"A Rambling Discourse on Indo-Greek Coinage - Part II" Presented by Nic Wright, Member NSI
It has been a while since Nic presented the first part of his "rambling discourse" on the Indo-Greek coinage spanning the period from the expansion of Demetrius into India in around 200 BC up to the death of Menander I, the greatest of the Indo-Greek Kings, in 130 BC, so the second part of the story has been long hoped-for. In his talk at the Society regular meeting on Friday night, 9th March 2018, Nic took the audience on the breathtaking journey through the later Indo-Greek kingdoms and emergence of Indo-Scythian dynasties. Although the first Indo-Greek kings started amalgamation of the transmontane Greek and native Hindu cultures, which was exemplified by the mixed iconography of the bilingual coins of the Indo-Greek Kings of the 3rd thru 2nd centuries BC, massive invasion of the Scythians (Saka) tribes in Bactria in around 130 BC and later into India was reflected by a new stylistic admix, particularly appearance of the Scythian attributes, such as a bow-case alongside Heracles' club. The first Indo-Scythian King, Maues, through the series of conquests in around 80 BC, expanded Scythians' domains and strengthened their positions in India, although Indo-Greeks managed to regain most of their former territories after Maues' death, yet not for long. As with many Indo-Greek and Saka Kings, Maues is mostly known from his coins, which, intriguingly, feature a range of Buddhist symbols and relics. The past events and trans-cultural developments were generously illustrated with contemporary coins from the speaker's collection - the silent witnesses of the stormy history of the region. For desert, an update on the investigation of "Ballycastle devils", an antique-styled sandstone sculpture group once perching upon the gates to the manor of Major General Hugh Boyd in Ballycastle, was served, accompanied by recently discovered photographs and pieces of the sculpture. Could that be a trophy brought by the General from his campaigns in North India? Could that be even Indo-Greek? We look forward to seeing further outcomes of Nic's research on the subject.