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 and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C.
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, 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 Herakles' head right, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, eagle in right, long scepter vertical behind in left, right leg drawn back, radiate head of Helios facing on left, KY under throne; scarce; $700.00 (€609.00)
Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia
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.SH70946. Billon tetradrachm, Prieur 830, Bellinger Syrian 159, SNG Cop -, BMC Galatia -, gVF, nice portrait, good metal, well centered on a crowded flan, weight 13.320 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, die axis 0o, Zeugma mint, Cos. 4, 215 - 217 A.D.; obverse AVT K M ANTΩNEINOC CEB, radiate head right, bare back and shoulder, from behind; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞ YΠA TO ∆, eagle standing facing, head and tail right, wings open, wreath in beak, star upper left, crescent between legs, two pellets in exergue; ex Ancient Resource (Pasadena, CA); $400.00 (€348.00)
Macedonian Kingdom, Antigonus I Monophthalmus, as Satrap of Babylonia, 317 - 311 B.C.
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.
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)
Persian Empire, Lydia, Anatolia, Xerxes I - Darius II, c. 485 - 420 B.C.
After the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, the Jews were taken into the seventy-year Babylonian captivity. When ancient Persia took control of Babylon, Haman, the royal vizier, convinced King Ahasuerus to destroy all the Jews. Esther, Ahasuerus' queen and, unknown to him, a Jew, interceded on behalf of her people. By law the King could not rescind the order to slaughter the Jews, so he issued a second decree that permitted the Jews to defend themselves with armed force. The King replaced Haman with Mordecai, a palace official, cousin and foster parent of Esther. The Jews defeated Haman, killing his ten sons that were leading the attacks, and then hanged Haman. The day after the battle was designated as a day of feasting and rejoicing. Scholars identify King Ahasuerus as the historical king Xerxes I, 485 - 465 B.C. Xerxes is the Greek version of his name but the Babylonians knew him as Khshayarsha. The Hebrew name Ahasuerus, appears to be derived from Khshayarsha, with the letter A added at the beginning.
GS73929. Silver siglos, Carradice type IIIb (early); Carradice NC 1998 pl. 7, 155 ff.; Rosen 673; SGCV II 4682; Winzer 1.11; Sunrise 25, VF, toned, weight 5.448 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 485 - 420 B.C.; obverse Kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, spear in right, bow in left, bearded, crowned; reverse irregular rectangular punch; $100.00 (€87.00)
Parthian Empire, Orodes II, 57 - 38 B.C.
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; $65.00 (€56.55)
Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Nisibis, Mesopotamia
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; $65.00 (€56.55)
Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia
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.
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.
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)
West Asian Lead Bulla Seal; Persian, Sasanian or Islamic (?); Uncertain Date
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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