During my stay in Jammu and Kashmir’s largest and oldest museum at Srinagar and in my archaeological survey travels, I came across certain very interesting archaeological and numismatic evidences of several ancient foreign tribes in my this land of Jammu and Kashmir, these included the archaeological artifacts, ancient coins and architectural influences.
In SPS museum at Srinagar I could get easy access to its housed numismatic and archaeological collections, besides its manuscripts collection. I also got chance to study various old administrative reports and travelogues put forth by the European missionaries on states archaeological and architectural explorations. In this historic museum I came across ancient silver and copper coins of ancient Seleucids, Greeks, Bactrin-Greeks, Indo-Greeks, Indo -Scythians, Indo-Parthians, Kushans, Roman, Byzantine Kidras and Hun Empires. I also observed various interesting features of ancient Hellenistic art on ancient terracotta tiles and sculptures of this museum.
In my archaeological travels I keenly observed the remains of massive stone built monuments at Martand, Avantipura, Narasthan in south Kashmir and Parihaspura, Pattan and Bunyar in north Kashmir and found few very interesting and highly skilled architectural features which almost looked the imitation of ancient Roman and Grecian architectural styles, mostly in terms of its massiveness and well finished columns.
I also studied the numismatic, archaeological and architectural travelogues and reports of European missionaries particularly of Alexander Cunningham, W. H. Nicholls, Treback, Aural stein, Fedric Dew and W R Lawrance and could find in their reports the mention of the external architectural influences on ancient monuments of Kashmir. I could little bit understand the architectural styles of ancient monuments of Kashmir. I also consulted few numismatic catalogues of British museum, Indian museum Kolkatta, Punjab Museum Lahore and a list of coins and medals of SPS Museum by G. B. Bleazby which helped me in identification and deciphering the ancient Roman, Byzantine, Seleucids, Greek, Scythian, Parthian, and kushan coins.
It was in the year 2000 that I documented few of these foreign evidences and attempted to interpret these evidences in light of the already locally published works of reputed scholars like PNK Bamzai, (The History Jammu and Kashmir) GMD Sofi (Kasheer) and S L Shali (History and Archaeology Through the ages). I firstly wrote a small booklet titled “Greek Kashmir”, in the year 2004 whereunder I simply documented few Silver Greek, Scythian and Parthian coins. Later on I wrote a brief paper titled, “Ancient Greeks in Kashmir” and it was published by Dr Vijay Sazwal in his Kashmir Forum Blog in the year 2008.
In fact literary sources to know Greek and Scythian history in the sub-continent are extremely scarce. There are no such written records available of that period to the historians. However, archaeologists and numismatists of old times have done a tremendous work in discovering and studying archaeological and numismatic materials of these ancient tribes. They have re-constructed such an interesting and informative picture of that period which was almost missing in ancient chronicles of this land.
Historians might have been searching for their ancient missing links but for them there was no data to build up their theory. Now numismatists and archaeologists, through their outstanding researchers, have provided a scientific account of Greek and Scythian events of the sub-continent. In view of these accounts Indian history was then reconstructed and a new picture of ancient Indian history was made available to the readers.
The olden subject experts had done a great job in deciphering the early Greek and Scythian coins. These coins were inscribed in classical Greek and Kharoshti scripts, which carried names of its issuers, besides kings, religious symbols were also displayed on these coins. These things helped numismatists to interpret the coins. It was not an easy task to decipher these coins and read their legends, but Europeans experts with their extra-ordinary talent and knowledge did this job. They deciphered and arranged the coins in a chronological order. The European experts to whom credit is due for this type of research are James Princap, Alexander Cunnigham, Mr. E. Theamas, Lasen Wilson and Brown. These were the olden numismatists that had set up a tradition of coin decipherment.
It was on the basis of their researches that several monograms on such coins were authored by later scholars, the most interesting and perhaps the oldest monograph on the coins is that of Von Sallet whose scholarly acquirements and solid numismatic judgments have enabled theirs to correct on many points on the theories of his predecessors. Mr. James Forgusesson’s and Prof. Cowell’s researches have also been of the great value for this purpose.
Nowadays, we have many catalogues available of Greek and Scythian coins, most of the numismatic collections which from Indian, Pakistan and Afghanistan parts reached to Europe stand there well identified and documented.
British museum has got its own well published catalogues of Roman, Greek and Scythian coins found in Indian and Afghanistan lands. Many a south-Asian museum has a good–collection of artifacts and coins pertaining to Greek, Scythian and Parthian tribes.
Kabul Museum, Afghanistan, Peshawar Museum Pakistan, Punjab Museum Lahore Pakistan, Indian Museum Kolkata and Kashmir museum Srinagar have got a good collection of these coins.
In few of these museums these coins are also well published but at several places of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, these coins are still to be studied.
On the other hand the contemporary archaeologists and numismatists are taking forward the mission of their predecessors. The result is that more monograms are coming to the book marts with more scientific approaches and observations.
The difficult questions bearing on old studies have also been addressed well. The book, ‘Greeks in Bacteria and India’ by N. K Narranian opened up new phases of research in Indian parts of Greek occupation.
The reputed numismatists, like Dr. David Macdowel, Dr. P.L. Gupta and Michel Mitchnar, Osmund Bopearachchi besides deciphering these coins have done a systematic study of these coins and documented their find spots.
It was because of these researches based on scientific approaches that Greek and Scythian occupation of the sub continent parts during 2nd and 1st century B.C. was established and more than thirty three Bactrian-Greek and Indo-Greek rulers were identified to have ruled over the north western parts of the subcontinent.