The Robert Senior Collection

There is a strong case for dating this collection to approximately 140 CE on the basis of several factors. First, although the inscriptions on the pot are dated to twelfth year of an unnamed era, based on their stylistic features and the use of the Macedonian month name (avadunaka = Audunaios), the era almost certainly belongs to the Kuṣāṇa king Kaniṣka I, whose reign most scholars agree began in 127/8 (Salomon 2003: 76-7). This would date the donation of the pot, and presumably the manuscripts as well, to roughly 140 CE. Second, small fragments from the collection were radiocarbon tested in 2004, producing a two-sigma date range of 130-250 CE (Allon et al. 2006; 2014: 22). This reflects the date the birch bark was harvested, which was probably not long before the manuscripts were used. Because all the manuscripts were copied by the same scribe, presumably as part of the same commissioned collection, we can assume that the dating of these samples reflects the dating of the collection as a whole. Third, the paleographic characteristics of the Kharoṣṭhī script on the manuscripts do not yet exhibit tendencies toward Sanskritization that can be observed in manuscripts from the late second to third centuries CE, and so likely predate that period.