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Athens-India and back

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Athens - India and back

(16.89g)
Seems to be a heavily worn Athenian tetradrachm from 449 - 413 BC. Right, agreed! But there is something very special about this coin. Actually 2 things.
Take a look at the counter/bankersmark above Athena's ear on the obverse.
And then look at these Indian punches found on typical Magadhan and Mauryan coins from the 6th to the 4th century BC:
Magadhan punches: 6th - 4th century BC


Right. It is an Indian counter/bankersmark on an Athenian tetradrachm.

David R. Sear confirmed this theory on the Certificate of Authenticity:


"The solar countermark would indicate that this piece found its way to India in the decades following its issue, possibly to the region of the middle and lower Ganges Valley which was under the rule of the kings of Magadha. The countermark was probably applied in the first half of the 4th century BC. The other countermark is of uncertain origin but may have been applied in Upper Egypt. The traces of mounting indicate that the coin was worn as jewelry in ancient times or later. This would account for its extermely worn state of preservation."

This is a very good sign that the coin had a long and far journey from Athens to India. Amazing if you remember the methods of transportation back then.

Trade was rather common between India and the greek world in ancient times.

This map shows the most common ancient trade routes from Attica to the Indus Valley.
This coin did travel a lot indeed. Just imagine that a one way route may have lasted several weeks, even on the fastest way, the sea.
And according to the wear of the coin it did circulate several decades if not centuries.
Click here for my page on 'Circulation of Roman Republican Denarii'.

On the beginning of this page I mentioned that there are 2 special things about this coin. Well, the second is that it was found in the Middle East, the area of ancient Phoenicia in particular. This fact extends the journey from Athens to India to the mediterranean area of Phoenicia.

And last but not least, there is a second counter/bankers/temple-mark, a V or a ? . Egyptian coin hoards of Athenian tetradrachms contain a rather high amount of coins marked with a V. Other sources tell us that Sabaean coins and Greco-Palestinian coins sometimes have such marks on the cheek.
References: cf. Svoronos (Corpus of the Ancient Coins of Athens) pl. 14, 19; Sear (Greek Coins & Their Values 1) 2526; for similar solar countermarks, though with full disk, cf. Mitchiner (Oriental Coins and Their Values: the Ancient and Classical World) p. 527, nos. 4030-31
2001-3 by Captain. All rights reserved.