Featured The Great Savior Needs No Name… He Still Has One Though

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo Temporarily Away Supporter

    Hello CT friends. I have slowed down quite a bit on my coin purchases this year which has allowed me the chance to study and learn about some interesting coins in my collection I might not otherwise have spent as much time studying. This awesome coin came to me by way of our coin friend who’s namesake had some serious mother issues (looking at you @Severus Alexander ). I think this coin is fascinating because it was minted by a ruler who did not identify himself on his coins and thus remained a mystery to numismatists for centuries. Also this coin comes from a rare type of ancient civilization that we can study from sources both east and west (I.E. Chinese, Greek, Roman etc.). However, after studying this coin the only thing that I can say about it with certainty is that there is nothing certain to be said about it! More on that below.

    Vima Takto AE Unit.jpg
    Kushan Empire
    Vima Takto, AD 78-110
    AE Unit, Unkown mint, struck ca. AD 78-110
    Dia.: 21.2 mm
    Wt.: 8.2 g
    Obv.: Bust right, 12 rays above, holding object. 3 pronged tamga in left field
    Rev.: Horseman right, holding whip. 3 pronged tamga in right field

    Origins of the Kushans
    Figure 1 - Map of Kushan / Yuezhi Migration and Expansion 200 BC - AD 100

    According to the Chinese sources the Kushans were one of the many tribes of a nomadic cultural group that are referred to by the Chinese as the Yuezhi. The Yuezhi are interesting because it is possible that they had migrated further east than any other Indo-European speaking population. According to Ban Gu in the Book of Han the Yuezhi are said to have had as many as 100,000 warriors in the 2nd century BC and inhabited what is today the Gansu province neighboring both the Xiongnu to the northeast and the Wusun to the west [1].

    2- Qilian Mountains Yuehzi Homeland.jpg
    Figure 2 - Gansu Provence, grasslands of the Qilian Mountains. Thought to be the homeland of the Yuezhi in the 1st millennia BC.

    In the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd century BC the Yuezhi seemed to have been the dominant nomadic group in the region and even the first great leader of the Xiongnu, Modu Chanyu, (yup the villain from Mulan) was thought to have been a hostage to them in his youth. However, the unification of China under Qin Shi Huangdi and the subsequent military expeditions of Meng Tian at the end of the 3rd century BC put pressure on the Xiongnu that led to the formation of a powerful confederation that would prove a difficulty to China and a disaster to the Yuezhi. The Yuezhi were crushed by the Xiongnu in 176 BC with the bulk of the survivors fleeing west and eventually displacing the Sakas (Scythians).

    Mulan vs Shan Yu.jpg
    Figure 3 - I admit it, I like Disney’s Mulan… Okay

    The Yuezhi were forced to flee further south in 132 BC when they suffered another catastrophic defeat at the hands of a combined force of Xiongnu and Wusun. These series of migrations and displacements pushed first the Scythians (Saka) and then the Yuezhi themselves south of the Jaxartes river where they came into conflict with the Greeks of Bactria. Between the years 150 to 130 BC the Greeks of Bactria were ultimately overthrown and an Indo-Scythian (Saka) Kingdom was established. At some point during this migration period a tribe of the Yuezhi known as the Kushana gained political supremacy within the group and subsequently displaced, assimilated or conquered the Central Asian elements of the Indo-Scythian and Indo-Parthian kingdoms into Kushan control.

    The first Kushan ruler to claim as such on his coins identified himself as Heraios, possibly around 1 AD (He may be the same person as Kujula Kadiphises – see below). Below you can see a portrait of him from one of his coins and it is interesting to note that his portrait exhibits very noticeable skull deformation. This is interesting because it shows that even under Hellenic and Indian influence the Kushan / Yuezhi people still practiced elements of their nomadic heritage. I also think it is an interesting point to keep in mind when considering early Kushan coin portraiture.

    Figure 4 - Heraios AR Tetradracm, Image courtesy of CNG - https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=272281

    As is typical when reading about the Kushans there is some controversy whether Heraios and Kujula Kadiphises are the same person or whether Kujula Kadiphises was Heraios’s successor. Either way by the end of Kujula Kadiphises’ long reign wish ended around AD 80 the Kushan Empire was a well-established and stable entity which had extended its control from northern India in the south to the Tarim Basin in the northeast to the borders of the Parthian kingdom to the west. This leads us to the reign of our “Great Savior” or “Soter Megas” who for centuries had to remain nameless due to his self-indulgent imperial title being too long for his coins to contain much else…

    Who is Soter Megas?

    In the early to mid-1800s scholars were perplexed by the huge number and wide distribution of coins that were turning up with the inscription ΒΑCΙΛΕV ΒΑCΙΛΕVWΝ СWΤΗΡ ΜΕΓΑС(King of Kings, Great Savior) but otherwise lacked the name of the king that issued them. Early researchers attributed these alternatively to the Parthians, the Bactrians and the Indo-Scythians. In the mid-1800s it was recognized that there were similarities (such as a distinctive rendering of the Gandharian letter j) with the named coins of Kujula Kadiphises and it was speculated that the Soter Megas coins were of the Kushan dynasty and immediately succeeded the coins of Kujula Kadiphises. This led to the theory that there was a nameless king who existed between Kujula Kadiphises and Vima Kadiphises (see timeline under Question 1 below).

    This theory didn’t stop the debate however and everything from regional viceroys and usurpers to either of the two Kadiphises were proposed as alternatives for the identity of the nameless king. It seemed that the uncertainty surrounding Soter Megas would never be solved until the early 1990s when two things happened to change this situation.

    1. An inscription was discovered in Rabatak, Afghanistan in 1993 that listed the genealogy of the Kushan ruler Kanishka I. The inscription confirmed that there was a Kushan ruler between the two Kadiphises which now had a name: Vima Takto. (Figure 5)

    2. A hoard of coins with the same bull and camel design used by a coin series of Kujula Kadiphises was found with the inscription “Maharajasa Rajatirajasa Devaputrasa Vima Takha”(great king, king of kings, son of god Vima Takha). Notice in Figure 6 that the tamga (a symbol used as a type of Kushan dynastic stamp) on this coin matches the Soter Megas coin. The use of the title “king of kings” on both coins is also significant. On the balance of this evidence it seems clear that these coin types should be associated with the Soter Megas issues and can therefore be linked with the successor of Kujula which the Rabatak inscription showed to be Vima Takto.

    Figure 5 - Rabatak Inscription

    Figure 6 - Vima Takto AE Unit, Photo Courtesy of CNG - https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=77963

    The discovery of the Rabatak inscription also made it possible to link Vima Takto with his portrait sculpture and with an inscription from Dasht-e Nawur that had previously been identified with his son Vima Kadiphises [3]. The Dasht-e Nawar inscription describes him as “king of kings, the great salvation, Wima Tak[to] the Kushan, the righteous, the just” thus further associating him with the title used on the Soter Megas coins. It also means that Vima Takto was likely the Yan-gao-zhen mentioned in the Chinese Hou Han Shu that is credited with extending Kushan power into northern India.

    However, even if we can tentatively claim that Vima Takto = Soter Megas there are still so many frustrating questions to be answered about this coin…

    Questions I Wish Could be Answered but Can’t
    I should preface this section by admitting that I do not own and have not read the Mitchner book (Oriental Coins and There Values) that covers this issue. The reasons for this are that, 1: it’s too expensive for me to justify with my modest collection of oriental coins at this point and, 2: it was written in 1978 so would not have had the benefit of all the new discoveries on this issue from the last few decades. From reading other sources I believe that I have the basic gist of his hypothesis but those who own the book feel free to chime in.

    Questin 1: When was this coin minted?

    The attribution that I see most often from dealers (Mitchner?) places this issue from AD 80 – 90. However, Joe Cribb, a former curator at the British Muesum, has been heavily involved with the more recent research on this issue and the below table is based on his findings [3].

    Table of Early Kushan Rulers.PNG
    *Cribb makes a compelling case that Heraios and Kajula Kadiphises are the same person
    Table 1 – Timeline of the early Kushan Kings

    The longer timespan for Vima Takto’s reign would make some sense considering how common the coins are. However, to add a level of complexity to the dating of this issue Cribb suggests that the Soter Megas coins were actually started under the reign of Kajula and simply continued by Vima Takto [2] in order to standardize the currency… urrrggg!

    Based on die studies Cribb also managed to layout a chronological 4 phase pattern of this issue. I am currently missing some of the illustrations that would help me to understand how this works so I have sent Mr. Cribb an email and I will update this thread if I hear back.

    Question 2: Who is depicted on the obverse of this coin?

    The attribution I see most often for this coin describes the obverse showing a portrait of the king, bust right, holding scepter with rays above his head. Cribb [2] interprets the obverse as a representation of the sun god Miiro holding an arrow with sunrays emanating from his head. This interpretation leads to possible connections between the depiction of the arrow and influence derived from the archer aspect of the Greek Apollo and would explain the rays above the busts. Miiro seems to be regularly shown with sunrays around his head on coins and other Kushan art.

    Another interesting aspect to consider is the portrait of Heraios shown in Figure 4. If one were to trust the hypothesis that Heraios and Kajula are the same person and that it was under Kajula that the Soter Megas coinage was started then why would the Soter Megas coins not show noticeable skull deformation on the portrait?

    The counterclaim would be that Heraios is a separate and earlier ruler and that the practice of skull deformation had died out within the dynasty by the time the Soter Megas coins were struck. I was not able to find much archeological evidence of when skull deformation stopped being practiced by the Kushan rulers so I would be much interested in hearing some of your thoughts.

    These coins may be difficult to study but they feel great in hand and have nice, high relief designs

    Question 3: Do the number of rays have significance?

    In my research I have read that there is a theory that the number of rays, which vary from 15 to 4, can be used to date the coin within the series (perhaps annually?). The number of rays is theorized to decrease over time based on studies of the style of the coins. It seems strange to me that the number of rays would go DOWN with time. What would happen after the 15 years’ worth of rays was used up? I have not been able to find a satisfactory explanation of this theory in any of the literature that I have read. Anyone with a more advanced knowledge of this feel free to chime in.

    A few other ideas I had for the variation of the rays: a variation by mint or region, some kind of religious or seasonal significance related to the sun (Ex: more rays if struck in summer, less if in winter), laziness on the part of the engravers over time, the Kushans overthrew their kings every 15 years, older Kushans become less shiny as they age and aliens.

    Question 4: What should we call this denomination?

    I most often see my coin above listed as a tetradrachm which typically weighed between 8-8.5 grams. There is another smaller denomination of the same design often called a drachm that weighs about 2-2.1 grams. If assigning these to a reduced Attic standard as Cribb does [2] it is clear that the terms didrachm and hemidrachm would be more appropriate. I have elected for the cop-out and decided to refer to these coins as units and ¼ units.

    Question 5: Where was this coin minted?

    This is the question that has me the most confused of all, which is saying something if you read any of the above. Mitchner seems to have divided the Soter Megas coins into three mints; Balkh, Taxila and Peshwar. The use of curved letters on the reverse instead of squared letters seems to separate the main mint of Taxila from the other two in this system. The notoriously off flan lettering of this series coupled with the condition of most specimens makes this a hard distinction to make (for me at least). If I were to hazard an opinion on my above coin in this system I would assign it to Taxila.

    Cribbs research has indicated that there was a general issue of the Soter Megas coinage featuring the Miiro bust / horseman design that he assigns to one mint in Begram. Local mints would then still have been producing their own designs. Instead of denoting different mints the curved vs squared lettering should be seen as an incremental change over time according to this hypothesis. He postulates that the Soter Megas coins began as a local issue in Begram and were then adopted as the general issue or “imperial standard” for the empire by Vima Takto. It appears that even after this the local mints continued striking their own coin designs that were contemporary with the general issue [2]. He lists the local mint locations as: Bactria/Tocharistan, Gandhara, Mathura, Kashmir and an unkown location. This pattern makes some sense if you assume that Kujula and his successors would have wanted to consolidate the mints into a more central authority and it seems that Vima Takto’s son Vima Kadiphises was indeed able to consolidate all of the Kushan mints into one location during his reign [4].

    Part of the evidence for Begram is the concentration of Miiro / horseman ¼ units at the site which would not have travelled as far as the larger units in commerce. He does concede that that a spectrum analysis of coins found in Uzbekistan that contain metal from two sources must be explained before a second imperial mint can be ruled out [2][5]. Begram seems to have been a major Kushan site of considerable wealth during the first century AD though unfortunately today it is completely buried underneath an airbase.

    Mint - Taxila vs Begram.jpg
    Figure 7 – Top left, Taxila – Top right, Outline of Begram under airfield. The two contenders for the location of the primary early Kushan mint.

    For my own purposes I tend to find Mr. Cribb’s arguments very compelling and would tend to trust his interpretation. However, because I am currently missing some of the resources and references I would need to fully understand the extant research and make a balanced assessment I think I will list this coin’s mint location as “unkown” for the time being and see what future discoveries are made in this area.

    So really after all of that the only thing I managed was to give the Great Savior a name and even that might also refer to his father on some coins… I’m tired

    Please unload with all your Kushan or Central Asian coins… or whatever else you want to post.

    Also please share any knowledge or insight on this issue that you have and feel free to post any theories you may have on the subject.

    [1] Ban Gu, Book of Han, 61

    [2] Cribb, J., The Soter Megas coins of the first and second Kushan kings, Kujula Kadiphises and Wima Takto, Gandharan Studies, vol. 8 pp. 79-122

    [3] Cribb, J., The Early Kushan Kings: New Evidence for Chronology

    [4] Bracey, R., The Mint Cities of the Kushan Empire; The City and the Coin in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds; Archaeopress, Oxford England 2012

    [5] Rtveladze, E.V. and Pidaev, Sh.R. (1981, Katalog Drevnich Monet YuzhnogoUzbekistana, Tashkent
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
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  3. dadams

    dadams Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coin and one heck of a write up! I'm going to have to read it again to try to absorb some of the info. Great job!!
    ominus1 and Curtisimo like this.
  4. Pickin and Grinin

    Pickin and Grinin Well-Known Member

    Autta start calling you the professor! What a write up.
    I am gonna have to read it again.
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  5. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo Temporarily Away Supporter

    Thanks @dadams and @Pickin and Grinin

    I really enjoy researching my coins but it really makes it that much more fun to be able to share what I learn here on CT.
  6. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    wow! kool Curtisimo! :)...i have trouble watching a 30 minute cartoon(that's why i'm here now :p)
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  7. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

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  8. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Gee Whizz, you have really come back with a vengeance Curtisimo. You set the benchmark with this and other absolutely fantastic historical studies, I love the coin and great toning, also that pic of Gansu Province has so much depth it's like your standing there. Congrats on a great pick up.
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  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's fascinating! I'm curious about something, because the terminology is confusing (different languages). Are the Yuezi the same as these Tocharian-speaking (an Indo-European language) people (who also had plaid clothing, like the Celts) here?
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  10. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I am completely unaware of recent studies on these coins but can offer things that may just be outdated .... or not.

    The mints for these coins seem to be separated by style. In particular there are legend letters that are more significant than others since they show squared or rounded style best. VERY few of these coins have the full legend so I tend to show a favoritism to ones that have a lot of legend and show squared letters which are more scarce than the rounded ones. The old books give the rounded ones to the Taxila mint but I do not know the arguments that support this. The easiest letter to see the difference is the omega in soter just behind the horse.
    Taxila rounded

    branch mint squared - I am not ready to defend opinions on Balkh versus Kapisa mint on these. If you automatically discount anything said by old writers like Mitchiner in 1978, it makes no matter what he said. Kapisa? I don't know.

    Another factor is the form of the tamghas on the coins. Some of the squared letter coins have four prong tamghas on one side or the other rather than the standard three prong. The coin below shows a 4 prong on the obverse but three prong on the reverse. Balkh? I don't know.

    We should mention that these come in two denominations. The larger is called tetradrachm in the hobby and is about the size of these coins from late Roman Alexandria. The smaller is about 1/4 the size so gets called drachm but I have no idea what the people who spent them called them. Below is a drachm with squared letters and 4 prongs on both sides. You will have more trouble finding high grade ones of these.

    I don't have an answer to the ray countdown but I could make up one based on pipe dreams of a perfect world. What if the ruler was limited to a 15 year term and would retire when the rays were gone. Diocletian did this at 20 years and fared a great deal better than the emperors who signed on for life terms. We most certainly don't know. Be careful not to rule out possible explanations as ridiculous when you have no idea how the moral/political system worked. What we don't know about the Kushans could fill a really large book. The coins full explanation would not be a pamphlet either.

    My recommendations to you is to buy coins that allow counting the rays of the crown, show at least one bold omega to separate square from round and have clear tamghas. If you are going to ID these coins, those features may come in handy.

    Below was my first Soter Megas tetradrachm. I bought it because it was cheap. The obverse is a total wreck and worthless with rays off flan and no tamgha. To this day, it is my only clear, full legend reverse. It shows the distinctive weapon in the hand of the rider. It has classic Takila rounded letters. The corrosion has been stable for 20 years. By my definition, this is a keeper.

    I read that NGC will slab Soter Megas alone of all the Kushan coins. I do wonder why they decided to accept these coins (if that is correct). I consider this an interesting decision due to the wide variety of styles to be found. I have not seen coins that I think are fakes but I am less sure how I would tell a branch mint rarity from an unofficial or counterfeit issue. Many of the coins are well worn (water finds????) and could be confused with (cast) fakes. I have not seen one I would grade above VF. CNG sold a little drachm of interesting style as EF and it may be close to that. I may be a little picky. I wonder what the buyer of the coin ($295) saw in it beyond the EF grade.
  11. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    A great example of how even humble or inexpensive coins can be fascinating when you dig deeply!

    I have a few around here somewhere but need to photograph them :)
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  12. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class User

    Great article!

    I have had this Soter Megas coin since 2004.

    Kushan Soter Megas (AD 80-100) Bronze Tetradrachm

    Obverse: Bust with radiate royal headband and holding sceptre
    Reverse: Mounted king, Greek legend which translates as "King of Kings, Great Savior"
    Bronze, 21mm, 8.25gm

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  13. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    I THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading your Post @Curtisimo ! Well done, and it is a milestone for information!

    INDIA, Kushan Empire. Vima Takto (Soter Megas).
    Æ Tetradrachm, 21mm, 8.5g, 12h; c. AD 80-100.
    Obv.: Radiate and diademed bust right, holding scepter; tamgha behind.
    Rev.: BACIΛЄV BACIΛЄVΩN CΩTHP MЄΓAC; Vima Takto on horseback right, holding axe; tamgha to lower right.
    Reference: Senior B17.1vT
    Ex: @John Anthony - he really acquires really COOL stuff!

    The Kushan empire was founded in Bactria by the Yuezhi, a group of Chinese nomadic pastoralists, after their displacement by the Xiongnu in the 2nd century BC.

    During the 1st century BCE, one of the five major Yuezhi tribes in Bactria, the Kushanas (Chinese: 貴霜; pinyin: Guishuang), began to subsume the other tribes and neighbouring peoples. The subsequent Kushan Empire, at its peak in the 3rd century CE, stretched from Turfan in the Tarim Basin, in the north to Pataliputra on the Gangetic plain of India in the south. The Kushanas played an important role in the development of trade on the Silk Road and the introduction of Buddhism to China. -wiki
  14. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Indo-Greek Baktria Menander I Soter BC 155-130 AR Tet 26mm 9.6g Diad - Athena Alkidemos tbolt Gorgon shield SNG ANS 764-767

    India Indo-Scythian King Azes I 57-30BCE AR Drachm.JPG
    India Indo-Scythian King Azes I 57-30BCE AR Drachm

    INDO-GREEK KINGDOM Zoilos II Circa 50-40 BCE AR drachm 17mm 2.3g Athena Alkidemos l monograms Antony Actium SNG ANS 1654-1658
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  15. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Baktria Apollodotos I 180-160 BCE Square AR Drachm 20mm 2.4g Elephant Zebu SNG ANS 324-327

    Baktria Greco-Baktrian Kingdom Eukratides I Megas 170-145 BCE Dioscuri AE Quadruple Unit.JPG
    Baktria Greco-Baktrian Kingdom Eukratides I Megas 170-145 BCE Dioscuri AE Quadruple Unit

    Sogdiana - Hyrcodes 3rd-4thCE AR Scyphate Obol or Reduced Drachm 12mm 0.56g Bukhara mint Male-Deity BMC Baktria p118

    Sogdiana silk road 700-800 CE AE Cash Tamga Samitan RARE.JPG
    Sogdiana silk road 700-800 CE AE Cash Tamga Samitan RARE
  16. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo Temporarily Away Supporter

    Thank you for the link @Roman Collector . Very cool!! I do believe that the Yuezhi are equated with the Tocharians by many scholars. In fact in some of the literature they are referred to as Yuezhi / Tocharian. The best that I can work out is that most of the early textural evidence for them is Chinese and refers to them as Yuezhi (and the Kushan tribe as Guishuang)

    Some Greek sources refer to a people in the vicinity of Bactria that they called Τοχάριοι (Tocharians) which might refer more to one specific tribe of the Yuezhi? The Archeological evidence seems to be more associated with this name for some reason but many scholars as far as I can tell think the two names likely refer to the same people. Those Celts got around!

    Edit to add: Here is a sketch of a Yuezhi man ca. 100 BC found at Khalchayan showing distinctly Caucasian features.

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  17. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    Very nice opening post !
    Adding a small Heraios silver:
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  18. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo Temporarily Away Supporter

    Thanks for the comments and kind words @ominus1 @randygeki @Ancient Aussie @willieboyd2 @TIF !

    Thanks Brian! I knew you would have some awesome coins to share with your broad collecting interest :)

    Nice addition. After studying the Kushans for this write up I think a Heraios example would be the highest on my Kushan dynasty want list. Is it weird that I find the skull deformation practice morbidly fascinating??!
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  19. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    i just refound out what this coin was(@Alegandron), but i wasn't sure in Indo-Greek would be considered Asian(that word meaning 'other shore" in Greek).. but here it is, a Bactrian king Hemaios (some consider this type a imitation made after his death about 40 bc) Indo Greek bust coin 001.JPG Indo Greek bust coin 004.JPG ...
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2018
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  20. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    I have the Kujula Kadphises coin that is said to be in Julio-Claudian style:

    Kushan Empire. Kujula Kadphises. Circa AD 30/50-80. AE (17mm, 3.4 gm, dichalkon?).
    Obv: KOZOΛA KAΔAΦEC XOPANOV ZAOOV; Laureate Julio-Claudian style head right
    Rev: Khushanasa Yauasa Kuyula Kaphasa Sacha Dhramatidasa in Kharoshti; Kujula Kadphises seated right, raising hand; tripartite symbol to left.
    Ref: Senior B9.1.

    Said to have been purchased in Taxila in August 1963.
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  21. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo Temporarily Away Supporter

    Thank you for the helpful summary of some of the many interpretations on this issue. I should point out that the reason that I haven't read Mitchner is not that I think that he has nothing relevant to say, but rather I just can't justify the expense of the book at this time seeing as I am currently wedding poor (anyone have an extra lying around ;))

    I was unable to find any specifics on the how one should assign these types of details to different mints either but it is worth pointing out that Cribb, who seems to indicate that these are all a product of a mint at Begram, had some thoughts on this.

    He assigns 4 phases to what he terms the Soter Megas general issue. The early phase 1 all had 4 pronged tamgas and squared letters. Later in phase 1 the four prongs were changed to a 3 pronged tamga (maybe as an indicator of the passing of rule from Kujula to Vima Takto?) but the 4 prong obverse dies continued to be used until they wore out.

    The first 3 phases show a gradual transition from squared to curved lettering and the phase 4 (the most common - my coin is one of these) all have the curved letters and 3 pronged tamgas.

    He seems to have been drawing from some die studies that have been performed in the last few decades and makes a good case IMHO.

    I agree. There seems to not be a consensus on just about anything regarding Kushan history but it is kind of fun since so much of it seems to be reconstructed from the coins. That means that almost any research one finds is bound to mention numismatics in some way.

    I think that is a great reverse on your coin as well. It's not easy to find these in readable condition.
    TIF likes this.
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