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

Ancient Coins of Persia and Mesopotamia

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


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C.

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SH76216. Silver tetradrachm, Unpublished; Houghton-Lorber I 165(1) var. (controls), cf. Houghton-Lorber I 169(a) (hemidrachm), VF, very high relief, well centered, bumps and marks, head of Zeus flatly struck, weight 17.143 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 90o, Susa (Shush, Iran) mint, c. 295 - 291 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion scalp headdress; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΣEΛEYKOY, Zeus enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg forward, feet on footstool, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left, radiate bust of Helios facing (control symbol) on left, AP (primary control) under throne above strut, ΠA (secondary control) monogram under strut; extremely rare, possibly unique - the only example known to Forum; $900.00 (€765.00)
 


Parthian Empire, Pakoros II, c. 78 - 105 A.D.

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Traditionally this king has been called Pakoros II (or Pacorus II); however, the latest research lists only one Parthian king named Pakoros. Beardless portraits on his earliest coins indicate Pakoros began his rule very young. After many years of civil war with many rivals, including Vologases II, Artabanus III and others, Pakoros eventually reclaimed the whole of the empire. According to Cassius Dio, he sold the kingdom of Osroene to Abgar VII, and according to Ammianus Marcellinus he enlarged the Parthian capital Ctesiphon and built its walls. He maintained close contact with the Dacian ruler Decebalus. In 101, Pacorus sent an embassy to the Han Dynasty of China. He disappeared from coinage around 105 A.D.
GS85451. Silver drachm, SNP VII 868 (same obv. die); Sellwood 73.13; Shore 397; BMC Parthian p. 195, 15 (notes one known with PK); Sunrise -, aEF, bold strike, mild die rust, typical tight flan, holed, weight 3.369 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, c. 78 - 90 A.D.; obverse draped bust left with short pointed straight beard, wearing earring, diadem with four bands, loop behind, three diadem ends, torque without visible end, PK in Aramaic upper right; reverse archer (Arsakes I) seated right on throne, bow in extended right hand, cross under legs, TA pellet monogram under bow, squared seven-line blundered Greek legend around; from the Robert L3 Collection, extremely rare with the king's name abbreviated in Aramaic on the obverse; $375.00 (€318.75)
 


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

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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.
RP84871. Bronze AE 29, SNG Cop 233; BMC Arabia p. 119, 7; SNG Righetti 2618; SNG Milan 118; SNG Hunterian -, F, porous, obverse slightly off center cutting off right side of legend, weight 12.292 g, maximum diameter 28.6 mm, die axis 0o, Nisibis mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse AVT KAI MAP AV C AΛEΞAN∆POC C-E, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse CEΠ KOΛO NECIBI MHT, bust of Tyche right, turreted, draped and veiled, ram (Aries) leaping right above with head turned back, stars before and behind; scarce; $95.00 (€80.75)
 


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.
RP78055. Bronze AE 15, SNG Hunterian 2490 - 2491; BMC Arabia p. 86, 37; SNG Cop -, SNG Righetti -, VF, near black patina with red earthen highlighting, tight flan, light corrosion, weight 1.643 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 180o, Carrhae (Altinbasak, Turkey) mint, 28 Jan 198 - 8 Apr 217 A.D.; obverse M AVR ANTONINVS P F AVG, laureate head right; reverse COL AVR METROPOLI ANTONINIANA, veiled and turreted bust of Tyche right; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $70.00 (€59.50)
 


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 (Altinbasak, Turkey) 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; $36.00 (€30.60)
 







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REFERENCES

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Hoover, O. Handbook of Syrian Coins, Royal and Civic Issues, Fourth to First Centuries BC. HGC 9. (Lancaster, PA, 2009).
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Klose, D. & W. Müseler. Die Münzen aus Persepolis von Alexander dem Großen zu den Sasaniden. (Munich, 2008).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Israel I, The Arnold Spaer Collection of Seleucid Coins. (London, 1998).
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Wroth, W. A Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Parthia. (London, 1903).

Catalog current as of Monday, December 11, 2017.
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Persia and Mesopotamia