Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Indians: Greek representations of conquest on coins with Alexander of Macedon and Demetrios of Baktria wearing elephant skins (fourth-second century BCE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified March 29, 2023, https://philipharland.com/Blog/?p=13272.
Two examples of tetradrachm coins issued by Ptolemy I Soter (ca. 321-316 BCE) depicting a bust of Alexander of Macedon in connection with his defeat of Indian peoples, with elephant skin and Athena Alkidemos on the other side:
Two examples of tetradrachm coins (ca. 200-185 BCE) depicting a bust of Demetrios I Aniketos, king of Baktria, in connection with his success in battles in northern India, with elephant skin headdress and, on the other side, Herakles standing crowning himself while holding a club and lion skin (caption: “Of King Demetrios”):
Comments: As we also see in connection with later Roman imperial coins celebrating the subjugation of a variety of peoples (link), coins could be used to disseminate particular hegemonic perspectives on conquest and on the power of the subjugator. In these coins issued by Ptolemy I Soter (satrap and then king of Egypt) and by Demetrios I (ruler of the Baktrian kingdom northwest of India), Alexander and Demetrios are depicted wearing an elephant skin as a symbol of the defeat of Indian peoples (Alexander’s conquests ca. 326 BCE and Demetrios’ wars in northern India around 200 BCE). These depictions also associate these kings with the hero or god Herakles, of course, since this is an adaptation of the depiction of Herakles wearing a lion skin, and Herakles was considered a founder of Macedonian royalty.
Source of images: All images courtesy of www.cngcoins.com.