Graeco-Bactrian Kingdom, Demetrius I, Trichalkon


Graeco-Bactrian Kingdom, Demetrius I, Trichalkon (obverse) Graeco-Bactrian Kingdom, Demetrius I, Trichalkon (reverse)

Demetrius I (c. 200-180 BC) turned Bactria into a powerful country; the king expanded his power deep into the Indian Subcontinent. That Demetrius had conquered India was shown on his coins. On higher denominations, he was depicted wearing an elephant skin over his head – a symbol of the subjection of India since the campaigns of Alexander the Great. Small coins such as this one were much to minor to bear the portrait of a Bactrian king, however. Hence, the obverse of the coin features only the elephant skin. The reverse of the trichalkon is also meaningful. With his conquests in India, Demetrius had won control over long tracks of the Silk Road. With this coin image he showed that trade was in his hands: It depicts a kerykeion, a caduceus guarantying sanctity to its possessor and the symbol of the Greek god of trade, Hermes (the Roman Mercury).


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