INDO-GREEK, Menander, c. 160-145 BC, drachm


INDO-GREEK, UNITED KINGDOM, Menander, c. 160-145 BC, drachm, Taxila mint, Obverse: bare headed armored bust with javelin L, BASILEWS SOTHROS MENANDROU, Reverse: Pallas with sloping shield standing R,MAHARAJASA TRATARASA MENADRASA, MTI monogram on right, silver, 17mm, 2.33g, MA1790, horn silver, VF

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Menander was appointed to be king in northern Afghanistan by Eukratides. Part of his domain was Panjshir, where there were silver mines, so he struck a lot of coins. He is mentioned in Buddhist texts as a friend of the faith and a just ruler.

Alexander the Great took his army all the way to the Indus River, where he met the Mauryan army, many times larger than his. Alexander wanted to cross and engage, but his generals talked him out of it without having to kill him. Alexander proceeded to plant soldier settlers throughout Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, himself retreating to Babylon, where he was a playboy for a few years before eating some bad food and dying. His generals split up the empire immediately. The East was taken by Seleukos. The farther East broke away around 256 BC when the Satrap (governor) of Bactria seceded. The “Indo-Greek” kings were active in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some of northern India. There is not much written history, for some of the monarchs the coins are the only evidence we have.

The earliest ancient Indian coins were the “bent bar” punchmarked silvers of the Achaemenid Persians occupying Gandhara in northwest Pakistan. By the 3rd century BC coins were in general use in most of India and Ceylon, and in subsequent centuries struck round coins in gold, silver, and copper came into use throughout the subcontinent and beyond to Southeast Asia and Pacific islands to Java and beyond.