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Abgarians, M. & D. Sellwood. "A Hoard of Early Parthian Drachms" in NC 1971.
Alram, M. Iranisches Personennamenbuch: Nomina Propria Iranica In Nummis. Osterreichischen Akademie Der Wissenschaften. (Wien, 1986).
Assar, G. "Genealogy and Coinage of the Early Parthian Rulers, II" in Parthica 6, 2004.
Assar, G. "Genealogy and Coinage of the Early Parthian Rulers, II" in Parthica 7, 2005.
Assar, G. "A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 91- 55 BC" in Parthica 8, 2006.
Assar, G. "Recent Studies in Parthian History: Part II" in The Celator 15, No. 1, January 2001.
Busso Peus. Busso Peus Sale 388, Sammlung Dr. Robert Gonnella, November 1, 2006.
Classical Numismatic Group. CNG Auction 36, Fred B. Shore Collection of Parthian Coins, December 5-6, 1995.
Fröhlich, C. Monnaies indo-scythes et indo-parthes, Catalogue raisonné Bibliothèque nationale de France. (Paris, 2008).
Hopkins, E. "Parthia.com: Coins of Parthia" - www.parthia.com
Nelson, B., ed., Numismatic Art of Persia. The Sunrise Collection, Part I: Ancient - 650 BC to AD 650. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
Sellwood, D. An Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia. 2nd ed. (London, 1980).
Sellwood, D. "New Parthian coin types" in NC 1989.
Sellwood, D. "The End of the Parthian Dynasty" in NumCirc June 1990.
Shore, F. Parthian Coins and History: Ten Dragons Against Rome. (Quarryville, 1993).
Sinisi, F. Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum, Volume VII: Vologases I - Pacorus II. (Wein, 2012).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum. Vol. 7: Cyprus to India. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
Walker, A. Forgeries and Inventions of Parthian Coins. IAPN Bulletin on Counterfeits Vol. 19, No. 2. (Zurich, 1994/5).
Wroth, W. A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Parthia. (London, 1903).
Their King Orodes laid a snare for the Crassus, into which that unfortunate Roman general fell, and destroyed him and his whole army in one general slaughter. The disaster to the Romans was soon avenged by Cassius, the Questor of Crassus, who cut the Parthian army to pieces.
The Parthians sided with Pompey against Caesar, and also with the party of Caesar's murderers, to whose aid they sent troops. After the defeat of Brutus and his friends at Philippi, Pacorus, son of Orodes, put himself at the head of the Parthian auxiliaries but perished in a battle which he gave to Ventidius Bassus, the Roman General in Syria. Sometime afterward Orodes was murdered by his son Phraates, who took possession of the kingdom.
Phraates won a decisive victory over Antony the triumvir; but having treated his subjects with great cruelty and oppression, they drove him from the throne, and elected Tyridates as sovereign. Phraates, however, aided by the Scythians, defeated Tyridates and regained the Parthian scepter. To conciliate the favor of Augustus, he sent back to Rome the prisoners and standards which had been taken from Crassus and from Antony; an event commemorated with no little ostentation on coins bearing the following insrciptions: CAESAR AVGVSTVS SIGNIS RECE, CIVIBus ET SIGNis MILITaribus A PARTHIS RECVPERATIS, and A PARTHIS RESTITVTIS.
On the death of Phraates, one of his sons succeeded him under the same name. He was followed by Orodes. When Orodes was assassinated, Vonones, eldest son of the first Phraates, was invited by the Parthians to return from Rome (where he had resided as a hostage to Augustus), and was made king but was soon dethroned. Artabanus, who assumed the diadem of Parthia, declared war against Rome but was conquered by Vitellius, then Governor of Syria. Vitellius raised Tiridates, a prince of the Arsacides royal blood, to the throne. After several ephemeral sovereigns had appeared and disappeared, the kingdom devolved to Vologeses, a prince of some celebrity, who had a long war to sustain against the Romans, in which he not only proved himself their equal but often achieved victories over them.
In Trajan's time, Parthia was governed by Chosroes. Trajan declared war on him, took Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, drove him from the throne and made Parthamaspates king. Sometime afterward Chosroes again became king and left his dominion to his son Vologeses, who had to fight for his crown against the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.
At length Artabanus succeeded Vologeses, and was the last Arsacides king. He carried on a fierce war against the Roman Empire during the reigns of Severus Alexander, Caracalla, and Macrinus. During the reign of Severus Alexander he was attacked by Artabanus, King of Persia, he was defeated in three battles, and lost both his kingdom and his life. Thus, four hundred and seventy-three years after the reign of its founder, Arsces, the Parthian monarchy was again transferred to the Persians.
[W. Wroth, B. M. C., Parthia, 1903 (with references to the works of Prokesch, Longpérier, Markoff, and, especially, P. Gardner's Parthian Coinage, 1877); Ritter A. von Petrowicz, Arsaciden-Münzen, Wien, 1904 (a Catalogue of the Petrowicz Coll.). Cf. also A. de la Fuÿe in Rev. Num., 1904, p. 317; 1905, p. 129.]
The coinage of the Arsacid dynasty of the Parthian Empire covers a period of more than 450 years, extending from the reign of Tiridates I, B.C. 248/47-211/10, to the reigns of Artabanus V and Artavasdes (circ. A.D. 224-228), under whom the rule of the Arsacids was subverted by Ardashir and the sceptre of Iran transferred to the dynasty of the Sassanidae (see under Persis, p. 824 n.). The coins are of silver and bronze, the former struck at first on the Attic standard, which was afterward reduced, or, it may be, superseded by the Phoenician. The chief denomination is the drachm (67-58 grains). The tetradrachm (250-200 grains) is also common, especially from the time of Phraates IV onwards. The triobol, diobol, and obol are much rarer.
The types are mainly copied or adapted from those of Seleucid coins. The principal type (found, throughout, on the drachms) consists of a Parthian warrior in mail-armour—probably the founder Arsaces—seated, at first on an omphalos, afterward on a throne, and holding a bow, the pride of the Parthian soldier. The immediate model was probably a silver coin of Antiochus I or II representing Apollo on the omphalos. On the later tetradrachms the usual type is a figure of the Tyche of a Greek city (probably Seleuceia) presenting a diadem (wreath?) or palm-branch to the reigning king. The portrait-heads of the obverse display, in many cases, a fair measure of artistic skill, as for instance those of Artabanus I, Orodes I, &c. (B. M. C., Parth., p. lxxiv f.: for the types of the bronze coinage see ib., pp. lxxi-lxxiv).
The legends are in Greek, which becomes unintelligible on the later drachms, as though contact with the language was being lost. From the time of Volagases I the king's name is sometimes written in Pehlvi characters. Style and changes at the same time, with the relatively naturalistic portraits of the earlier kings evolving into a much more stylised image. The earliest drachms are of metal which is over 90% fine;this deteriorates until a low is reached under Orodes I (90-80 BC), with drachms which are under 50% fine. This is followed by a recovery, though fineness never reaches its earlier heights. The early drachms are a little less fine than contemporary Greek or Roman issues, but never reach the same degree of debasement as the Roman coinage. At the same time, they are heavier than denarii, and often contain as much or more more silver, even when their fineness is lower.
This drachm of Mithridates II (c123-88 BC) shows the more naturalistic 'early' style; it's obviously not completely naturalistic, with the bull neck and stylised eye, but the face is recognisable as that of an individual. The reverse is clearly seen as concave, which is the norm with these. The inscription is somewhat blundered, with the Β of ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ missing, and the last couple of letters of the word cramped.
This drachm of Vologases III (105-147 AD) shows the stylised 'later' portrait; the individuality of the first image is gone, and some rulers can be difficult to distinguish from one another. The reverse is now flat, which may indicate a different method of planchet manufacture, and the edges are rougher, as the silver has been debased to some extent, producing a harder metal which is less malleable. The inscription is completely blundered, with the top two lines represented by identical squiggles. Clearly, meaningful contact with Greek had been lost by this time, at least as far as coin production was concerned, and the inscription had become little more than a piece of decoration.
A minute study of the monograms and fabric and a careful record of finds and provenance are much needed to throw light on the obscure subject of Parthian mint-places (cf. B. M. C., Parth., pp. lxxviii ff.). The earlier coins must necessarily have been struck in Parthia Proper, i. e. in the country lying to the south-east of the Caspian, or in the neighbouring countries; but after the conquest, under Mithradates I, of Mesopotamia and of the provinces that had formed part of the Great Median Satrapy, new mint-places must have been established. It is probable that the chief mint was at Seleuceia, the great Hellenic city on the west bank of the Tigris, or at Ctesiphon, the neighbouring city or suburb, on the eastern side of the river and the capital of the Empire at least as early as the time of Orodes I. The names of the provinces ΜΑΡΓΙΑΝΗ and ΑΡΕΙΑ are inscribed on drachms of Artabanus II(?); cf. ΤΡΑ[Ξ]ΙΑΝΗ and ΚΑΤΑΣΤΡΑΤΕΙΑ (B. M. C., p. 40).
The tetradrachms from the time of Phraates IV are regularly inscribed with the year and month of issue. The era is the Seleucid, beginning in the autumn of B.C. 312. The months are those of the Macedonian calendar, as follows:—Dios (= October?), Apellaeos, Audynaeos, Peritios, Dystros, Xandicos, Artemisios, Daesios, Panemos, Loös, Gorpiaeos, Hyperberetaeos, and Embolimos (the intercalary month).
The classification of the Arsacid coinage is far from certain, more especially in the period before Phraates IV, when the coins are, as a rule, undated, and only the dynastic name (‘Arsaces') of each sovereign is recorded. Many difficulties also arise from our incomplete knowledge of the history of Parthia (cf. Wroth,'Rearrangement of Parthian Coinage,' N. C., 1900, 181-202). The classification set forth below is that proposed in the British Museum Catalogue.
|Arsaces the Founder. Circ. B.C. 250 - 211/210.||No coins?|