Following the death of Seleucid king Antiochus II in 246 B.C., rebellions erupted in far-flung territories to the east. Seleucid forces were tied up in their struggles against Ptolemaic Egypt and were thus unable to protect the borders of their kingdom from nomadic barbarian raiders. In the province of Bactria, a historical region situated in present day Afghanistan, the satrap, or governor, Diodotus I rose up against Seleucid authority and achieved independence for his kingdom. Nearby, in modern Iran, another former satrap named Andragoras also gained independence for the territory of Parthia. This independence was short lived, as soon after a tribe from the east, the Parni, under the command of Arsaces I, invaded and conquered the land and established the mighty Parthian Empire, effectively cutting off the Bactrians from direct contact with the Greek world. Although the Parthians and the Bactrians seem to have battled at times, they were allied against Seleucid campaigns launched to punish the rebel kingdoms. It is believed Diodotus died sometime during, or shortly after this campaign, leaving his son Diodotus II to inherit the throne and conclude a peace treaty with the Parthians.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of long forgotten empires. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This coin marks the emergence of the Bactrian Kingdom. As satrap, Diodotus first issued coins in the name of Antiochos II featuring portraits of the Seleucid king. Perhaps symbolizing his increasing independence, Diodotus eventually replaced the image of Antiochos II with his own portrait. Though Antiochos' name was originally retained on coins such as this one, after officially rebelling against Seleucid authority, Diodotus replaced Antiochos' name with his own as well. This gold stater is a memorial to an ancient king and his empire passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck. - (C.6429)