Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXVAuction date: 22 September 2022
Lot number: 603

Price realized: Unsold
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Lot description:


Greco-Baktrian Kingdom, Plato AR Tetradrachm. Circa 145-140 BC. Diademed and draped bust to right, wearing crested helmet adorned with bull's horn and ear / Helios, radiate, standing facing in quadriga galloping to right; BAΣIΛEΩΣ EΠIΦANOYΣ ΠΛATΩNOΣ above, monogram in upper right field, MZ in exergue. Bopearachchi 3A; Bopearachchi & Rahman -; Mitchiner 197a; SNG ANS 631; Qunduz 381; HGC 12, 167. 16.87g, 33mm, 12h.

Near Mint State. Extremely Rare.

From a private UK collection.

Nearly all that is known about the history of the Greco-Baktrian kingdom is derived from numismatic sources, and this coin makes its own worthy contribution to the historical record. Coins featuring Plato of Baktria are extremely rare owing to the brevity of his reign, estimated to be around five years or less. While all of Plato's coins are considered extremely rare, the helmeted tetradrachms stand apart as being rarer by another order of magnitude. Almost nothing is known about the circumstances of life or his rise to power, except that it coincided with the death of the previous king, Eukratides I 'the Great', who had successfully supplanted the earlier Euthydemid dynasty and expanded the borders of the Greco-Baktrian territories through conquest as far as the modern-day eastern Punjab. As Plato appears to be middle-aged in all of his coinage, it is considered likely that he was Eukratides' brother (Woodthorpe Tarn, The Greeks in Bactria and India, 2010, p. 210).

Around 140 BC, Eukratides I was publicly murdered in brutal fashion by his son (Justin XLI, 6), though he fails to mention the name of the perpetrator, presumed to be either Eukratides II or Heliokles I, his body dragged behind a chariot like that of an enemy. In the chaotic period which immediately followed the death of the king, much of the capital city was destroyed and then abandoned. This was the beginning of a calamitous dynastic civil war which would ultimately lead to the fall of the kingdom itself; weakened by internal strife the Indian territories were lost to the Indo-Greek king Menander, and an invasion of the Yuezhi could not be resisted, resulting in the wealthy and important city of Aï-Khanoum (Alexandria on the Oxus) being sacked and burnt to the ground. It was likely as a contender in this war that Plato came to power. For a time he held territory surrounding the centrally located city of Balkh, where all of his coins appear to have been issued (Mitchiner, p.67); his fate, like his origins, is also unknown, but it was his probable nephew Heliokles I who is now considered to be the last Greco-Baktrian king. Heliokles retreated in the face of the Yuezhi invasion and moved his capital to the Kabul Valley, abandoning forever the Baktrian territories to the invading nomads.

Estimate: 25000 GBP