Reviews


Studies In Silk Road Coins And Culture a special volume of Silk Road Art and Archaeology 1997, edited by K.Tanabe, J.Cribb and H.Wang, The Institute of Silk Road Studies, 1997.

The book is available from Spink and Sons in London. Orders can be made by telephone on 0171 930 7888. It should cost forty-five pounds plus postage and packaging.

This is another expensive collection of essays. These are tied togethor by an exhibition of coins from the collection of Ikuo Hiryama. The catalogue of that collection was published seperately with some short articles by Tanabe. These essays are presented in honour of Ikuo Hiryama's 65th brithday byvarious people involved in the exhibition.

The collection is 332 pages, hardback with extensive black and white photos and illustrations. There are fifteen articles by various authors. Three are concerned with the Kushans or Kushano-Sasanians. Three with related areas and one is concerned with Byzantine and Sassanian coins. The rest are concerned with Aurel Stein and materials held in the British library.

The first article is a well illustrated survery of Siva images on Kushan coins. This article is nearly 60 pages (about one sixth of the whole book). I will summarise Joe Cribbs conclusions here. He shows, fairly convincingly, that Siva, as he appears on Kushan coins, bears no resemblance to Siva, as he appears in North Indian art. Instead Siva must be associated with the god Wesho. This is not a new conclusion but Cribb goes on to show how Wesho is drawn from the wind god Vayu and is associated with the Greek image of Heracles. In the form of Siva or Heracles he is present on the coinage of every Kushan ruler. It is in this context, Cribb suggests that interpretations of the Siva images must be made.

Katsumi Tanabe has an article matching the coins of Kushano-Sasanian governors against references in Chinese and Roman sources. This does not add a great deal to the understanding of these passages, which have been known for a long time. Tanabe's article is quite good but he makes jumps with no backing at all. For example at the start of the article he writes 'Lukonin made the mistake of regarding the co-called Kushans mentioned in the historical records of Ammianus Marcellinus and Faustus Buzand, as the Great Kushans. However, the "kushans" recorded in these literary sources are not the Great Kushans but the Kidara Kushans or Chionites. Therefore, Lukonin's opinion is not tenable'. If Tanabe wants to dismiss Lukonin then a simple, Lukonin is wrong, would have done. Tanabe isn't wrong but he uses a lot of space failing to support his opinion. The third article is much shorter and concerned with the excavations at Takht-i-Sangin. E.V Zeymal puts the numismatic evidence to good use redating the site. He shows that the site fell into disuse and was rebuilt in the early Kushan period. He also includes a survey of the coins found at the site.

A short note by Osmund Bopearachchi introduces a coin by a new Iranian ruler, Nasten. Nasten appears to be one of the monor princes who established kingdoms in Pakistan and North-west India in the period before Wima Taktu's invasion. The last article concerns the coins of Sri Lanka and foreign influence upon them, mostly in the first and second centuries. An article by Goldina and Nikitin is a catalogue of coin finds from Central Asia after the Kushan period. The rest of the articles are unrelated to the Kushans.

These essays don't really have anything in common. Most of them are technical, some are catalogues and most are concerned with coins. It is a collection for numismatists, archaeologists and specialists in the Central Asian, Chinese and North Indian history. For most people this is a very expensive collection with very little to offer. The articles by Zeymal and that by Cribb are excellent but unless you have a strong interest in the other items buying this collection isn't justified.


Contents of the volume


Contents Page Review Page  Studies in Silk Road Coins Silk Road Coins Coins of the Great Kushans

Robert Bracey.