SCYTHIAN Spalirises and Azes circa 60-55 BC drachm


SCYTHIAN, Spalirises and Azes, circa 60-55 BC, drachm, no date, Obverse: horseman with spear R, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΡΠΑΛΙΡΙΣΟΥ, Reverse: Zeus facing, MAHARAJASA MAHTAKASA AYASA, monogram 31 L, Si R, silver, 16mm, 2.15g, S74.2d, aVF

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The ruling system of the Indo-Scythians involved viceroys wielding authority in their zone. Spalirises was a viceroy of Vonones who continued in office after Azes took over.

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.