The Tillya Tepe Gold Coin and the Gandhāran Connections of the Tillya Tepe Burials

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Joe Cribb



The gold coin found in 1978 among the many treasures of the Tillya Tepe burials in northwestern Afghanistan by the Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi and his team has provoked much debate. Suggestions have been made that it depicts the first representation of the Buddha. This article shows that it does not show the Buddha, but Heracles, representing the Buddha’s guardian Vajrapani. The coin also throws into doubt the early first century CE date of the burials, placing them in the late first century to early second century CE.. The coin also draws attention to the connection between many objects in the burials and Gandhāra, particularly the site of Sirkap at Taxila.

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