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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ Persia & MesopotamiaView Options:  |  |  | 

Persia and Mesopotamia

Also included on this page are coins minted under Persian rule in other regions of the Persian Empire.


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C.

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This coin was struck under one of the Macedonian satraps in Babylon: Archon, Dokimos, or Seleukos I. Perdiccas suspected Archon of colluding in the theft of Alexander's corpse and, in 321 B.C., sent Dokimos to replace him. Archon was defeated and died from battle wounds. Seleucus, made satrap by Perdiccas rival Antipater, arrived in Babylon in October or November 320 B.C. and defeated Dokimos.
SH73195. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3697, Müller Alexander 1542, SNG Cop -, VF, weight 17.067 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 135o, Babylon mint, Archon, Dokimos, or Seleukos I, c. 323 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg drawn back, radiate head of Helios facing on left, KY under throne; scarce; $600.00 SALE PRICE $540.00
 


Kingdom of Edessa, Mesopotamia, Abgar X with Gordian III, 242 - 244 A.D.

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Abgar X Frahad bar Manu was raised to the throne when Gordian III recovered Mesopotamia from the Persians. His rule and the Kingdom of Edessa both ended with Gordian's assassination and a Sassanid takeover in 244 A.D.
RP90428. Bronze AE 25, SNG Cop 225; BMC Arabia p. 114, 144; SGICV 5745, VF, centered, light corrosion, weight 10.938 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 0o, Mesopotamia, Edessa mint, 242 - 244 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, laureate bust of Gordian III right, drapery on left shoulder, star before; reverse ABΓAPOC BACIΛEYC, mantled bust of Abgar right, bearded, wearing a diademed Parthian-style tiara ornamented with a rosette, star behind; $195.00 SALE PRICE $176.00
 


Parthian Empire, Orodes II, 57 - 38 B.C.

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The severed head of the Roman general Crassus was presented to Orodes II during a performance of Euripides' tragedy, The Bacchae. It was used as a prop, carried by one of the actors in the play. In Rome it was said the Parthians poured molten gold into his mouth as a symbol of his thirst for wealth.
WA72038. Silver drachm, Sellwood 45.21; Shore 230; Sunrise 366 var. (KP monogram mintmark); BMC Parthia p.75, 51 (Orodes I); SNG Cop -, VF, toned, crowded flan, some die wear, tiny flan defect reverse outer left, weight 3.803 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 0o, Kangavar (Iran) mint, c. 55 - 44 B.C.; obverse diademed bust left with short beard, torque ending with pellet, wavy hair covering ear, three diadem ends; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / BAΣIΛEΩN − APΣAKOY − EYEPΓET / ∆IKAIOY − EΠIΦANOYΣ − ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ, beardless archer (Arsakes I) seated right on throne, wearing bashlyk and cloak, bow in extended right, K (mintmark) below bow, squared seven-line legend around; scarcer mint; $145.00 SALE PRICE $131.00
 


Parthian Empire, Vologases III, 111 - 146 A.D.

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Vologases III claimed the throne near the end of the reign of Pacorus II. After Osroes' death he ruled most of Parthia. He had to cope with raiders and with usurpers in Iran, including Mithradates IV and Unknown King III. His coinage is perhaps the most common of all the Parthian rulers, indicating a long rule and vibrant economy.

References for this type are very specific regarding the archer's seat. The seat on Sellwood type 78.5 is a horizontal line, on 78.6 it is two dots, on type 78.7 it resembles Π. This variety, Sellwood 78.4, has no seat.
GS71611. Silver drachm, Sellwood 78.4, Shore 413, Sunrise -, aEF, crowded flan smaller than the dies as invariable for the type, tiny edge cracks, contact marks, weight 3.712 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, 111 - 146 A.D.; obverse bust right with long pointed beard, three waves in hair, diadem three bands, loop and three ends, earring and wire necklet; reverse archer seated right holding bow, cross below legs, AT dot monogram below bow, no seat, seven line blundered Greek legend forming a square around; $135.00 SALE PRICE $122.00
 


Parthian Empire, Vologases III, 111 - 146 A.D.

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Vologases III claimed the throne near the end of the reign of Pacorus II. After Osroes' death he ruled most of Parthia. He had to cope with raiders and with usurpers in Iran, including Mithradates IV and Unknown King III. His coinage is perhaps the most common of all the Parthian rulers, indicating a long rule and vibrant economy.

References for this type are very specific regarding the archer's seat. The seat on Sellwood type 78.5 is a horizontal line, on 78.6 it is two dots, on type 78.7 it resembles Π. This variety, Sellwood 78.4, has no seat.
WA71628. Silver drachm, Sellwood 78.4, Shore 413, Sunrise -, aEF, light toning, crowded flan smaller than the dies as invariable for the type, tiny edge cracks, contact marks, weight 3.777 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, 111 - 146 A.D.; obverse bust right with long pointed beard, three waves in hair, diadem with three bands, loop and three ends, earring and wire necklet; reverse archer (Arsakes I) seated right holding bow, cross below legs, AT dot monogram below bow, no seat, seven line blundered Greek legend forming a square around; $135.00 SALE PRICE $122.00
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Edessa, Mesopotamia

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Edessa is the historical name of an Assyrian town in northern Mesopotamia, refounded on an ancient site by Seleucus I Nicator. Caracalla was assassinated in Edessa in 217 and Valerian was captured by Shapur I at Edessa in 260.

In 230, the Persian King Ardashir I invaded Mesopotamia. Alexander attempted to make peace but was rebuffed. He and his mother Julia Mamaea made their headquarters at Antioch and accompanied the legions. The Roman counterattack was defeated in 232 but both sides suffered heavy losses and agreed to a truce. In 233, Severus Alexander celebrated a triumph in Rome to observe his "victory."
RP71324. Bronze AE 26, SNG Cop 218; BMC Arabia p. 108, 106; Lindgren I 2582, aVF, well centered on a tight flan, green patina, porous, weight 7.212 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Edessa mint, obverse AYT K M A C Eς AΛEΞA∆POC CE (CE below bust), laureate head draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse MHT KOΛ E∆ECCHNWN, turreted Tyche seated left on rock, small flaming altar before her, half-figure of river-god swimming right at her feet, star before and star behind; scarce; $105.00 SALE PRICE $95.00
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander III the Great, c. 323 - 136 B.C.

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It appears there may be a date below the head of Herakles - ΣOP (year 176). If it actually is a date and if it is a Seleukid era date, it equates to 137 - 136 B.C. This would be an unlikely spot for a date. Most likely, the "date" is just lion fur.
GS71548. Silver obol, cf. Price 4007 - 4011, SGCV II 6735 - 6737, VF, weight 0.510 g, maximum diameter 10.0 mm, die axis 135o, uncertain Eastern mint, posthumous, c. 323 - 136 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, no symbol; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
 


Parthian Empire, Orodes II, 57 - 38 B.C.

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The severed head of the Roman general Crassus was presented to Orodes II during a performance of Euripides' tragedy, The Bacchae. It was used as a prop, carried by one of the actors in the play. In Rome it was said the Parthians poured molten gold into his mouth as a symbol of his thirst for wealth.
WA69914. Bronze chalkous, cf. Sellwood 47.36, Fair, weight 1.819 g, maximum diameter 13.4 mm, die axis 180o, Ecbatana mint, c. 57 - 38 B.C.; obverse diademed bust left with short pointed beard, star before, crescent behind; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ BAΣIΛEΩN APΣAKOY EYEPΓET ∆IKAIOY EΠIΦANOYΣ ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ (or similar), uncertain object (Nike walking right?), AT monogram on right; rare; $55.00 SALE PRICE $49.50
 


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia

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Caracalla was assassinated near Carrhae on 8 April 217, while urinating on a roadside. When his escort gave him privacy to relieve himself, Julius Martialis, an officer of his personal bodyguard, ran forward and killed Caracalla with a single sword stroke. Martialis fled on horseback, but was killed by a bodyguard archer. Herodian says Caracalla had executed Martialis' brother a few days earlier on an unproven charge. Cassius Dio says that Martialis was resentful at not being promoted to the rank of centurion. Macrinus, the Praetorian Guard Prefect, who succeeded him as emperor, may have arranged the assassination.
RP67880. Bronze AE 20, cf. BMC Arabia p.85, 16 ff.; SNG Hunterian 2485 ff.; SNG Cop 176 ff., F, nice green patina, flan crack, weak legends, weight 4.254 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 180o, Carrhae mint, obverse M AVR ANTONINVS P F AVG, laureate head right, with short beard; reverse COL MET ANTONINIANA, turreted, veiled, and draped bust of Tyche right; $50.00 SALE PRICE $45.00
 







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REFERENCES

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Castelin, K.O. The Coinage of Rhesaena in Mesopotamia. ANSNNM 108. (New York, 1946).
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Hill, G.F. Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum: Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia. (London, 1922).
Hoover, O. Handbook of Syrian Coins, Royal and Civic Issues, Fourth to First Centuries BC. HGC 9. (Lancaster, PA, 2009).
Houghton, A. Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton. ACNAC 4. (New York, 1983).
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Klose, D.O. & W. Müseler. Die Münzen aus Persepolis von Alexander dem Großen zu den Sasaniden. (Munich, 2008).
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Mitchiner, M. Indo-Greek and Indo-Scythian Coinage. (London, 1975-1976).
Nelson, B.R., ed. Numismatic Art of Persia. The Sunrise Collection, Part I: Ancient - 650 BC to AD 650. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain XII, The Hunterian Museum, Univ. of Glasgow, Part 2: Roman Provincial Coins: Cyprus-Egypt. (Oxford, 2008).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Israel I, The Arnold Spaer Collection of Seleucid Coins. (London, 1998).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, United States, Burton Y. Berry. Part 2. Megaris to Egypt.. (New York, 1962).
Tyler-Smith, S. “A parcel of Persis drachms, half drachms and obols” in NC 164 (2004).
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Waggoner, N. "The Early Alexander Coinage at Seleucia on the Tigris" in ANSMN 15 (1969).
Winzer, A. Antike portraitmünzen der Perser und Greichen aus vor-hellenistischer Zeit (Zeitraum ca. 510-322 v.Chr.). (March-Hugstetten, 2005).
Wroth, W. A Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Parthia. (London, 1903).

Catalog current as of Monday, May 30, 2016.
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Ancient Coins of Persia and Mesopotamia