Indo Greek

Written by Alok Mohan on May 11, 2023. Posted in Uncategorized

Indo Greek Coins

The Indo-Greek princes issued perhaps the earliest inscribed coins in India. These were cast coins. They went through an elaborate minting process. The original was probably chiselled in stones. Life-like figure of the ruling prince and of some divinity, besides other devices, were drawn, in relief. The legend, in Greek letters for the obverse and in Greek or Kharoshthi or, in rare cases, in Brahmi letters, for the reverse, was also inscribed. Obverse and reverse moulds were obtained by pressing the originals in wet seasoned clay. Coins of earlier sets were also used as originals for preparing fresh moulds. When dry, the obverse and reverse moulds were attached to one another, face to face, by an outer layer of clay, leaving a slit on the rim for pouring molten metal into the cavity in between. The clay moulds were first baked in an oven. As soon as they were taken out and were still hot, they were filled in with molten metal. Silver and copper were commonly used for minting. Some gold coins and a few nickel ones, too, have come down to us. Inscribed coins of an earlier period are hardly known. The Mauryas did not issue any, nor did Pushyamitra Sunga. Only the Panchanekame coins and those of Sophytes (Saubhuti) can be assigned to pre-Indo-Greek period. Even these were produced in Gandhara and the adjoining districts and were evidently inspired by the art of Greek mintasen of neighbouring Bactria and Syria. Incidentally, the Sophytes legend is in Greek letters. Barring these, the only coins assignable to an earlier period are the ones known as the punch-marked coins. These are crude pieces of metal with certain devices hammerred into them. They bear neither legend nor portrait, human or divine. Needless to say, their value as a source of history is far less than that of the inscribed cast coins.

Although numismatics has long been recognised as a distinct science, no comprehensive research embracing all aspects of the Indian coins of any period, except perhaps the Gupta age, has so far been undertaken. The existing coin catalogues and papers frequently appearing in research journals do not go beyond cataloguing elementary information. The researcher is left to his own efforts for piecing together bits of numismatic information scattered over a wide range of historical literature. Since his vision is necessarily confined to his own problem, he formulates laws of his own to suit his line of argument. No effort is made to understand the contemporary minting technique before drawing far-reaching conclusions. Even historians of the eminence of Rapson, Cunningham, Marshall, Tarn, Narain and others betray this lapse. No wonder, fantastic theories came to be formulated and universally accepted. A typical example is the one which lays down that the so-called overstrikes, i.e. coins bearing double impressions, prove conquest of one ruler by another, the conqueror restriking or overstriking the coinage of the vanquished. These scholars little realised that the process of casting coins required smelting of metal; and consequently, the earlier impressions could not survive on the recast coin. It was mostly the western scholars who interested themselves in the Indo-Greek history. Their acquaintance with the ancient Indian literature was rather casual. In some cases the approach was noticeably subjective. To an impartial reader the attempts of Rapson, Macdonald. Tarn and others appear as coloured with an anxiety to glorify the Greek. Thus they unfortunately failed in correlating numismatic evidence to the information supplied by near-contemporary Indian literature. Consequently, a one-sided and distorted view of history came to be presented, putting the Indian in an unfavourable light. The cause of historical justice, therefore, demanded an objective examination of this vast and immensely useful source.

Research on views of earlier historians and offering new interpretations on the subject shall give a clear view of past events and present truthful aspects of history.

Among the new facts, attention may be invited to the following:

1. In the light of a reference in the Mahabharata to Gandhara rebellion against Demetrius, the Brakmi legends on certain coins of Pantaleon and Agathocles assume a new significance.

2. The divinities figuring on the Indo-Greek coins have to be classified into two groups, namely the City or Vagara-devatä and Family or Kula-devata. Those of the first group provide us with clues to locate the mint city, while those of the second group enable us to assign the associated prince to one or the other of the two feuding Indo-Greek ruling families.

3. The Indo-Greek rulers did not have regular mint establishments. Minting work was, most probably, entrusted to a large number of contractors, who introduced on coins their respective identity marks in the form of monograms.

4. Propaganda moves of an entirely different nature than hitherto suspected have come to light from Agathocles Hiranasame types. Through these he was seeking the support of his Indian subjects against Eukratides, a fact he did not want his Greek legionaries to know for fear of defections. Hence the total absence of Greek legends from hirañsame coins.

5. The minting of mules or so-called overstrikes was not a conscious oration. Such coins were cast in faulty moulds. which received double impressions as a result of a lapse on the part the smith. It must be remembered that the entire Indo Greek currency consisted of cast coins. As already stated, metal had to be smelted for manufacturing them, and earlier impressions, if any, could not survive on the coast coin.

6. Family affiliations and chronology of the Indo-Greek princes have been established on sounder principles. Their chronology has carefully been correlated to the contemporary events in other parts of India as recorded in ancient Indian literature.

Though I have inevitably disagreed with them on many a crucial point, I must acknowledge my deep indebtedness to the pioneers in the field, to wit, James Princer, Christian Lassen, Alexander Cunningham, John Allan, V.A. Smith, Percy Gardner, Alfred von Sallet. R.B. Whitehead, E.J. Rapson, W.W. Tarn, A.K. Narain and numerous others, who laid the foundations of Indian numismatics by collecting, cataloguing and discussing the coins of the Indo-Greek princes and their successors in north-west India. I could hardly make any progress in this field, had they not already blazed the trail.

अथवा कृत-वाग्-द्वारे शास्त्रेऽस्मिन् पूर्व सूरिभिः । मणौ वज्र-समुत्कीर्णे सूत्रस्येवाऽस्ति मे गतिः ।। ‘

Iowe a deep debt of gratitude to Prof. Dr. B. Ch. Chhabra, who so kindly wrote out the foreward to this volume.

Last but not least my thanks are due to Pt. Vishvabandhu for his blessings as also to Pt. Dev Datt Shastri, Director Press Vibhäg. Vishveshvaränand Vedic Research Institute, Hoshiarpur and his team of workers who displayed remarkable ingenuity in overcoming diverse typographical problems.

Ishall feel amply rewarded if this little volume renders. any service to the cause of research.

Government College,


May 15,1967.

Dr Mehta Vasishtha Dev Mohan.


Alok Mohan

The admin, Alok Mohan, is a graduate mechanical engineer & possess following post graduate specializations:- M Tech Mechanical Engineering Production Engineering Marine engineering Aeronautical Engineering Computer Sciences Software Engineering Specialization He has authored several articles/papers, which are published in various websites & books. Studium Press India Ltd has published one of his latest contributions “Standardization of Education” as a senior author in a book along with many other famous writers of international repute. Alok Mohan has held important positions in both Govt & Private organisations as a Senior professional & as an Engineer & possess close to four decades accomplished experience. As an aeronautical engineer, he ensured accident incident free flying. As leader of indian team during early 1990s, he had successfully ensured smooth induction of Chukar III PTA with Indian navy as well as conduct of operational training. As an aeronautical engineer, he was instrumental in establishing major aircraft maintenance & repair facilities. He is a QMS, EMS & HSE consultant. He provides consultancy to business organisations for implimentation of the requirements of ISO 45001 OH & S, ISO 14001 EMS & ISO 9001 QMS, AS 9100, AS9120 Aero Space Standards. He is a qualified ISO 9001 QMS, ISO 14001 EMS, ISO 45001 OH & S Lead Auditor (CQI/IRCA recognised certification courses) & HSE Consultant. He is a qualified Zed Master Trainer & Zed Assessor. He has thorough knowledge of six sigma quality concepts & has also been awarded industry 4, certificate from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation Knowledge Hub Training Platform  He is a Trainer, a Counselor, an Advisor and a Competent professional of cross functional exposures. He has successfully implimented requirements of various international management system standards in several organizations. He is a dedicated technocrat with expertise in Quality Assurance & Quality Control, Facility Management, General Administration, Marketing, Security, Training, Administration etc. He is a graduate mechanical engineer with specialization in aeronautical engineering. He is always eager to be involved in imparting training, implementing new ideas and improving existing processes by utilizing his vast experience.