of which 676 are punch-marked coins. Of particular significance are six coins
issued by the Greek king Agathocles (180-165 BC). Made of bronze, these
rectangular coins weigh from 2.33 to 3.307 grams. But the remarkable aspect
of these coins lies in what constitutes the Obverse and Reverse Types. The
Obverse and the Reverse show two masculine standing personages. One of
these personages carries a chakra and a pear-shaped vase (mandala), while
the other carries a gada and a strange instrument which is somewhat between
an ankusa and a hala. Both figures have swords hanging on across-belt, in a
long sheath. The figure having a chakra or wheel has been identified with
that of Vasudeva Krishna. The second figure carrying a gada and a hala can
definitely be equated with Balarama, the elder brother of Krishna. Here are
thus seen the earliest iconic representation of Krishna and Balarama. The
bilingual and biscriptual coins of a Greek ruler, having in the reverse, images
of two well known Indian deities, speak eloquently of the close cultural ties
between the north-western borderland (considerably receiving Hellenistic
cultural traits) and the Indian mainland.
Cultural Impact The intensity and regularity of human contacts,
immensely enriching South Asian, Central Asian and West Asian cultural
traditions, is well recorded in the study of the Gandhara art, which has
continued to attract international attention. The Hellenistic elements and
Indian Buddhist elements in this art tradition are familiar to the art historian.
Recent studies would further indicate the presence of West Asiatic, especially
Iranian elements, and also Central Asian tribal elements. That Buddhism was
one of the principal spirits in the formation of the Gandhara art cannot be
challenged; but in recent years, the importance of brahmanical and non-
Buddhist icons in the Gandhara art has also been effectively recognised.
Movements of Central Asian Tribes The main reason for India’s growing
intimate contacts with Central and West Asia was, of course, the movement
of nomadic and warlike Central Asian tribes in the early part of the second
century BC. Ancient Chinese texts inform us about the Hsiung nu (later
known as Huns or the Hunas), the Sek (the Sakas, also generally called in the
Classical texts as the Scythians) and the Yueh-chis.
    • Clashes among them generally resulted in the westward migration of
        these warlike groups, especially the Sakas and the Yueh-chis, to
        Bactria in north-eastern