SCYTHIAN, Azes, c. 58-20 BC, billon, tetradrachm


SCYTHIAN, Azes, c. 58-20 BC (Senior), (Azes II, c 35 BC – 5 AD (Mitchiner)), tetradrachm, Taxila Sirsukh mint (according to Mitchiner), Obverse: horseman R, I before, Reverse: Poseidon standing R, billon, 22.5mm, 9.44g, S99.69T, F

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According to Mitchiner the dates of Azes I were 57-c. 35 BC, the same dates he assigns to Azilises. Mitchiner’s dates for Azes II are c. 35 BC-5 AD. Senior points out that year 1 of the reign of Azes marks the start of the Vikrama Samvat era of dating, still in use in Nepal. Year 1 was 58 BC, Senior asserts that Azes died c. 20 BC. Mitchiner gives Azes I the horseman with spear types, and Azes II gets the horseman with whip types. Senior says there was a transition period when both were made. The whip coins started out slightly debased, and debasement continued through the posthumous issues.

The Scythians were horse nomads famous for their cruelty and for riding around naked in the winter. They were active for about 500 years from Eastern Europe to India.

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.