SCYTHIAN, c. 20 BC – 20 AD, Post-Hermaios imitation, tetradrachm,


SCYTHIAN, c. 20 BC – 20 AD, Post-Hermaios imitation, tetradrachm, no date, Obverse: bust R, BASILEWS SWTHROS ERMAIOU, Reverse: Zeus seated L, MAHARAJASA TRATARASA HERAMAYASA, monogram on left, VHRA on right, bronze, 23mm, 8.4g, MA2046, corrosion, F

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Senior opines that most Hermaios coins are posthumous issues of various groups of Scythians. Mitchiner placed this bronze type in Arachosia, modern Helmand province in southwestern Afghanistan.

Hermaios had a long reign that ended with the arrival of the Yueh Chi, ancestors of the Kushans, possibly some kind of Scythians. Coins imitating his types were issued by a number of groups after his death. This particular series is assigned by Senior to a branch of the Sycthians.

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. We are using two catalogue references: Oriental Coins and Their Values, Ancient and Classical World, by Michael Mitchiner, and Indo-Scythian Coins and History, by R.C. Senior. The two authors have created two rather different histories of the Indo-Scythians. In most cases I use Senior before Mitchiner in my descriptions, except for mints. Mitchiner liked to assign mints to the various marks they used on their coins. Senior made suggestions rather than definitive statements. So any indication of mint in my descriptions is apt to be Mitchiner.

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.