India and The East

India’s vast peninsula takes shade behind Himalayan peaks cautiously allowing access along Northwest passes. Apparently Sumerian cylinder seals have been found in India, dated circa 4000 to 3000 B.C., and a Mesopotamian seal turned up during Lothal’s excavations (Gujarat). Certain theories claim Mediter-ranean and Sumerian Aryans conquered the long lost cities of Mohenjo-daro (Sindh) and Harappa (Punjab), civilizations of circa 3100-1400 B.C. Thereupon some thirty Indus seals revealed themselves through excavations in Sumer.

The land’s origins take age as searches progress and deepen, reaching now the seventh millennium: Northwestern Mehrgarh and Central India’s Kodlihwa and Mahagara. Riverine Sarasvati cultures slowly reveal long-hidden treasures while meantime marine archaeologists currently seek underwater secrets submerged in Southeastern Mahabalipuram, possibly five thousand years old. India’s archaeological sites leave us plenty to look forward to. India was amongst the earliest coin issuers though most remarkable was the land's coinage diversity, minting techniques, variety of metals and motifs.

During Hellenic times, Ashoka (Asoka), a powerful third century Maurya ruler, grandson of Chandragupta of the Moriya tribe, governed India’s Magadha kingdom, a land contiguously bordering Seleucid zones and estimated covering one million square miles, populated with fifty million souls. The Mauryan period is situated circa 319/325-187 B.C. The king’s Northwestern Provinces, former Achaemenid lands, reflected Persian culture. This is considered the first Indian empire. Patna was the capital. Its Western Indus region peacefully integrated in 304 B.C. with Chandragupta’s exchanging five-hundred war elephants with Seleucus, a general of Alexander the Great.

In the Bactrian locality of Aï Khanoun North Afghanistan, archaeologists came across silver Mauryan coins. These offer tripteral formed triskeles such as those Celts imaged, and are sourced to the 3rd  century B.C., an epoch witnessing Persia’s Parthians and Bactria's Greeks freeing themselves of Seleucid control. It must be recalled Persia’s Emperor Darius conquered the Indus Valley, 513 B.C. after Cyrus breached the Hindu Kush, 530 B.C. A passage thus connected Western India with Mesopotamian and Mediterranean cultures. Certain scholars close this passage with the formation of independent Bactria, 250 B.C.Presumably though yet uncertain, Persian Sigloi represented common currency circulating within Northern India during Persia’s rule.

Early 20th century archaeologists dated Taxila to 518 B.C., however recent 2002 findings announce six occupational levels, the 5th, Achaemenian. Further detailing remains pending. Herodotus described the twentieth Persian satrapy as highly populous and wealthy, their mercenaries battling Greeks in 486-465 B.C. Therebetween Bactrian Sacae and Indians partook in the battle of Plataea 479 B.C., on the Greek side. Effortful to relocate Greek exiles the Achaemenids promoted Bactrian Greek settlements (circa fifth century B.C.).

The following image represents a half Karshapana attributed to Asmaka, a monarchial kingdom [ 47 ]. Asmaka formed one of sixteen major Indian States existing already circa 600 B.C., an epoch of emerging kingdoms, towns, industry, developing Janapadas and Mahajanpadas, ascending to the 11th century B.C. One of India’s first coins is considered originating from a Mahajanpada .

Triskelis issues, notably silver half Karshapanas of Kalinga dating back to 600-321 B.C. surface amidst recent coin-hoards. The symbol’s shape in this case resembles slim Scandinavian variations. Coin punch marks are described as: “politically, socially and economically significant.” *17. A rival of Maurya, Kalinga’s control of land and maritime communications with Southern India motivated Ashoka’s invasion circa 260 B.C.

Pre-Mauryan punch-marked triskelis coins intrigue 48 ] (courtesy of Dr. Nupam Mahajan) . Both quadruple marked coins reveal strikings on one side with matching symbols punched twice, specifically triskeles representing two variations rather than four.

A circa 400-350 B.C. silver half Karshapana Kuru 49 ] carrying an obverse triskelis is Rajgor referenced (429b) and otherwise sourced nearby India’s Delhi region whence Indraprastha the capital once stood. The Kuru area eventually folded into Magadhan territories, circa 350 B.C.

One notices silver sigloi struck in Persia under Darius III, countermarked possibly in India, with triskeles 50 ]. Totally different coins appeared in one of the first major hoards discovered at Hugli Calcutta, 1783, confirming India’s unique culture, and these present Sanskrit inscriptions. *20

The Smirnova catalogue illustrates find results revealing triskeles midst Soghdian copper pieces . Reverses pair triskeles with tamghas and other symbols, demonstrating how Soghdiana combined Sassanian culture with close influences of Turkic and Far Eastern elements (See tamghas page 1). Seventh century strata excavations have revealed mingled Sassanian and Soghdian coins.

King Kayavsparsh of Khwaezm issued a triskelis reverse coin around the 5th century A.D. In later history this land was savagely gouted by Genghis Khan. Sogdiana, Bactria and the Khwarezm were the ancient civilizations of the area we know today as Uzbekistan. For centuries they were part of the Achaemenid empire which may explain the triskelis’ presence upon the Khwaezm coin of satrapal appearance.

Thirteenth century
Mongol and Turkik tribe tamghas *23  in triskelis form and named “Buiwan” or “Zurkehn” appear upon Golden Horde coins.
These are clearly shown in the work of Bardarch Nyamaa The Coins of Mongol Empire and Clan Tamgha of Khans.

Part IV - Recent Coinage

A coin provides us with one of Sicily’s more recent yesterday’s [ 15 ]. In Napoleonic times France briefly occupied Naples and mainland territories (1805-1815) issuing “new” heraldic arms upon a silver piastra bearing the Sicilian triskelis representing its adherence to the Two Sicilies although Sicily remained under the Bourbon rulers at that time. The coin is viewable by the generous permission of: Moruzzi Numismatica of Rome: *14

Prior to 1805 the House of Savoy emblazons currency assembling the Italian States wherein Sicily takes its place with a triskelis. An update of this site shall further detail these issues.

In it's winter years, a presently quiescent triskelis reposes on two islands, Sicily and the Isle of Man. Site one covers various aspects of the Isle's triskelis, surprisingly present on modern currency. Similarly, it also figures upon the Isle's Coat of Arms which in heraldic terms is: Gules, a triskelion of armoured legs argent.

Veiled in Irish Sea fogs the Celtic Isle, bypassed by Romans and Normans, became a jolly meeting place for Irish and Scottish pirates. Keener-eyed Viking prowlers caused customary strife, yet left a legacy, the Tynwald. Saint Patrick was a familiar figure thereabouts and 500 B.C. onwards, those searching for peace from Europe's turmoils, found it a haven …..likewise the triskelis.
As veins in marble, the triskelis wandered down one stepping-stone of civilization up to the other, advancing intact till this day, immortality etched into coins, precious metals and stone.

Hand in hand with the Ancients, pursuing triskelions in fact offers a grand tour circling antiquity. Solely numismatics allow a current opinion suggesting ancient Greeks, wherever faring, alongside Celts and Lycians, those extensively imaging the symbol. From artefacts analysis becomes less certain when much lays lifelessly concealed beneath cities and soil, deep in the sea, or worse, forever lost. One merely observes specific indications pointing East and sometimes, pointing West, tilting Libra’s scales sometimes one way, sometimes the other, as a pendulum. Frequent references regarding writing and alphabets on our part, stems from a feeling there may exist therein some relationship with the symbol ,within certain circumstances.

In all probability triskelis interpretations varied across cultural and ethnic distinctions which to our point of view conveys a depth of interest sometimes lacking in other symbols often eclipsing with the civilisation which nourished them.
Henri de la Tour- PL. XXXIII No.8329
AE. ca.80-50 A.D.- Lingones ( Lingon ) Celts of today's
Langres region: Gaul. Usually about 2.4 gm.
Erroneously attributed to the Tricasses.
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