Agathocles of Bactria

Obv: Bust of Dyonisos, coiffed with aegis, diademed, and wearing ivy wreath.

Rev: Panther with bell, raising paw towards a small tree. Greek legend: BASILEOS AGATHOKLEIOUS "King Agathocles".Also, Agathocles and Pantaleon are unique in the ancient world, in that they were the first in the world to issue copper-nickel (75/25 ratio) coins 1, an alloy technology only known by the Chinese at the time (some weapons from the Warring States Period were in copper-nickel alloy 2 ). These coins are indicative of the existence of trade links with China around that time (see Greco-Bactrian kingdom). Copper-nickel would not be used again in coinage until the 19th century in the United States.

Bilingual coinage

At the same time, Agathocles issued an intriguing range of bilingual coinage, displaying what seems to be Buddhist as well as Hinduist symbolism. The coins, manufactured according to the Indian standard, using either Brahmi, Greek or Kharoshthi (a first in the Greek world), and displaying symbols of the various faiths in India, tend to indicate a considerable willingness to accommodate local languages and beliefs, to an extent unseen in subsequent Indo-Greek kings. They may be indicative of the considerable efforts of the first Indo-Greek kings to secure support from Indian populations and avoid being perceived as invaders, efforts which may have subsided once the Indo-Greek kingdoms were more securely in place.

Buddhist coinage

The Buddhist coinage of Agathocles is in the Indian standard (square or round copper coins) and depicts Buddhist symbols such as the stupa, the "tree in railing", or the lion. These coins sometimes use Brahmi, and sometimes Kharoshthi, whether later Indo-Greek kings only used Kharoshthi.


", W.W. Tarn, South Asia Books, ISBN 8121502209

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