Posted on 30-12-2009
Filed Under (History, India, Numismatics) by Rashtrakut

The Indo-Scythian King Azes II is mostly known by his diverse coinage.  However, in the West and the Numismatic world he is often known by claims that he was on of the Three Kings/Wisemen/Magi who attended the birth of Jesus.  There is of course no evidence in the historical record to support this assertion and the historical Azes may not even have been alive at the time of the birth of Jesus.

Indo-Scythian Kingdom from Wikipedia

None of this has prevented (even reputed) coin dealers from attaching the relatively obscure Indo-Scythian King who ruled a loosely held kingdom across Northwestern India and Afghanistan (that crumbled shortly after his death) to the Nativity.  Given the tendency for price inflation of items connected to the Bible this has likely elevated the asking price for and interest in the coins of Azes II which are largely minted in the style of the Indo-Greeks.

Azes II Coin from Wikipedia

Silver coin of King Azes II (r.c. 35-12 BCE). Obv: King with coat of mail, on horse, holding a sceptre, with Greek royal headband. Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΖΟΥ "The Great King of Kings Azes". Rev: Athena with shield and lance, making a hand gesture identical to the Buddhist vitarka mudra. Kharoshti legend MAHARAJASA RAJADIRAJASA MAHATASA AYASA "The Great King of Kings Azes". Buddhist triratna symbol in the left field.

Even if the three magi who visited Bethlehem were actually Kings, that one of them would be a central Asian nomad who abandoned his kingdom to travel across the hostile Parthian Empire to a small hamlet in an obscure corner of the world strains credulity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 30-12-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

In the week long hiatus taken in my blogging activities, the expected protests in Iran have taken place.  The obtuse decision to treat all mourners at Ayatollah Montazeri’s funeral as protesters and shedding blood on Ashura, the Iranian regime is providing further proof of its ideological bankruptcy.  However, as has been noted many times in this blog the tipping point will not come until a sizable portion of the security forces refuses to shed further blood of their countrymen.

In the meantime the regime tries to brutally send a message by targeting relatives of some of the leaders of the protest – like killing the nephew of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi or arresting the non-political sister of Shirin Ebadi.  However, neither of them or even the brave Mehdi Karroubi appears to be the driving force behind the protests.

Iran’s youth (70% of the population is under 30) is making its displeasure felt.  Unlike 1979 there is no charismatic figure like Ayatollah Khomieni waiting in the wings.  While this could make it harder to topple the regime, it also makes it harder for the regime to scuttle the protests by eliminating a select leadership.

In some ways the Rubicon was thoroughly crossed this week.  The Supreme Leader can no longer count on the presumed sanctity of his office to protect him.  The crowds in the street are now baying for his blood.  With some people talking of an Iranian intifada, even the crushing of the current round of protests will only trigger more ferment down the road. The regime can only hope for some external action (of the sort that Messers Netenyahu and the neo-cons would love to provide) that will save their regime.  Here’s hoping they do not get an excuse to force the protesters to rally around a regime they despise.

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