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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Persian EmpireView Options:  |  |  | 

The Persian Empire

The Persian or Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 - 330 B.C.) was the largest empire in ancient history extending across Asia, Africa and Europe, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and much of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya.Persian Empire


Persian Achaemenid Empire, Carian Satrapy, Synnesis, c. 425 - 401 B.C.

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Syennesis was a Persian satrap of Cilicia in the late 5th century B.C. In 401 B.C., Cyrus the Younger, marching against Artaxerxes, arrived at the borders of Cilicia. Syennesis was guarding the passes but when he received intelligence that Cyrus' advanced forces under Meno had already entered Cilicia, he withdrew and allowed Cyrus to pass. When Cyrus reached Tarsus, the Cilician capital, he found that Meno's soldiers had already sacked the city. Cyrus commanded Synnesis to appear before him. Syennesis had fled for refuge to a stronghold among the mountains, but he was induced by his wife, Epyaxa, to obey the summons. Synnesis received gifts of honor from the Cyrus, whom he supplied in his turn with a large sum of money and a considerable body of troops under the command of one of his sons. At the same time, however, Syennesis sent his other son to Artaxerxes, to represent his meeting with Cyrus as having been something he'd been forced to do, while his heart all the time was with the king, Artaxerxes. From Xenophon's telling it appears that Syennesis, although a vassal of Persia, affected the tone of an independent sovereign.
GA87789. Silver stater, Hunterian III p. 546, 4 & pl. LX, 7; cf. Casabonne D2, pl. 2, 10; SNG BnF 213; Traité II 523; BMC -; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -; SNG Levante -, aVF, dark toning, well centered, struck with a worn obverse die, light scratches, weight 10.561 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Cilicia, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 420 - 410 B.C.; obverse Horseman (Syennesis?) walking horse left, wearing kyrbasia, lotus flower in right hand, reins in left hand, bow in bowcase on saddle, Aramaic TRZ (Tarsos) in exergue (off flan); reverse Archer kneeling right, drawing bow, quiver over shoulder, ankh behind, all within dotted square border within incuse square; very rare; $650.00 (€552.50)
 


Persian Empire, Mazaios, Satrap of Cilicia and Cappadocia, c. 361 - 334 B.C.

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Mazaios was the Persian satrap of Cilicia beginning about 361 BC and in about 345 B.C. he was also made satrap of Transeuphratesia (which included Syria and Judaea). In 331 BC, Mazaios was defeated by Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela, after which he fled to Babylon. Later that year Mazaios surrendered Babylon, the capital of the Persian Empire, to Alexander. For surrendering without a fight, Alexander appointed Mazaios governor of Babylon. He died in 328 B.C.
GS87944. Silver stater, Casabonne Series 4, Group B; SNG BnF 359; SNG Levante 113; SNGvA 5961; SNG Cop 314; BMC Lycaonia p. 170, 48;, aVF, toned, bumps, marks, slight flan bend, reverse off center, weight 10.865 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 90o, Cilicia, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 361 - 334 B.C.; obverse Baaltars seated left on throne, nude to waist, eagle on lotus tipped scepter in right hand, himation over left arm and around hips and legs; grain ear and grape bunch above Aramaic N left, Aramaic inscription on right: B'LTRZ, Aramaic M below throne; reverse Aramaic legend: MZDI ZI 'L 'BRNH RAWHLK' (Mazaios governor of Transeuphrates and Cilicia), lion left with head facing, attacking bull which kneels right; two lines of crenelated city walls below each with four towers one above the other; $375.00 (€318.75)
 


Persian Achaemenid Empire, Carian Satrapy, Pixodaros, c. 340 - 335 B.C.

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Pixodarus was the youngest of the three sons of Hecatomnus, all of whom successively ruled. To secure the friendship of Philip II, king of Macedonia, Pixodarus offered his eldest daughter in marriage to his Philip's son Arrhidaeus. Arrhidaeus' ambitious younger brother, Alexander (later Alexander the Great) offered himself instead. Pixodarus eagerly agreed but Philip put an end to the scheme. Pixodarus died, apparently a natural death, before Alexander landed in Asia in 334 B.C. and was succeeded by his Persian son-in-law Orontobates.
SH63582. Silver didrachm, SNG Cop 597; SNGvA 2375; SNG Keckman 280; SNG Kayhan 891; SNG Lockett 2913; BMC Caria p. 185, 5 ff.; Weber 6608; SGCV II 4966, aVF, porous, weight 6.541 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 0o, Mylasa (Milas, Turkey) mint, c. 340 - 335 B.C.; obverse head of Apollo facing slightly right; reverse ΠIΞΩ∆APOY, Zeus Labraundos standing right, labrys (double-headed axe) over shoulder in right, lotus-tipped scepter vertical in left; $285.00 (€242.25)
 


Arados, Phoenicia, Uncertain King, c. 400 - 384 B.C.

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Early coins of Arados have the Aramaic letters mem aleph (read from right to left) above the galley, abbreviating Melech Arad (meaning King of Arados), sometimes followed by the king's initial, and sometimes by the Phoenician regnal year date.
GS87352. Silver stater, Elayi-Elayi Arwad group III.2.1; HGC 10, 32 (R1), VF, typical compact flan, bumps and marks, weight 10.308 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 270o, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 400 - 384 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Ba'al Arwad right, with profile eye; reverse galley right, figure of Pataikos right on prow, row of shields on bulwark, Phoenician letters mem aleph (abbreviating Melech Arad - King of Arados) from right to left above, three waves below; ex CNG e-auction 424 (11 Jul 2018), lot 252; rare; $235.00 (€199.75)
 


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

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A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
JD86847. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, aVF, toned, scratches, tight flan, weight 0.694 g, maximum diameter 7.4 mm, die axis 0o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription visible; ex Beast Coins; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


Lesbos, c. 550 - 480 B.C.

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Lesbos, the third largest Greek island, in the NE Aegean Sea, is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait. Greek emigrants probably started arriving in the Late Bronze Age. When Cyrus defeated Croesus in 546 B.C. the island became subject to Persia, until the Persians were defeated by the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. The most powerful cities were Mytilene and Methymna. In addition to the local coins bearing the names of the various Lesbian cities, there were two important coinages, one in billon and another in electrum, both of which circulated throughout the island.
GA88080. Billon 1/3 stater, cf. SNGvA 7714 (4.08g); HGC 6 1083 (R2, c. 1.39g); Babylon I 601 (1.25g); BMC Troas p. 155, 56 (0.9g); SNG Cop -; SNG München -; Rosen -, aVF, edge splits, minor flan flaws, earthen deposits, weight 2.221 g, maximum diameter 13.2 mm, uncertain Koinon mint, c. 550 - 480 B.C.; obverse Head of Apollo left, wearing tainia; reverse quadripartite incuse square; an unpublished denomination of a very rare series; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

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A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
GS86843. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, VF, toned, well centered on a tight rhomboid flan, a little rough, encrustations, weight 9.4 g, maximum diameter 0.636 mm, die axis 180o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription; ex Beast Coins; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

Click for a larger photo
A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
GS86844. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, VF, toned, slightly rough, bumps and scratches, crowded rhomboid flan, weight 0.754 g, maximum diameter 9.5 mm, die axis 270o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription; ex Beast Coins; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

Click for a larger photo
A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
JD86845. Silver hemiobol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 50 - 51, SH306 ff.; SNG ANS 20, gF, toned, die wear, rough/porous, irregular flan, edge chips, weight 0.216 g, maximum diameter 6.6 mm, die axis 270o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, very large eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves behind (no crescent visible), AΘE downward on right (off flan), all in incuse square; ex Beast Coins; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


Lycia, Uncertain Dynast, c. 400 - 350 B.C.

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Although we cannot find a match with this inscription, Historia Numorum lists lion scalp and helmeted head of Athena types struck by several dynasts in the first half of the 4th century B.C.
GA87325. Silver obol, Apparently unpublished, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Tüb -, Vismara -, Podalia Hoard -, BMC Lycia -, F/VF, significant edge chip, weight 0.579 g, maximum diameter 10.9 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain mint, c. 400 - 350 B.C.; obverse lion scalp facing, from above; reverse head of Athena left, wearing crested Corinthian helmet, Lycian letters (EK?) above, dot border, all within a round incuse; extremely rare; $80.00 (€68.00)
 







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REFERENCES

Ashton, R., et al. "The Pixodarus Hoard" in Coin Hoards IX (2002).
Babelon, E. Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. (Paris, 1901-1932).
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Carradice, I. "The Dinar Hoard of Persian Sigloi" in Studies Price. (London, 1998).
Deutsch, R. & M. Heltzer. "Numismatic Evidence from the Persian Period from the Sharon Plain" Transeuphratene, Vol. 13, 1997, pp. 17-20.
Elayi, J. & A.G. Elayi. Le monnayage de la cité phénicienne de Sidon à l'époque perse (Ve-IVe s. av. J.-C.). (Paris, 2004).
Elayi, J. & A.G. Elayi. The Coinage of the Phoenician City of Tyre in the Persian Period (5th-4th cent. BCE). (Leuven-Paris-Walpole, MA, 2009).
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Meshorer, Y. A Treasury of Jewish Coins from the Persian Period to Bar Kokhba. (Jerusalem, 2001).
Mildenberg, L. "Yehud: A Preliminary Study of the Provincial Coinage of Judaea" in Essays Thompson (1979).
Meshorer, Y. & S. Qedar. The Coinage of Samaria in the 4th Century BCE. (Jerusalem, 1991).
Moysey, R.A. "The Silver Stater Issues of Pharnabazos and Datames from the Mint of Tarsus in Cilicia" in ANSMN 31 (1986).
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Troxell, H.A. "Orontes, satrap of Mysia" in SNR 60. (1981).
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Catalog current as of Tuesday, January 22, 2019.
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Persian Empire