Easily one of the finest coin series dealing with the ancient world, Numiscollect’s ‘Archaeology and Symbolism’ eschews the fantastical, choosing to bring to life genuine artifacts from around the world. Employing Smartminting and three ounces of silver, these large (65 mm diameter) silver coins employ a multitude of finishes to showcase these incredible objects in the best possible way. This new coin is the seventh in the series, and one of the best to date.
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, which ran from its founding in 256 BC by Diodotus I Soter to its fall c.120-100 BC under the reign of Heliocles II, was at the easternmost end of the Hellenistic world. It covered what is now Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, at its core, and was known as ‘land of a thousand golden cities’ because of its wealth and power. Indeed, its capitals – Ai-Khanoum and Bactra – were powerful cities at the time. It is from the former of those, Ai Khanoum, that the chosen artifact forming the basis for this coin, was found.
The Greeks in the region had adopted the goddess Cybele and worship of her spread to Greece and Rome in the following centuries. Like all major deities, their visage was applied to a huge range of religious items, and Cybele was certainly no exception. This gorgeous plate (image further down), a votive offering, depicts Cybele and the winged goddess Nike. Cybele is on a chariot pulled by two lions, and this early 3rd century item is a mix of Greek and Near Eastern art styles. It’s about 25 cm in diameter. It currently resides in Kabul at the National Museum of Afghanistan, and we hope the current situation there is not to its detriment.