Ancient Scythians - AR Drachm - Circa 57-15 BCE

Denomination: AR Drachma                                                          

Date: Circa 57-15 BCE                

Mint: Sakas Empire                                                                        

Reign: Azes II

Mount: 18K gold

Description: From the Reign of Azes II, King of Bactria, present day Afghanistan. Ruler of the Indo-Scythians (Sakas) empire from 57-15 BCE.  Obverse: King holding a whip; mounted on horse walking right. Monogram is written to right and under horse. Written is a corrupt Greek legend. Reverse: Pallas standing right with shield and long spear. Written is a Kharosthi legend.

History: It has been speculated amongst some Christian scholars that third king in the story of the three wise men from the birth of Jesus was Azes II, while others have debated that all three were in fact his representatives. Scythians were nomadic herders of the steppes north of the Black Sea. Their origin, just like their mother tongue, is essentially unknown.  This is one of the earliest known bilingual coins. Coins of the Indo-Scythians in northwestern India were probably designed by Indo-Greek Celator’s because their coins bear Greek monograms and kept their Greek names and denominations. They displayed Greek legends and Greek divinities such as Zeus, Athena, Tyche, or Nike in a fine style. Azes II's coins use Greek and Kharoshti inscriptions and depict a Greek goddess as his patron. This use of the numismatic model of the Greek kings of the Indo-Greek kingdom suggests a high willingness to accommodate Greek culture. Keeping their own idea monarchal figure, the coins portray the king on horseback rather than as a bust as the Greeks usually did.

The languages of the Scythian people are all considered extinct, and very little has survived in the way of record. Translating Scythian inscriptions is near impossible for now, due to there being no definitively identified alphabet. Because Indo-Scythian coins were often inscribed with Greek on one side, we can decipher dates, the name of the king and occasionally other phrases. Unfortunately, on this coin, the letters are undecipherable.