India, Kushan Empire, Copper Tetradrachm

Date: c. 100 - 200 CE
Ancient India

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Item Description:

These heavy copper tetradrachms are from the Kushan Empire, an ancient Indian empire which covered much of modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eastern Iran and Northern India. The coins date from around the reign of Kanishka, and although they are worn, various Kushan deities are visible on both sides.

The Kushan Empire was formed from descendants of the Yuezhi, a nomadic people from driven west from their origins in Northern China. During its reign, the Kushan Empire spanned from over Southeast Asia to modern-day Afghanistan and throughout the Indian Subcontinent, giving it an ideal, centralized location along the Silk Road. As a multi-ethnic society that was generally tolerant of different religions, the Kushan empire flourished with strong trade relationships along the Silk Road, notably with the Roman Empire. Kushan Empires were representative of several different faiths, including Zoroastrianism and later Buddhism. 

Their comparably peaceful reign allowed for long distance trading, including bringing Chinese silks to Rome. Their tolerance and syncretic culture is reflective in their currency, which depicts multiple religious entities, including deities and sacred symbols from Greek, Indian, and Iranian cultures. In 225, the empire split into an eastern and western half. The western half was quickly conquered by the Sassanid Empire, while the eastern half eventually fell to Samudragupta of the Gupta Empire somewhere between 335 and 350 BCE.

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