‘Archaeology and Symbolism’ returns with a striking look at a 2,000 year old Greco-Bactrian artifact

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.

The coin is terrific. The Ai Khanoum Disc is reproduced in full at the centre, in very impressive high-relief. Surrounding it, are various Bactrian sculptures set against a background of carvings, also from the old kingdom. It’s a satisfying homage to one of the most impressive artifacts of an ancient power. The obverse is a common one to the series. The coins are either issued for Mongolia, or for the Cook Islands, and it’s the latter in this case.

As with the last issue, Numiscollect have gone with three variants this time around. Archaeology & Symbolism has always had a choice of antiqued (333 mintage) or fully gilded (99), however, earlier this year, the Great Coyolxauhqui Stone coin added a coloured version, which was completely in keeping with the style of the artifact it’s based on. Only 99 were struck, and that 99 were taken from the 333 mintage of the antiqued one (which dropped to 234 pieces), so the overall number of coins of all variants remained unchanged – we approve. For this coin, they’ve partially gilded the subject to, again, match the original artifact. For me, it’s the best version by far, actually my favourite of the series since inception. Beautiful. The coin should be available to pre-order now, and joins a top-notch series. It comes boxed with a certificate, and is available to pre-order now. Check out our Coin Series Profile of this impressive range.


The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was a kingdom in Central Asia. It lasted from approximate the mid-3rd century BC until the 1st century BC. Its most important cities were Ai-Khanoum and Bactria, founded by Alexander the Great. Both cities were located on important trade routes towards Asia, both through lowlands and the mountains. The area flourished and much sophisticated temples, buildings and artefacts were made. One, the Bactrian Disk, was found in Ai-Khanoum.

The Bactrian Disk depicts and images of the goddess Cybele in her chariot drawn by lions towards a sacrifice. She was believed to be the mother of the mountains. Her roots are from the area of the Bactrian Kingdom, from where Greek explorers brought her stories back and incorporated it into Greek culture. The disk or plaque is from the 2nd century BC, measures 25 cm in diameter and is partially gilded. The disk is now in the national museum in Kabul.

DENOMINATION $20 Cook Islands $20 Cook Islands $20 Cook Islands
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 93.3 grams 93.3 grams 93.3 grams
DIMENSIONS 65.0 mm 65.0 mm 65.0 mm
FINISH Antique Silk gilded Part gilded
MODIFICATIONS Smartminting Smartminting Smartminting
MINTAGE 234 99 99
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes