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Persia and Mesopotamia

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

Seleucid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C., Babylonia, In the Name of Alexander the Great
Click for a larger photo Price dates this type 311 - 305 B.C. Houghton dates it 311 - 300 B.C. Houghton notes that Kritt down-dated the chronology due to the complexity of the emissions and that two hoards independently support the revised dating.
SH71155. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber 82.5b, Price 3747, Müller Alexander 734, VF, high relief, fine style, toned, edge bump, weight 16.680 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 90o, Babylon mint, 311 - 300 B.C.; obverse Herakles' head right, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, right leg drawn back, MYPT monogram (variant with pellet in P) in wreath left, MI under throne; $520.00 (€452.40)

Sasanian Empire, Vahram V (Bahram Gor), 420 - 438 A.D.
Click for a larger photo "This is the son of Yazdagard I (also known as Izgader Malka mentioned in the Talmud). Yazdagard was know to be friendly to the Jewish citizens of his land. According to Sassanian and Pahlavian literature King Yazdagard married the daughter of the exilarch (resh galuta), who was a high government official and the de-facto leader of the Jewish community in the diaspora. In effect this made Varhran V a Jewish Sassanian King!" -- Isadore Goldstein, Zuzim Inc.
WA73352. Silver drachm, SNS Ib1/2 KL, Göbl SN I/2, Choice EF, bold strike with no flat spots, excellent metal, weight 4.159 g, maximum diameter 29.4 mm, die axis 45o, Kirman province (in or near Shirajan?), KL mint, 420 - 438 A.D.; obverse bust of Vahram right, wearing mural crown with korymbos set on crescent, floral decoration on lower bust; reverse fire altar with ribbons, flanked by two attendants, head of Vahram right in altar, mint signature downward on right; ex Zuzim Inc.; scarce; $279.00 (€242.73) ON RESERVE

Macedonian Kingdom, Antigonus I Monophthalmus, as Satrap of Babylonia, 317 - 311 B.C.
Click for a larger photo A rare denomination struck only at the Babylon mint.

When Alexander's empire was divided, his general Seleucus received the satrapy of Babylonia. From about 317 to about 311 B.C., however, Antigonus I Monophthalmus (The "One-Eyed") took over as ruler of all Mesopotamia. Seleucus took refuge with Ptolemy of Egypt and with his aid was able to reenter Babylon in 312 B.C. In 306 Antigonus became the first of the Macedonian generals to take the royal title. In 301 he was defeated and killed by the combined armies of Seleucus and Lysimachus.
GS68012. Silver 1/30th tetradrachm, Price 3729, Müller Alexander -, VF, reverse scuff, uneven toning, weight 0.530 g, maximum diameter 8.92 mm, die axis 0o, Babylon mint, 317 - 311 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse MYP monogram in wreath over XA monogram on left, club, bow and quiver; $190.00 (€165.30)

Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander III the Great, c. 323 - 136 B.C.
Click for a larger photo 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. SGCV II 6735-37; Price 4007-4011 (monograms), VF, weight 0.510 g, maximum diameter 10.0 mm, die axis 135o, uncertain Eastern mint, posthumous, c. 323 - 136 B.C.; obverse Herakles' head right, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, no symbol; $125.00 (€108.75)

Parthian Empire, Orodes II, 57 - 38 B.C.
Click for a larger photo 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.
GS69914. 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; $75.00 (€65.25)

Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Nisibis, Mesopotamia
Click for a larger photo Nisibis is the city of Netzivin in the Talmud. The Jews of Nisibis resisted the Roman conqueror, Trajan, to maintain Parthian rule. The city was taken only after a lengthy siege. After the it fell, Nisibis was laid waste and the massacre was so great that the houses, streets, and roads were strewn with corpses.
RP59123. Bronze AE 26, BMC Arabia p. 120, 5; SNG Cop 235; SNG Hunterian -; SNG Righetti -; SNG Milan -; Lindgren -, gF, weight 13.783 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Nisibis mint, obverse AYT KAI MAP AY CE AΛEΞAN∆POC, radiate bust right; reverse CEΠ KOΛO NEΣIBI MHT, bust of Tyche right, turreted, draped and veiled, ram above, stars before and behind; scarce; $75.00 (€65.25)

Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia
Click for a larger photo 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; $60.00 (€52.20)

Kingdom of Elymais, Orodes II, Early - Mid 2nd Century A.D.
Click for a larger photo Elymais was the biblical Elam and home of the magi. With its capitol at Susa, it was a small kingdom in what is now Iran and Kuwait. The Kingdom of Elymais struck coins from the middle of the 2nd century B.C. until their defeat by the Sasanians in 227 A.D.
GB90775. Bronze drachm, vant Haaff 13.3.2-2B; BMC Arabia p. 262, 19 ff.; SGICV 5905, VF, weight 3.408 g, maximum diameter 15.6 mm, obverse long bearded bust facing wearing diademed tiara with crest of rays; to right, pellet inside crescent above anchor with single crossbar; reverse dashes; ex Forum (2010); $45.00 (€39.15)

Kingdom of Elymais, Orodes III, 2nd Century A.D.
Click for a larger photo Elymais was the biblical Elam and home of the magi. With its capitol at Susa, it was a small kingdom in what is now Iran and Kuwait. The Kingdom of Elymais struck coins from the middle of the 2nd century B.C. until their defeat by the Sasanians in 227 A.D.
GB90347. Bronze drachm, vant Haaff 16.4.2-1A; SGICV 5896; BMC Arabia p. 259, 68 ff., (Orodes I), VF, weight 3.121 g, maximum diameter 15.3 mm, Susa(?) mint, 2nd century A.D.; obverse bearded bust left wearing tiara ornamented with anchor; to right, pellet in crescent above anchor; reverse field filled with parallel dashes; ex Forum (2006); $40.00 (€34.80)

Persian(?), Sasanian(?), Islamic (?), Uncertain Date
Click for a larger photo A Bulla (plural, Bullae) is a lump of clay or lead molded around a cord and stamped with a seal that identifies the sender. With a bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, thereby ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.
BZ49891. Lead bulla (tag seal), Lead bulla seal, the bust appears to be too exotic to be Roman or Byzantine, weight 6.832 g, maximum diameter 15.5 mm, obverse bust right, helmeted(?) or crowned(?); reverse bust(?); $33.00 (€28.71)

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Catalog current as of Saturday, February 28, 2015.
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Ancient Coins of Persia and Mesopotamia