Bactria, Local issues. c. 285/3-280/78 BC

Bactria, Local issues. c. 285/3-280/78 BC


AR Drachm, 3.55g (14mm, 6h). Uncertain mint in the Oxus region. Local standard. Head of Athena right, wearing earring, necklace, and crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl / Eagle standing left, head right; grape cluster on vine with leaf above.

Pedigree: From the 1960s Andragoras-Sophytes Group, present in Germany in 1975, subsequently exported to the USA

References: Kritt CNS 9, The Seleucid Mint of Ai Khanoum p. 64-70. Bopearachchi, Sophytes Series 2A; SNG ANS 14-16; Mitchiner 26c; N&A 52-57

Grade: Some minor flan irregularities, otherwise EF (gk1226)

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This coin was part of a larger group that surfaced in the 1960s. It remains an anomaly among scholars for the most part. Some have attributed the group to Parthia but others believe it to be from Bactria. Either way, the two kingdoms bordered one another so the geographical location is undeniably the far east. Kritt believes that these coins predate the Seleucid kingdom as they are anonymous. This theory appears to make sense as there is no legend or imagery that suggests it to be struck under a higher authority. The coinage is often linked to Sophytes who was said to be allowed by Alexander the Great to maintain governance of the area after he submitted to the Greek warrior. Hoard finds have suggested that the type belongs to Bactria rather than Parthia but because evidence is lacking it remains extremely controversial. Kritt contends that the group  was struck before Seleucid types began. The eagle is suggestive of local influence. Later monograms and legends link the coinage closer to Sophytes. For more information on this interesting piece see Kritt’s book.