a Greek symbol of victory. Frank Holt suggests that it commemorated a victory over the Parthians and that this victory was also the source of Diodotus’ epithet soter (savour). Other Hellenistic kings, such as Antiochus I Soter and Attalus I Soter of Pergamum took this title to commemorate victories over existential barbarian threats. Diodotus may have done the same. This may further have been the occasion of Diodotus I’s assumption of the royal title of king (basileus)—as a similar victory was for Attalus I. Diodotus also issued a bronze coinage.

14.  DIODOTUS II. King of Bactria 

(230 to 220 B.C.) 

Attic tetradrachm. B.M. 

References: E.J. Rapson, C.H.I., Pl. II. 13; A.K. Narain.  Indo-Greeks, Pl.I.3.

 M.V.D. Mohan, Indo Greek Coins, p181, Pl. I.2

  • Obv. 1. In dotted circle, head of Diodotus 11 r., diad, as  on no.1 above. 

Rev:  Zeus striding 1., hurling thunderbolt, aegis on 1.. arm, wreath underneath it and Y in between near 1. 

foot eagle 1. Το r. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ To 1. ∆10∆OTOY 

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